Psychotherapy Bulletin

Psychotherapy Bulletin

President’s Column December 2011

In my final column of my presidential year, I’d like to update you on the status of my three initiatives, give an overview of the many accomplishments of the Division, and reflect on my experiences in D29 leadership with an eye to the future.

My first and primary presidential initiative was to ask the divisional governance to engage in strategic planning. While the initial response was not universally enthusiastic, I feel that both the process and the outcome of the effort have been outstanding. As I noted in my last column, we had two groups within the Board of Directors working on separate SWOT analyses (i.e., divisional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). I found it interesting that both groups (the Domain Representatives plus Student Representative and the Executive Committee plus Council Representatives) came up with very similar frameworks, making the next step in the analysis quite straightforward. I fused the two SWOT analyses into one set of draft principles for the Board to discuss at its fall meeting. We had a workshop the day before the Board meeting in October to review and revise the principles. We then voted on the final seven Guiding Principles at the Board meeting the following day.

The Board of Directors approved the following seven Guiding Principles for the Division:

  • Support our flagship publication, the journal Psychotherapy
  • Dedicate time and resources to make clear our mission and communicate it broadly (e.g., via web, social media)
  • Provide opportunities for students and early career psychologists to connect with the Division and further their professional development (e.g., via grants, awards, committees, mentoring)
  • Offer training and continuing education to psychologists/psychotherapists
  • Inform the public and broader profession (e.g., health policy makers, health care providers) about psychotherapy, such as the evidence of psychotherapy effectiveness
  • Promote diversity within our membership, governance, and psychotherapy research and practice
  • Generate, share and disseminate psychotherapy research and scholarship

We agreed that these seven principles should inform future decisions of the Division and should be reviewed every three years for revision, updating, and changes in divisional priorities over time. It is my hope that these seven principles help us focus our efforts and communicate more clearly with our members and with the public at large.

My second presidential initiative was to create a theme for the Convention—Psychotherapy’s Role in Fostering Resilience. I was very pleased with the resulting program and our divisional attention to issues of resilience, diversity and social justice. Three excellent examples of our enduring commitment to these issues were highlighted in the October Board of Directors meeting. First, the Board of Directors approved a Diversity Scholarship for graduate students in the amount of $2,000, proposed by Domain Representatives Erica Lee and Caryn Rodgers, to support students who are conducting dissertations on issues related to diversity. Keep an eye out this spring for the call for nominations for this new scholarship. Second, we appointed Rosie Adam-Terem (outgoing Domain Representative for Public Policy) as the Chair of the Committee for Social Justice. Rosie will work with incoming Domain Representative Armand Cerbone to appoint members to the committee and develop initiatives in the coming year. Finally, we voted to sponsor the Division 52 Psychotherapy with Men conference in June 2012 and hope to send a divisional representative to the meeting.

My third initiative, reviewing our archival system, has been launched. With the help of our Central Office Administrator Tracey Martin, our Student Representative Doug Wilson, and our incoming President-Elect Bill Stiles, our Publication Board Chair, Jeff Barnett, and our Internet editor, Ian Goncher, we will be gathering historical data spanning the last 20 years and making a recommendation for its storage and availability via the website. This project will dovetail nicely with the 50th anniversary issue Mark Hilsenroth is planning for our journal Psychotherapy. Specifically for that issue of the Journal, I am very excited to work with Matty Canter on an update of her 1992 history of the Division.

Above and beyond my particular presidential initiatives, I am pleased to see how productive the Division has been, particularly in working with other divisions (e.g., the Multicultural Tool Kit project with Division 42), providing commentary on APA initiatives (e.g., work related to telepsychology and telespsychotherapy), and proposing a resolution to APACouncil that acknowledges the effectiveness of psychotherapy (with particular thanks to Linda Campbell, Nadine Kaslow, John Norcross and Melba Vasquez). We have also moved forward with technology by allowing online voting (see page 35 of the Bulletin for information about the changes to our bylaws and the request for a vote of the membership) and by making greater use of social media (such as Facebook and Twitter). We have worked hard to be good stewards of our financial resources by updating our grant processes and procedures and making changes suggested by the Finance Committee vis-a-vis budget requests. And we have tried in all ways to be connected with our membership… such as through the awards we distribute, the grant research we support, web updates and Psychotherapy E-News, our Bulletin articles, our premier journal Psychotherapy, and our robust Convention program. I am so grateful to have worked with such energetic individuals on the Board of Directors, our Editorial team, and our Committees. I particularly want to thank our outgoing Board members (Rosie Adam-Terem, Jeffrey Magnavita, and Jeff Younggren) for their service and dedication to the Division and our committee chairs (Jean Birbilis, Shane Davis, Jim Fauth, Jairo Fuertes, Rod Goodyear, Clara Hill, Rachel Smook, Barbara Thompson, and Jeff Zimmerman) for their tenacity and responsiveness throughout the year. I would like to welcome Armand Cerbone (incoming Domain Representative for Public Policy), Barry Farber (incoming Secretary), and Bill Stiles (incoming President-Elect) who will join the Board of Directors in 2012. Finally, I would like to wish incoming President Marv Goldfried all the best in his presidential year.

As I have been reflecting on all the accomplishments of the Division this year,I am delighted that we have been so involved in fostering change and development. Our ability to accomplish so much has everything to do with the people on the Board and on the Committees. Yet I had hoped to hear from more of you in the membership and to see more people become involved in this vibrant community. As I did not see my hoped-for surge in widespread participation within the membership, I would like to share two concerns with you from my vantage point as president. First, I worry that, even with a relatively large membership, we have not seen much direct participation of members who are not already on the Board or on Committees. For example, why was the attendance at our divisional Hospitality Suite at Convention so low? Why is there so little input or feedback from non-governance group members of the Division? As I leave office, I urge you once more to look for ways to be connected with the Division. We are doing great things and would love to have more participation.

Second, I find myself troubled by the ways in which we continue to struggle with issues of diversity. I am pleased to see some new momentum in this area (such as with our new Diversity Scholarship), but I have noticed that some voices are still not being heard. I would like to see more diversity represented at the table… in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability status, etc. We are a division that has a broad constituency—clinical and counseling psychologists, practitioners and researchers, seasoned professionals and early career professionals—our governance should (and does) reflect those constituencies but we also need to mirror the salient personal diversity of our membership. That is where I think we could do much more. As you read this article, please think about how you could get involved. Could you run for an elected office? Offer to serve on a committee? Write a piece for the Bulletin or the website? Suggest an initiative that helps us honor diverse people and viewpoints? Please think about it. Then please take action.

So, I conclude my final presidential column with thankfulness for the work of the governance team, joy over our many accomplishments this year, and hope that we will continue to find ways to communicate broadly, support our members, and promote diversity in all that we do. It has been an honor to serve you this year.

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Dr. Elizabeth Nutt Williams is Chair and Professor of Psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (the Public Honors College). She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University and her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Maryland. Her scholarly interests focus primarily on psychotherapy process, feminist/multicultural approaches to counseling, and qualitative research methods. She has received awards for her scholarship from the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) and from the Society for Psychotherapy (SAP) of the American Psychological Association (APA). She is a Fellow of Divisions 17, 29, and 35 of the APA and has served as President (2011) and Council Representative (2017-2019) for Society for Psychotherapy.

Cite This Article

Nutt Williams, E. (2011). President’s column. Psychotherapy Bulletin. 46(1)2-4.



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