Report from APA council

Remembrance for Sandy Hook victims, presidential priorities and new initiatives.

By Susan D. Clayton, PhD

The APA Council of Representatives met in late February 2013. In addition to the usual organizational actions, there were several agenda items I want to describe.

One unusual item was a remembrance for the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and a posthumous presidential citation for Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist who died that day. Ms. Sherlach’s daughters were present to receive the citation. I think I speak for all who were present when I say we were moved as we remembered the shooting, and were glad to be able to recognize the heroic behavior of Ms. Sherlach.

On a related issue, we heard about APA involvement in efforts to reduce gun violence. APA’s CEO Norman Anderson was invited to a White House meeting. Additionally, APA has met with other professional organizations to discuss ways to apply what psychological research tells us about causes of violence and mental health needs, and to promote further research. APA has an important opportunity to contribute to the public good in this discussion.

Incoming APA President Donald Bersoff identified his three presidential priorities, which will focus on providing mental health services for the military and their families, promoting diversity through the recognition of graduate departments that are particularly successful in training members of underrepresented groups, and emphasizing psychology as a science.

Council was also informed about a new initiative, the Center for Psychology and Health, which will promote the application of psychological knowledge to enhance health. I spoke with Steve Breckler, head of the APA science directorate, about the need to ensure consideration of environmental factors that affect health. We will be continuing a discussion of ways to tap into Division 34 expertise on this issue, and I invite anyone who does research in this area to get in touch with me.

As usual, we were updated about the extensive efforts to promote sustainability in APA buildings and Central Office. I am happy to share these details with anyone who is interested.

Finally, we continued to examine ways in which we might transform APA governance to make it more transparent and efficient, and to allow broader avenues for the general membership to have influence.

Hope to see many of you at the convention in Oahu this summer!