Div. 31 Student Task Force: A call for members
By Christopher DeCou, MS
Students are the future of our profession, and a critical constituency concerning advocacy for psychology within state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (SPTAs). The Div. 31 Student Task Force was created to help catalyze student involvement in advocacy issues and to increase student membership within SPTAs and Div. 31. Consistent with these broad goals, the Student Task Force is interested in developing strong collaborations with SPTAs and resources to assist SPTAs in building their student membership and cultivating in students a lasting commitment to professional advocacy. I am writing this article as an invitation to students to join the task force and assist in achieving these goals, including some specific initiatives outlined below.
One area that is especially important to me as chair of the task force and as a student who is from a rural state (Alaska), is engaging graduate students in rural and frontier regions who are well-positioned to contribute to policy and advocacy initiatives among underserved and under-resourced communities. That is, in areas where there are relatively few psychologists, students may be of great assistance in contributing to the activities of SPTAs. In addition, effective engagement of students in rural and frontier states may promote the retention of psychology trainees after graduation and help address limited access to mental health services in rural areas. In this way, students offer an important resource to SPTAs in addressing compelling health disparities in rural and remote areas.
A second area of focus for the task force is identifying, synthesizing and disseminating existing approaches to student engagement for SPTAs within a comprehensive guide that can serve as a resource for SPTAs looking to enhance or initiate student-engagement efforts. This may be especially useful for smaller SPTAs or those with limited existing student involvement. Initial steps for this project will include contacting SPTAs’ student committees and representatives to learn more about the ways in which they connect with graduate students and also understanding potential barriers and facilitators to student involvement in SPTAs.
If you (or someone you know) are interested in the opportunity to contribute to student involvement in SPTAs and develop important resources to promote lifelong advocacy among students and emerging professionals, then I invite you to contact me and join the Student Task Force of Div. 31. I hope to build a collaborative and creative team during the next several weeks and look forward to developing strategies that work for promoting the role of students in SPTAs and in advocacy for our profession. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas related to the Student Task Force.