APA presidents have the unique opportunity to focus attention on issues important to them during their year in office. I have selected a set of three such issues. First among these, I hope to promote psychology as a means of building stronger families. The second two initiatives will focus on strengthening our own family with special attention to diversity and early-career psychologists. I hope that you will join me in these efforts, as I believe that the programs I propose will attract substantial interest and offer significant benefits.
Strengthening immigrant families
The very first step in these initiatives will take place in San Antonio on Feb. 2: an expert conference on immigration. Planning for this conference began nearly a year ago when two newly elected division presidents, Toy Caldwell Colbert (Div. 45, the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) and Cynthia de Las Fuentes (Div. 35, the Society for the Psychology of Women), approached me about doing some sort of program related to immigration. They rightly recognized that our nation of immigrants has become more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and culture than at any time in our history. They also understood that many psychological factors bear directly on the coping and well-being of both immigrants and established members of the community attempting to live together.
As mental health professionals and behavioral scientists, we have much to contribute to the dialogue on fostering better integration of our newest residents into the fabric of American life. As psychologists, we also have much to learn about how best to offer assessment, education and mental health services to people whose cultures, languages and lifestyles are different from our own.
The Expert Summit on Immigration under the leadership of Drs. Caldwell-Colbert and de Las Fuentes will afford an opportunity to begin the process of getting up to speed on these issues. It may also portent a pattern of future thematic conferences on topics important to psychology, while building new collaborations. This conference will benefit from co-sponsorship by the American Orthopsychiatric Association, the Society for Research in Child Development and the Texas Psychological Association. I hope you will visit the conference Web site and consider joining us in San Antonio. Attendance will be limited to assure meaningful interaction. Act quickly,so you will not be disappointed. For more information, visit www.reisman-white.com and click on "conference registrations."
Supporting the family of psychology
Just as the immigration conference integrates themes of family coping and diversity, my other initiatives will also overlap. Many programs planned for the New Orleans convention will focus on the theme of "Psychology: Building Stronger Families."
Another initiative titled, "Centering on Mentoring," under the leadership of Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel and driven by an enthusiastic and diverse task force, will soon present a spectrum of programs aimed at assisting all our members in both becoming effective mentors and in identifying colleagues to assist with guidance around career-oriented needs. For example, a junior colleague might seek help of a more experienced hand to assist in polishing a scholarly manuscript for publication, a mid-career psychologist may seek peer advice in relocating their practice, or a senior psychologist might find assistance from a technology-savvy graduate student in setting up new equipment. Keep an eye on this column for unfolding developments.
As many of you know, the average age of APA members has crept into the mid-50s, and many early-career psychologists feel burdened by substantial student loan debt and barriers to mobility or speedy career entry. Dr. Tom DeMaio has taken up the challenge of cording efforts to provide information on existing training funds and federal loan forgiveness programs with the goal of both getting the word out to early-career psychologists, and working with our senior members to advocate for expansion and better funding for such programs. Tom has also led efforts with Dr. Ruth Paige to begin pursuit of licensing policy changes that will ultimately allow psychologists to begin practice upon the completion of their terminal degree and internship, as is already the case in our sister professions of medicine, nursing and social work. Once again, watch this space for new developments.
I hope you will join me in making these activities successful as you find accounts of them in future issues of the Monitor along with information on how you can take part. I wish each of you and your families a happy and healthy 2006.