From the leadership

President's letter

During the past nine months, the Div. 32 leadership has collaborated on a range of challenging issues.

By Kirk J. Schneider

It's been an invigorating nine months since taking the helm of our cherished Div. 32. Over the course of that time we have collaborated on a range of challenging issues. These issues include the key role of our Council Representatives Scott Churchill and Frank Farley. Thanks in large part to Scott's remarkably eloquent leadership on council floor, our representatives not only initiated the APA Council passage of the ban on enhanced interrogations last August, but they have methodically and effectively continued their press for reforms. Their balanced approach also has yielded fruit in the area of coalition building with other council representatives and their divisions. This theme of coalition building is central to my and many other society members' philosophy, and it is setting the tone, I believe, for a broadening of our interdivisional influence.

Speaking of our interdivisional influence, APA Program Chair Theopia Jackson also has been reaching out to a diversity of colleagues. This outreach has resulted in an impressive array of collaborative programs, nurturing our emphasis on the multicultural expansion of humanistic inquiry. I know that many of us — not least my predecessors, Louis Hoffman and Krishna Kumar, as well as my successor Shawn Rubin — also are keen on this trend, and it is very gratifying to see it being realized in fresh and creative ways.

Our society is also on the march with respect to the mounting articles, books and videos featuring our work. For the first time in our divisional history, for example, we have contracted with the APA to publish our journal The Humanistic Psychologist. This development holds much promise for the expanded dissemination of our ideas — and not just within the APA but for the social sciences as a whole. I am also very pleased to announce that the APA books and publications program has just published two major humanistic texts — the second edition of the now germinal “Humanistic Psychotherapies,” featuring long-time society board members David Cain, Kevin Keenan and Shawn Rubin, and “The Human Elements of Therapy” authored by former society president David Elkins. These works combined with the publication of the APA volume “Supervision Essentials for Existential-Humanistic Therapy” by society member Orah Krug and myself, along with the accompanying video “Existential-Humanistic Psychotherapy Supervision” and the updating of the text “Existential-Humanistic Therapy” signal a revival of our perspective in the discipline as a whole.

Moreover, I was delighted to see that a special issue of the APA-published Journal of Psychotherapy Integration (Vol. 26, No. 1) focused on existential-humanistic therapy integration for the first time in that journal's 25-year history. And these developments do not even include the forthcoming “Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy,” authored and edited by several society members, as well as the second edition of “The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology,” and the first edition of Rich Bargdill and Rodger Broome's “Humanistic Contributions for Psychology 101,” aimed at the education of undergraduates. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention board member Lisa Cosgrove's recent coauthored book with Robert Whitaker “Psychiatry Under the Influence,” which is having a salutary impact on problems our society has been tracking concerning organized psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. My apologies for failing to note all our other wonderful authors and their publications, but suffice it to say that we are on the move, we are becoming increasingly visible and our discipline is taking note.

Speaking of which, such dynamism was on vibrant display at our recent Society for Humanistic Psychology Conference at San Francisco State University this past March. I cannot thank the chief organizers — Conference Chair Carol Humphries and San Francisco State professor Kenn Burrows — enough for their tireless and cutting-edge work. I am also grateful to the many student and society board volunteers who played key facilitative roles. It was a genuinely “alternative” event that may be a model for future such conferences in combining intensive community dialogues with richly diverse programming. Overall, I have been very heartened by the feedback I received about the event, including that which called for some enhancements to be addressed at future conferences. For me, the biggest theme that emerged from the conference was the urgency of the humanistic viewpoint for today's communities, notwithstanding our academies and offices.

Finally, I am enthused about the timely and relevant impact of our board on such areas as reforming (and attempting to diversify) the standards of APA-approved clinical graduate training, the “DSM V,” conflict mediation (via the Experiential Democracy Project), as well as our expanded involvement in “Second Wave Positive Psychology” (as board member Paul Wong puts it), international relations, social media (such as our new “SHP TV”), and humanistic research. Moreover, I have little doubt that our incoming president, Shawn Rubin, will seek to both foster and enlarge upon these board directions, and I could not be more pleased about the prospect of his stewardship.

In short, we are a community on the move, engaging real world difficulties, through increasingly effective means. I urge all, but especially our younger colleagues, to join in the (awe-inspired) humanistic quest.