From the leadership

President-elect's letter

The theme for the president-elect's presidency is “Ethics Into Action,” which will build on the themes of past Div. 32 presidents and their initiatives.

By Shawn Rubin

It is truly humbling to be the recipient of our membership's trust, with my election as president of the Society for Humanistic Psychology. Serving as president-elect this past year, I have been able to — once again — learn from my long-time mentor Kirk Schneider, as he most ably implemented his presidential platform “Rediscovering Awe in Psychology and Life.” I am also grateful for the learning, nurturing and support from my existential-humanistic mentors, Div. 32 colleagues and students in humanistic graduate degree programs. I draw strength and inspiration from you all.

The theme for my own presidency is “Ethics Into Action,” which will build on the themes of past Div. 32 presidents and their ongoing division initiatives. My vision for humanistic psychology is the ethical commitment to a justice-based humanistic psychology, referred to as humanitarian psychology. Much like our colleagues in the Divisions for Social Justice, I believe this approach can serve as the foundation of a shared, 21st-century global psychology.

Three main components comprise the vision of humanitarian psychology. First, psychological justice — which recognizes the inalienable importance of subjective and intersubjective experiences of which humanistic-existential-transpersonal and contemporary psychoanalytic perspectives are the basis of this fundamental element.

Second, social justice — which recognizes the significance of social identity, including race/ethnicity, gender, sexual/attractional orientation, ability/disability and socio-economic class.

And lastly, ecological justice — which recognizes the interdependence of all living things.

As an expression of this commitment to humanitarian psychology, I'll be working on initiatives at the APA Convention, as well as at our annual Div. 32 conference, to include a community service project to underserved populations. Currently, I'm coordinating efforts with board secretary Nathaniel Granger's Be Real Ministries in Colorado Springs to provide services and personal care products for homeless individuals prior to the convention in Denver.

In congruence with the “Ethics Into Action” platform, I'm excited to announce the theme of the 2017 Annual Conference of the Society for Humanistic Psychology Division: “Love, Ethics & Social Justice: Transforming the Self in Service of Others.” The conference is being held at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Thursday, March 30 to Sunday, April 2.

Our Multicultural Task Force will be engaged to review and encourage presentations at the conference, ensuring that all of our offerings integrate multicultural psychology and becoming culturally competent psychologists and allies; this is in response to requests by previous conference attendees. Indeed, even the selection of keynotes and invited speakers will continue to be conducted with a consciousness of privilege, diversity and inclusion.

In addition to the outward focus of humanitarian psychology and its impact on individuals and communities, I will be looking inward towards the functioning of the board and our service to the membership. I want to ensure that all our various constituent groups have a voice and access to the democratic processes of the board.

To this end, I am working with the Div. 32 student ambassadors and have supported their election of a board student representative who, after consideration by the membership and a required bylaw change, could be a full voting member of the board. I am excited about the enthusiasm and commitment of the ambassadors, and I believe this is a natural evolution of the program most efficiently run by Membership Chair Trish Nash.

I have also heard the voices of our former students — now early career psychologists — over the years who wish to have more of “a seat at the table” and are interested in benefitting from more targeted mentorship, training and support. While such mentorship services have often been provided informally or by faculty members at our humanistic schools, I will be working with the Div. 32 convention programming team and our Conference Committee to ensure that students and early career psychologists are kept in mind. We must make the next generation of humanistic psychologists feel welcome and that they have a home in Div. 32.

In conclusion, I approach the year of my presidency with a focus on broadening and deepening our impact as a division on our various constituent groups — be it students, early career psychologists or the various diverse clinical communities we serve.

Our work is to further the same spirit of compassionate relational engagement and critical reflection that pervades our various projects and undertakings as a board and as a membership. I look forward to listening, learning and collaborating with you; if you have any feedback or questions, feel free to contact me.

Thanks again for the honor you have bestowed upon me.