Public Policy Update

APA members from across the nation worked with APA's Public Policy Office (PPO) in 2005 to speak out on behalf of needed federal programs for children, older adults and other at-risk populations. They also explained to policy-makers the value of psychological research and federal programs that fund the education and training of future psychologists.

Their efforts were crucial to helping APA progress toward its goals of improving the lives of underserved Americans and also of increasing opportunities for psychology in federal legislation. PPO is grateful for the commitment of these APA members who made 2005 an advocacy success.

Public interest policy

  • Advocacy for children's programs. In February, Public Interest Policy staff and Bette Bottoms, PhD, the president of APA's Div. 37 (Child, Youth and Family Services) organized an advocacy training in which 25 APA members from Divs. 37, 16 (School), 41 (American Psychology-Law Society), 53 (Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology) and 54 (Society of Pediatric Psychology) participated. Following the training, members visited the offices of their members of Congress to advocate for increased funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, which is part of the No Child Left Behind Act. In the fall, as part of a PPO coordinated advocacy campaign, members of APA's Committee on Children, Youth and Families - Marsha Kline Pruett, PhD, of Yale University School of Medicine, Beth Doll, PhD, of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Lonnie Sherrod, PhD, of Fordham University, and John Lochman, PhD, of the University of Alabama-visited the local offices of their U.S. senators to advocate for the Child Health Care Crisis Relief Act. This bill aims to enhance graduate training in order to increase the number of child mental health professionals, including psychologists and school psychologists.

  • Mental health of ethnic-minority children. In November, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing on the mental health and resilience of ethnic-minority children with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at the request of chair Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), along with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. Presenters included Barbara Bonner, PhD, of Indian Country Child Trauma Center and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Larke Nahme Huang, PhD, of the American Institutes for Research, Portia Hunt, PhD, of Temple University, Alicia Lieberman, PhD, of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in San Francisco, and Luis Vasquez, PhD, of New Mexico State University, with APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, serving as moderator.

  • Older adults' mental health needs. APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing in May with the Older Women's League and other organizations to commemorate Older Adults' Mental Health Week. Among the presenters was the chair of APA's Committee on Aging, Gregory Hinrichsen, PhD, of Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, who provided an overview of mental health and aging and discussed the need for federal legislation in this area. Additionally, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) discussed the importance of mental health services for older adults and highlighted the provisions of the Positive Aging Act, which she had reintroduced earlier that day. PPO staff and APA's aging issues officer also advocated successfully for the selection of psychologists as delegates to the White House Conference on Aging, held in December, and the inclusion of mental and behavioral health needs of older adults as a priority issue (see page 30).

  • Mental health and substance abuse treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. Members of APA's Committee on Psychology and AIDS (COPA) - David Martin, PhD, of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Bianca Guzman, PhD, of the CHOICES Program in LaPuenta, Calif., and Jeff Parsons, PhD, of Hunter College-participated in a coodinated advocacy campaign arranged by PPO staff in May. They met with Senate staff in their home states to advocate for increased funding for the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. PPO staff worked closely with APA's Office on AIDS and COPA members to develop recommendations for mental health and substance abuse services within the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. In April, COPA member Isabel Fernandez, PhD, of Nova Southeastern University, presented APA's recommendations at a formal briefing for staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In September, COPA members Lisa Bowleg, PhD, of the University of Rhode Island, Martin, and Fernandez participated in a PPO advocacy training on the Ryan White CARE Act. They met with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), as well as with staff members of their respective senators and representatives, to advocate for needed mental health and substance abuse services for people with HIV/AIDS.

  • Women's health. PPO staff arranged for Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, now APA's executive director for public interest, to present an APA statement at a May Capitol Hill press conference in support of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act (H.R. 1940), which was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). In November, APA Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) sponsored a congressional briefing that addressed disparities in immigrant women's health and reproductive health care. APA member Irene Frieze, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, moderated the briefing, and Rep. Honda and Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) provided remarks.


Education policy

  • Graduate Psychology Education. Thanks to the grassroots efforts of APA's Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators network, along with other APA members, the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program was saved. The GPE program, which trains psychology graduate students to work with underserved populations, will continue in fiscal year 2006 at $2 million-a reduction of $2.5 million. By garnering congressional champions, key appropriators protected GPE despite the fact that 70 percent of the Heath Professions Education funding was eliminated along with a number of the programs. Education PPO will regroup and redouble its efforts to garner champions for fiscal year 2007 to restore the funding for GPE, which has proven to be one of the highest quality federally supported health profession education and training programs.

  • The Defense Graduate Psychology Education Program. With the support and guidance of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Education PPO launched the Defense Graduate Psychology Education Program (D-GPE). Thanks to the efforts of military psychologists who donated their time and expertise to advocate for the program, D-GPE is poised to be a one-of-a-kind program to train military and civilian psychologists to meet the mental and behavioral health needs of returning military personnel and their families. Psychologists and military officials who advocated on behalf of D-GPE include: Army Maj. Victoria Ingram, PsyD, who served as the Department of Defense point person on this initiative and worked closely with Army Col. Bruce Crow, PsyD, Navy Capt. Morgan Sammons, PhD, Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Campise, PhD, Air Force Lt. Col. James Favret, PhD, Army Col. Marshall Goby, PhD, Army Lt. Col. Stephen Bowles, PhD, Navy Cmdr. Eric Getka, PhD, and David Krantz, PhD, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The Defense Appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2006 includes $3.4 million to create the Center for Deployment Psychology and provide a service of major importance to our nation's military and their families.

