What do members want in return for their dues payments? That was a major focus of the association's first-ever membership summit this past April. The more than 50 representatives from APA governance and constituent groups pointed to the cost of membership as a possible barrier to becoming or remaining a member, especially for early-career psychologists.
In response, APA leaders emphasize their efforts to deliver real value for the dues payment and note that APA membership offers access to a wide range of specialty interest groups, opportunities to interact with colleagues and leaders in the field, and the ability to influence public policy, among other benefits.
APA recognizes that members have many demands on their money and want value for their dues, says APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD. With that in mind, he says, the Board of Directors, Council of Representatives and Membership Committee continually work to keep member dues low while simultaneously seeking ways to better meet member needs. Currently, the dues for full members are $261. Different pricing levels are available for students, teachers and associate members (see APA Membership).
In fact, for the last five years, APA dues have risen no more than the rate of inflation. The portion of the association's budget that comes from dues has continued to shrink (see pie charts, below), allowing APA's board to keep dues in line with the consumer price index.
The board also recognizes that early-career psychologists have particular financial burdens, and as of 2006 has extended the amount of time early-career psychologists have reduced membership rates from four to seven years. Members who are licensed practitioners pay a practice assessment (see "Practice Assessment adds value") and belong to APA's companion organization, the APA Practice Organization, which is devoted exclusively to addressing the needs of the practice community. Newly licensed practitioners pay a reduced assessment for several years.
In return for that money, the association offers:
Communication with peers. Numerous APA conferences on national and regional levels provide opportunities to meet with leading researchers, educators and clinicians in various areas of psychology. "As all science--including psychology--becomes more interdisciplinary, you're going to want to have access to colleagues who work in different areas through journals, listservs, etcetera. APA membership is the means by which to access all of those opportunities," states Rhea K. Farberman, APA's executive director for public and member communications.
Both generalization and specialization. No other psychological association brings together such a wide range of interests, says John D. Robinson, EdD, chair of the APA Membership Committee. "Whatever your psychological field, we have a place for you," he says. "You can belong to several parts of a big association." Members can find peers in the association's 54 divisions and societies, which cover everything from behavioral neuroscience to applied experimental and engineering psychology to behavior analysis. For example, Robinson and some colleagues in Div. 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) have used its Section VII--the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers--to form an informal group of transplant psychologists.
Information. Members can stay up-to-date with research and developments in the field with the periodicals Monitor on Psychology and the American Psychologist and receive discounted access to APA's vast number of journals and books.
Influence. APA is the voice of psychology in America, and with the force of its 150,000 members influences policy in areas such as education and research funding and support. The association offers opportunities to get involved in governance at many points, particularly at the division and state levels, adds Robinson.
APA's strength is in numbers, he says: "We have force and a presence--we speak for psychology with one voice."