We were privileged to represent Div.18 at the APA council meeting on Feb. 28 through March 1, 2020, in Washington D.C. APA President Sandra Shullman welcomed everyone and shared her vision for APA to be a leading voice on important issues facing society and an organization that fosters new jobs for psychologists. APA CEO Arthur Evans noted the association’s strategic efforts to speak out quickly and boldly when responding to public mental health issues and to focus on outcomes. He also described APA’s efforts to partner for impact with organizations like Farm Aid and the National PTA. APA Treasurer Jean Carter reported a deficit budget for 2020 despite membership activities yielding increases in new members and a return of a number of former members.
One highlight of the meetings happened when Heather O'Beirne Kelly received a Presidential Citation for her work to promote access to mental health services for active military, veterans, and their families. Below is a photo of Heather being congratulated by her VA psychology friends. As many of you know, after 19 years at APA, Heather left in January to work for the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Council archived outdated policies and adopted updated resolutions regarding LGBTQ issues. The Resolution on Supporting Sexual/Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents in Schools reaffirmed APA’s support for students with gender diversity and differences of sex development and addresses the issue of restricting bathrooms for transgender children. It was also reviewed by the National Association of School Psychologists which plans to adopt the same resolution. The Resolution on Opposing Discriminatory Laws, Policies, and Practices Aimed at LGBTQ+ Persons updates changes in legislation and case law affecting LGBTQ+ people, including the legal right to same-sex marriage. The Resolution on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Parents, and Their Children includes data on transgender parents and recent research on gay fathers and bisexual parents. All three resolutions received unanimous support from council. They highlight research evidence that combats discriminatory laws and practices in states that provide little legal protection for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Council received the 2019 Violent Video Games Task Force report. The report determined there is insufficient evidence to support a causal link between violent video games and violent behavior. After debating the data, council approved both the report and a preamble to the Task Force’s 2015 Resolution on Violent Video Games. The 2015 preamble resolution was updated by council and clarified that based on the literature, the new task force report reaffirms there is a small, reliable association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes such as yelling and pushing, but research findings are difficult to extend to more violent outcomes. The resolution should not be misinterpreted to attribute lethal violence, especially mass shootings, to violent video game use alone.
Council approved a resolution on APA’s Response to the Global Climate Change Crisis reaffirming a prior policy and stating, “APA can further address the climate change crisis by promoting and sponsoring advances in research, interventions, services, education and training, public policy and advocacy, group and community organization, and other domains in which psychologists work.” The resolution calls for a task force of experts to review APA’s past and current activities related to climate change and recommend goals that can have a positive impact on the climate change crisis. Janet Swim, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, presented on psychological research and climate change and specifically how people change their beliefs about climate change and behaviors that contribute to reversing climate change. Shullman gave Swim a Presidential Citation for her leadership within APA and internationally in this area.
Council adopted the Education and Training Guidelines for Psychology Assessment in Health Service Psychology, which address the didactic and supervised experiences students receive in psychological assessment and include recommendations for faculty and supervisors. Council also approved the Guidelines for Psychological Assessment and Evaluation.
Council debated a series of amendments to APA Association Rules that address governance issues. We debated how pro/con statements would be presented to association members in ballots for APA bylaws amendments. As an aside, amendments rarely pass when pro/con statements are included. Since these statements have an impact, debate focused on who should write these statements and whether the authors should be identified. Council failed to reach a consensus and the issue was referred to the council leadership team for additional consideration.
Additional discussions focused on amendments to association rules regarding delegation of certain duties from council to the board of directors. Council approved delegation to the board for three more years the authority to confirm, evaluate, and reconfirm the APA CEO. The board will also continue to have authority to develop and approve the annual budget. However, while the board will have the authority to adjust dues as incentives for any new or lapsed members, recommendations by the board, finance committee and membership board for any dues increases will need to be submitted to council for final approval.
While APA council was scheduled to next meet in August in Washington, D.C., due to COVID-19, council will meet virtually.