Candidate Statements for Div. 43 Board
Please review the following candidate statements to prepare for the upcoming 2020 Div. 43 election.
Gonzalo Bacigalupe EdD, MPH
It is an honor to be nominated to lead the Society of Couple and Family Psychology. Accepting with humility as I assume that the other candidate is as qualified as I could be. Making the decision to run was not an easy one and did not take it lightly, I discussed the role with several past presidents wondering if this was the right time and if my contribution could be meaningful, collaborative and responsible. Accepting to run is in the spirit of collaboration, on trusting that board members will also be an intrinsic part of the leadership and in believing that I bring not only some governance experience and knowledge of the field, but also a healthy amount of not-knowing. I am not an APA insider, but have been outspoken about some controversial issues, particularly in the last decade as APA struggled with central human rights ethical and moral challenges. I did. We do have a responsibility beyond the usual guild concerns — accreditation, branding, evidence-based treatments, etc. — should be instruments to better the world rather than an end to protect the scope of practice. Social inequity, the politics of blaming the most vulnerable and the destruction of nature, to name a few, threaten families and communities at the core. Government today, indeed, lacks a commitment to build a better and more just place where people and the environment are treated with care.
My commitment to systemic, relational and collaborative ideas is reflected not only in my scholarship but also in face-to-face in governance leadership and in digital activism. I am a professor in the department of counseling and school psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Teaching continues to be a way of learning the nuances and complexities of a field that continues to evolve. Presently, I teach in the doctoral and master programs and was the director of the family therapy program. In addition, my research as principal investigator at the Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management in Chile has kept me traveling (and living) back forth to South America for several years. The research in Chile explores how citizens participate in disaster risk reduction and the development of resilience. My research work has more generally investigated the adoption of emerging technologies, chronic illness and transnational families.
Presently I am a board member of the Family Process Institute as well as reviewer in several journal editorial boards. A few years ago, I served as president of the American Family Therapy Academy, have been vice president for public interest and diversity in our division and an elected member of Committee of International Relations in Psychology (CIRP). A recent passion has been to establish myself as a plastic artist. At the start of 2019, I had a second solo exhibition of abstract art in a collection called Cartographies of Body and Territories, a clear nudge to the influence of the work that Gregory Bateson has had in my thinking. Painting after having had a serious fracture had allowed me to explore what it is often impossible, at least for me, to express verbally or in writing.
What would I do as your president? I would first need to learn and appreciate what works and where the Society is excelling. My interests have always been on how our relational ideas could be applied in the larger context and how we can work transdisciplinary across psychology and other disciplines. The dilemmas posed by climate change, inequality, racism and xenophobia do keep me awake. The destruction of the planet and of ways in which we can relate with care for the other requires thinking contextually. Working to establish linkages across other organizations nationally and internationally to help us address some of the complex questions would be central. I also see a role in developing linkages across divisions that aim at thinking about the larger context as well as professional organizations for whom social justice is essential. More about my work can be found on my website.
Amanda Edwards Stewart
I am humbled and honored to be nominated for the position of president-elect for APA’s Div. 43. I am currently a clinical/research psychologist for the Department of Defense (DoD) working in evidence synthesis. My research focus is on how to increase retention of active duty military behavioral health clients in evidence-based treatments. I believe that one important component to treatment retention is utilizing the family as social support. I received a PhD in clinical psychology from Seattle Pacific University. I am a practicing licensed psychologist who also teaches in couple therapy. I have served in Div. 43 for seven years, five as treasurer, one as the program chair and one as hospitality chair. I also served as treasurer for the International Academy of Family Psychology.
Military families and their relative emotional health is a passion of mine. Specifically, those that receive emotional injuries due to their service and now need care. Despite the DoD’s heavy campaigning to normalize mental health care, it is still stigmatized, and many service members remain untreated. Such untreated mental health issue have inevitable consequences on their family’s health. Military families suffer negative consequences from frequent moves and the deployment of their loved ones. In my current work, I hope to support the individual healthcare of a service member by utilizing his family’s social support. Most of my new research projects center around this idea.
