Summary of the Meeting of the APA Council of Representatives August 8 and 10, 2018

Dr Marta Miranda COR Grahpic
Fall 2018: Volume 74, Number 2

Marta Miranda, Psy.D.
WSPA Council Representative

APA’s Council of Representatives met in San Francisco on August 8 and 10, 2018. The agenda included several major policy initiatives and controversial proposals, some of which I have highlighted in previous reports to WSPA. 

Consolidation of APA and APAPO

Council voted to approve the proposal to consolidate both the c3 and c6 parts of the organization into a single integrated model that will allow for expanded advocacy on issues important to both psychologists and the field of psychology. A detailed discussion on this proposal can be found in previous WSPA newsletter reports.  

As of January 2019, all psychologists who are members of APA will be part of a combined c3/c6 organization and membership dues will be allocated to both entities for advocacy initiatives.  Those who were also members of APAPO will see their dues decrease, as this organization will now be folded into the broader APA organization.

APA’s policy on treating detainees at military facilities remains unchanged

After considerable debate, Council voted down New Business Item 35B, which would have allowed military psychologists to provide psychological treatment to detainees at military and “black list” sites.  While recognizing the important professional concerns of military psychologists regarding the mental health of detainees, Council reaffirmed its commitment to previous APA policies dating from 2009, which were aimed at ensuring that psychologists would not be involved in supporting “enhanced interrogation” techniques nor contribute to the operation of sites deemed to be in violation of international law.

Council also voted to remove the webpage on APA’s website that features the Independent Review (IR) and to add instead a page with a timeline of actions and responses taken in response to the IR.  A link to the report, its appendices, and several other documents will be included on this timeline.

Developing a vision and plan for APA

Council provided input into APA’s development of a diversity and inclusion plan, which is being led by consultant Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden.  Council members will be asked to provide input on strategic goals and a job description for a Chief Diversity Officer, who will be hired in 2019. The diversity and inclusion plan will also be coordinated with APA’s strategic plan, which is scheduled to come before Council in the 2019 spring meeting.

Approval of APA practice guidelines

Council voted to adopt as APA policy the Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures (5th ed.) and approved August 2028 as the expiration date of the document.  The guidelines, which are intended for use by psychologists who develop tools and measures to evaluate personnel in employment settings, were developed to replace an existing set of guidelines that had expired.  Proponents of the guidelines argued that without their passage, employers would be left without a systematic way to evaluate prospective employees for selection purposes, thus contributing to more biased hiring practices. Members of several APA Boards and Committees (notably the Committee on Women, the Committee on Socioeconomic Status, and the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest) raised strong objections to the guidelines, arguing that the panel had not adequately taken into account diversity concerns in their recommendation of selection methods and tools.

Development of practice guidelines for the field of psychology continues to be controversial among many Council members, particularly Clinical Practice Guidelines. APA provides guidance to practitioners through two types of guidelines:  Clinical Practice Guidelines, which outline recommended treatments for mental health disorders, and Professional Practice Guidelines, which outline recommended approaches to working with specific populations. 

While most members support the development of Professional Practice Guidelines, many have been less supportive of APA’s methodology (and resulting outcomes) for the development of Clinical Practice Guidelines, the first of which were the PTSD Guidelines that Council approved in February 2017. A group of Council members has proposed that APA establish a task force to review the methodology for development of Clinical Practice Guidelines, in part to ensure that it is consistent with other APA policies and guidelines.  That proposal is still being reviewed internally within APA and has not come to Council for a vote. In the meantime, the next Clinical Practice Guideline, on the treatment of depression, will likely come before Council for a vote in the spring of 2019.