Helping Latino families

I VERY MUCH appreciate your section, "Hispanic psychology" (January Monitor). It surprises me, however, that you failed to mention the groundbreaking work by Celia Falicov: "Latino Families in Therapy: A Guide to Multicultural Practice" (Guilford Press, 1998).

In addition, I would like to point out centers that work from a family-systems perspective with Hispanic adolescents and their families, especially in inner-city areas. One is the work by Daniel Santisteban and Jose Szapocznik from the Center for Family Studies in Miami (the best research, funded by the National Institutes of Health); their literature is easily available.

Our center's Family Intervention and Empowerment Program, a context-oriented and culturally sensitive therapy team model directed to Hispanic student populations (among other minority groups) in New Jersey middle and high schools is described in the chapter "School-based community family therapy for adolescents at risk" in the "Compre-hensive Handbook of Psychotherapy, Vol. 3" (John Wiley & Sons, 2002).

It seems to me that the conceptual and practical discourse about cultural issues in psychology is particularly alive among family psychology professionals.

Center for Family, Community, and Social Justice
Princeton, N.J.

Autism treatment alternatives

THERE ARE OTHER EMPIRICALLY supported interventions for students with autism in addition to applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, the sole focus of the article "Effective education for autism" (December Monitor). While ABA has its attributes, I would venture to say that ABA provided without any other intervention is not "a cure" or always the "best" treatment for students with autism.

I have found that a combination of interventions is often required to help autistic students reach educational goals. A successful school program will incorporate both the direct teaching model associated with ABA and also components of other programs that have also been demonstrated to help autistic students with communication and social deficits, such as the structured teaching strategies associated with TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children), the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the use of Carol Gray's social stories, to name a few.

The article implies that ABA is the only treatment for autism and that school districts are lax in not providing it because of costs and such. Rather, school districts have a responsibility to provide comprehensive programming, of which ABA could be a part, to address the individual student's skill deficits identified on the student's individual education plan (IEP). Districts must also demonstrate that students are making progress on IEP goals. A daylong dose of ABA is not the only existing educational intervention to help students with autism reach these goals, and in many cases, is contraindicated as the sole intervention.

Columbia, S.C.

Promoting prejudice?

IN A WELCOMING LETTER TO 2004 APA Annual Convention attendees, Dr. Diane Halpern affirmed the "power of psychology to change the world--to make it a better place for everyone!" Further, she invited APA members to "come together" to "tell the world that psychology has much to contribute to education, health, peace, to the reduction of prejudice...."

Sadly, this affirmation and invitation went unheeded by editors of the very convention program in which it was published! On page 274 of the official convention program is an APA-authored introduction to a controversial (and we believe biased) film program. The introduction is patently offensive and filled with prejudice and frankly libelous comments.

The program introduction portrays the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its missionary program in a very biased and negative fashion. The church is accused of "brainwashing," "mind control," having "no heart" and using "powerful psychological techniques" to control members. No disclaimer or opportunity for rebuttal was made in either the program or at the film presentation.

As two psychologists with a combined 50 years of APA membership, we also are members of the church. We decry this offensive introduction as an abusive misrepresentation of our faith and also a misuse of psychology. We have asked for an official retraction and apology from APA. We asked APA to identify the author of the introduction.

Dr. Halpern gratefully has assured us this was not the official APA position. However, no identification, official retraction or general apology to APA members was made. We were offered 300 words to bring this to your attention. Anyone who may have viewed this program or who is interested in the correspondence we have had with APA governance can log on our Web site at www.biasfire.com.

St. George, Utah

Ethical balance examined

IT IS PRAISEWORTHY THAT APA'S Monitor on Psychology and APA's Ethics Director, Stephen Behnke, have initiated the significant feature "Ethics Rounds," which promises to enlighten us all on the complexities and nuances inherent in the instructive but possibly conflicting and inconsistent guidelines contained in APA's Ethics Code. That said, however, I must in all good conscience demur from the Ethics Code Task Force's effort to balance "competing values in revising an ethical standard" ("Release of test data and the new ethics code," November 2004).

My reference is to the task force's attempt to balance the putatively conflicting values of client autonomy (that is, the client's right to know his or her test scores) and beneficence ("doing good"), wherein the "task force gave priority to self-determination," a priority with which I am in total agreement.

Where the task force and I part company is when the task force gives priority to nonmaleficence (beneficence) over self-determination, after earlier decreeing that self-determination trumps beneficence, which is to say that the test-taker's right to know his or her test score trumps the professional or social value (beneficence) of a test itself.

It is my unwavering judgment that, save for the case where the test-taker does not wish to know his or her test scores, self-determination (the test-taker's right to know) should unexceptionally have priority over beneficence, even in the case where the test score may be viewed as harmful inasmuch as it reveals an unflattering picture of the test-taker. (After all, a physician does not refrain from telling a patient that he or she has a malignant tumor or herpes, so why should we psychologists seek to shield a person from knowing an unfavorable test score?)

APA's Ethics Code Task Force flip-flopped and lost credibility by saying that self-determination should be given priority over beneficence but later giving priority to beneficence over self-determination. You can't have it both ways by saying that self-determination trumps beneficence and that beneficence trumps self-determination. "A" cannot be greater than "B" and then be lesser than "B." It's got to be one way or the other.

Ethics Code Task Force, heal thyself!

University of Pittsburgh