The Board of Professional Affairs (BPA) addresses broad issues related to (1) developing recommendations for and monitoring the implementation of APA policy, standards, and guidelines for the profession of psychology; (2) maintaining relationships with other professional organizations and groups appropriate to its mission; (3) recognizing contributions to the profession of psychology through awards and honors, (4) proposing to the Association ways to enhance the profession of psychology; and, (5) fostering the application of psychological knowledge in order to promote public welfare. 

This report provides information on some of BPA’s major activities in 2009, including its commitment to and incorporation of diversity in its focus, interests and deliberations.

Composition of the Board of Professional Affairs

BPA consists of nine (9) members of the American Psychological Association who serve for terms of three years each, except when filling a vacancy on the Board.  Insofar as possible, BPA members represent the range of interests characteristic of the profession of psychology.  Likewise, BPA is a diverse board in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, experience, field of interest, settings, among others. 

In 2009, BPA’s roster included the following distinguished psychologists:

3rd Year

Martin Iguchi, PhD (2007-2009)
Cynthia Sturm, PhD (2007-2009)
Maria Cecilia Zea, PhD (2009)

2nd Year

June Ching, PhD (2008-2010)
Thomas Kubiszyn, PhD (2008-2010)
Judith Patterson, PhD (2008-2010)

1st Year

Ruth Fassinger, PhD (2009-2011)
Judith Blanton, PhD   (2009-2011)
Nadine Kaslow, PhD (2009-2011)

Dr. Judith Patterson has been selected as the chair of BPA for 2010.  Dr. Patterson has been active in APA governance for many years, including having served on the Council of Representatives.  She is a fellow in three APA Divisions (Division 18 Psychologists in Public Service, Division 42 Psychologists in Independent Practice and Division 56 Trauma Psychology) and active in her state association.  As such, Dr. Patterson will no doubt be a very hard working and effective Chair.

Strong Support from Practice Directorate
In January 2009, the new department of Governance Operations assumed responsibility for the activities of the two major Boards and Committees for Practice, including BPA, the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP), and Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS). It is anticipated that this reorganization and new Department will provide strong governance support and facilitate a coordinated approach to advancing the Practice agenda. BPA recognizes and commends Director of Board Operations Mary G. Hardiman, M.S., for her critical role in this transition and her leadership and excellent administrative support of BPA operations, as well as Ronald S. Palomares, PhD, Assistant Executive Director, for his vision and support of BPA.
Governance Meetings

BPA held one in-person business meeting in 2009, at APA Spring Consolidated Meetings held March 20-22, 2009. In lieu of Fall 2009 Consolidated meetings, which were canceled, two all-Board conference call meetings were held to address priority business items in November and December 2009.  Despite these constraints, BPA addressed more than seventy five (75) governance items and issues of importance to APA, its members and the field of professional psychology.  Some of these items dealt with examining practice-related issues and policies, whereas others were cross-cutting, relevant and germane to psychologists in science, education, and public interest. In lieu of the annual Retreat, usually held prior to the Fall Meeting, BPA was creative in developing a “self-study” program prior to Spring Consolidated 2010 meetings to update BPA members on advances in telehealth and Health Information Technology.  This topic was chosen due to the recent policy changes in the HITECH Act, the broad impact of technology on practice, and issues of concern in the practice of telehealth.

BPA’s Executive Committee conducted meetings on a monthly basis via telephone conference call, and initiated conference calls for the entire Board as warranted.  In addition, BPA members provided leadership to other APA governance groups, i.e. committees, task forces and work groups, and integrated the work of these groups into the mission and purpose of BPA.  Formal liaison assignments are made in January of each year to these APA governance entities, and some of these same BPA members network with outside organizations, such as the National Commission on Correctional Heath Care (NCCHC) and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). 

This year BPA and COPPS utilized new technology with online Team Sites that afforded members access to relevant documents, capacity to edit and respond to policy reviews time efficiently, and reduced paper use.  BPA looks forward to continuing to explore technology resources to enhance member and staff collaboration, communication and work products. 

Like other APA parent Boards, BPA takes great pride in its policy role and, consequently, brings strong focus and due deliberation to formal governance items and other matters that come before it.  BPA members and staff liaisons work in close coordination with CAPP to coordinate policy and seek input on issues related to professional practice.  In 2009, BPA Chair Cynthia Sturm served as official liaison to CAPP, attending meetings in February, May and October.

