The Asian American Psychological Association
Richard Lee, PhD
The Asian-American Psychological Association (AAPA) was founded in December 1972 by a group of Asian-American psychologists and other mental health professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. With the leadership of Derald Wing Sue, PhD, (AAPA's first president) and Stanley Sue, PhD, the first core group was formed and included educators, social workers, master's level psychologists and other mental health professionals. The group was vitally interested in Asian-American psychology and mental health issues, in the training and education of Asian-American mental health professionals and in collaborating and networking with their peers. Since its inception, the association advocated on behalf of Asian-Americans as well as advancing Asian-American psychology. In the 1980's, for example, the AAPA pressed the U.S. Bureau of the Census to include Asian-American subgroups in its census data, and fought against the English-only language movement in California.
Throughout its history, AAPA has published journals and newsletters focused on the education and training of Asian-American psychologists, Asian-American psychological topics, and methods of improving mental health services for Asian-Americans. The association leads and guides other professional organizations on Asian-American psychology and is in the forefront of the multicultural psychology movement.
Today, the association has over 600 members, who are psychologists, psychology students, master’s-level practitioners and others interested in Asian-American research and practice. The organization has a dual mission: to advocate for Asian-Americans’ mental health and to “create a space” for those committed to Asian-American issues, says Alvin N. Alvarez, PhD, AAPA’s delegate to APA’s Council of Representatives.
In recognition of the community’s diversity, AAPA now has several divisions that address the special interests, which includes The Division on Women, Division of Students, Division on South Asian-Americans and Division on Filipino-Americans. One highlight of AAPA’s activities is its annual convention, typically held the day before APA’s own. Focused on Asian-American mental health, the event features more than two dozen breakout sessions, poster presentations and a banquet. The association launched an Asian-American Journal of Psychology®, published by APA, in 2009.