"What's exciting about these changes is the way in which they will allow council to devote more, if not all, of its time to issues that members are most concerned about, such as research funding, psychology's role in integrated health care and the future of psychology education," said APA President Donald N. Bersoff, PhD, JD. "In essence, these changes will allow council to be more proactive about the issues and opportunities emerging within the discipline and what APA should do to address those issues."

The changes endorsed by the council call for:

  • Enhancing the use of technology to expand communication among governance members and between governance and the general membership.
  • Developing a program that would create a new pipeline for leadership in APA governance.
  • Creating a triage system that would enable governance to work efficiently and nimbly on new issues, without duplicative efforts.
  • Expanding the council's scope to focus on directing and informing major policy issues and ensuring policy is aligned with APA's mission and strategic plan.
  • Delegating responsibility for budget and internal policy matters to APA's Board of Directors for a three-year trial period.
  • Changing the composition of APA's Board of Directors to be more representative of APA's membership. The board would include six members-at-large elected by and drawn from the membership, with the candidates selected based on a needs assessment following an open nominations process.

The council also voted that a substantive change in its structure is needed to improve the body's effectiveness and asked that an implementation work group be appointed to further develop two proposed change models in addition to other implementation issues. One model calls for modifying the current constituent-based model by providing one unit/one vote for each division and for state, provincial and territorial psychological association (SPTAs) and adding seats for other perspective groups/affiliated organizations; the other model would include some elements from the first model, including one unit/one vote for divisions and SPTAs, and may add disciplinary/mission-based seats (e.g., education, science, public interest, practice and health) and diversity representatives (such as ethnic-minority psychological associations, early career psychologists and members of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students). Both models would result in a smaller council. Currently, the council has 162 members from divisions and SPTAs, plus members of the Board of Directors. It is anticipated that the new structure would include 134 to 140 members, not including the Board of Directors. The working group, which will be appointed by the APA president, is charged with developing an implementation plan for each of the motions approved by the council, in addition to further developing the two proposals to change the council's structure. The working group will begin to share its recommendations with council at its February meeting.

Any changes to the Board of Directors or the Council of Representatives' structure must be approved by the membership through a bylaws amendment. The bylaw ballot is expected to be sent to members for a vote next year, once the council has given any approval for structural changes. The other changes approved by the council do not require a bylaws change.

— R. Farberman