In private practice, I see couples and specialize in relationship problems that stem from past personal trauma. I also work with individuals on the improvement of their interpersonal skills and ability to assert in relationships. Furthermore, I teach Human Sexuality at the graduate level. I look forward to the possibility of serving as president of the division. I would bring a fresh perspective to how to engage young and new members to the division, how to better integrate a couples and family paradigm into traditional individual mental health treatment and keep the division within its budget. I ask for your support in elected me to become a part of the division’s leadership team.
Adam Fisher, PhD, ABPP
I am honored to be nominated for the secretary position of the Society for Couple and Family Psychology.
Let me start with acknowledging a few things: I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual, cis-gender male. My home life growing up was unremarkable (unless you consider being raised by two of maybe a dozen Democrats in the 1980’s in Davis County, Utah, a remarkable thing). I check probably all the privilege boxes. Though I have worked hard, it has largely been built on the many opportunities given to me that I never earned.
Experience with Div. 43 and APA
I have been involved with Div. 43 since 2015. I was the communications chair from 2015–2019 and oversaw significant changes to the division website. Students and trainees can now conduct user-friendly searches for couple and family psychology training in internship programs, doctoral programs and postdoctoral fellowships. I was a programming co-chair with Ronda Doonan for APA’s convention last year in Chicago; I will be again this year with Sam Rennebohm in DC. This division has many talented and gracious people. Last year, I was particularly excited to have the invited presentation by Alexandra Solomon, author and TED speaker. Prior to Div. 43, I was involved with Div. 46 (Media Psychology and Technology). My favorite experience there was leading the media watch committee, which gave out awards for the best representation of a mental health professional on television or in film. (Spoiler alert: the first season of The Sopranos actually had a decent portrayal of a therapist.) I have also been involved with Div. 17 (Counseling Psychology) as a program representative.
I am an assistant clinical professor at Brigham Young University (perhaps surprisingly, a place involved in many social justice issues right now, especially my colleagues in the counseling center). I see students for individual, couple, and group therapy. I teach courses in student development, including Relationships 101: Building Health & Lasting Connections, and supervise counseling psychology doctoral students using integrative systemic therapy (IST). My research and writing focus on relationships, sexuality, and psychotherapy integration. I also mentor graduate and potential graduate students. I encourage them to pursue couple and family psychology — I have brought some to the social hour at APA.
Outside of BYU, I teach Foundations of Couple and Family Counseling for The Family Institute at Northwestern University’s online program, Counseling@Northwestern. From 2015 to 2019 I worked on the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy (Lebow, Breunlin, & Chambers; Springer), where I served as a managing editor over the last few years. This four-volume resource has had over 100k entries downloaded since its publication online.
APA and Div. 43 specifically is my home, but I have brought in a lot of experience. My master’s degree is from a CACREP program (counseling) at Gonzaga University, and my PhD is in counseling psychology, from Indiana University. I completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, where I became more involved in Div. 43, in addition to making many AAMFT connections. These included teaching courses in an MFT program, completing training in AAMFT supervision and co-authoring a paper with an MFT professor in the journal Family Process. The article — on attachment versus differentiation in couple therapy — was among the most downloaded papers in the journal for 2018.
Last year, I was excited to complete board certification (ABPP) in couple and family psychology. This experience was challenging and exciting, and I found my examiners to be very collegial, friendly and professional. I offer my encouragement to anyone in the division — consider pursuing board certification in CFP. It will be worth your time and energy.
Goals as Potential Secretary for Div. 43
Were I to be elected to the secretary position, I would strive to ensure clear communication regarding board activities, priorities and progress, working with the board and the communications chair. I have a passion for organization and clarity. One thing that “sparks joy” in my life is an empty email inbox once per week (That is an impressive feat, right?) As secretary, I would be interested in maintaining and growing connections with other divisions and organizations.
I would also like to continue mentoring students and encouraging them to pursue couple and family psychology. I look forward to the continued growth of Div. 43, and to hopefully seeing many of you at the convention in DC this year.
