Petition on Psychologists’ Work Settings - Questions and Answers
In September 2008, voting members of the American Psychological Association received a ballot concerning the issue of psychologists’ work settings. This document answers general questions about the balloting process.
What was the genesis of this petition?
The APA Bylaws state that upon petition of 1 percent of the membership, a request for a mail vote of the full members of the association on any subject matter will be held as long as the petition issue is not an attempt to amend the Bylaws and is not inconsistent with the association’s Certificate of Incorporation or the Bylaws.
In early June 2008, APA received such a petition with the required number of signatures of full members in good standing concerning the issue of whether psychologists may work in certain settings that involve the detention of individuals.
How were the mechanics of the petition ballot determined?
When and how was the vote conducted?
The vote was conducted by mail ballot and was accompanied by pro/con statements and rebuttals. The mail ballot was sent on or about Aug. 1. The voting was open for 45 days from the date of the ballot mailing.
An outside firm coordinated the ballot mailing and received and tabulated the returned ballots.
A majority of those voting determined the outcome of the balloting.
After the voting results were tallied, the Council of Representatives was charged by the Association Bylaws with “taking such action as may be necessary to implement the result of any such vote.” Again, according to the Bylaws, Council will do so at its next annual meeting after the close of the vote.
Is this resolution APA policy?
Does the petition amend the APA Ethics Code?
Is the petition enforceable by APA?
As explained above, the petition does not become part of the APA Ethics Code nor is it enforceable as are prohibitions set forth in the Ethics Code. Such amendments to the Ethics Code require a more deliberative process and by rule must include review by the full APA governance and a public comment period. However, the resolution does become APA policy. APA communicates its policy statements broadly to media, legislators and the public. Policy statements can be considered by the Ethics Committee in adjudicating cases. They may also be considered by third parties in their engagement of, interaction with or employment of psychologists.