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APA Council Report

Report on Meeting of APA Council of Representatives

by Maureen O’Connor & Allen M. Omoto
Division 9/SPSSI Representatives


Dr. Norman Anderson, APA Chief Executive Officer, described the February 2009 Council of Representatives (COR) meeting as one of the most important in history because of substantial budgetary challenges faced by APA and the opportunities provided by an ongoing and intensive strategic planning process.  Below, we highlight some of the decisions and business from this meeting, giving special attention to issues we thought would be of greatest interest to SPSSI members. 


Current APA President, James Bray, described three initiatives for his term, including: 1) the Future of Psychology Practice; 2) the Future of Psychology as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) discipline; and, 3) Homelessness.  The first initiative has as one of its components the application of basic and applied scientific evidence to inform professional practice.  The second initiative includes a task force (chaired by former SPSSI President, Jack Dovidio) charged with articulating the rationale for identifying psychology as a core STEM discipline and developing strategies for solidifying psychology as a STEM discipline.  The third initiative includes a task force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness that will address psychological factors that contribute to adults and children becoming homeless and the psychological factors and interventions that help them overcome these problems and resume productive lives. 


APA is in the midst of an intensive strategic planning process.  COR previously approved a new Mission Statement, and at this meeting, adopted a new APA Vision Statement.  This statement is intended to describe the type of organization APA aspires to be, and the impact it hopes to have over a 20-30 year horizon.  Although no statement is perfect, there is much in this statement for SPSSI members to like.  Specifically, it stresses science and policy work, mentions diversity and international issues, and advocates for the promotion of human rights.  The new Vision Statement reads:  

The American Psychological Association aspires to excel as a valuable, effective and influential organization advancing psychology as a science, serving as:

  • A uniting force for the discipline;
  • The major catalyst for the stimulation, growth and dissemination of psychological science and practice;
  • The primary resource for all psychologists;
  • The premier innovator in the education, development, and training of psychological scientists, practitioners and educators;
  • The leading advocate for psychological knowledge and practice informing policy makers and the public to improve public policy and daily living;
  • A principal leader and global partner promoting psychological knowledge and methods to facilitate the resolution of personal, societal and global challenges in diverse, multicultural and international contexts;
  • An effective champion of the application of psychology to promote human rights, health, well being and dignity. 


~ COR voted to receive the Final Report from the Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology) & Division 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues) Joint Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service.  This report contains a series of activities that have been and will be undertaken to implement the 2004 APA Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Military Service.  A copy of the full report is available at, or from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns Office at APA.

~ COR also voted to receive a task force report on Psychology’s Role in Mathematics and Science Education and another report on Increasing the Number of Quantitative Psychologists. 

~ COR approved Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings.


APA Past President Alan Kazdin created the APA Presidential Advisory Group on the Implementation of the Petition Resolution to review actions taken related to the resolution passed by APA members in fall 2008 and to provide possible options for COR to consider in determining additional implementation activities.  Division 9/SPSSI was represented on the 11-member Advisory Group by Allen Omoto.  Additional background on this issue and the work of the Advisory Group can be found in a previous SPSSI newsletter article:

At this meeting, COR took three actions: 1) voting to render action on the petition resolution “complete” so that it immediately became APA policy, 2) adopting a title for the policy, Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security, to clarify that the policy does not apply broadly to all jails, detention centers, and psychiatric hospitals, and 3) voting to receive the Report of the Advisory Group and forward it to APA Central Office and relevant Boards and Committees for their review and appropriate action stipulating that APA Central Office also make reports to COR and the Board of Directors on subsequent implementation steps taken.  More information on APA policies and the entire Task Force report can be found at:


APA’s Chief Financial Officer presented the 2008/2009 budget report showing that, consistent with the national economy, APA’s budget situation is challenging; the 2008 budget year closed with an operating deficit (unadjusted, $3.4 million).  Based on its membership, publishing operations, and real estate holdings, APA's overall financial health remains strong, but the Association needs to take serious and significant steps to address problems and produce a non-deficit budget for 2009.  The primary steps already taken by APA management include freezing executive pay increases and staff positions, cutting governance activities (including the fall 2009 consolidated meetings of Boards and Committees), eliminating Board of Directors and COR discretionary funds, and cutting spending on public education programs.  COR also approved nearly $1.9 million in reductions.  Most likely of greatest concern to SPSSI members were decisions to suspend for at least one year the interdivisional grant and ethnic minority recruitment, retention, and training (CEMRRAT) programs.  The financial situation will continue to be monitored closely for the foreseeable future.


Each year, COR members participate in diversity training activities. This year, the training focused on sensitivity to and education about ageism, and how to be aware of and incorporate issues related to aging in one’s work.

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