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Answers to questions about issues relevant to Div. 20 members from all five candidates.

Div. 20 posed the same two questions to the five candidates for APA president-elect. We encourage members to review these responses prior to voting in the election.

Steven D. Hollon, PhD

Please describe any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20. Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way in Div. 20. Please describe any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging. We are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching, outreach, and advocacy. 

I have no prior involvement in Div. 20, but I do have a strong interest in the treatment of depression. Psychotherapy is as effective as antidepressant medication and has an enduring effect the latter simply cannot match. The United Kingdom (UK) has invested £700 million pounds to increase access to psychotherapy because it is simply more cost-effective than an over-reliance on medications. What they have that we do not are multidisciplinary clinical practice guidelines to educate the public and to guide third party reimbursement. Psychiatry would join with us to generate such guidelines if we renounce the push for prescription authority. We are twice as likely to medicate nonpsychotic patients as they are in the UK (or than we did before the SSRIs), and general practitioners who over-prescribe and under-dose write the vast majority of the prescriptions. If we dropped the push for prescription authority and made common cause with psychiatry, fewer patients would be medicated, and those who were would be medicated well. The majority would again be treated with psychotherapy (as they used to be), and psychology and social work would be the lead professions. This would be the case especially for older adults.

Describe how adult development and aging is related to your platform or agenda for your presidential year.

I focus on the prevention and treatment of depression across the lifespan with a special emphasis on adolescents and especially adults, with no upper age limit to the latter. We rely far too heavily on medications in this country (we are twice as likely to medicate nonpsychotic patients than we did before the introduction of the SSRIs or than they do in the UK), and the reason that we do is that general practitioners are comfortable prescribing SSRIs (they write nearly 90% of the prescriptions). The majority of the patients who used to be treated with psychotherapy no longer get referred to psychologists, and the smaller number of more complicated patients who need medications beyond SSRIs no longer get referred to psychiatry. This is especially problematic for older patients who would do better on psychotherapy alone. If we made common cause with psychiatry, we could generate multidisciplinary clinical practice guidelines that would educate the public and inform third party payers like Medicare. Psychiatry would work with us if we renounced the push for prescription authority. Doing so would be good for patients (especially older patients) and good for all professions (psychology, psychiatry, and general practice).

Thomas G. Plante, PhD, ABPP

Please describe any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20. Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way with Div. 20 activities. Please describe any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging. We are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching, outreach, and advocacy. 

I have not been a member of Div. 20, although I certainly appreciate your interests, expertise, activities, and goodwill. However, I am a fellow of five of APA‘s divisions (Divs. 12, 36, 38, 46, and 47) with several of these overlapping with some of the interests of Div. 20.

My research and professional writing during the past decade or two has increasingly focused on spirituality and health and the integration of religion, health practices, and ethics. These topics appear to be especially of interest to aging populations as they relate to meaning, purpose, health, and wellness during middle and later life. Much of these writings appeal to aging populations given their developmental place in life. My current book project involves spirituality in death and dying related issues.

My clinical work also focuses on these topics, and almost all of my clients are in the 65 plus age group. I have had many clients in their 80s in particular. Many are elderly clerics and laypeople referred to me by their church communities.

Finally, my consulting work typically focuses on health and wellness issues related to aging clerics, and I have been on regional and national committees that highlight these concerns.

Describe how adult development and aging is addressed in your platform or agenda for your presidential year.

My platform emphasis on inclusionhighlights a broad notion of inclusion. While APA has worked hard to be more relevant and hospitable to younger professionals and students, we cannot lose sight, or take for granted, our later career professionals who offer so much experience, knowledge, and wisdom. They need to be included, embraced, and celebrated.

I also highlight ethicsin my platform and strongly believe that we must be beyond reproach when it comes to personal and professional ethics. We have too often failed to live up to our values. Senior members of APA have a longer history and richer perspective to help guide our way in this regard.

Finally, my platform highlights advocacy. There is so much that we must do to let the best science and practices of psychology seep into the public consciousness as so many of our problems, individually and collectively, are rooted in human behavior. I would certainly want to work very closely with Div. 20 leaders and their experts to get the right people in the right position to elevate these thoughtful voices for greater impact.

Kirk J. Schneider, PhD

Please describe any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20. Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way with Div. 20 activities. Please describe any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging. We are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching, outreach, and advocacy.

I have had a long-term interest in development, starting with my early training in humanistic psychology. My father was a humanistic educator, and I grew up with books by scholars such as Maslow, Rogers, Barron, Goertzel, and Schactel. In later years, I found Maslow’s investigation of the self-actualizing personality and Kohlberg’s stages of moral development particularly engaging. My first book The Paradoxical Self: Toward an Understanding of our Contradictory Nature (1990), for which Rollo May wrote the preface, proposed a theory of psychological development based on the philosophical and theoretical works of Kierkegaard, May, and Becker. This theory also drew from the developmental research of Diana Baumrind and Gerald Stechler among others. In that latter work, as in The Psychology of Existence (1995, with May), I proposed that psychological functioning can be understood as the capacity to constrict and expand. I applied these dynamics to a wide variety of developmental challenges, from early infancy to old age. I theorized further that it is the encounter with and integration of these capacities that lead to more optimal outcomes, and this perspective continues to inform and illuminate both my theoretical and clinical work.

