Professional Development

APA council representatives' report to Division 16: Feb. 21-24, 2013

Learn about issues and actions affecting practitioners and academics.

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

We attended the February 2013 Council of Representatives meeting in Washington D.C.; the following report describes issues and actions that were discussed at that meeting. You should feel free to contact either or both of us for additional information on any of these issues, or to express your opinions about how we should represent you.

APA Center of Psychology and Health

This is a new initiative of APA to strengthen psychology in the new era of health care. The initiative will address four challenges: 1) a workforce challenge (ensuring that we have sufficient numbers of well trained psychologists); 2) a challenge being included and being paid; 3) an image challenge - because others see psychologists as skilled mental health workers but do not see psychologists as part of the primary care team; and 4) a self-image challenge: many psychologists do not see themselves as part of the health care system, and primary care in particular.

Gun violence

Immediately following the Newtown school shootings, APA quickly realized that it had no up-to-date policy on the prediction and prevention of gun violence. The last policy was approved in 1994. At this Council meeting, a Task Force on Gun Violence was approved, and will be given a charge of developing an updated policy. We expect to receive a request for nominations to this task force very soon, and will be forwarding the names of several Division 16 members for possible appointment to the Task Force. Finally, on Saturday, Mary Sherlach was honored posthumously with a presidential citation for her actions to protect the children in Sandy Hook Elementary. Mary was the school psychologist who died in the Sandy Hook shootings, and her two adult daughters attended Council to accept the citation.

Clinical Practice Guidelines

APA is developing guidelines to define the effective intervention practices that have good scientific evidence for their use. Guidelines will be developed within topical areas, with the earliest guidelines being developed for ‘depressive disorders,' ‘post traumatic stress disorders,' and ‘obesity'. This effort will use a rigorous review of the research evidence as the basis for the guidelines. Several steps are planned. First, a panel of knowledgeable APA members for a specific domain will identify the critical questions in that domain and help to locate existing research. Then, there will be a contract with a research vendor who will systematically analyze the existing evidence using analytic procedures that are appropriate to that knowledge base with guidance and comment by the panel. While there will be opportunities for comment and input, the guidelines will only include statements based on research evidence and will not include statements reflecting individual opinions that are not supported by evidence. The additional topical areas will be determined based on the following criteria: 1) the appropriateness of the disorder for psychological treatment, 2) the prevalence of the disorder or condition, 3) its severity, 4) the burden it presents to people having the disorder, 5) the value of the psychological interventions used in treating the disorder, and 6) the availability of evidence on the treatment of the disorder. In the ensuing discussion, there were some concerns expressed that it be ensured that the panels include practicing psychologists and that the guidelines allow for professional judgment of the practitioners. The chair responded that, in some cases, professional judgment could emerge as a strong predictor in the meta-analyses of the available evidence. You can follow regular updates on this process in the regular newsletters of the Science Directorate and the Education Directorate.

Governance

Council representatives again discussed proposals for alternative governance strategies for the association. Important issues are: 1) whether the council or assembly should be elected by vote of general membership or should continue to be elected through divisions and state associations; 2) what the role should be of votes from general membership in electing officers (current practice is that membership only elects the President-elect); 3) how should nominations for office be vetted and approved for the ballot; 4) which issues should council be voting on, and 5) which issues ought to be delegated to a Board of Governors or Board of Directors. This conversation is continuing and we will keep you informed.

Internship stimulus project

APA is dedicating a total of $3 million from 2012 through 2015 to stimulate the development of new internships in professional psychology. Some of these funds will need to be pulled from APA's assets, but the organization believes that the internship shortage is a sufficiently important crisis to merit this extraordinary decision. In the past year, 82 programs applied for some of these funds and 32 programs were funded. Also, as part of the larger effort to facilitate internship development, changes were made in status for internship program accreditation to include categories for “eligibility” and “accredited on contingency” for internship and post-doctoral residency programs. You can find more information on the internship imbalance in Education and Training in Psychology, Vol 5, No. 4, pp. 193-201.

Accreditation issues

APA is now seeking public comment regarding the guidelines and principles for accreditation.

Publications

We received a report on the Publications investment plan about a marketing and technology upgrade initiative that is intended to maintain and strengthen the revenue from publications into the APA budget. (Keeping your dues lower!) New products that are coming out include a database of videos called PsycTHERAPY , eight handbooks as new references, PsycTEST which is a data base of over 11K tests related to psychology, a mobile version of PsycNET , and a Research Alert System that will alert you when research in your designated areas is published. Usage of PsycNET has increased substantially in response to the upgrades.

Finances

We reviewed the APA's budget and financial status. The association has approximately 120 million dollars of equity in real estate on Capitol Hill, and the real estate contributes significant support to the APA operating budget (including funding for the internship stimulus project). APA also has an investment portfolio that has been carefully monitored and shows stable growth. The association does not rely on the performance of this portfolio to support operations. The association has net assets that represent more than four months of operating expenses of the association, uses conservative estimates of the fair market value of the real estate, and maintains a Standard & Poors Bond Rating of BBB+ which is quite high for a non-profit. The Internship Stimulus Plan is funded in 2012 through $600,000 from the operations budget; for 2013 and 2014, the association will draw funds from its net assets and additional cash from the real estate portfolio, for a total of $3 million for the 3 years of the project. The Council has an approved budget of approximately $125 million for 2013.

A lengthy discussion occurred about the limited reimbursement of Council Representatives for attending the Council meeting that occurs at the annual convention. Current policy is that most council representatives are reimbursed for 2 nights of lodging, and cover all other expenses from their divisions or at their own cost. The convention in Hawaii is substantially more costly for representatives, and the motion was made to supplement this with an additional $500 of expense reimbursement. To ensure that rules on conflict of interest were honored, voting on this motion occurred by voice vote, and all council members who would benefit from the action recused themselves from the vote. The remaining council members passed the motion. This issue will probably return to council as a motion to fully reimburse council members for the expenses of attending the August Council meeting, but worded to take effect after the terms of all current council members have ended.

Council reviewed the evaluation and compensation of Dr. Norman Anderson in his role as APA's CEO. His salary compensation is established based on evaluations of his performance and comparisons with a set of designated nonprofit groups and through comparison with Quatt Associates figures, an independent management firm that presents data for salaries of CEOs with similar size not for profit organizations.

Changes in APA Convention in 2014

The rationale for changes in the APA Convention was that we would be strengthened by more integration across divisions. There will be a gradual increase in interdivisional programming starting with the 2014 convention. Every division will be able to complement and enhance its program beyond its guaranteed minimum hours by collaborating with other divisions. Interdivisional sessions will need to be sponsored by at least 2 divisions, and governance groups can join with two divisions to sponsor an interdivisional program. Themes for the 2014 conference were proposed by the division convention chairs, and work is now ongoing to identify themes that are cross cutting and that are inclusive of division input. Because the number of convention hours will be fewer, and more of these hours are being allocated to interdivisional efforts, Division 16 will have fewer guaranteed convention hours.

Other Business

Council honored Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the former Senator from Hawaii who was a psychologist and was a strong supporter for human rights and psychological services.