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Comments Needed from Existential-Humanistic Psychologists on APA Proposal for Accreditation of MA Programs

The APA is working on setting up accreditation standards for MA programs in applied psychology. Seattle University has such a program, with an existential-phenomenological and humanistic orientation and so we are keenly interested in what directions this project moves.

Cite this
Halling, S. (2020, October 2). Comments Needed from Existential-Humanistic Psychologists on APA Proposal for Accreditation of MA Programs. http://www.apadivisions.org/division-32/news-events/accreditation

Dear Colleagues,

As you have may have heard, the APA is working on setting up accreditation standards for MA programs in applied psychology. Seattle University has such a program, with an existential-phenomenological and humanistic orientation and so we are keenly interested in what directions this project moves. The deadline for input is October 9 (see APA “dear Colleague letter below). Very few people commented on the first version and I think it is important for humanistic psychologists to provide input, either individually or as groups of faculty associated with a specific graduate program. You can comment online.

Below are some of my thoughts, briefly put, and I am unsettled by the criteria proposed. This may be better than the CACREP criteria but, as they say, that would be damning with faint praise.

I read through the revised standards as well as the very few comments that were made on the first version. Most of these comments (there are just 5) were from School Psychology Programs who said they wanted the APA to stay out of their business!

Many of the criteria seem to be "cookie cutter" in nature, with the expected language about "evidence-based practice," although there is also an admission that practice provides evidence. Courses in psychotherapy etc. do not seem to be front and center. There is some flexibility in terms of content, but what is there is predictable given the direction of the APA and its commitment to promoting psychology as a science, understood in a rather narrow way. There is no reference to qualitative research. In a word, the APA is committed to the promotion of diversity EXCEPT when it comes to how psychology is defined and practiced.

So why is the APA doing this? This is a question that many ask and that probably has multiple answers. And what might the accreditation process and annual reviews cost?  

So, in a word, I think the more input the better before the deadline, from a whole lot of humanistic programs as well as individuals who practice psychotherapy.  

Cordially,
Steen Halling
Professor Emeritus, Psychology, Seattle University

Steen Halling Steen Halling is a licensed psychologist and professor emeritus of psychology at Seattle University where he has taught in the MA program in existential-phenomenological psychology as well as in the undergraduate program since 1976. Originally from Denmark, he received his BA from York University, Toronto, Canada, and his MA and PhD in psychology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, USA. His research and publications have focused on topics such as psychology of forgiveness, phenomenological study of psychopathology, psychology of hopelessness, envy, interpersonal relations, and qualitative research methods.  He was editor of the International Human Science Research Conference Newsletter 1988–2017, co-editor, with Ronald S. Valle of Existential-Phenomenological Perspectives in Psychology [Plenum, New York, 1989], and author of Intimacy, Transcendence, and Psychology [Palgrave, New York, 2008]. He can be reached via email.