Council of Representatives

COR Meeting, February, 2019, Washington, D.C.

This is a summary of the major items during the February 2019 APA Council meeting
By Mindy J Erchull, PhD

This is a summary of the major items during the February 2019 APA Council meeting. If you would like more detail on anything, please feel free to contact me via email

Rosie Phillips Davis, PhD, discussed some of the projects she’s undertaking. These include an initiative to get psychologists to create two-minute videos that can be used to share our science with the general public (APA PsycShorts) and her Deep Poverty Initiative.

Presidential citations were given to:

  • The APA Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology
  • Elisabeth Straus, the former executive director of APF
  • Bethany A. Teachman, PhD, for her leadership in advancing evidence-based practice in psychology

The strategic plan was approved.  The goals of the plan are to:

  • Utilize psychology to make a positive impact on critical societal issues
  • Elevate the public’s understanding of, regard for and use of psychology
  • Prepare the discipline and profession of psychology for the future
  • Strengthen APA’s standing as an authoritative voice for psychology

We got an update on APA Services, Inc.  The new advocacy coordinating committee is moving through the process of setting advocacy priorities.  The indicated that the general factors they will be considering are:

  • Is this consistent with APA’s mission?
  • Does psychology possess needed expertise to speak to this issue?
  • Is the advocacy goal consistent with APA’s strategic plan?

They also have some more fine-grained criteria that I’m happy to talk with you more about if there is interest.

The resolution on physical discipline of children by parents was adopted.  There was concern that the resolution overstated the clarity and consistency of the effects of spanking in the research literature. There was also concern that this could harm poor families and families of color as kids are more likely to be removed from parents in these groups because of physical interactions than is true for those with more social privilege.

The clinical practice guidelines for depression were adopted. There continues to be concern about the reliance on randomized controlled trials in the development of these guidelines rather than looking at a broader array of research. There were also concerns that there’s also not enough data that considers the role of different identity variables.

The resolution on child and adolescent mental and behavioral health was approved. This involved archiving an older resolution from 2004 and then approving the new one.

An update of APA’s policies and curriculum relate to psychopharmacology were approved. The key change is that there can now be more psychopharmacology training at the doctoral level rather than being post-doctoral/post-licensure.

Council received a report regarding master’s programs in health-service psychology. This is a first step towards developing accreditation procedures for these master’s programs. Most of the discussion here centered around concerns that relate to scope of practice and title issues, but these were outside of the charge for this report and will come as this process moves forward. There was also discussion that we can’t delay on this as others are already doing master’s level accreditation, so if we want a say in what people can do and how they’re trained, we need to act now.

The primary agenda item that division members talked with me about in advance of the Council meeting was the motion to revise language about the need for divisions to get policy and position statements reviewed and approved by APA prior to releasing them and that these statements can’t conflict with APA. The language revisions were approved.

The actual language changes more clarified a policy already in place rather than created any actual changes. That said, it seems like divisions have not always followed this process and APA may not have widely enforced it. Given this, the agenda item seems to have brought this to the attention of many resulting in concerns about the policy rather than the language used in the policy.

For some, the concerns expressed had to do with language indicating that these statements had to originate with divisions as some divisions are asked and routinely sign on to statements developed by other allied organizations. This was resolved with minor language edits.

There were also concerns that this review process may be slow and prevent timely responses. APA and its legal team wants to be as timely as possible, but no hard guarantees on timing were given.

The concern that division members had come to me with prior to the meeting and raised by many at the meeting, was that it troubles many that this prevents divisions from critiquing APA. Given the recent history with problems at APA, many feel like this is a bad time to be doing this. These concerns are with the policy not the language, however, so that needs to be brought at a future meeting as a different business item. I’m sure this will be a concern discussed by the Social Justice Divisions, of which Div 1. is a part, so we’ll see what comes of this in the future.