At its meeting during the New Orleans convention, the APA Council of Representatives deliberated the issue of the role of psychologists in national security interrogations and took action on a number of initiatives important to young people.
As it has at its last two meetings, APA's Council of Representatives devoted considerable time to discussion of the ethics of psychologists' involvement in national security interrogations. Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, surgeon general of the U.S. Army, spoke about the work of psychologists in consulting to interrogation teams at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kiley emphasized his belief that military psychologists are able to do their jobs and adhere to the APA Ethics Code. Steven Reisner, PhD, a senior faculty member at Columbia University's International Trauma Studies Program, also spoke, expressing his belief that psychologists should not be present in any capacity at Guantanamo or places like it.
Council also received an update on the continuing work of the APA Ethics Committee on the issue of the ethics of psychologists' roles in national security investigations from Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, PhD, chair of the committee. The committee is beginning work on a commentary/casebook that will address how to define such terms as "cruel" and "degrading."
In separate action, the council adopted a resolution affirming the organization's absolute opposition to all forms of torture and abuse. The resolution also reiterated psychologists' duty to intervene to attempt to stop acts of torture as well, as the obligation to report any instances of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The resolution also affirmed the centrality to APA policy of U.N. human rights documents and conventions (see related story, "Debating psychologists' wartime roles").
Council also requested that APA President Gerald P. Koocher, PhD, write a letter on behalf of members to all military psychologists and those working in the National Guard and Veterans Administration commending them for their many significant contributions and sacrifices.
Other actions taken by council included:
Adoption of Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major. The guidelines provide support to academic departments by describing a set of learning goals and outcomes for the undergraduate psychology major and are designed to improve the quality of learning and teaching in psychology. APA's Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) Task Force on Undergraduate Psychology Major Competencies drafted the guidelines. The guidelines (Education Resources) address development of competencies in students seeking entrance to graduate or professional schools, as well as those entering the labor force. The task force also developed a companion resource on effective assessment strategies for the competencies called the "Assessment Cyberguide." The guide is available online at Cyberguide. More coverage of the guidelines will appear in the November Monitor.
Adoption of the report of the APA Working Group on Psycho-tropic Medications for Children and Adolescents. The report cites an urgent need for improved access to evidence-based mental health care for children and adolescents and identifies serious gaps in the knowledge base for treatment of young people with mental health disorders. (A press release and full text of the report is available at APA Report.) More coverage of the report will appear in the November Monitor.
Adoption of the report of the APA Task Force on Socioeconomic Status and establishment of a Continuing Committee on Socio-economic Status that will address its effect on psychological development and well-being. (The full text of the report is available at Task Force Report.)
Additionally, the Council of Representatives passed the association's 2007 budget, which included reauthorization of the association's public education campaign, modified the eight-year dues ramp-up schedule for early-career members and increased the members' journal credit to $55. Dues for 2007 will be $270 for full members and $50 for members of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students.
In other association business, council passed an action item restructuring the Membership Committee into a Membership Board and creating a separate Fellows Committee reporting to the new Membership Board. This action requires a change in the association's bylaws. The bylaw amendment will be sent to the full membership for a vote in early November. If approved, the Membership Board will begin seating members in January 2008.