By the time you read this, the New Year will be three months old and we will have met for our first semi-annual business meeting.
I want to wish you health and wealth, however you define them. As your President, I want to make this year one in which you feel more personally and professionally at home in our Division. I know that our Board is committed to enriching the experience for all of us while we go about the business of promoting the advancement of psychotherapy as a profession and discipline.
In this quarter’s column I want to mention several new initiatives the Board is undertaking and to provide with the rationale and history behind them.
Expanding International Affairs: A New Domain and a New Bylaw
This past year, under the leadership of then-President Rod Goodyear, the Board has been developing and expanding our international initiatives. Rod Goodyear and Changming Duan’s visit to China last year has resulted in ongoing collaboration with Chinese psychologists on education and training. They are working with the APA’s Office on International Affairs to develop a memorandum of understanding between our Society and psychologists in China. With the wise guidance and support of Fred Leong, who chairs the International Committee, growth has been such that the Board has agreed it is time to elevate the committee to the status of a Domain. As a Domain, International Affairs can inform our agenda more effectively. In addition, we hope this will encourage the participation of our international members and increase their number and voice in the Division.
Under the leadership of Drs. Fred Leong, Changming Duan, and President-elect Jeff Zimmerman, and Past-president Rod Goodyear, the Society is developing a new and promising collaborative relationship with the World Council on Psychotherapy with our Board’s endorsement. The Society is preparing programs for the WCP’s meetings in April in Paris, some of which will be related to bringing psychotherapy to underserved populations.
Please note that establishing a new domain requires a change to the bylaws. You will be receiving soon a ballot asking you to approve the establishment of an International Domain. Please vote!
There will be several other proposed amendments to the Bylaws on the ballot. We encourage your reading them. Again, please vote!
Domain Day: A New Initiative
Prior to the annual midwinter meeting of the Board of Directors and Committee Chairs, the Society held its first Domain Day. All the Domain Representatives participated in a one-day workshop before the full Board convened. The intent was to build a stronger Board that is better able to attend to the needs of our members through the expertise of each elected Representative. In the process the workshop promoted collaborations among Domains to generate creative programs and initiatives that engage members and move our mission forward.
A bit of history will help to understand the rationale and purpose of the Domain Day.
Several years ago Jean Carter as President moved to change the structure of the Board. I was Secretary at the time. Then, our Board was organized as many other division boards were, with an executive committee, members-at-large, committee chairs and members. Her suggestion invited us to think outside the box. How could we be more effective? In the course of many discussions and debates, sometimes heated but always frank, respectful, and supportive, we determined that we wanted to increase the number of seats at the table to create more room for new voices and energies.
We also recognized that it would be smart to replace member-at-large seats with Domains. Domains would be specific seats that would represent the Division’s several and perennial undertakings. Thus, we created Domains for psychotherapy, scholarship and research, membership, early career psychologists, students, education and training, public policy and social justice, and diversity. Representatives elected to a Domain would be responsible for creating relevant initiatives and recruiting committee members to support those initiatives.
The Domains have been effective in facilitating concentrated work in multiple areas. The Domain Day was planned to take us a step further. We encouraged cross-domain collaborations in such ways that initiatives from one Domain would be informed and supported by the perspectives and resources of one or more others. The expectation is that this will generate more far-reaching and ambitious enterprises.
The Domain Day was staged as a pilot program at the end of which we assessed its success to determine its value before institutionalizing it as an annual event. While the day did not produce the collaborative initiatives we hoped for, all Reps reported that the day built cross-domain relationships that they saw as fundamental to creating shared ventures. When the full Board met the next day, the Board considered the reported experiences and recommendations of the Domain Reps. After thoughtful discussions the Board voted to continue the Domain Day for a three-year trial period. As President, I agreed to encourage further collaborations during the months before our fall meeting in September.
Core Values: Front and Center
The change to Domains made were not conceived as improving Board functioning and inclusiveness only. In a bold stroke, the Board created two Domains for diversity and a Domain for public policy and social justice. During this reconceptualization, the importance of human rights as a core value in psychotherapy emerged as a foundation to our work. Issues like access to appropriate treatment, socioeconomic factors, cultural differences, and competency came into prominent focus as an imperative. To express this in our new structure, we created Domains for diversity, public policy, and social justice. We combined social justice and public policy into one Domain seat but added two Domain seats for diversity.
This was important. Diversity as we understand it is itself diverse. People are denied access to psychological services, for instance, for many reasons. The result is always marginalization for one or many personal attributes such as those just mentioned. Having two Diversity Domains communicates not only our collective responsibility to uphold human rights but also avoids burdening one Domain Representative from having to represent all diversities.
Establishing Domains for diversity and social justice that carry votes rather than committees without votes evidenced to all our intent to empower rather than to marginalize as well as our fidelity to our core values.
To that end, the Board has committed to conducting tri-annual diversity trainings. These are day-long workshops led by trained diversity experts. They are educative as well as personally engaging. Staging them once every three years, consistent with our election cycle, guarantees that every Board Member and Committee Chair will participate in a training. Having them once every three years uses our financial resources judiciously. The most recent training was led by Roger Worthington in February 2015. The next will be at the midwinter meeting in 2018. The assessments following each training have been positive. And each training has been as or more successful than its predecessor.
Last year the training workshop developed a strategic plan for diversity that is meant to dovetail with and inform our research, training, and practice agenda. A significant benefit arising from such workshops are stronger personal ties based on mutual respect and trust. These, in turn, are translating into greater effectiveness and efficiency as a working team.
Membership: A New Investment
Our Society is one of the largest divisions of APA. It remains such because of the continuing commitment of you, our members. That loyalty is much appreciated. This year I hope we can convey our appreciation of your trust and investment in improved member experience. This was a primary objective informing our first Domain Day and is my major presidential initiative.
The winds of change are strong in APA these days. Improving the membership experience is key among the changes needed. To that end, in 2015 APA created a Membership Office with a new staff under a new Director with expertise in professional membership organizations, Ian King. Ian’s office is charged with developing visionary programs to enhance membership. Ian is not a psychologist but a membership expert who comes to us with considerable experience with not-for-profit professional organizations like ours. A piece of his vision sees divisions as specialty boutiques offering the rewards and benefits of smaller professional societies. Our Society plans to be part of this vision. We invited Ian to participate in our Domain Day to stimulate the interest and energies of our Board Members in enriching your experience, justifying your loyalty, and boosting our collective commitment for psychotherapy.
As the year progresses, I will keep you informed of our work.
Convention 2016: Science, Sexuality, and Psychotherapy
A brief alert about the APA annual convention in August.
As President, I have the privilege of determining the theme for the Society’s call for programs for this year. I chose the intersections of science, sexuality, and psychotherapy. The intent is to encourage an exploration of human sexuality in psychotherapy that is based on evidence from research and practice. Programs have been selected that highlight sexuality in psychotherapy with underserved and under-recognized groups, such as differently-abled persons, and examine human sexuality from different perspectives, e.g., feminism and race. The hope is that the programs will build practice skills as well as generate thoughtful, stimulating discussions. We are seeking Continuing Education credits for many of the programs.
I will provide more details in the next issue of the Bulletin.
A Closing Word
I want you to know I am thankful for the trust you invested in me with your votes two years ago when I ran for office as President-elect. I will do everything I can to keep your trust and hope at the end of my term you will feel that trust justified.
Cite This Article
Cerbone, A. R. (2016), A new year for enhancing old commitments. Psychotherapy Bulletin, 51(1), 2-4.