Feature

In her presidential address in San Francisco, APA President Sharon Stephens Brehm, PhD, emphasized the importance of collaboration both within APA and between APA and other organizations.

However, the most dramatic illustration of collaboration took place well before she gave her talk. For the first time in the history of the association, all presidents of national and regional psychological associations outside the United States were invited to participate in an APA convention. Representatives attended from 18 countries (Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Cambodia, Columbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Yemen) and two regional associations (The Asian Psychological Association and the Sociedad Interamericana de Psicologia). Their presence at the Opening Session created a palpable sense of excitement and enthusiasm among all those in the conference hall, said Brehm. As a result of the lively conversations that ensued during the convention, all of the presidents expressed great interest in finding ways to strengthen collaboration among the associations they represented.

Brehm also described many other collaborations that are essential for APA's and psychology's future. For example, evidence-based practice (EBP) is a vital collaborative interaction between practitioners and scientists. Initially, the science/practice connection takes place during the education and training of students. Afterward, practitioners keep their scientific knowledge up-to-date by participating in continuing education. However, the latter is usually carried out through the old-fashioned "pull" (as in off-the-shelf) methodology, which will soon be replaced by a much better "push" delivery that is highly compatible with an evidence-based practice perspective. In this kind of system, clinicians would inform the publisher about their specific clinical interests so that the publisher can e-mail the clinician recently published evidence relevant to his or her specific clinical interests. Moreover, a true EBP continuing-education system might well encourage far more interaction between researchers and clinicians, creating online communities focused on specific diagnoses and treatments.

Brehm's talk also emphasized a number of highly significant developments that will require strong collaborations among psychologists and throughout our society. First, prescription privileges for psychologists requires ongoing collaboration between educators and practitioners in order to develop the most effective curriculum. In terms of broad societal changes, the United States (and many other countries) will face a massive demographic shift as the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) age. The United States and other countries with similar birthrate patterns will produce the largest proportion of elderly individuals in human history.

"Psychology must establish its vital role in collaborations with other professionals to address the needs of older individuals and their families," said Brehm. "Psychology in general and APA in particular must also be prepared for the significant multicultural shift in the U.S. population over the next four decades. APA has been a leading advocate for diversity within psychology and the association. This advocacy will be even more important in the years to come."