In this issue

APA presidential candidates address Div. 20

Kurt F. Geisinger, PhD, and Ali M. Mattu, PhD, answer questions about issues relevant to Div. 20 members.

By Kurt F. Geisinger, PhD, and Ali M. Mattu, PhD

Div. 20 posed the same questions to all five APA presidential candidates. Candidate responses received from Kurt F. Geisinger, PhD, and Ali M. Mattu, PhD, follow. Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD; Rodney L. Lowman, PhD; and Steven J. Reisner, PhD, are also are running for the office.

Kurt Geisinger, PhD 

Question #1: Do you have any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20? Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way in Div. 20.

Do I have interests? Yes. Am I a member or fellow? No, I am not. I belong to some 10-12 divisions and am not wealthy enough to join all in which I have interest. Please see my comments below. I definitely do value your division and its contribution to APA more generally.

Question #2: Do you have any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging? Naturally, we are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching or advocacy.

Yes, indeed. When I began graduate study, I worked with William A. Owens. Although he was a renowned industrial psychologist, he is also widely known for performing the first longitudinal intelligence study, one that showed that intelligence did not decrease during the “normal” adult years and that certain activities kept intelligence high during those years (Owens, 1953). He also did a follow-up study (Owens, 1966). In the mid-1970s, he offered me a chance to do a third follow-up as my dissertation. After consulting with several gerontologists, I decided not to do so as I was informed that it would have been too difficult to find these people who would then have been in their mid-80s.

Subsequently, while earning my doctoral degree at Penn State University, I took courses with Professors Paul Baltes (Research Methods in Life span Developmental Psychology) and John Nesselroade (Statistical Methods for Studying Change). I read many articles in these courses from Academic Press's Life span Developmental Psychology series. Subsequently, as a young faculty member in psychology at Fordham University, because of my knowledge in this arena, I served on most of the dissertations directed by Professor Carol Ryff, who later went to the University of Wisconsin.

On a personal level, I have watched some aspects of aging closely. My father was a retired counseling psychologist. During his retirement years, he volunteered a day a week at a community-based adult care center. He often discussed techniques he used to help participants to recall their earlier lives with my wife, a clinical psychologist, and me. My mother died many years later from Alzheimer's disease. I watched up close the manifestation of the disease as a son and caregiver. These issues continue to be of great personal concern.

Owens, W. A. (1953). Age and mental abilities: A longitudinal study. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 48 , 3-54.

Owens, W. A. (1966). Age and mental abilities: A second adult follow-up. Journal of Educational Psychology,  57 , 311–325.

Question #3: Are you involved with any other organizations that address issues of adult development and aging, including issues of psychological aging.

Yes, I am a division vice president and board member of the International Association of Applied Psychology IAAP). At the last two congresses, I have attended sessions of its Division 7, Applied Gerontology, of the IAAP.

Question #4:  Could you briefly explain any way in which adult development and aging is part of your platform or agenda for your presidential year?

My general platform is called, One Psychology. I wish to help unify the different aspects of both academic and applied psychology. I think that theme probably resonates with many members of your division. Toward this end, I believe that we need considerably more interaction across the spheres of science, practice and education. My goals for APA include making membership more valuable; funding APA's Practice Organization (APAPO) at a better level; emphasizing education in psychology; remaining committed to diversity in all its manifestations; representing and advocating for psychology as a science and a practice, especially in relation to health care; making certain that psychology is perceived as a STEM science; and increased interaction with international psychology. For more information, please check my website.

Ali Mattu, PhD 

Question #1: Do you have any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20?  Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way in Div. 20.

I am not a member of Div. 20 and have not been active in the division.

Question #2: Do you have any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging? Naturally, we are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching or advocacy. 

I was trained as a child clinical psychologist and work as an assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center. Recently, I have become a coordinator of our Launching Emerging Adults Program, an innovating family-based treatment designed to help young adults function independently. While this program is focused on young adults age 18 through 30, it takes a developmental approach to supporting both young adults as well as their aging parents. My role includes practice, consulting, supervising and teaching. We are anticipating the launch of a research study related to this program in the coming year.

Question #3: Are you involved with any other organizations that address issues of adult development and aging, including issues of psychological aging.

Related to my work with young adults and their families, I am involved with APA Div. 53 (Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology) and previously served on their executive committee as one of their APA Council Representatives.

Question #4:  Could you briefly explain any way in which adult development and aging is part of your platform or agenda for your presidential year?

Psychology has become a critical component of health care, and there is great demand for psychologists with expertise in issues related to adult aging. Our greatest challenge to capitalize on these opportunities remains our reluctance to change. We have spent decades practicing psychology in silos — private practices, clinics or departments. We often work independently, focus exclusively on mental health and maintain a 50-minute structure for our interventions.

Being overly focused on tradition has made us slow to prepare our workforce for emerging health care marketplaces. While current models will remain sustainable for the near future, early and mid-career psychologists need to expand their practices to thrive in future marketplaces. If we do not prepare for these changes, our profession will be fighting over the crumbs of health care while other disciplines will be eating cake.

As president-elect of APA/APAPO, I will focus on the following:

  • Advocate for the inclusion of psychologists in all aspects of health care reform implementation.
  • Encourage graduate training that helps students apply psychological interventions towards population-based problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia.
  • Help psychologists to diversify their practices beyond mental health.
  • Provide resources that will help psychologists take advantage of new reimbursement systems (e.g., bundled payments) by easily demonstrating the value of their existing treatments.