Alex Rothman, PhD
One of the many signs that fall has arrived is the appearance, in our email inbox, of The Health Psychologist – and with it, a column and welcome from the new President. It is both my honor and pleasure to serve as the President of the Society for Health Psychology — yes, the Society (more on that in a moment).
Thanks to the thoughtful and engaged work of my predecessors, as well as the many colleagues who lead or serve on our Councils and Committees, I find myself holding the keys to a growing and vibrant community. And please note our Society hasn’t ended up here by chance. Over the past five years, the leadership of our Society has focused on growing our membership (Klonoff), building a strong foundation to the future (Stanton), forging connections with organizations across the world with shared interests (France), creating opportunities for engagement for all members of our community (Masters), and articulating what we, as health psychologists, do and the value we provide (Dixon). Add to this, active Councils (all with early career professionals serving as either chair or co-chair), an engaging newsletter, a field-leading journal, a growing social media presence, and successful networking events in cities across the country. Given the state of things, I feel a bit like Liz Klonoff who, at the start of her term as president, mused that her primary initiative should be “don’t mess things up.”
Yet, it is exactly because we have reached this moment of growth and strength that we must continue to push ahead and set new goals for our Society to pursue. With this in mind, at our 2015 Midwinter leadership meeting we launched a new strategic planning process, co-led by Justin Nash and Joshua Eyer. This process provides us with an opportunity to reflect on who we are and what we do and, in particular, to make sure that our activities reflect our priorities and meet the needs of our community.
A key part of this process is hearing from our members and to facilitate that goal a brief survey will be distributed to our membership in November. Please keep an eye out for the survey and set aside a few minutes to offer your perspective. One of the lessons that we have all (re)learned over the past six months, as we have grappled with the challenging issues raised by the Hoffman Report, is that organizations need to remain continually engaged with and responsive to the needs and views of its members. Through this survey and the broader Long Range Planning process, our Society is committed to ensuring that our initiatives reflect the needs of its members and that our organizational policies and processes support these goals.
At our annual meeting at the 2016 APA convention, we unanimously approved the adoption of a new name for our organization: Society for Health Psychology. With this change, we join 36 other APA divisions that have adopted an alternative name. The decision to pursue this change was made at our 2015 Midwinter leadership meeting. We believe our new name will make it easier for individuals and organizations we engage with outside of APA to understand who we are and whom we represent. Our new name will begin to roll out across all of our materials, including a new website in early 2016, accompanied by a dynamic new logo!
Although we have changed our name, we are still Division 38. And, as many of you know, we have begun the 38th year of our organization. The 38th Anniversary of Division 38 is the perfect moment to stop and take time both to celebrate what we have accomplished over the past 38 years and to reflect on what the next 38 years will bring. Our Anniversary Task Force (chaired by Adrienne Williams) is working on a range of events that will both look back at our past and ahead to our future. Please keep an eye out for information about these events and, if you have suggestions for possible activities, please share them with us by contacting SfHPAnniversary@gmail.com.
Our anniversary events will culminate at the 2016 APA Convention in Denver, CO (August 4-7), including an Anniversary Party on Saturday, August 6th. Please take a moment and put Denver on your travel plans for this summer. Please also contribute to our Society’s convention programming – submissions are due December 1, 2015, and instructions for submissions can be found at www.apa.org/convention.
One of the strengths of our organization is that we are a large community, with well over three thousand members. Our membership is comprised of people across all stages of professional life who focus on different areas of health psychology, have different types of training, and work in different settings. As we proceed with our Long Range Planning initiative, we are striving to be mindful of and responsive to the diversity of needs across this broad community.
It is also important that as we engage with each other, whether it is on one of our listservs, on a Task Force, or at our annual convention, we are attentive to and respectful of the different ways each of us are working to advance the field of health psychology.
One of the goals of my presidential year is to develop a strategy that allows us to grow our membership by welcoming health psychologists into our community as they complete their training. The Society of Health Psychology should be the first home for all people who identify and/or affiliate with health psychology. I am confident that if people start their professional lives as members our Society and the Society helps address their professional needs, we will continue to thrive as a community for the next 38 years.
I look forward to working with all of you over the next year.