It is my pleasure and honor to ask for your support in becoming the next board secretary for APA’s Div. 43. I am a licensed psychologist in private practice and CEO of the Missouri Psychological Association. I am a past president and legislative chair for our association. Over my career I have provided services to over 20,000 children and their families. I was involved in a successful demonstration project that deinstitutionalized children from long-term care in our state hospitals by showing that they could be successfully treated locally, close to where their families reside. I have provided family therapy services, including at times multifamily groups, in outpatient, residential, inpatient and prison settings. More recently I have been working with homeless or near homeless individuals. As the Missouri Psychological Association’s CEO, I function both as the association’s executive director and director of professional affairs. I am one of only three small state DPAs. Our association was named Div. 31’s outstanding SPTA in 2019. I am a past Heiser Award winner, a past recipient of Div. 31’s Outstanding SPTA Staff Member award and have been a past board member of CESPPA. I have played a central role in Missouri psychologists’ gaining a two-year limit on civil liability, the passage of the HBAI codes under Medicaid, PSYPACT, Medicaid reimbursement for psychology interns and the right for psychologists to diagnosis and treat all developmental disorders. I am a multiple presenter at APA’s Practice Leadership Conference, particularly on the issues of advocacy and on how to address the opioid crisis. I recently secured a local Congressman’s sponsorship for the Medicare Mental Health Access bill. I was recently chosen to be a member of APA’s Advocacy Coordinating Committee and hold positions on both their survey and finance committees. The ACA is APA’s highest-ranking advisory group on advocacy. Systems thinking learned from my work as a family therapist informs all of my work.
My interests? As a result of COVID-19, I have found myself working on four different programs to expand the use of telehealth in Missouri. One of the most important programs involved allowing Missouri psychologists to provide telehealth services to Illinois so that the thousands of patients across the border in Illinois who receive their care in St. Louis, Missouri can continue to receive services. COVID-19 knows no boundaries and telehealth is one of the best ways possible to protect both patients and providers. I am a strong advocate of psychologists being recognized as physicians under Medicare. I am particularly interested in how family therapy can be successfully applied in integrated care settings. Along those lines, I recently helped bring mental health training by the American Diabetes Association to Missouri. Until the COVID-19 crisis, I was arranging to bring APA’s pain management program to our state. I am a strong believer in diversity education to better inform how we deliver family therapy services. I also believe that to better protect our profession and our scope of practice it is central for our profession to be united in our aims. I believe strongly that the best way to do that is to respect and support the diversity of professional identities that psychologists hold. Compared to other professions in healthcare, we are a particularly small group. I am a strong believer in diversity education to better inform how we deliver family therapy services. If elected, my goals would be to support the board’s strategic goals, to encourage a more widespread understanding of the importance of psychologists’ expertise in family therapy, and to promote better visibility of our contributions to psychology and health care.
I am honored to be nominated as Div. 43’s representative to APA’s Council. Our division has a powerful message to deliver to all of APA. In these trying times of social distancing and isolation, it is more important than ever to underscore the role of the family and the importance of our systemic worldview. Div. 43 has enormous expertise that can be shared with all of our colleagues. I would welcome the opportunity to be our division’s voice at the APA Council of Representatives. My professional activities are anchored in working with couples, teaching couple and family psychology (CFP) to graduate students, supervising licensed professionals in CFP, acting as the interim director of the master’s degree marriage and family therapy (MFT) program at Seton Hall University and exploring the potential for creating a low cost/no cost couples clinic for the diverse population living in the Morristown, New Jersey, area. In addition, I am board certified in couple and family psychology. I have been a New Jersey licensed psychologist since 1980, primarily working with couples and individuals. The population I serve is diverse, particularly because I have remained an in-network provider with many health insurance companies. As an in-network provider, I can offer services to couples and individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford treatment with a psychologist. I am a Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist (EFT) and supervisor and participate in both presenting and attending workshops related to EFT and couple therapy. My private practice is approximately 70% couples and 30% individuals. Currently I am teaching Advanced Family Therapy Techniques, Ethics, Pre-Practicum and Family Assessment courses at Seton Hall University. I have been an adjunct professor at several universities, including the College of Saint Elizabeth, Rutgers – Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Caldwell and Centenary. I have taught CFP courses in the past and teaching is one of the highlights of my professional activities. In addition, I have taught Abnormal Psychology, Counseling Techniques, Psychopharmacology and Introduction to Psychology. I believe teaching and mentoring graduate students is an important endeavor for senior psychologists.
