New PAC provides APA members opportunity to support psychology advocacy

The American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) has created a political action committee that begins a new chapter in organized psychology’s involvement in the political arena.

APAPO-PAC is dedicated to supporting U.S. Senate and House of Representative candidates who are friends of psychology. The PAC will give psychologists the opportunity to build relationships with members of Congress who will help advance psychology’s legislative agenda. 

“Supporting congressional candidates is crucial for the success of our legislative advocacy strategy,” said APAPO Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD. Creation of APAPO-PAC allows psychology to integrate political giving with direct lobbying on Capitol Hill and grassroots psychologists’ engagement with their members of Congress, according to Nordal. 

APAPO-PAC is part of the APA Practice Organization housed in the American Psychological Association headquarters in Washington, D.C. Established in 2001 as a companion organization to APA, the APA Practice Organization is devoted to advancing and defending the practice of psychology. In 2005, the Education Advocacy Trust (EdAT), which is dedicated to advancing education in psychology, particularly for psychology as a health profession, was created within APAPO.

The new PAC will address practitioners' concerns about issues such as steep cuts in reimbursement for psychological services and inappropriate barriers to psychologists’ scope of practice. Further, APAPO-PAC, working with EdAT, will advance psychology as a health profession through its support of efforts to increase funding for the education and training of psychologists in working with other health professions.

“APAPO-PAC is a tremendous new opportunity to educate all APA members — not just those who also belong to APAPO — and get them more involved in advocacy,” said Nordal. 

The new PAC builds on 10 years of affiliation between APAPO and the Association for the Advancement of Psychology (AAP), whose PAC, known as Psychologists for Legislative Action Now (PLAN), has given psychologists a voice in the political process for nearly 40 years. AAP will continue to operate until the end of 2012.

Operating the new PAC within APAPO will eliminate the need to sustain the overhead expenses of an outside organization, thereby allowing psychology to direct more dollars to political giving, pointed out representatives of both APAPO and APA.   

An Interim Advisory Group consisting of members from the APAPO and AAP boards is assisting with the new PAC’s start-up activities. Meanwhile, APAPO and EdAT staff have been actively involved in PAC operations, including the creation of a new website for APAPO-PAC.