Division News

APA Council of Representatives meeting

August 2012 APA Council of Representatives meeting summary

APA’s Council of Representatives takes historic action on two key issues:

  • Earmarks $3 million to increase the number of accredited internship slots
  • Adopts a resolution on psychotherapy effectiveness

Recognizing the growing imbalance between the number of psychology graduate students who need a clinical internship to complete their degree requirements and the availability of those internships, APA's Council of Representatives voted to fund a $3 million internship stimulus program to increase the number of accredited internship positions. The funding is expected to help as many as 150 programs move from non-APA accredited to accredited status and create 520 new accredited internship positions over the next three years.

The council’s decision at its meeting in Orlando, Fla., in August commits APA to fund up to $1 million a year for three years to internship programs seeking APA accreditation. The money will help offset program expenses in such areas as application and site visit fees, program consultation fees and intern stipends and benefits. The typical maximum grant to an individual program will not exceed $20,000. Funding will be available starting this fall through an application process.

APA has called on the entire psychology graduate education community to work together in the face of the multifaceted imbalance problem. The association’s goal, in addition to ensuring that all students are able to complete their graduate training, is to ensure quality in all facets of that training. APA is particularly concerned that students who complete unaccredited internships limit their future career opportunities.

In other action, the council adopted a resolution designed to increase the public and allied health professionals’ awareness of psychotherapy’s effectiveness in reducing people’s need for other health services and in improving long-term health. The resolution was organized by APA Past President Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD, to help educate the public about the value of psychotherapy, particularly as it compares with medications in addressing mental health problems.

“Every day, consumers are bombarded with ads that tout drugs as the answer to their problems,” said Vasquez. “Our goal is to help consumers weigh those messages with research-based information about how psychotherapy can provide them with safe, effective and long-lasting improvements in their mental and physical health.” The resolution cites more than 50 peer-reviewed studies on psychotherapy and its effectiveness in treating a spectrum of health issues and with a variety of populations, including children, members of minority groups and the elderly. Read a press release about the resolution.

The resolution also states that psychotherapy is effective for a variety of behavioral health issues and among various population groups, and that the average effects of psychotherapy are greater than those of many medical interventions. Large multi-site and meta-analytic studies have demonstrated that psychotherapy reduces disability, morbidity and mortality; improves work functioning; and decreases psychiatric hospitalization. In addition, the resolution notes that psychotherapy teaches patients life skills that last beyond the course of treatment. Furthermore, while the resolution recognizes that in some instances the best treatment is a combination of medication and psychotherapy, the results of psychotherapy tend to last longer than psychopharmacological treatments and rarely produce harmful side effects.

Council votes to make bold changes to governance structure

APA's Good Governance Project Team (GGP) is tasked with ensuring that APA’s governance structure is appropriate for the challenges psychology faces in the 21st century. Under the current system, APA's council is the only governance body with the authority to determine policy, yet it only meets twice a year. The system is often criticized for being slow, cumbersome and unable to respond to rapidly changing circumstances, such as new legislation in Congress.

With input from members and governance groups, the GGP team has developed a plan to create a nimbler, simpler and more flexible governance system that would allow for more direct member input and be more strategically focused. At its August meeting, the GGP team asked the council to consider the degree of change needed to meet those goals, whether through incremental change, moderate change or a “clean-slate” approach.

In a show of overwhelming support for a new system, the council voted 135 to 22 for bolder change, moving toward the moderate change and clean-slate end of the continuum.

The option for moderate governance transfers responsibility for budgeting, oversight of corporate responsibilities and internal policies to a newly created Board of Trustees, while a Communities of Interest Assembly would concentrate on strategically driven issues of interest to psychology and the public. The clean-slate option calls for a single governing body whose members are selected based on specific competencies. This body would be responsible for gathering broad input on a variety of issues through ad hoc advisory groups, expert summits, member surveys and more.

The GGP team will next work on how these changes would be implemented, considering, for example, how members of the new governance groups could be selected. The GGP team will solicit further council input at its next meeting in February and throughout the spring. Final approval for the new governance plan is expected next August. 

For a copy of the GGP report to the council, the approved motion and the chart outlining the three scenarios, go to www.apa.org/about/governance/good-governance. If you have questions or ideas, contact APA Executive Director of Governance Affairs Nancy Gordon Moore, PhD, MBA.

In further action, the council:

  • Received the report of the Presidential Task Force on Educational Disparities. The report, produced by a task force appointed by Vasquez, focuses on the growing gap between minority and non-minority student achievement and the role psychology can play in addressing the impact of educational disparities on poor and racial and ethnic-minority students. The report recommends more funding for early childhood education programs and increased access to bilingual education. The task force also noted that more study is needed on the individual characteristics and educational programs that have allowed some minority and immigrant students to excel; the need for unbiased expectations for all student achievement; and the re-segregation occurring in some U.S. schools systems.
  • Approved the creation of APA’s first open methods, open-data, open-access journal — Archives of Scientific Psychology. The publication will be APA’s first fee-based journal. According to APA Publisher Gary Vandenbos, PhD, it will allow APA to gain valuable experience in the growing fee-based, open-access publishing environment. Fee-based publishing now represents approximately 15 percent of all scholarly publishing.
  • Approved the 2012 class of APA Fellows. A total of 109 members were elected to Fellow status in recognition of their contributions to psychology.
  • Approved funding for representatives of the four ethnic-minority psychological associations (EMPAs) to continue to attend APA council meetings as delegates/observers. In a related action, the council approved a bylaws amendment to create official council seats for the four EMPAs. Because the proposed change requires a bylaws amendment, it will be forwarded to the full APA membership for a vote this fall. The EMPAs are: the Asian American Psychological Association, the Association of Black Psychologists, the National Latina/o Psychological Association and the Society of Indian Psychologists.
  • Approved funding for an APA task force that will study the trafficking of women and girls.
  • Approved the 2013 budget revenue forecast of $108 million. APA Chief Financial Officer Archie Turner reported that the association’s financial position is strong. Licensing revenue from APA’s databases continues to be the largest component of APA revenue budget.

The awarding of the 2012 Raymond D. Fowler Award to William C. Howell, PhD, was reported to Council. Howell, a longtime member, governance leader, psychology researcher and educator, and APA executive director for science, died in April (see the June Monitor).

These notes were compiled by the APA Communications Staff.

The Council of Representatives is the legislative body of APA and has full power and authority over the affairs and funds of the association within the limitations set by the certificate of incorporation and the Bylaws, including the power to review, upon its own initiative, the actions of any board, committee, division or affiliated organization.

Council is composed of representatives of divisions, representatives of state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs) and the members of the Board of Directors.