In this issue

APA presidential candidates comment on adult development and aging

Hear from the APA presidential candidates on their involvement in Div. 20, their professional interests and platform for the presidential year.

By Sharon Bowman, Todd Finnerty, PsyD, and Antonio E. Puente, PhD

Div. 20 posed the following three questions to all APA presidential candidates. Received candidate responses are published below.

  • Question #1: Do you have 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.
  • Question #2: Do you have any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging? Naturally, we are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching and involvement with any other organizations devoted to adult development and aging and/or the psychology of aging.
  • Question #3: Could you briefly explain any way in which adult development and aging is part of your platform or agenda for your presidential year?

Sharon Bowman, PhD

Question #1:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your division. I have not had any previous involvement with Div. 20. I am a member of CODAPAR (Committee on Division-APA Relations), but your division is not one of the divisions for which I have oversight. I am a fellow of Div. 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) and Div. 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race) and a member of Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women).

Question #2:

I am an academic (professor and department chair) and have a small private practice on the side (seeing up to nine clients per week). My research and clinical focus is in diversity issues broadly defined, and my personal work (with clients or students) is with adult clients (currently ages 18-70). In other words, my attention is drawn to the middle and older adult range of the developmental spectrum. My older adult clients bring a variety of clinical issues: divorce or widowhood; chronic pain or significant medical issues; and financial instability. I have also worked with some of our graduate students on their dissertations that have an aging adult focus (my home campus, Ball State University, offers a program in gerontology, which is a minor taken by some of our doctoral students).

Question #3:

Good question! I don't believe I have directly considered adult development and aging in my agenda. That doesn't mean it has no place in my work, however. In my responses to questions from other divisions and related units, I have noted a strong desire to focus on membership recruitment and retention. I see the divisions as crucial to any membership project because psychologists seem to be most loyal to their primary interest areas. The leadership of a division may be the “friendly face” that convinces students and early career psychologists to join the association. In turn, dvisional loyalty may be instrumental in convincing senior members to remain involved with both the division and the greater association. So, my agenda will include working with your division, among others, on the membership issue.

Todd Finnerty, PsyD

Question #1: 

I am not a member of Div. 20.

Question #2: 

Some of my early work as a psychologist took place as an independent practitioner in nursing homes. My current work focuses primarily on disability. You can learn more about me at my website.

Question #3:  

Understanding the needs of our aging population (and aging APA membership) is a very important goal. My agenda for my presidential year is focused on access. It is important that our aging population will be able to access the behavioral health care that they need. If you read my statements, you'll see that they are relevant to increasing the public's access to psychological services.

In addition, my advocacy has focused on not reducing the number of psychologists who can work in certain settings or get licensed. APA has issued unsupported policies that an APA-accredited internship should be required for licensure and to be seen as competent as a psychologist. I've started an advocacy group to defend all psychologists, not just those who had APA-accredited internships. You can learn more about that online.

Antonio Puente, PhD

Question #1:

While not a member of Div. 20, many of the issues addressed by Div. 20 have also been issues inherent in my work over the last 35 years. Primarily my clinical focus has been in the clinical neuropsychological assessment of adults and the aged.

Question #2:

Clinical: My most typical client at private and institutional practice (1982-present) is a dementia patient and the most typical activity is a neuropsychological evaluation for treatment purposes. One of the unique aspects of my practice is that a significant percentage involves the assessment of Spanish-speakers (my native language) and often in forensic situations (e.g., competency). A fair amount of this service is done along with my bilingual students and postdocs (most are Spanish speaking) at a free clinic (Cape Fear Clinic) that I founded 15 years ago. Finally, I am a regular speaker at the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association focusing on caregiver issues (as I happen to be one).

Scholarly: From a scholarly perspective, I am a reviewer for several aging/adult development journals such as the Journal of Gerontology . I have been a reviewing consultant for Alzheimer's Association, Awards and Grants Office for several years (2009-present). Here are some examples of publications related to adult development and aging.

  • Horton, A.M., & Puente, A. E. (1990). Life-span neuropsychology: An overview. In A. M. Horton (Ed.), Life-span neuropsychology (pp. 1–15). New York, NY: Springer.
  • Puente, A. E. (2002). Neuropsychology: Introducing aging into the study of brain and behavior. In J. C. Cavanaugh & S. K. Whitbourne (Eds.), Integrating aging topics into psychology: A practical guide for teaching undergraduates (pp. 29–42). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Academic: In teaching brain and behavior as well as clinical neuropsychology, adult development and aging is the central core of what is presented in both standard lecture and practice settings. My primary training focus at the graduate and post-doctoral levels are Spanish-speaking and international students. Currently, I am training three graduate students (from Canada, Honduras, and Japan) and postdoctoral fellows (Spain and Russia).

Question #3:

Originally, my primary platform was to expand the role of psychology into all of health care (see Puente, 2011, Psychology as a health profession in American Psychologist). For far too long, professional psychology has focused on mental health. My goal is to expand the horizons of professional psychology to all of health care.

Of interest is that I serve on the AMA CPT Panel, which determines what health care can be done in the U.S. and how much it is reimbursed (only psychologist in its history and third nonphysician). I served as APA's advisor for 15 years and have served as a voting member of the panel. We are revamping all the psychological assessment codes now and addressing the problem of “screening” for dementia by nontrained individuals.