Division History

In 2004, Division 13 of the American Psychological Association (APA) changed its formal title to the Society of Consulting Psychology (SCP). The Society remains Division 13 of APA; thus both names (SCP and Division 13) are used interchangeably.

The Society was founded as an elite membership group consisting only of those who had achieved fellowship status (the highest membership category) in the APA and who were therefore qualified to serve as psychological examiners or consultants. As is typical in growing professional organizations, there were struggles among the members in defining the organizational identity and membership criteria. The Society was eventually disbanded for about 20 years. Following World War II, in 1946, when APA re-organized, Division 13 was later established as one of 19 charter divisions in APA in 1946.

Over the last few decades the Society has changed its identity to focus primarily on organizational consulting psychology with some involvement with other areas of consultation such as in school psychology consultation. Despite many divisions in APA declining in membership, in the last decade, the Society’s membership was actually increasing until the last couple of years when it too has suffered decline. This decline is coupled with the aging of its membership and also to the problems in the economy such that the practices of many consulting psychologists have been decreasing with less income presumably available for professional activities.

The Society sponsors a successful mid-winter conference on “Consulting to Businesses and Corporations,” a full range of scientific and professional offerings at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, a well-regarded journal (Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research) published by the American Psychological Association, an electronic newsletter, email lists for its members and student members, and Continuing Education activities, including online offerings. Recent developments are the successful development of regional groups of the Society members who meet for local support and professional development. Shared interest groups also exist for members who want to be involved with other members on topics of mutual interest.

The Society of Consulting Psychology is managed as a volunteer organization and relies on its members to accomplish its mission.

Financially the Society is in good shape with a healthy reserve. However, it currently has very little professional expertise in association management and (except for the services of a conference planner and the occasional help of APA’s Division Services Office) relies exclusively on the volunteer labor of its members to get things done. Although the Society is blessed with excellent, energized and enthusiastic members in leadership roles, for the Society to rise to its next level, it has concluded that it needs to secure the expertise of professional managers who can both help it perform some of its routine administrative and managerial duties, but also help it to grow and to expand its sphere of influence.

The history reveals extended discussions over many years of who was eligible to be a member of this division. In fact, up until 1963, eligibility required being a fellow of some other APA division. Work in mental health and organizational consulting has been a focus of the division from that time to the present. The current SCP owes its foundation to organizational work beginning in 1999 that included a series of strategic planning meetings, followed by changes in the organization's structure and processes, as well as programs and services. Part of these efforts led to the development and APA endorsement in 2007 of the Guidelines for Education and Training at the Doctoral and Postdoctoral Levels in Consulting Psychology/Organizational Consulting Psychology (APA, 2007).

The current organization and its programs, services and governance structure are markedly different from those of the past.