Organizers petition for two new divisions

Financial Psychology and Implementation Science in Psychology are two new areas of member interest that organizers hope to add to the list of APA divisions.

For those who struggle to remember the names and numbers of each of APA’s 54 divisions, that task may soon get harder as organizers circulate petitions to bring two new divisions to APA. 

A Division of Financial Psychology and a Division of Implementation Science in Psychology have both been proposed, with letters of intent filed and formal petitions being circulated. Proposers need to garner 1 percent of the current number of APA Members and Fellows in order to move their petition to Council, where it must receive a two-thirds vote for approval as a candidate division. With current membership numbers, that would require a bit less than 750 signatures. 

Financial Psychology

Mary Gresham, PhD, one of the organizers pushing for Financial Psychology, said she feels the division would hit a needed area for psychology and society. 

“Financial therapy is a really needed entity in our culture,” she said. “Money is the No. 1 stressor on the APA stress report (PDF, 3.2MB) for the last four years. We haven’t done a good job of developing models for helping people who have financial issues, other than to make an interpretation of what it symbolizes. There’s so much more we could do.” 

Gresham, an Atlanta-based psychologist, is already a member of other divisions and said that she hopes to create a division that caters to supporting individuals, families and groups who struggle with financial issues — which, she says, could be anyone. In addition, she said the division may include behavioral finance and consulting to financial advisors, as well. 

“Financial issues are not restricted to people who are impoverished — that’s a misconception. Money is a loaded entity, just like food, sex, your body and your health. There is still quite a bit of gender gap in access and earnings and skills with money. Money is still seen as a male entity. I feel there is just so much we could do if we have a trained workforce.” 

Gresham said that expanding the knowledge base of financial psychology is required to advance financial literacy. 

“In general, people don’t think about calling a psychologist when they have difficult money issues that can hurt their family,” she said. “We need skilled, trained practitioners that can be seen as people who can be turned to for help.” 

Gresham and others are currently using personal connections to solicit support of the new division. The full text of the Financial Psychology petition can be seen online, and Members and Fellows of APA who wish to sign the petition can do so on the petition page. For more information, contact Mary Gresham by email or at (404) 320-6510. 

Implementation Science in Psychology 

A steering committee of psychologists interested in bridging the gap between science and practice have proposed a division to do just that. A steering committee is currently collecting signatures to form the Division of Implementation Science in Psychology.

"This division would try to evaluate strategies that bring innovation from science into practice," said Cara Lewis, PhD, one of the proposers of this new division. "We've known about the gap between science and practice for years, and this division will give those who want to work on it and close the gap a chance to collaborate."

Lewis, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, said she hopes that through the division, a formal journal could be started that focuses on innovation and the sharing of resources to close the science-practice gap.

"We think that implementation science is one of the true trans-discipline sciences," she explained. "If you are working in a school, a hospital, in mental health or even in business — implementation science is relevant."

According to the petition filed with Division Services, proposers believe that "Without such a Division to bring together expertise from all areas of psychology (e.g., counseling, consulting, clinical, health, social, industrial and organizational, educational, policy/advocacy, public service, consumer) we fear the field will remain fragmented and limited in terms of its scientific and public health impact."

Lewis said that she and the other proposers are aware that many are already working on this field, and so this new division would give them a chance to share resources.

"It would be hard to find a division where there wouldn’t be a member who would be interested in this division," Lewis sad. "We also suspect there are several individuals who are not current APA members who may be intrigued enough to call this their new professional home."

The full text of the Implementation Science petition can be seen online, and Members and Fellows of APA who wish to sign the petition can do so on the petition page. For more information, contact Cara Lewis by email or at (812) 866-6952.