  • Convention advocacy training. In August, more than 150 psychologists and graduate students participated in a daylong advocacy training workshop conducted by PPO, in collaboration with the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. Led by the Education-PPO staff, participants learned about the role that advocacy plays in gaining federal support and funding for psychology through vital policy initiatives, such as the reauthorization of the Bureau of Health Professions-which administers the Graduate Psychology Education Program-the National Institutes of Health and the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act. The following day, participants visited legislators on Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of psychology.

  • Cultivating education leaders. Participants in the 2005 Education Leadership Conference (ELC) served as ambassadors for psychology. Nearly 100 APA members took to Capitol Hill-some for the first time-to advocate for two important programs that provide training opportunities for psychologists and at the same time support mental and behavioral health services in underserved communities. On the appropriations front, they sought funding for the Graduate Psychology Education Program. They also urged passage of the Child Health Care Crisis Relief Act.

  • Youth suicide prevention. APA members continued their push for increased funding for suicide prevention programs authorized under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act-especially the Campus Suicide Prevention grants. The act received full funding in the fiscal year 2006 appropriations bill, which will result in $5 million for campus initiatives.


Science policy

  • The value of psychological research. In May, APA sponsored a briefing entitled "NIH Research in Action: Innovative Behavioral Treatments for Mental and Substance Use Disorders." Featured psychologists included: David Barlow, PhD, of Boston University, William Miller, PhD, of the University of New Mexico, and Kathleen Carroll, PhD, of the Yale University School of Medicine. Later that month, at a symposium sponsored by the Decade of Behavior titled "The State of Democracy: Engaging a Changing Citizenry," APA member Judith Torney-Purta, PhD, of the University of Maryland, was honored for her work on the beliefs and attitudes of young people in the United States and abroad on democracy and civic involvement. Yet another May briefing, "Psychology in Service to America's Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families," was co-sponsored by APA and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Three distinguished psychologists highlighted important roles played by psychology within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA). Presenters included Antonette Zeiss, PhD, of the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, Terence Keane, PhD, of the VA Boston Healthcare System, and Harold Wain, PhD, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Science Policy staff also contributed to two separate briefings on the subject of advancing women in science, which featured psychologists Nora Newcombe, PhD, of Temple University, former APA President Diane Halpern, PhD, of Claremont-McKenna College, and Virginia Valian, PhD, of Hunter College. APA, as part of a coalition in support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), had a big year on Capitol Hill educating Congress about the importance of drug abuse research in several different contexts. In March, the Friends of NIDA coalition sponsored a briefing, "Effectively Breaking the Cycle of Drugs and Crime: Research and Treatment Provide the Answers." Former NFL football player Dexter Manley, director of community outreach for Second Genesis Inc., shared his journey through addiction, prison, treatment and recovery. APA member Dwayne Simpson, PhD, of Texas Christian University, detailed treatment research results involving partnerships among scientists, offenders and the criminal justice system. In June, the Friends of NIDA sponsored a congressional briefing on methamphetamine addiction, which included Richard Rawson, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who discussed results from his NIDA-funded Matrix treatment research. Wrapping up the Friends' education briefing series was October's "Drug Use and HIV/AIDS: Breaking the Cycle of Infection," featuring Robert Booth, PhD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

  • Science Reception on Capitol Hill. Sujeeta Bhatt, PhD, of Georgetown University Medical Center, was APA's exhibitor at the Coalition for National Science Funding exhibit and reception on Capitol Hill, which showcased research funded by the National Science Foundation. Bhatt's presentation was titled "Catching Spies: Psychological Science and the fMRI."

  • Science advocacy workshop. Thirteen early-career psychologists came to Washington, D.C., to talk with congressional staff about the importance of the National Institutes of Health in supporting basic behavioral research. Workshop participants included: Abigail Baird, PhD, of Dartmouth College, Dan Bauer, PhD, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Mary Boggiano, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Christopher Braun, PhD, of Hunter College, Lowell Gaertner, PhD, of the University of Tennessee, Kelly Goedert, PhD, of Pacific Lutheran University, Adam Goodie, PhD, of the University of Georgia, Susan Hespos, PhD, of Vanderbilt University, Heejung Kim, PhD, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dan Kimball, JD, PhD, of the University of Texas-Arlington, Keith Payne, PhD, of Ohio State University, Cynthia Pietras, PhD, of Western Michigan University, and Eric Shumacher, PhD, of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

  • Congressional testimony. Jennifer Vendemia, PhD, of the University of South Carolina, presented APA's testimony before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine, testified on the role of social science research in disaster preparedness and response at a November congressional hearing of the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Research. In December, the Democratic membership of the House Committee on Science held a briefing titled, "Gaps in the National Flu Preparedness Plan: Social Science Planning and Response," at which APA member Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University, spoke about social science research findings on the human responses to risk.


If this list inadvertently omitted any psychologists' efforts, please let PPO know of their activities by e-mailing PPO.

Further Reading

Get involved in advocacy!

APA's Public Policy Office is continuing its efforts to expand its network of advocates and welcomes APA members' new and continued involvement in federal policy-making. As psychologists, you have much to contribute! For more information, please contact the APA Public Policy Office via e-mail or visit the PPO Web site.