Practice Guidelines

Practice guidelines help APA define and clarify roles and settings in psychological practice, and provide guidance to practitioners on best practices and approaches.  According to APA policy, guidelines are created to “educate and to inform the practice of psychologists. They are also intended to stimulate debate and research. Guidelines are not to be promulgated as a means of establishing the identity of a particular group or specialty area of psychology; likewise, they are not to be created with the purpose of excluding any psychologist from practicing in a particular area. Guidelines must be reasonable, as described in the APA ASME Guidelines (APA, 1992). All guidelines should be well researched.”

BPA has spent the greater part of two years discussing ways to streamline and clarify the process of practice guideline development and revision. BPA has developed a Practice Guidelines Framework to articulate the appropriate steps in guideline development.  These include association-wide education of staff and governance regarding various options for guideline development, a Guideline Developers Toolkit, a Registry that would help the developers, COPPS, BPA and Practice staff track guidelines currently in process, definition of consulting roles of BPA and COPPS, and plans for dissemination and implementation of Practice Guidelines.   Educational resources on guideline format and policy will be made available in one location for the benefit of developers.    More than ten practice guidelines are currently “in the pipeline” of development and will require significant resources of BPA and COPPS to oversee their development.

BPA continues to support and engage COPPS (and guidelines developers) on several key guidelines in progress:

Approved by COR in 2009 
  • Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings 

  • Guidelines Regarding Psychologists’ Involvement in Pharmacological Issues

Undergoing Public Comment
  • Guidelines for Psychological Practice in Health Care Delivery Systems  

  • Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters

Under Committee Review 
  • Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology

Expiring/Need for Revision
  • Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and

  • Organizational Change for Psychologists

  • Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients

Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS)

To make sure that guidelines conform to APA policy and format, BPA and the Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS) spend considerable time facilitating guidelines development and review, requiring significant collaboration and support among governance members and Practice staff.  BPA closely collaborates with COPPS as guidelines come through the APA governance pipeline for development, review, revision and approval.

As can be seen from the above guidelines list, COPPS has had a strenuous workload in 2009.  Meeting only once in-person in May 2009, COPPS members reviewed a number of practice guidelines that are slated to expire within two years or ones that came to COPPS from BPA, having originated as a new business item at Council, including: 

  • Structure and Function of an Interdisciplinary Team for Persons with Acquired Brain Injury 

  • Practice Parameter: Screening and Diagnosis of Autism 

  • APA's Guidelines for Test User Qualifications

COPPS also consulted by telephone and in person on Proposed Guidelines for Prevention Practice, Research, Education and Social Advocacy for Psychologists, a new set of guidelines that have support from several divisions and ones that were originally conceptualized following publication in The Counseling Psychologist.

BPA Policy Development and Review

BPA has reviewed and/or provided feedback on a diverse number of policy issues this year, such as the APA Strategic Plan, and the Ethics Committee request for specific language and accompanying rationale for revising Standards 1.02 and 1.03 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002) as enforceable standards of conduct.   BPA provided input on the Revision of the Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists.  BPA was represented by two committee members at the 2009 Presidential Summit on the Future of Psychology Practice: Collaborating for Change, held May 14-17 in San Antonio, Texas.  This Summit raised key initiatives for psychology practice in integrated health settings and primary care, and focused on  the important role of technology in the future of psychological practice.  The Summit was timely in the context of recent federal policies regarding health care reform.

BPA provided support to the Task Force on the Development of Guidelines on Parenting Coordination and received updates on the group’s progress to date.

Health Information Technology & Telepractice

BPA established a Health Information Technology Working Group to address issues relevant to the general impact of technology on psychological practice, implementation of HIT through the 2009 federal HITECH Act which has set a goal of 2014 for implementation of electronic, interoperable health records, and the burgeoning applications of telehealth to treatment and consultation.   The work group is chaired by Omar Rehman and Cynthia Sturm, and met monthly by phone during 2009.  The work group presented a panel at the Toronto Convention – “Health Information Technology – What to Know and Anticipate”. The HIT Working Group is reviewing a key APA article that was developed some years back called, "Ten Principles in Telehealth," to update the material, repackage and repurpose it so that we may better inform practitioners on key elements of telehealth.

BPA continues to review a wide range of technology issues that impact practitioners:  HIT, EHRs, telehealth and telepractice, IT systems and social networking, among others.   Since telepractice concerns are being received by various committees, such as BPA, CAPP and COPPS, efforts are being made to collaborate among practice governance groups.

BPA is planning a 2010 self-study program to update members on current advances in HIT, electronic health records and models of telehealth.

