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Jenny Baker
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An Update From Your APA Council Representatives

Written by Gavan O’Shea APA Council Representatives: Tammy Allen, Jeff McHenry, Gavan O’Shea, and Sara Weiner

Typically held in conjunction with the annual summer convention, the APA Council of Representatives (COR) met on August 5 and 6 to virtually discuss, debate, and vote on a diverse array of issues. Although the four or us were curious about how well a 2-day, 200-plus-person Zoom call would accommodate the COR’s interactive style and packed agenda, we were all pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the process went. On the meeting’s first day, APA President and SIOP member Dr. Sandy Shullman highlighted several of APA’s advocacy and outreach efforts initiated over the past several months, including

  • Key Insights for Us at SIOP:Using policies that the COR has passed to develop 13 press releases highlighting critical topics, such as LGBTQ rights, immigration policy (e.g., family separations, confidentiality of mental health records) and the rights of international students studying in the US.
  • Highlighting how health disparities have been exacerbated by COVID-19 through the #EquityFlattensTheCurve initiative.
  • Partnering with over 60 international psychological associations to develop joint statements on issues such as home violence, which has become a critical global concern in the COVID-19 era.

Another excellent example of APA’s “giving psychology away” is its Policy Statement on COVID-19, which the COR voted to accept during the August meeting. Reflecting the collaborative input of APA’s boards, committees, and council representatives, the statement highlights both the impact of COVID-19 across all aspects of our society—including health and well-being, family and social development, education, training and learning, work, and both human and organizational performance—as well as the ways that psychology can help mitigate that impact. Jeff McHenry co-led the development of the section focused on the workplace and on human and organizational performance, with Tammy Allen contributing content.  Dr. Shullman lauded the process used to generate the statement by saying that it reflects “how to think broadly across the organization—it really was a ‘One APA’ policy.”

The COR voted on several other issues, including

  • Opening the door to Council representation for the Ethnic and Minority Psychological Associations (EMPAs). This resolution, which passed with over 98% of the Council’s support, gives each of the five current EMPAs the option to either be represented by a member with full voting rights or to continue to send a delegate to Council meetings.
  • Passing a motion to grant voting rights to those who have been graduate student members of APA for 1 year. The minimum requirement for acceptance to graduate student membership status is “enrollment in good standing within the past 12 months in a regionally accredited graduate or professional school for graduate work in the field of psychology.”

Given that these motions have been approved by Council, they will now be voted on by the APA membership in the coming months. To help those of you who are APA members make an informed decision around graduate student voting, we plan to share some additional details on the issues that have been raised around voting rights for graduate students within the context of voting considered more broadly across all of the APA member categories.

Finally, two elements of the second day’s agenda may interest SIOP members:

  • Dr. Katherine McGuire, APA’s Chief Advocacy Officer, shared several advocacy efforts that were coordinated with SIOP, including APA’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on policing reform and the creation of the APA “Dynamics of Learning” Fact Sheet through the Education Directorate’s Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education.
  • Earlier this summer, APA’s Division 42 (which was established to support the business and professional practice needs of clinical and healthcare psychologists) informed the Council of an intent to change their name from “Psychologists in Independent Practice” to the “Society for Practicing Psychologists.” Because this change equates “practicing psychologist” with clinical practice, the four SIOP Council Representatives stood in unified opposition to it. Through a formal letter of objection signed by the leaders of five additional APA Divisions along with SIOP, Jeff McHenry led the effort to educate our Council colleagues that there are a wide variety of professionals who identify as practicing psychologists working in contexts far beyond healthcare—including education, public safety, criminal justice, the military, sports and athletics, for-profit business, professional associations, and many more. Thanks to the thoughtful, collaborative, and respectful way these views were shared, Division 42 agreed to withdraw the vote on their proposed name change and plans to seek input from other divisions before proposing another alternative.

Thank you for your interest in learning more about the issues that have been on the Council’s agenda. If you have questions or would like to discuss any of these issues with the four individuals who represent SIOP on the Council, please contact Tammy Allen, Jeff McHenry, Gavan O’Shea, or Sara Weiner.

 

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