APA council focuses on advancing the field

In addition to continuing to fine tune APA’s governance structure, the Council of Representatives adopted policies on preparing health service psychologists and gun violence.

At its February meeting, the APA Council of Representatives continued its work to create a new, more nimble association governance structure and adopted resolutions to advance psychology education and training and the application of the discipline to human welfare.

Of particular importance was the council’s approval as APA policy of the document Health Service Psychology: Preparing Competent Practitioners. This first-of-its-kind policy describes the competencies that a psychologist working in a health delivery setting should possess. Such a document is critical to ensuring quality in training and good health services outcomes as psychology continues its move from a primary focus on mental health to a broad focus on a range of health problems, according to the document authors. 

“In addition to helping to shape training programs, this policy document will help inform students, employers and policymakers who wish to understand the distinctive competencies psychologists bring to health care,” said Cynthia Belar, PhD, APA’s executive director for education. “The new competencies focus on basic biological, psychological and social knowledge of health and disease, and they require practice-based research skills and interdisciplinary collaboration.” 

Also in the area of psychologists’ doctoral education, the council provided funding for APA to create an online application system for psychology graduate programs. The platform will create a centralized system for the submission, processing and review of student applications and faculty recommendations for use by students, programs and reviewers. It is expected to be available in 2015.

Speaking from the podium as the application platform project was being discussed, APA President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, enthusiastically encouraged its support by noting that the platform would be “incredibly helpful to students and faculty by reducing the burdens on both associated with the current application process.” 

Another discussion that council members devoted extensive time to was on the ways the Affordable Care Act would affect psychology and psychologists. The council discussed opportunities the act creates for the discipline, as well as ways the law fails to recognize psychology or the contributions it can make to integrated health care. 

Good governance

The council also reviewed and discussed the Good Governance Project (GGP) implementation action plans. The action plans approved were:

  • Delegating specific duties, including financial and budget matters and the evaluation of the CEO, from the council to the Board of Directors for a three-year trial period.
  • Creating a new composition for APA’s Board of Directors, including six members drawn from the general membership and elected by members, a public member and a commitment to have at least one early career psychologist on the board at all times.
  • Creating a Needs Assessment, Slating and Campaigns Committee to conduct an annual needs assessment and develop slates for those seats on the board elected by and from the general membership. The committee is also expected to conduct a needs assessment and develop slates for council members elected by and from the general membership if such seats are added to a new council structure.
  • Creating a Council Leadership Team. This team’s duties will include managing the council’s workflow and developing a process by which the council will identify, prioritize and address the major issues facing psychology.

In addition, the council considered a number of models, but was unable to reach a consensus on what its structure should be going forward. Instead, council members directed the GGP Implementation Work Group to develop and propose a new structure based on its discussions. That model will be developed beginning this spring and reviewed by the council at its August meeting.

In addition, the council:

  • Adopted as APA policy a new Resolution on Gun Violence Research and Prevention. The resolution is focused on reducing gun violence through a comprehensive, science-based public health approach. It calls for research that identifies risk and protective factors vis-à-vis firearms violence for diverse groups and for a continuum of mental health services to meet the needs both of people with severe mental illness and those in emotional crisis. The council also archived the 1994 policy on Firearm Safety and Youth. An archived document no longer represents APA policy.
  • Adopted an official definition of early career psychologists as those psychologists within 10 years of earning their doctoral degrees. Having a standard definition will improve consistency in awards criteria and allow for better data collection about early career members, according to the motion’s supporters.
  • Endorsed a document entitled Multidisciplinary Competencies in the Care of Older Adults at the Completion of the Entry-level Health Professional Degree, developed by the Partnership for Health in Aging, of which APA is a member. The document is designed to guide multiple health professions in understanding the competencies needed to provide care to older adults.
  • Received the Report of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls. The report’s aim is to raise awareness among psychologists and the public about human trafficking; make recommendations to enhance research, education and training; and urge psychologists to apply scientific research and expertise to influence public policy and enhance services to survivors of trafficking.
  • Approved the revised Principles for the Recognition of Proficiencies in Professional Psychology
  • Received the report Assessing and Evaluating Teacher Preparation Programs. The report calls for the use of valid and efficient tools in the measurement of teacher preparation programs and teacher effectiveness. Such teacher evaluations should be grounded in well-established scientific methods that have evolved within the psychology discipline, according to the report’s authors.
  • Received a report from the association’s chief financial officer indicating that APA expects to finish 2013 with a positive operating margin of more than $1.8 million. The council also approved a 2014 budget that forecasts a $1.4 million positive operating margin on revenue of $111 million and expenses of $109 million. Special project or designation spending is budgeted at $14,161,403, with $4,550,697 expected in revenues and $9,610,706 being drawn from net assets.
  • Declined to approve candidacy status for a proposed new APA division, the Society for Technology and Psychology.