President's Column

What a year! APA has had multiple opportunities to make psychology a household word by addressing society's most pressing problems. At the top of the list was APA's response to disasters, beginning with the tsunami disaster in South Asia in late December 2004, and continuing with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. APA provided significant financial and professional resources for general relief efforts, mental health needs, and assisting our clinical and academic members.

APA also responded to the public concern over the role of psychologists in national security investigations through forming the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security. The report, adopted by APA's Council of Representatives in August, made it crystal clear that "Psychologists do not engage in, direct, support, facilitate or offer training in torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

You should know that APA is invited to sit at the table where important policy matters are discussed. Related to the topic of psychologists in national security investigations, I was invited by the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for health affairs to be one of a group of 12 leaders from national health and mental health organizations and Department of Defense (DoD) officials that visited the Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Oct. 19. The purpose of the visit was to learn more about the work of psychologists currently serving as part of the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, and to enter into a dialogue with DoD officials and the rest of the visiting group as to an appropriate and effective role for mental health professionals in national security investigations. APA is very interested in the role that psychologists are playing in national security investigations as part of the task force and will continue to help advise DoD to ensure that such work by psychologists is safe, legal, ethical and effective.

Furthermore, APA was invited to send its president and other members to two White House conferences this year: The White House Conference on Helping America's Youth, held on Oct. 27 at Howard University, which was followed by an evening reception at the White House; and the White House Conference on Aging, Dec. 11-14, a conference held every decade since the 1960s.

Of all the invitations that I received to represent APA, the most memorable was delivering a eulogy at the funeral of former APA President Kenneth B. Clark, the most influential psychologist of the 20th century, whose research helped end school segregation. Dr. Clark had told his son that he wanted the current APA president to speak at his funeral, and I was honored to be asked to do so.

With the help of literally hundreds of APA members and the outstanding APA staff, I had the opportunity to sponsor four presidential initiatives this year. "Making Psychology a Household Word" was both the general theme for my presidency as well as an initiative in its own right. As one of the learned professions, we have a great deal to offer society. Through mobilizing members to promote the contributions of psychology to society, we hoped to help the public recognize psychology's position as a premier science and profession, relevant to solving a wide range of personal, health, educational, social and family problems. Promoting "Health Care for the Whole Person" is the second initiative. By collaborating with a broad range of health-care organizations on a public statement on the role of psychological and behavioral health in health care, we hoped to promote the integration of physical and psychological health care in a reformed health-care system. "Enhancing Diversity within APA" is the third initiative. We sought to increase the comfort and welcome experienced by groups representing diversity broadly defined, including such dimensions as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, religion and age. Developing an APA position on "Evidence-Based Psychological Health-Care Practice" is the fourth initiative. A presidential task force drafted a statement that acknowledged the valid points of all sides of the debate and proposed a consensus statement involving the three pillars of evidence-based practice in health care: research evidence; clinician expertise; and patient preferences, values and culture. I am pleased to report that the APA Council of Representatives approved the legislative items associated with these initiatives at its August meeting.

So it is time to say goodbye. None of this would have been remotely possible without the enthusiastic involvement of many APA members and APA staff, who are far too numerous to name, but you all know who you are. To each and every one of you I say: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! Second, I want to note that at the end of my past-presidential year in 2006, I plan to follow one of the best traditions of APA presidents, and retire from APA leadership. But I do plan to remain an active member of the association, and I hope that our paths cross.