Council Representative report

The APA Council of Representatives meeting was held on February 23-26, 2012; topics included a report from the APA Practice Organization, division bylaw changes, budget updates, and a controversial motion to approve a new APA journal, Translational Science in Psychology

By Beth Doll, PhD, and Frank C. Worrell, PhD

The first day of Council was spent in a broad Council problem solving session that examined the impact and implications of technology for the future of the practice and the organization, and deriving possible strategies for APA to use to address these changes.

At the beginning of the second day, we received the president’s report which emphasized the demographic changes that are occurring in APA membership and the small number of new members who are also joining divisions or state associations; and the growing problem of obesity and the need for psychology’s contributions to obesity solutions – as well as the growing obesity of Council, and the need for Council members to drink less soda and more ice tea during Council meetings. Frank and I took this very much to heart.

We also received a report from the APA CEO, Norm Anderson, and he described the office’s work to implement the APA strategic plan, including creating new mechanisms to keep APA members informed about the resources and activities of APA, an opt-in website for members, and an expanded public education campaign. Other important APA efforts that may be important for you to monitor include the work on health disparities, building strategic alliances with other healthcare organizations, and efforts to secure the financial security of APA. A prominent APA activity is the Good Governance Project, during which Council members and other leaders and members are systematically examining strategies that might align the governance activities of APA with its goals and values. Frank and I are following this project carefully.

The Council defeated a motion to eliminate the dual membership discount for members of the Canadian Psychological Association and instead permit Canadian psychologists to join APA as either International Affiliates or regular members. The history of this motion: The Canadian ‘dual membership’ discount in APA dues was the sole reduced dues agreement retained during the recent Council vote to remove all special discounts for APA dues and, simultaneously, reduce all members’ APA dues. There was an existing memorandum of understanding between the Canadian Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association that granted a ‘dual membership’ discount to members of CPA who joined APA (and also to APA members who joined CPA). As part of the agreement, Canadian psychologists were not allowed to join as International Affiliates. The current motion would have rescinded the dual membership discount but would also allow Canadian psychologists to be International Affiliates. While the Membership Committee argued strongly for a consistent policy of no dues discounts, several Council members argued that unilaterally cancelling the CPA/APA agreement was unfair and threatened our relationships with Canadian colleagues.

We received a report from Katherine Nordal on the APA Practice Organization, which is the 501 (C) (6) organization supported with the Practice Assessment paid by practicing psychologist members of APA. Current priorities of the APA PO are Medicare reimbursement for psychologists, advocating for psychologists to qualify for incentive payments when they use electronic health records in their practice, and advocating for Medicare reimbursement rules that do not require psychologists be supervised by physicians.

The Council approved a motion supporting a bylaws change to prohibit recently retired Presidents of APA from running again for the office within ten years. APA members will receive a ballot to vote on this bylaws change. Arguments in favor of the bylaws change: the restriction will prevent former presidents from launching a second campaign for the APA presidency while still benefiting from the substantial media exposure that they’ve had during their first presidency year; and it will enhance the fluidity of the APA leadership, allowing new leaders to move into office. Argument against the bylaws change: in a true democracy, the APA rules would not place any restrictions on who members can elect to assume an office in the association.

We received a report on the 2012 budget and the financial status of APA. For the 2011, revenues to APA were slightly higher than anticipated and expenses were slightly lower than expected, so the 2011 budget year ended with a small unanticipated surplus. Anticipated revenue for 2012 relies primarily on income from the APA real estate (approx. $6 million annually), publications (approx. $80 million annually), and dues (approx. $11.7 million annually). Primary expenses will be for salaries and benefits; publication costs. Finally, Council voted to approve the 2012 Proposed Budget with total operational revenues of $105,172,100 and operational expenses of $104,893,900 with an operating margin of $278,200.

The Council discussed and then approved an unexpectedly controversial motion to approve an APAGS (American Psychological Association of Graduate Students) proposal for a new journal, Translational Science in Psychology, in which graduate students and early post-docs in psychology will participate as associate editors, guest editors, and reviewers. Support for the journal was based on its potential to garner more participation in APA from students and early career psychologists; strengthen the association’s recognition of psychology as a STEM science; and support APAGS’ efforts to contribute to the organization. Concerns were expressed that the title did not adequately represent the crossdisciplinary nature of translational research; the associate editors and reviewers needed to be adequately supervised; and participation in the journal could detract from students’ future careers in which advancement depends on publication rather than editing.

Some attention was paid to how psychology is taught in high schools. Council voted to adopt as APA policy the Guidelines for Preparing High School Psychology Teachers: Course-Based and Standards-Based Approaches. And amended the APA rules so that at least one position on the 12-member Board of Education Affairs is reserved for an APA Teacher Affiliate member.