Development of Treatment Guidelines
The decision to actively pursue the development of Treatment Guidelines within APA has been a significant policy decision in 2009.  An APA staff workgroup continues to develop a model that takes into consideration BPA, CAPP and BSA input/feedback.  Recently a meeting of experts was held.  A model process for treatment guideline development was shared with governance in November for further feedback, and presented to the APA Board of Directors at its December meeting.   BPA would like to acknowledge the important collaboration between BPA, BSA and CAPP on this project, as well as strong support from the Clinical Treatment Guidelines Project Team (CTGPT), the staff work group charged with partnering with governance and advancing ideas on this project.
Enhancing Multicultural Diversity

In response to APA’s Committee on Structure and Function of Council (CSFC), which was directed by the Council of Representatives to gather input regarding the direction, nature, focus, and process by which Boards and Committees expanded their multicultural/diversity capabilities, BPA continues to hold meaningful discussions on ways to enhance multicultural diversity and understanding amongst themselves, within governance and within professional practice.  BPA has determined that it has been quite proactive in this area and demonstrates its continued commitment through diverse representation on the Board. 

Additionally, BPA has enhanced its commitment to diversity in several ways and adopted the following measures:

  1. Broad review of all items placed before BPA for consideration, including agenda items at its Fall and Spring Meetings, and analyze these items for their implications on diversity.  BPA agreed that its meeting minutes need to include the item’s diversity implications, and BPA members who are assigned meeting items need to both prepare the items for discussion and decision, and include a statement, where appropriate, on how their recommendations or BPA actions might impact diversity. 

  2. BPA continues to refine its explicit commitment to diversity, through its multicultural mission statement, agenda setting, and Board composition. 

  3. BPA regularly assesses the possibility of having diversity skill building activities (i.e. discussions of articles/issues/topics) offered at each BPA meeting. 

  4. BPA encourages its members and APA staff to share model diversity programs and practices from the broader non-profit community. 

Actions to enhance diversity will be evaluated as they are implemented.  Ideally, these actions will:  

  1. strengthen diversity within professional practice;

  2. increase sensitivity to diversity issues and concerns; and, 

  3. increase diversity within the governance process.

Colleague Assistance

The Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance (ACCA) is an ad hoc committee of BPA and gives significant attention to the student or psychologist impacted by stress, distress or impairment. ACCA held one meeting on February 27-March 1, 2009 in Washington, D.C.  The committee discussed data gathered from an APAGS student survey, a survey of State Psychological Associations, and another collaborative survey project with the California Psychological Association (CLASP).   Just prior to their meetings ACCA also conducted a successful workshop at the APA Practice Directorate/Practice Organization’s State Leadership Conference (SLC). Other ACCA projects this year included gathering colleague assistance materials into a tool kit format for use on the newly developed APA website ACCA page, and development of pamphlets preparing psychologists for emergencies with their clients and the suicide of a colleague.

 At the 2009 APA Convention in Toronto ACCA presented a panel, “Who Cares? Barriers, Benefits and Resources in Colleague Assistance and Self-Care”, and also held a Colleague Assistance Social Hour Meet and Greet with state association program representatives. Membership in the ACCA-State, Provincial, and Territorial Association (SPTA) listserv continues to grow, and it has become an important networking and information sharing tool on colleague assistance.

Diane Bridgeman has been selected as the chair of ACCA for 2009, after serving as chair in 2008.

Convention Sessions 2009

The Board of Professional Affairs and its committees offered and/or participated in several Convention sessions, among them:

BPA August 2009 Convention Presentations
  • Child Custody, Child Protection and Parenting Coordination – Practice Guidelines for the Forensic Practitioner  (COPPS)

  • Who Cares? Barriers, Benefits and Resources in Colleague Assistance and Self-Care  (ACCA)

  • Health Information Technology – What to Know and Anticipate (HIT) 

  • Executive Coaching:  Psychological Underpinnings & Cross-Disciplinary Insights

  • Critical Issues in Diagnosis of Psychopathology – ICD and DSM Revisions

  • Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance (ACCA) Social Hour

BPA’s 2009 Convention sessions were well attended and received, and several carried CE credit.

2009 Distinguished Professional Contribution Awards

In carrying out its Association mandate, each year BPA recognizes distinguished contributions to professional psychology.  The following individuals were named recipients of the 2009 Distinguished Professional Contribution Awards which were presented at the 2009 APA Convention in Toronto:

  • 2009 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research – Luciano L’Abate, Ph.D.

  • 2009 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent Practice - Jeffrey E. Barnett, Psy.D.

  • 2009 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Institutional Practice – Eduardo S. Morales, Ph.D.

  • 2009 APA/APAGS Award for Distinguished Graduate Student in Professional Psychology  - Julie E. Braciszewski