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Janice Adelman


Sonji Jones-Manson


Committee Updates:
SPSSI Report from APA Council Representatives September 2023

Janice Adelman
Sonji Jones-Manson, The Humanization Affair

This year has been one of the best times to be a part of APA Governance, under the leadership of the amazingly inclusive, supportive, and empowering Sister President Thema Bryant. It has been our pleasure to be at the table representing SPSSI this year with her at the helm. That said, in case you haven’t heard about the division apportionment elections that took place in November/December 2022, we are saddened and disappointed to report that we lost one of our two seats at the APA CoR table. After Janice Adelman concludes her term on December 31, 2023, Sonji Jones-Manson will be our sole representative. (A note from Janice: having seen Sonji in action at our two CoR meetings this year, I can’t imagine SPSSI representation being in better hands than hers!). Still, the more representation we can have in APA’s Council of Representatives (APA’s governing body), the more we can help shape and inform APA policies in ways that make it feel like a welcome place for applied scientists and researchers, along with the cadre of clinical psychologists. With apportionment elections on the horizon, if you are an APA member, please do not miss this opportunity to allocate all of your votes to SPSSI (Division 9) so we can regain a seat (or two!). 

This year, APA’s Council of Representatives (CoR) continued to meet in a hybrid format for both its midwinter (February 24–25, 2023) and summer (August 2–3, 2023) meetings. While attendance in-person in DC was high, there were also over 150 representatives who joined the meetings remotely. CoR is composed of representatives of divisions, representatives of state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and the members of the Board of Directors. What follows is a summary of CoR actions over the year that we feel are particularly relevant to SPSSI and its membership. 

Guidelines for Operational Psychology (Aug 2023) This item received a lot of attention and debate—even prior to the start of the CoR meeting—given the still-sensitive issue of APA and psychologist’s former participation in torture practices for government intelligence purposes. At issue was the concern from social justice and human rights advocacy psychologists who provided extensive review and feedback that was not incorporated into the revision. Specifically, the opposition to approving the guidelines as they were written included a lack of direct acknowledgement for APA Ethics and policies; a lack of clear guidance that operational psychologists may not participate in national security interrogations, among other practices that violate the Geneva conventions, the UNCAT, or the US constitution; and a lack of acknowledgement that operational psychologists must be familiar with the field’s past abuses in national security. (Please contact either Sonji or Janice via email if you are interested in reading the letter of opposition to the guidelines.)  

During the discussion on the Council floor, one representative requested the item be withdrawn from consideration, which did not pass; nor did a motion to postpone adopting the guidelines until August 2024. When the question was finally called for a vote, the Guidelines for Operational Psychology were adopted as APA policy (107–55; 4 abstentions), with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2028. As detailed in the guideline materials, they serve to provide recommendations for psychologists engaged in operational support activities within the areas of national security, national defense, and public safety. The purpose of the guidelines is “to maintain and improve the quality of operational psychology services, standardize and enhance the professional delivery of such services, encourage the practice and continued development of operational psychology, and respect the applicable rights of persons affected by such services.”

Report of An Offer of Apology, on behalf of APA, to First Peoples in the United States (Feb 2023) Council accepted (148–2; 3 abstentions) a Report of An Offer of Apology, on behalf of the American Psychological Association, to First Peoples in the United States. This report builds upon APA’s Apology to People of Color for APA’s role in Promoting, Perpetuating, and Failing to Challenge Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Hierarchy in the U.S., which the Council adopted in October 2021. The offer of apology to First Peoples will be delivered by the APA president to the Society of Indian Psychologists at a time and place to be determined jointly with the SIP leadership. 

BEA Racial Disparities Task Force Report on Racism and Bias and Racial Disparities in PreK-12 Education (Aug 2023) Council received (143-19; 1 abstention)  the report of the Board of Educational Affairs Racial Disparities Task Force, with the future addition of a foreword outlining the context and limitations of the report. The report looks at racism and bias and their role in creating educational disparities; disparities at the intersection between race and disability; discipline disparities and school pathways to the juvenile justice system; and racial/ethnic mismatch between the educator workforce and school-age population. It also updates recommendations for research, practice and advocacy, and contains new recommendations for educator preparation.

Equity and Inclusion in Student Admissions in Higher Education In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing the consideration of race as a factor in college and university admissions, Council adopted a policy statement (142–6; 8 abstentions) reaffirming its support for equity and inclusion in higher education.

Confidentiality and Reproductive Health (Feb 2023) Council passed a policy (184-1; 1 abstention) asserting that confidentiality is central to the practice of psychology, and that psychologists should follow the APA Ethics Code when it comes to patient confidentiality surrounding reproductive health. The policy reaffirms “that a psychologist’s allegiance to the Ethics Code, including ethical standards related to patient confidentiality, should be given the utmost attention and significance especially when psychologists are faced with ethical conflicts with a law requiring the disclosure of confidential information regarding sexual and reproductive health, including birth control; fertility treatment; contemplating, seeking, or having had an abortion; and related issues.”

Establishment of a Committee for the Advancement of General Applied Psychology (Feb 2023) Council amended the Association Rules to establish a Committee for the Advancement of General Applied Psychology (144-13; 1 abstention). The committee’s purpose will be to promote, in settings outside the direct delivery of health care services, the utilization, application and advancement of science where psychologists work to enhance performance, learning, and well-being of individuals, groups, organizations, and society as a whole.

Specialty Guidelines in Forensic Psychology (Feb 2023) The Council voted unanimously to extend the effective date of the APA Specialty Guidelines In Forensic Psychology through December 2026. The purpose of these guidelines is “to improve the quality of forensic psychological services; enhance the practice and facilitate the systematic development of forensic psychology; encourage a high level of quality in professional practice; and encourage forensic practitioners to acknowledge and respect the rights of those they serve.”

Need for Safe Work Environments for Adolescents (Aug 2023) Council adopted a Resolution on Developmental Risks and Opportunities in Adolescent Employment (161–2; 2 abstentions), urging employers to establish safe working environments and work hours for adolescent employees in the wake of recent reports of youth being injured or killed due to unsafe job conditions. 

Mental Health Screening and Practice of Law (Aug 2023) The Council adopted a policy opposing the use of mental health screening questions on character and fitness exams for licensure to practice law.

BSA Task Force Report on Tenure and Promotion for Faculty of Color (Aug 2023) The Council voted unanimously to receive the report of the Board of Scientific Affairs Report on Tenure and Promotion for Faculty of Color. This report should be posted to APA’s website soon.

Additional Items Approved/Received by Council This Year

APA Principles for Quality Undergraduate Education in Psychology 

Educational Guidelines for Equitable and Respectful Treatment of Students in Graduate Psychology Training Programs. 

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Quality Continuing Education and Professional Development

IMPACT in Action: Reflecting on APA’s Strategic Plan and Progress To-Date.

For further information and highlights of this year’s Council of Representatives work, please see the August 2023 Council Meeting Highlights and the February 2023 Council Meeting Highlights. As always, please reach out to your SPSSI reps with any questions or concerns about how APA is upholding SPSSI values, and how we can work to represent you in future meetings.

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