I have presented workshops on Emotionally Focused Therapy and Domestic Violence. Other workshops I have presented include Counseling Gay Couples and Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy. Workshops are offered by the New Jersey Collaborative for Emotionally Focused Therapy, an educational organization I founded that is an APA approved CE sponsor. As Co-Founder of the EFT Couples Therapy Training Program at GSAPP, Rutgers University (2014), I was part of a team that developed a low cost/no cost couple clinic within the GSAPP Psychology Clinic. Doctoral students in the GSAPP program interested in EFT can now work with couples and participate in ongoing supervision and practicum. That program is ongoing. At the state level I have been a member of the New Jersey State Board of Psychological Examiners for six years and am the immediate past Chair the Board. In 1997 I was the President of the New Jersey Psychological Association and was instrumental in obtaining hospital privileges for New Jersey psychologists. For my work in this area I was awarded the Karl F. Heiser APA Presidential Award for Advocacy. At the national level I am a member of the ASPPB mid-year meeting committee and am a past member of APA’s Committee on Continuing Education.
In conclusion, I believe that my background, commitment to CFP and love of psychology can be a valuable asset to Div. 43 and the APA Council of Representatives. I respectfully ask for your vote.
I am honored to be considered for a Council Representative position within Div. 43 (the Society for Couple and Family Psychology). Clearly, we are experiencing unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty in our nation and across the world. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to ensure that our voices as family psychologists are represented and heard at the highest levels of APA authority.
The Council Representative(s) for Div. 43 will be responsible, first and foremost, for ardently representing our collective perspective to the APA Council, to crucial caucuses and within other relevant areas of APA governance. I envision my role in this position as actively listening to the diverse expertise of our division members and working to relay and amplify our collective voice. There are so many ways that family psychology is uniquely poised to be a vehicle for positive change in policy making, and I am committed to seeing that we do so.
Like many of us in couple and family psychology, my research and advocacy work has focused on collaborative systems-based approaches to addressing the complex challenges that families face in their daily lives and as they respond to atypical challenges. We have employed sound, mixed methodologies and studied individual and group differences toward increasing our ability to address the need for ongoing improvement in our field’s attention to diversity and inclusion. As a field, we have consistently shown the value in these approaches in our research and practice, and we have employed a contextual lens to further our understanding and efficacy.
As the needs of the families we serve and their communities increase and change, as they surely will in the months and years to come, our voices as researchers, practitioners and administrators will be as crucial as ever. We will need to communicate clearly with one-another to ensure that families’ needs are met in ways that are timely, evidence-based and truly attentive to diversity. We will also need to identify additional opportunities to engage in policy making across local, state and national levels. Importantly, our focus must be not only on advancing knowledge but also on actively addressing the health disparities and policy inequities that bring additional unjust vulnerability to marginalized families and communities.
Therefore, active listening and effective communication of our collective vision, in as many platforms as possible, will be my goals in this role. I will pay particular attention to policies’ impact on marginalized families. In addition, I am committed to improving the future of our field by advocating for research funding as well as support and training for the next generation of family psychologists.
As with any system, disruption like what we are experiencing today threatens our sense of stability and security; however, these disruptions will also open doors to changes in funding and health care policies. The unique and crucial role of couple and family psychology will need to be represented and leveraged effectively. We can contribute to health and well-being by advocating for our biopsychosocial, culturally- and developmentally-informed research and its application to treatment and policy.
