My father taught me the value of standing up for what you believe and for what you've done. My mother taught me the fun and value of engaging in the political process. Maybe that's why I appreciate it when politicians for standing up for what they believe.
Dr. Brian Baird and Dr. Ted Strickland are two standup guys who are psychologists and members of Congress. One dark summer day in 1999, when psychology research and the very foundations of the rights of academic freedom were being challenged, Drs. Baird and Strickland remained unwavering in their commitment to the necessity for scientific freedom of inquiry and expression. They risked their careers to maintain their dedication to psychology as a science and a practice in the public interest. This year they are joined in the U.S. House of Representatives by Tom Osborne, also a psychologist, who is widely known as former head coach of the University of Nebraska football team (see page 12).
Ted Strickland. Ted received a doctoral degree in counseling psychology in 1980 from the University of Kentucky. Professionally he was a director of a Methodist children's home, an assistant professor of psychology at Shawnee State University and a consulting psychologist at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. In March I heard him speak passionately at the Counseling Psychology Fourth National Conference about the conditions in prisons and the need for psychologists to be involved in the criminal justice system. Congressman Strickland has worked hard to gain increased federal support for psychology education and training opportunities. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Graduate Medical Education for Psychology Internship programs are but two of numerous programs he has diligently and successfully worked on.
Brian Baird. Brian received his doctorate from the University of Wyoming and is a licensed psychologist in Washington state. He was chair of the department of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University. His professional practice of psychology included myriad public and private settings with a variety of clients including juvenile offenders and children's psychiatric facilities. Brian is well esteemed by his congressional colleagues. He was elected president of his Freshman Democratic Class. He is a primary sponsor of the Patients' Bill of Rights and has established a congressional committee on health. In my conversations with Brian, I have found him vehement about the needs of the public for access to quality health care and the importance of psychological knowledge to guide intervention choices.
Psychology State and Provincial Legislators. Psychology is fortunate to have psychologist-legislators at the state or provincial level from both parties: Ruth Balser, Massachusetts; Phil Barnhart, Oregon; Joyce Beatty, Ohio; Jay Blanchard, Arizona; Marie Bountrogianni, Ontario; Judy Ann Buffmire, Utah; Jeff Hatch-Miller, Arizona; Alan Lowenthal, California; Louise McBee, Georgia; Dale Miller, Ohio; Timothy Murphy, Pennsylvania; Gloria Romero, California. Psychology-politicians are a rather new phenomena. As more psychologists enter politics, this provides an opportunity to open public debate, including health policy, using psychology's emerging research areas such as those highlighted in the Decade of Behavior.
Psychologists' education and training in the scientific method, skill in professional practice, and our commitment to public welfare bring a unique perspective to public policy. Psychologists value the complexity of connections and understand the potential risks of simple solutions. The psychological research on the bio/social aspects of human behavior is being used to develop national policy in education, health and other federal issues. However, the influence of psychological science could and should be significantly increased at the national, state and local level.
Psychology Members as Advocates. In March the Practice Organization's State Leadership Conference focused on advocacy . Those in attendance at this premiere conference had the opportunity to learn the hows and whys of advocacy. State associations' advocacy efforts are the means by which psychologists have been able to define our profession and its scope of practice. In addition, state association psychologists have advocated for innumerable issues for the public good and the improvement of public services.
If this column encourages one of you who has never offered your services to your state association's advocacy efforts to pick up the phone and volunteer, then I managed to find adequate words. If several of you pick up the phone and volunteer, then maybe together with our psychology political colleagues we can increase the impact of psychology science and practice on public policy. If we don't do it, who will?