In This Issue

Div. 32 Program at the 2014 APA Convention

Highlights of the Div. 32's main program and hospitality suite

By Brent Dean Robbins, PhD

This year's program at the annual convention in Washington, DC was the product of a new system initiated by the APA which has drastically reduced the program hours of all divisions. Some of these hours have been allocated to collaborative programming among divisions. Fortunately, this year's program chair, Richard Bargdill, is well known for his social networking skills, and he masterfully expanded the hours of the division by creating a variety of collaborative programs across many divisions of the APA. The result is a truly impressive program built around the presidential theme of “Human Dignity and Humanistic Values.”

The first day of the convention features a symposium, “Multiculturalism, Microaggressions, and Dignity—Exploring Humanistic Psychology and Diversity,” a perfect event to kick off the Div. 32 program. The symposium is co-chaired by Past President Louis Hoffman and David St. John, and participants include dynamic speakers Nathaniel Granger, Jr . and Theopia Jackson. Serving as discussant is President-Elect, Kirk Schneider. The concept of racial microaggressions has been a hot topic, because it addresses an insidious form of racism that can be difficult to confront due to its subtle nature. A more inclusive, multicultural community, however, must find better tools for critical self-reflection on more subtle forms of racism and exclusion. To address these issues is to comply with a moral imperative to protect and preserve the dignity of marginalized persons and groups.

Friday features a variety of programming geared toward honoring central values of humanistic psychology including respect for first-person, subjective perspectives within science, qualitative research, moral development, spirituality, and environmentalism. On Friday at 9 a.m., Art Bohart chairs a symposium, “Return to the future—Putting the Subject Back in Therapy.” At 10 a.m., Ian E. Wickramasekera II hosts a symposium on qualitative insights into self-care, moral development, and meditation. And rounding off the day is a Nora C. Davis chaired symposium focusing on relationships among religion, spirituality, nature, and environmentalism.

Saturday is a packed schedule that opens with a symposium at 8 a.m., chaired by Early Career Award recipient, Heidi Levitt, which explores how therapy helps clients identify their needs. Scott Churchill, Div. 32 Council Representative and editor of The Humanistic Psychologist, will serve as discussant. This event will be followed by the poster session, which features dozens of outstanding poster presentations on many topics of interest to humanistic psychology, with a special emphasis on the themes of dignity and humanistic values. Titles for example include “Humanizing Low Self-Worth: Finding Dignity in Unexpected Places” by Benjamin Brett, Sarah Bridges, Bruce Ecker, and Angela Izmirian, “Humanistic Psychology: Are We Living Up to Our Values” by Sarah Kass, DeAnna Waugh, Justin Underwood, Donnalin Constantin, Arvin Simon and many others.

The middle of the day on Saturday will focus on the controversy surrounding the DSM-5 and efforts by Div. 32 to collaborate with international organizations to move in the direction of a concrete action plan for an alternative to current psychiatric diagnostic practice. The symposium at 10 a.m. is titled, “DSM-5—Problems, Solutions, and Alternatives.” Presenters will include Jonathan Raskin, who is co-chair of the Global Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives; Lisa Cosgrove, who has pioneered research into conflicts of interest among authors of the DSM-5; and Peter Kinderman, who is co-chair of the DSM-5 Reform Committee. Another symposium titled, “Beyond Psychiatric Diagnosis—Critiques and Alternatives from U.S. Clinical Psychologists,” will follow. Leading psychologists from the United Kingdom, including Richard Pemberton, Lucy Johnstone, Anne Cooke, Gilliam Bowden and Eleanor Longden, will address criticisms of the DSM-5 system and the medical model through emphasis on psychological formulation and psychosocial approaches to treatment. These efforts share a common theme of moving toward diagnostic practices designed to preserve the dignity of psychiatric consumers.

Saturday afternoon, beginning at 2 p.m., will be the celebration of this year's Div. 32 Heritage Award recipients, which include David Cain, Mick Cooper, Frederick Wertz, Louise Sundararajan, and Scott Churchill, who will receive well-deserved honors. The awards will be followed by the presidential address, which will focus on the theme of dignity, social justice, and the hermeneutics of love, including a special tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Following the presidential address will be the traditional Div. 32 business meeting, including the time-honored tradition of passing the oil can along to the incoming president, Krishna Kumar.

The Div. 32 Convention Program will close out Sunday morning with two symposia. At 9 a.m., David Rivera and Cirleen DeBlaere will lead off with papers on the subject of sexual orientation, gender identity and race, with a focus on the implications of multiple marginalized identities. At 10 AM, Frank Farley will chair a symposium titled, “Spirituality, Psychotherapy, and Beyond Psychotherapy,” and the speakers will include SHP President-Elect Krishna Kumar, as well as Debbie Joffe Ellis and Danny Wedding. The discussant will be the Heritage Award winner and eminent scholar, Stanley Krippner.

While the convention program is packed with outstanding presentations, various collaborative programming will also be occurring including symposia on the good life, another on social justice, and a third focused on transcendence, all co-sponsored by foundational divisions such as Div. 24 as well as Div. 32. One of the collaborative programs that will be a must see will be a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., featuring a re-enactment of King's 1967 address to the APA by incoming Div. 32 Secretary Nathaniel Granger, and a paper by previous Div 32 conference keynote, Jennifer Selig. This is an event you will not want to miss.

When programming slows down at the convention, the hospitality suite will surely be hopping. The hospitality suite, as always, is a great venue to meet people in a more intimate setting, but it is also a great place to catch high quality programming from individuals such as Scott Churchill, Heidi Levitt, Laura Garcia Bohnet, Jennifer Heintzman, Maureen O'hara, Art Bohart, Mick Cooper, Louis Hoffman, Nathaniel Granger, Rebecca Curtis, Paul Wong, Kirk Schneider, Keith Markman, Shawn Rubin, Richard Bargdill, Antony Muron, Ilene Serlin, Sarah Kamens, Amber Gilewski and Justin Underwood. Themes of presentations include mixed-methods research, restorative justice, stigma, existential inquiry, art, meaning making, higher education in urban environments, torture, multiculturalism, and dignity. Programming will also honor key women in humanistic psychology, as well as pay homage to recently deceased members of the division.

I am very pleased we are able to offer such outstanding programming this year, and I can't wait to see you in DC. Congratulations to our 2014 SHP award winners. Please attend the Div. 32 awards program, and other SHP programming, in the 2014 APA Convention halls, meeting rooms, and SHP hospitality suite.