From the CEO

As our nation strives to expand access to health care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs under the Affordable Care Act, psychologists have increasingly important roles to play. Through our research, education and training, and our clinical work focused on integrated health care, we can help reduce health disparities and decrease the incidence of such major health problems as obesity, heart disease, cancer and substance use.

As part of our effort to broaden opportunities for psychologists in the evolving health-care system, last year APA launched its Center for Psychology and Health to coordinate efforts across the association on a key goal of APA's strategic plan — to expand psychology's role in advancing health.

Over the past year, with valuable input from APA's directorates, divisions and other partners, we've focused our efforts in four main areas:

  • Education and training to expand opportunities for graduate education and professional development.
  • Advocacy to urge policymakers to increase access to care and reimbursement rates through the work of the APA Practice Organization (APAPO), among other issues.
  • Public education and outreach highlighting psychology's critical importance to health care.
  • Member communications to keep you informed of our efforts and aware of opportunities to get involved.

So far, we've made significant progress on these goals. Specific highlights include:

  • Launching the center's website as a resource for psychologists and the public on the vital contributions psychology as the science of behavior makes to health care. The site includes information on training opportunities for psychologists who want to work in integrated care, such as a directory of doctoral programs, internships and postdocs. It also includes a list of health psychology CE programs, links for those who want to learn more about and get involved in state-level health-care reform implementation, and ready access to health-related APA journal articles and other publications.
  • With the much appreciated contributions of APA's Interdivisional Healthcare Committee, producing a series of briefing sheets and related products (such as Q&A documents and podcasts) for health professionals, policymakers and the public, to increase these key constituencies' understanding of how psychological interventions can promote health. Briefing sheet topics include the role of psychology in integrated health care and primary care, as well as in treating such health conditions as chronic pain, obesity, cancer and heart disease. Eight additional briefing sheets will soon be posted, with more planned for the coming year.
  • With the APAPO, working with the American Medical Association and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revalue psychotherapy services, resulting in an 8 percent increase to the total Medicare payments allotted for psychologists' services this year. This is the first such increase in nearly a decade. This essential advocacy work will continue under the auspices of the center's Office of Health Care Financing, which aims to ensure that psychologists are included and fairly compensated for their services, including those provided as part of integrated primary-care health teams. And the APAPO is also working to remove barriers to integrated care, such as state corporate practice of medicine laws that prevent psychologist-physician partnerships.
  • Developing strategic partnerships within and outside APA, including with key APA divisions such as Div. 38 (Health) and the Interdivisional Healthcare Committee, as well as with outside organizations, such as the Society of Behavioral Medicine. APA staff who support the work of the center also serve on the executive committee of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, a national coalition advocating for integrated care through the patient-centered medical home model. These alliances will help us raise psychologists' visibility in the health care system and increase opportunities for psychologists in integrated care.

We invite you to follow our work on the center's website and expand your professional horizons to assume new roles in our new, emerging health-care system.