President's Column

A call for collaborators

Overview of the American Psychology Law Society annual meeting that was held in San Diego.

By Patricia Zapf, PhD

What a great conference. Our annual meeting this past March in San Diego was one of the best conferences I've attended in a long time. A big thank-you to Nancy Panza, Chris Finello, and, of course, to Kathy and Clyde Gaskey for organizing and administering such a great event. There were 962 registrants in attendance at the conference and nothing but rave reviews about the program. Many of those ‘rave reviews' were targeted at the excellent keynote addresses throughout the conference. And, in return, our keynote speakers had nothing but great things to say about our conference and our division. In fact, each of the keynote presenters has made contact with me to make a plea for collaborators on various projects. I'd like to take the opportunity in this column to briefly describe what each of these presenters is looking for and to urge you to contact them if you have an interest in collaborating on these various projects.

Lee Goldstein, MD, PhD, presented the opening keynote address on “ Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes, Veterans and Those Who Are Involved in the Criminal Justice System” that had everyone buzzing afterwards. I overhead many snippets of conversation that were stimulated by this discussion of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and cannot seem to get the main point out of my head…”It's the hits that matter, not whether they cause a concussion.” Goldstein and I were talking afterwards about the many, many forensic implications of his work given that so many of the individuals that we deal with have suffered head traumas and TBIs. Goldstein is very interested in collaborating with someone from AP-LS to write up some of the forensic implications of this work. If you are interested in collaborating with Goldstein, please feel free to make contact and let him know that you heard (about) his address at AP-LS and would like to collaborate.

The second keynote presentation was given by Itiel Dror, PhD, who spoke on “ The Psychology and Impartiality of Forensic Expert Decision Making ” and had us all riveted. In his keynote address, Dror spoke about his work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the importance of having psychologists involved in developing standards and procedures for all aspects of forensic science. Dror mentioned in his keynote that he, along with Bill Thompson, Dan Simon and Chris Meissner, are involved in the Human Factors Committee of the Forensic Sciences Standards Board, which is attempting to develop and promulgate forensic science consensus standards and guidelines and ensure that a sufficient scientific basis exists for each discipline within forensic science. They are looking for interested individuals who can look at the literature and speak about the psychological issues involved in each of these areas, so if you are interested in becoming involved in this important work, please get in touch with Dror and let him know that you heard his keynote address and would like to become involved.

The final keynote address was given by John Philipsborn who spoke about “Putting our Jargon into Your Jargon” and how we can communicate more effectively with the courts and understand advances in forensic mental health through case law. This keynote contained a lot of relevant and important information for many of us who work as expert evaluators and witnesses in the field. Philipsborn spoke about the importance of getting this information out to those in our field who do this work and so if you are interested in collaborating on a writing project to help disseminate this important legal information to practitioners in our field, please get in touch with Philipsborn, let him know that you saw his AP-LS keynote address and would like to collaborate on writing up some of these important issues.

In addition to the three keynote addresses, Richard Frederick, PhD, winner of the AAFP Distinguished Contributions Award, presented his address entitled, “Too Much Information: Problems when using Multiple Malingering Tests” in which he spoke about the issues involved in attempting to reconcile the results of multiple measures of malingering. This was a great address.

Finally, I was pleased to be able to present my presidential address at AP-LS entitled, “Broadening our Scope and Expanding our Reach: Bringing Psychology and Law to the Masses” in which I discuss the importance of disseminating the work that we do in this field to expand our reach to both other disciplines as well as to the public. If you didn't get a chance to attend, you can view my address.

Thank you to everyone who attended the AP-LS meeting in San Diego, and I look forward to seeing you at our next divisional event, the Annual APA Convention in Toronto, Canada, from Aug. 6-9, 2015. Amanda Zelechoski and Nicholas Druhn, our divisional co-chairs, have put together a terrific program for this convention, and I encourage you to check out their article in this edition of the AP-LS News, which highlights a number of interesting and informative events in this program.

See you in Toronto.