Vice President of Public Interest and Diversity
Merranda Romero Marín
My name is Merranda Romero Marín, and I humbly welcome the opportunity to become more involved with Div. 43 by being able to run for the position of vice president for public interest and diversity. I strongly believe Div. 43’s mission to promote people’s wellbeing through the production, publication and application of evidence-based knowledge about the influence of diverse systems (i.e., intrapersonal, relational and social) on human behaviors (Div. 43 Mission Statement). I am an associate professor, a licensed psychologist and a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of New Mexico. I earned my PhD in counseling psychology in 2007. Previous work experiences include the oversight of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team at the El Paso VA wherein I provided evidence-based treatments including Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy to veterans diagnosed with PTSD as well as psycho-education and family treatments. Other experiences include working in community mental health, specifically with children, adolescents and families confronting serious mental health issues. My research interests include effects of war on family and community systems, evidenced based treatments for PTSD, preventing food insecurity and decreasing childhood obesity, multicultural counseling and individual and family resilience.
I have varied leadership experiences including serving as secretary for the New Mexico Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (NMAMFT) from January 2015 to 2018. Additionally, I have been active in APA’s Div. 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race), where I served as historian and was also the program chair for APA’s 2017 Convention. I believe my organizational skills and abilities combined with my experiences of having served on the NMAMFT board would allow me to be successful as vice president for public interest and diversity for Div. 43. Within my role as a faculty member at my institution, I have served on a wide range of committees that also require that I keep up-to-date documentation and disperse information. Currently, I serve as chair for New Mexico State University’s Institutional Review, where I am responsible for coordinating monthly meetings with our board members, establishing agendas and submitting annual reports reflective of the work that the board has done each year. I have also been selected to participate in the 12th cohort of APA’s Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP) and believe that serving as vice president for public interest and diversity for Div. 43 would complement that experience nicely by continuing to foster and build my leadership skills.
If elected, my goals would include promoting the positive experience for diverse families in ways that de-stigmatize vulnerable populations. This goal can be accomplished by enhancing efforts toward cross-division collaborations, widely dispersing valuable information to wide audiences, as well as continuing to promote Div. 43’s mission of promoting the well-being of all individuals, couples and families.
My name is Kip Thompson, PhD, and I am currently an assistant professor and clinical coordinator of the counseling psychology program at Fordham University. I am humbled to submit my candidacy for the vice president of diversity position within the Society for Couple and Family Psychology. When I reflect on this awesome opportunity to serve the American Psychological Association (APA) and its members, it appears to me that division members are most interested in three qualities from this position: strong leadership skills, a deep knowledge base in multiculturalism and a commitment to promoting the methods and outcomes of couples and family psychology. Please allow me to detail how I meet these criteria and if elected will serve Div. 43 with distinction.
I believe people are looking for leaders who have varied experiences, empathize with the needs of their electorate and are willing to commit all resources in their disposal to solve problems. After completing my BA in psychology at Morehouse College, I served as a program assistant for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, a SEIU 1199 union organizer and an assistant director for two statewide positive youth development programs at the Center for Supportive Schools in Princeton, New Jersey. In each of these capacities, I was responsible for organizational management, conducting technical assistance and finding ways to collaborate with community partners. I also got my first experience of governance in psychology by serving on the Executive Committee of the South Carolina Psychological Association. These experiences have prepared me to serve as a vice president prepared to get results for Div. 43. Getting those results and learning how to use them to enhance human functioning for diverse groups has been the primary driving force in my career since deciding to become a psychologist. I earned my PhD in clinical-community psychology from the University of South Carolina (USC) and my skill set continued to increase in breadth and depth. There, I chose research topics that expanded my understanding of culture, including examining differences in coping from traumatic stress as a result of Hurricane Katrina, adolescent ethnic identity development and school-based interventions for Latino high school students. During my time at USC, I co-coordinated our department’s Annual Multicultural Symposium. This symposium gave graduate students the opportunity to invite psychologists from across the country to share multicultural topics not covered in our curriculum. In 2008, I attended the APA’s inaugural Advanced Training Institute on Research Methods for Diverse Racial and Ethnic Groups, where I learned the importance of reaching vulnerable populations in research and intervention and developed my knowledge base in how to include these groups in my work with dignity.
