As you know, the APA Council meets face-to-face twice a year with the responsibility of setting policy to advance psychology as a science and as a profession with its goals of promoting health, education, and human welfare. Council met March 8 and 9, 2018 in Washington, D.C. There was a 22-item agenda in an agenda book of over 1200 pages. Several major items were debated and passed as new policies with a clear impact on the future of APA and the field of psychology.
Joint Membership Agreement. Council approved a major change to the structure of APA membership with a “joint membership agreement” to begin in 2019. When you receive your membership renewal this year you will sign an agreement that your dues (which will not increase for at least three years) will enroll you as a member of both the current APA, a C3 education and scientific organization, and a new C6 organization designed to advocate for science, education, practice and for the good of the public. This arrangement will continue the current activities of the APA as well as allow APA to increase its capacity, and flexibility, to advocate for all psychologists in a political climate that is increasingly volatile. It will enhance member benefits while supporting government relationship staff. This proposal was presented to all elected APA governance representatives as well as the general membership in several webinars including a 30 day public comment period. Council approved this with a vote of 89% in favor of this change.
Accreditation at the Masters of Psychology level. Since 1947 the APA has debated, without consensus, the issues surrounding education at the master’s level and accreditation of programs in health service psychology at the master’s level. With a focus on issues surrounding quality assurance in education and training, Council voted to direct APA staff and governance, in particular the Board of Educational Affairs, to begin to develop an accreditation system for master’s programs in health service psychology. This vote will require Council to approve any plan prior to implementation. Council also voted to direct staff and governance to explore appropriate professional titles, roles, and scope of practice for those with a master’s degree in health service psychology as compared with those with a doctoral degree. Council voted to approve by 92% pursuing accreditation of master’s level programs in health service psychology in areas where APA already accredits at the doctoral level. This does not impact master’s programs designed primarily as research only degrees. On matters not related to accreditation for master’s programs in health service psychology, Council did approve “Guidelines on Core Learning Goals for Master’s Degree Graduates in Psychology.” Given the growth in the number of those seeking a master’s degree in psychology, these core learning goals are designed to provide guidance to programs in any subfield of psychology and do not prescribe any course of curriculum nor address or challenge the doctoral requirement for licensing at the doctoral level of independent practice.
Clinical Practice Guidelines. Council voted to adopt the “Clinical Practice Guideline for Multicomponent Behavioral Treatment of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents: Current State of the Evidence and Research Needs” as policy of the association. Well understood by members of the Society for Health Psychology, obesity is associated with disease and mortality – and it can be effectively treated through behavior change, which falls within the domain of psychologists. Much of the Council discussion focused on the issues of utilizing RCTs and helping focus on best practices, based on science, given the understandable limitations of the extent of the research available on this topic. Discussion also addressed concerns with generalizability of practice guidelines to underrepresented, underserved, and minority individuals and populations. APA now has Clinical Practice Guidelines for PTSD and obesity in children and adolescence. Next, Council will address clinical practice guidelines for depression.
By a 99% vote, Council adopted a resolution on the importance of addressing issues surrounding “Pregnant and Postpartum Adolescent Girls and Women with Substance-Related Disorders”.
Council also voted to receive a comprehensive report from the Council Diversity Workgroup that includes recommendations to Council regarding diversity and inclusion in Council’s processes and procedures, as well as recommendations for actions by APA on diversity and inclusion. APA CEO Arthur Evans announced that APA will be hiring a Chief Diversity Officer later this year based on recommendations of multiple diversity reports, including the report from the Council Diversity Work Group.
The APA Council meets for a full day the Wednesday before the Convention this summer in San Francisco and Friday morning during the Convention. We invite any of you interested in the Council activities to attend and feel free to stop and ask us about the agenda and how the parliamentary details of the meeting work.
If you have any questions about the results of the Spring Council meeting, please let us know. Finally, as you know, Division 38/the Society for Health Psychology will have a third representative for 2019. This gives Health Psychology a stronger voice on Council – thank you all for your help in making this happen. Given the size, and scope of our Division, we could certainly have even a fourth Council Rep if everyone used your apportionment ballot to allot all ten of your votes to Division 38. And, if you are interested in becoming more involved in APA governance by being nominated to a board or committee, we can help you seek that nomination and work through the election process. The more health psychologists within APA governance, the more APA’s future will include important health-related policies.
Ron Rozensky, Ph.D., ABPP
Rick Seime, Ph.D., ABPP
Council Representatives – Division 38 –The Society for Health Psychology