Perspective on Practice

Combining forces with other organizations can have a powerful impact. Partnerships can help organizations advance a variety of shared goals such as changing policy, advocating jointly for specific legislation, raising public awareness and educating the public about specific issues. APA partnerships are valuable for professional psychology and for practicing psychologists:

Our collaborative efforts are helping to enhance the public's understanding of the important role psychologists play in health care, promoting the value of psychology to other health professions, and fostering and improving collaborations between psychologists and other health professionals.

APA has recently renewed our agreement with the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), a partnership that has existed since 2008 to provide families and communities with resources for healthy living. Y-USA encompasses 20 million members across the United States, an audience APA wouldn't be able to reach on its own without significant financial cost. Through national and local collaborations, we are able to combine resources to enhance public understanding of the value of psychology to a much larger target audience. As part of the White House National Dialogue on Mental Health, Y-USA and APA are raising awareness among Y leaders and staff about the warning signs and symptoms of depression, emotional distress and trauma. Our partnership with the Y has also led to networking opportunities for members, such as Amy Walters, PhD, of Idaho, who was asked to serve as an advisory board member to the YMCA Healthy Living Branch Advisory Committee, a position that will enable her to promote the value of psychology.

APA, through its public education campaign on Mind/Body Health, has also just signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Parent Teachers Association (National PTA) and is beginning to plan collaborative projects for 2014. This partnership will enable us to pursue mutual public education interests related to health and wellness. APA will provide expertise on mental and behavioral health, and the National PTA will provide us the opportunity to reach four million members across 22,000 local chapters.

APA is also renewing its partnership with the American Red Cross. For more than two decades, APA and the Red Cross have worked together to help communities manage the devastating effects of disaster. Psychologists train general volunteers in psychological first aid, manage mental health aspects of relief operations and educate the public about longer-term recovery.

Partnerships add value to APA and state, provincial or territorial psychological associations by boosting the organizations' public visibility as well as creating opportunities for psychologists to network. Interdisciplinary and inter-organizational connections can also enhance professional exposure for members of the national, state or local organization and create potential revenue streams. Collaboration can help organizations cast a wider net to strengthen xisting relationships and establish new ways for psychologists to showcase their expertise while providing a valuable public service.

At the state level, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association has taken advantage of the benefits of partnership by joining forces with the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organizations are working together to advance joint goals of getting kids screened for mental health issues during pediatric well visits, developing baseline evaluation standards for mental health evaluations when kids screen positive, and establishing collaborative and effective links between psychologists and pediatricians in the state.

Partnerships can take many forms; they may be through a national, state or local organization, or between you as an individual with businesses in the community. The APA Practice Directorate has compiled a series of resources for states and individuals interested in exploring partnership opportunities.

A sample MOU — a written agreement between two organizations that helps establish a basic framework for partnership activities — along with resources for SPTAs interested in forming partnerships with other organizations is available on the APA Practice Organization's Practice Central website.