After completing all requirements at USC, my understanding of couples and family psychology continued to expand during my internship at the Center for Multicultural Training of Psychology. There was what we learned in class – conducting genograms, discussing the merits of multiple family and couples theories and interventions – and then there was what happened outside the classroom – conducting home-based family therapy, meeting with couples burdened with the criminal justice system and suspicions of intimate partner violence. Until that point in my training, I had more experience with individual and group interventions, but family and couple psychology quickly emerged as a world where I could see enormous untapped potential. Facilitating family therapy sessions at home introduced me to power players who refused to come to the clinic and allowed me to welcome them into the solution finding process. My eyes opened to the fissures that appear within relationships and how I, as a clinician, can sooth those fault lines. These are examples of the outcomes that Div. 43 wants to promote, and I am committed to this cause.
My leadership capacity, devotion to multiculturalism, and commitment to family and couples’ psychology are just a few of the qualities I will leverage if elected as vice president of diversity for Div. 43 to serve members with integrity and vision. Initiatives I plan to start during my tenure include: (1) building more connections between Div. 43 and the psychology departments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Latino-serving institutions of higher education to increase the number of family and couples counseling resources available and (2) creating a directory of graduate programs that promote family and couples counseling so more undergraduate students of color can consider this awesome career path for graduate school. I look forward to advocating for Div. 43’s interests within the APA and beyond. I appreciate your support and look forward to working with you.
Vice President of Science
Christina Balderama-Durbin, PhD
Div. 43 (The Society for Couple and Family Psychology) is an incredible asset to the scientific community. I aim to advance and optimize our scientific footprint within the APA and beyond by fostering and promoting our members’ unique talents, valuable techniques and diverse perspectives. I have a strong orientation towards clinical science and am an advocate of evidence-based practice. I earned my doctorate in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University under the mentorship of Douglas K. Snyder, PhD. I completed my pre-doctoral internship at the Minneapolis VA where I developed rich collaborations with couple and family researchers both within the Minneapolis VA and the Boston VA, National Center for PTSD. I have been an Assistant Professor in the clinical science doctoral program at Binghamton University – State University of New York since 2015 and am licensed to practice in the state of New York. My own program of research broadly examines the impact of acute stress and trauma within the context of couple relationships. I have served as a co-investigator on several federally funded grants examining risk and protective factors in military couples and aiding in the development, evaluation, and implementation of treatment interventions for trauma-exposed individuals, couples, and families. I have dedicated my research and clinical efforts toward working with high-risk and underserved populations, primarily military service members and veterans, as well as couples with marginalized sexual identities.
Our best science is conducted: (1) in strong collaboration with others, (2) in environments that foster and advocate for diverse perspectives and (3) with a deliberate effort toward effectively translating science into practice.
If elected, I plan to carry forward these three initiatives within our division. I will work to create opportunities to build and to foster collaborative research relationships between members and among divisions within the APA as well as associated organizations such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR). I am currently the outgoing co-leader of the Couples Research and Therapy Special Interest Group in ABCT 2018-2020 term and have put forth intentional efforts to build a collaborative network among special interest groups members and between groups within that organization. Opportunities for networking are critical for students and early career psychologists, and I have helped establish formal and informal opportunities for research mentoring both at a university and national organizational level.
Moreover, I plan to build and to foster environments that facilitate greater diversity. I have experience promoting diversity in research and clinical practice including establishing an underrepresented minority scholars fund, serving as a diversity committee member and representing our Clinical Science program on faculty search for a health disparities researcher with a joint appointment in psychology and Africana Studies. My own research relies on large collaborative teams with an open exchange of ideas. If elected, I will intentionally facilitate conversations and create opportunities to increase diversity in our science and to enhance multicultural sensitivity.
Finally, advancing the field of couple and family research will be dependent on our ability to translate basic relationship science into practice. I am committed to bridging the gap between research and practice in the area of couple and family psychology. Toward this aim, I will facilitate opportunities in the form of panels, workshops and other formal/informal discussions whereby scientists and practitioners within our division can engage in meaningful discussions to further inform both research and practice across diverse methodologies, orientations, settings and populations. I will also specifically advocate for couple and family psychology programing within the APA and special issues in the official Div. 43 journal, Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, which showcases our commitment to evidence-based practice and translational work.
I appreciate your time and consideration – I would be honored to serve as vice president for science for Div. 43.