Using the power of psychology to influence the health-care system and meet the public's needs is the top priority for Norine G. Johnson, PhD, a full-time independent practitioner in Boston who members have elected as APA's 2001 president.
Johnson takes office next January. She ran for the office along with four other APA members in last fall's election: Ludy T. Benjamin Jr., PhD, a professor of psychology at Texas A&M University; Alice F. Chang, PhD, a private practitioner, researcher and consultant in Tucson, Ariz.; Gerald C. Davison, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California; and Nathan N. Stockhammer, PhD, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City.
Johnson, the owner of four psychology businesses and clinical assistant professor at Boston University's Medical School, sees psychologists as intricate to the nation's health care.
"If you look at this century, psychology has defined the agenda," says Johnson. "We've been the major movers in education, in understanding relationships, in understanding child and adult development, in understanding how people think and learn--it just goes on and on and on. And as you look forward into the next millennium, the issues that the public is facing are the issues that psychology is best suited to be a major player in addressing."
Johnson plans to convene an ad hoc council on the nation's health-care needs, made up of representatives from all APA constituencies--practice, science, education and public interest. "We have to identify the public needs in health care, look at them from the perspective of our practice and science, then translate it back again to the public," she says.
As part of this initiative, Johnson has deemed health care her presidential theme for APA's 2001 Annual Convention and plans to make convention programming more open to the public to promote what psychologists do.
"I want to have the public involved in some form, whether they're presenters, or in the audience, or whether ahead of time they've helped shape the program," she says.
A second priority for Johnson's presidency is to address the challenges to psychology's education and training institutions. Among her top concerns are the need to provide a better future for psychology students and graduates; threats to academic freedom and faculty size; and a dearth of research funds.
"In today's environment, students have enormous difficulties getting jobs that allow them to advance their careers in the ways that they want," she says. "It's not that they can't get jobs--they can get jobs--but frequently they have to take more than one job, and they're not getting the compensation they deserve or the supervision and mentoring that is most helpful."
In December, APA's Board of Directors supported the establishment of a Commission on Education, training and Licensure. If APA's Council of Representatives also supports the idea, the commission will begin to address these major concerns, Johnson says.
A third presidential priority for Johnson is expanding opportunities for psychology science and practice. To further this initiative, she will establish a cross-constituency task force to identify barriers, enhance opportunities and develop new collaborative endeavors in emerging markets.
"It's going to be a team effort," she says. "I see my election as the result of a team effort and whatever happens in my presidency as the result of a team effort."
Johnson earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Wayne State University in 1972. Her training also includes a Harvard Medical School two-year postdoctoral program for Mental Health Planners and Administrators.
She comes to the presidential post with a wealth of national and state association experience. She has served on APA's Board of Directors (1997-99); on APA's Council Representative (1995-97; 1985-88); and on APA's Finance Committee (1987-91).
She co-chaired with Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, the 1998 miniconvention on professional education and training; initiated, with Sharon S. Brehm, PhD, and Dorothy W. Cantor, PsyD, the Task Force on Women in Academe; and co-chaired with Karen M. Zager, PhD, the Task Force on Adolescent Girls.
She is an APA Fellow of Divisions 12 (Clinical), 29 (Psychotherapy), 35 (Women), 42 (Independent Practice), 43 (Family) and 51 (Men and Masculinity).
On the state level, Johnson has been involved in the Massachusetts Psychological Association for more than 25 years, serving as president, council representative and board member.