January 14, 2013
APA Creates New Center for Psychology and Health
Center will advance psychology’s role in integrated care settings, advocate for sustainable health care financing
WASHINGTON—The American Psychological Association (APA), with the assistance of the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO), has established a new Center for Psychology and Health within its national headquarters. The center, directed by APA CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, will focus on expanding the use of psychological knowledge within evolving health care settings, and on preparing psychologists to use their expertise in such settings. Ellen Garrison, PhD, APA’s senior policy advisor, will assist Anderson in the coordination of the center’s day-to-day activities.
"Psychology has much to offer to improve health care. Whether it’s as part of integrated health care teams or working with patients on how stress and emotions can affect their health, psychologists have unique and important contributions to make to improve health outcomes for all Americans," said Anderson. "Our goal for this new center is to make sure our health care system and its patients have access to and benefit from the discipline’s expertise."
A unit of the new center, the Office for Healthcare Financing, will focus at the national policy level on payment models that are fair and sustainable for both health systems and practitioners. Specifically, the office, directed by Randy Phelps, PhD, will coordinate APA’s participation in the American Medical Association’s CPT Editorial Panel — where the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes describing psychologists’ work are developed — and the AMA’s Relative Value Scale Update Committee, where those procedure codes are valued. Phelps is the deputy executive director of the APA Practice Directorate/APAPO. He has been a leader in APAPO’s work to ensure fairness in health insurance coding and reimbursement systems.
Advocacy and communications will be key functions of the new center, Anderson said. "It will promote the contributions psychology and psychologists can make to improve health outcomes to federal policymakers, employers and the insurance industry," he added. "The center will also work to create grassroots demand for access to psychological services by educating the public about the value of psychological interventions and the unique training and expertise of psychologists."
The center will also build on APA’s ongoing efforts to determine core competencies for health service providers in psychology and to help psychologists prepare for expanded roles in health delivery systems.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.