In this issue

Report on the February 2016 APA Council of Representatives meeting

Council continues to grapple with the APA’s involvement in national security interrogations.

By Susana P. Urbina, PhD, and William Revelle, PhD

Plenary Session

The main event consisted of presentations by members who sought to be nominated for president of APA, treasurer of the APA and member-at-large of the APA Board of Directors (BOD).

Cynthia Belar, interim CEO of APA, addressed the Council. Her remarks centered on the steps to be followed in the aftermath of the Report on the Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture (IR), including initiatives to correct and improve the functioning of the APA. Belar also stressed the need to reaffirm APA’s mission as a 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to the advancement of psychology as a science and profession.

Items Developed by the Council Leadership Team (CLT) in Response to Motions Related to the IR Generated at the August 2015 Council Meeting

All of these items were approved by Council members, albeit some with minor wording revisions:

  • Establishment of a work group to review organizational policies and procedures – Approved by 96 percent of members.
  • Establishment of a work group to develop civility principles and procedures – Approved by 91 percent.
  • Amendment to Council guidelines for resolutions – Approved by 92 percent.
  • Inclusion of ethics, human rights, and social justice in the revision of the strategic plan – Approved by 84 percent.
  • Establishment of a work group to develop guidelines regarding task force selection – Approved by 92 percent.
Other Items Related to the Organization of the APA
  • A substitute motion related to the handling of agenda items was approved by 96 percent. The recently created Agenda Planning Group is charged with simultaneously sending to both Council and the BOD all the items directed toward either group.
  • Council voted to approve two motions on Amendments to some Bylaw and Association Rule Amendments that were approved by Council at the February 2015 meeting, by 76 percent and 88 percent, respectively.
  • Council voted by consent to archive several association policies and to amend some other association policies contained in the Council Policy Manual.
  • Council voted by consent to extend the expiration date of the National Standards for High School Psychology Curriculato August 2021.
  • Council voted to postpone until the August 2016 meeting an item on the Amendment to the Association Rules regarding the Council Leadership Team and the Needs Assessment, Slating, and Campaigns Committee.
  • Council received an update on the work of the Conflict of Interest Work Group and was informed that an action item will be brought on this matter at the August 2016 Council meeting.
Additional Agenda Items Approved by Consent by the Council
  • Div. 53 (Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology) Journal Proposal: Evidence-Based Practice of Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
  • Revised Recognition of Organizations that Provide Certifications in Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology: Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • Revised Criteria for the Recognition of Organizations that Provide Certifications in Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology.
  • Request to Extend Recognition of Assessment and Treatment of Serious Mental Illness as a Proficiency in Professional Psychology.
  • Amendments to the Association Rules: Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest.
  • Resolution on Opposing HIV Criminalization.
  • Resolution on Data about Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
Agenda Item of Special Interest to Div. 5

An item on removal of the barriers to admission to doctoral programs in psychology created by the use of the Graduate Record Examination scores was withdrawn by the mover. The item will be amended and resubmitted for consideration in August 2016.  This item will be followed closely by the Div. 5 Council Representatives, the Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment, and others concerned with increasing minority representation in psychology.

Financial Matters

Integrated Budget Model

Bonnie Markham, APA treasurer, presented the new budget model, which brings together all cash sources (i.e., dues, publishing, building revenue and investments) and expenses (operating budget, non-operating expense and designations) into single streams. This model is supposed to highlight areas of weakness in the budget more effectively and to facilitate reallocation of resources to areas of highest priority.

Financial Aftermath of the IR

The final cost of the professional fees and travel expenses related to the IR was $4.99 million. The aggregate amount for severance pay given to Norman Anderson, Michael Honaker and Rhea Farberman was $2.6 million.

Budget Update

In fall 2015 it appeared that APA would suffer a substantial decrease in income while incurring extraordinary expenses, leading to a multimillion dollar deficit. Therefore, the BOD and the Budget Committee sought to increase the cost-effectiveness of operations by identifying expenditures that could be paused or halted completely. Because this process is still ongoing, the Council will not receive a draft budget until March. It is anticipated that there will be some deficit, but no staff reductions are being contemplated for 2016. The cash balance available at the end of 2015 was $20 million. This positive balance was achieved by liquidating $25 million from the investment portfolio, which entailed a similar decrease in the APA’s net assets. The estimated decrease in the net assets of the APA from 2014 to 2015 is $21 million.

CEO Search

The CEO Search Committee reported that they presented 14 candidates to the BOD, of which all were approved, and eight have already agreed to serve. Also, the search firms have been narrowed down to three from the initial pool of nine.

Ethics Commission

Seventeen psychologists and non-psychologists have been selected to serve on the APA Commission on Ethics Processes, to be chaired by Paul Root Wolpe and Melba Vasquez. They will begin work in March and report to the Council in August of this year.

APA Practice Organization

Katherine Nordal, executive director of professional practice, provided the organization’s annual report to Council.

Diversity Training

James W. Jones, PsyD, ThD, of Rutgers and Ingrid Mattson, PhD, of the University of Western Ontario lectured on two different topics related to religious tolerance and discrimination, with an emphasis on Islamophobia.

Council Retreat

Dr. Malachi O’Connor, PhD, facilitated a retreat on the topic of “APA as a Policy-Making Body: Implementing the Vision.”

Remembrance of Deceased APA Members

Lee B. Sechrest, former president of Div. 5, was among the 69 APA members who died between July 2015 and January 2016.

Responses from Those Mentioned in the IR Report

A number of individuals who have been mentioned or otherwise have knowledge of the events discussed in the IR have posted comments in a forum created by the APA for that purpose. In addition, Div. 19 (the Society for Military Psychology) has a released a report responding to the IR.