Describe how adult development and aging is addressed in your platform or agenda for your presidential year.

Three basic pillars of my platform have significant implications for development and aging. The first pillar pursues the healing dialogues that I have been cultivating for over a decade and that I’ve elaborated in a new book The Depolarizing of America: A Guidebook for Social Healing. These dialogues comprise a one-on-one format bringing together people of diverse backgrounds to learn about and understand each other (as opposed to imposing views on each other), thereby increasing the prospect for common ground. This approach has notable implications for the development of people’s capacity, both young and old, to communicate with each other, tolerate differences, and build bridges that can promote a more flourishing society. My second pillar is a call for the establishment of a psychologist general of the United States who works in coordination with APA advocacy and allied federal agencies to focus full time, from inside government on psychosocial approaches to mental health care. This focus would have obvious implications for the support of development and aging at every level of our society. My third pillar is to advocate for integrative, whole person approaches to development and aging, both institutionally and at the level of private care. I have written extensively about this approach in my books Awakening to Awe and Rediscovery of Awe.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, ABPP

Please describe any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20. Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way with Div. 20 activities. Please describe any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging. We are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching, outreach, and advocacy. 

Div. 20 plays a prominent role in my career as my primary source of identification within psychology. I held every leadership position on the Executive Committee within Div. 20, having begun when I was just out of graduate school on the Education Committee and continuing now as one of Div. 20’s two Council Representatives. I strongly advocate on behalf of the division’s concerns, seeking input as well as providing updates to our members regarding key issues in governance. One of the original CoPGTP members, I was involved in the development of the geropsychology competency assessment tool as well as the ABPP geropsychology board and currently serve as its treasurer and as an examiner.

In addition to my own research on lifespan psychosocial development, including the leadership of a 50-year sequential study of personality, I serve on the editorial boards and as reviewer for our major professional outlets. Over the course of my career, I have given numerous workshops and led symposia and webinars focused on education, including the development of curricular material. Currently, I am a co-PI on a project funded by the Retirement Research Foundation on the Age Friendly University movement by developing a research instrument to help bring attention to the need for higher education to create environments that will support lifelong learning and intergenerational educational experiences.

Describe how adult development and aging is addressed in your platform or agenda for your presidential year.

My presidential initiatives place aging in a prominent position. I have proposed a presidential initiative to focus on the challenges of an aging population as well as to APA’s own changing demographics. A major piece of this will involve examining ageism both at broader societal levels and within psychology itself. My most recent research and policy efforts are devoted to the Age-Friendly movement. In collaboration with a research team at UMass Boston/Lasell College, I am currently conducting an investigation aimed at reducing ageism on college campuses.

The core principles of the age-friendly movement involve promoting intergenerational contact and communication. Within APA, we can promote these principles both by showing less ageism toward older members while encouraging participation of emerging psychologists and graduate students. I support of the bylaws amendment to allow voting in the national balloting by graduate student members, in part because it is a movement consistent with age-friendly values.

As president, I will continue to work on behalf of the issues so important to Div. 20. At the same time, I will draw upon my extensive experience in APA governance and devote my energies to ensuring that APA remains a strong and vibrant organization in the 2020s and beyond.

Frank C. Worrell, PhD

Please describe any interests and/or any previous involvement in Div. 20. Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way with Div. 20 activities. Please describe any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging. We are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching, outreach, and advocacy. 

I have never been a member of Div. 20. However, my training focused on children, adolescents, and adults in families, and some of my research sets the stage for engaging with adult development. In 2001/2002, we introduced the Cross Racial Identity Scale, designed to assess Black racial identity attitudes in adolescents and adults. Our most recent work in this area has been to revise the instrument so that it can be used with all ethnic-racial groups, leading to a recent publication introducing the Cross Ethnic-Racial Identity Scale–Adult.

The second area is time perspective. We developed the Adolescent Time Inventory, which assesses, among other things, positive and negative feelings toward the past, present, and future. After showing that that the scores can be used with younger adults, adults in mid-life, and older adults, we renamed the scale the Adolescent and Adult Time Inventory.

The third area is talent development. My colleagues and I have published a 2019 edited volume focused on talent development from a high performance psychology perspective. Our goal is to show talent development begins in childhood and continues into adulthood and that without appropriate experiences as an adult, the probability of becoming a high performer decreases.

Describe how adult development and aging is addressed in your platform or agenda for your presidential year.

Many caucuses and divisions have asked this question with regard to their specific sub-discipline of psychology, and it would be impossible if I were to say that as president I could champion all of them. In my responses to one of the APA questions, I noted that one idea, which can be developed with the input of APA’s Committee on Aging, and also with Div. 20, is the creation a psychology corps of experienced members to bring psychology to their local communities, elevating public’s understanding of, regard for, and use of psychology.

My goal as president will be to consult broadly and to include and amplify the diverse, multiple, and varied voices in psychology via the implementation of APA’s strategic plan, which speaks directly to many of these issues, to help with the approval, dissemination, and application of our new ethics code centered on social justice and human rights and now out for public comment, and to continue the initiative that Sandy Shulman started this year on psychology’s role in ending racism, discrimination, and hate. More information about my experience and my campaign can be found on my campaign website and the APA campaign website.

Last updated: October 2020Date created: September 2019