Two issues were front and center at the February meeting of APA's Council of Representatives: exploring ways that psychology can help prevent such tragedies as the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings and promoting psychologists' central role in health with the creation of APA's Center for Psychology and Health.
APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, briefed the council on APA activities in response to the December Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. After the incident, APA mobilized both its staff and member resources to immediately bring psychological expertise to news coverage and White House and congressional proposals aimed at preventing such tragedies. Two APA member groups will be working on reports and literature reviews on predicting and preventing gun violence and a third group will focus on the role of media — most notably violent video games and other interactive media — in violence and aggression.
Anderson also gave the council an overview the association's new Center for Psychology and Health. Directed by Anderson, the center will coordinate APA's activities aimed at ensuring psychology's position in the emerging team-focused, health-care marketplace. To accomplish its mission, the center will focus its work on four broad areas: education and training for psychologists; advocacy to policymakers, including officials and insurance providers at the state level; public education and outreach to gauge the public's understanding of psychologists' important roles in health care; and member communications.
Another council discussion centered on addressing the psychology internship shortage. APA Executive Director for Education Cynthia Belar, PhD, updated the council on the first phase of the internship stimulus program APA funded last year to help programs working toward APA accreditation. During the first phase of the program, 82 applicants sought funding and $593,000 was distributed to 32 programs. The program's goal is to increase the number of accredited internships and support the overall quality of graduate training. Belar also briefed the council on new accreditation status categories designed for internship and postdoctoral programs in the accreditation process: "eligibility status" and "accredited on contingency."
In a separate presentation, Steven D. Hollon, PhD, who chairs APA's Clinical Practice Guidelines Advisory Steering Committee, reviewed the association's new process for creating such guidelines. The process is based on three pillars: transparency, empirical evidence, and multidisciplinary and balanced panels writing recommendations. The steering committee will oversee the guidelines creation process. Expert panels do the actual crafting of guidelines and have been appointed in the areas of depression, obesity and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In her role as the executive director of the APA Practice Organization, Katherine Nordal, PhD, reported on APAPO's myriad activities to support the viability of professional practice and the public's access to high quality psychological services. As a 501(c)6 organization, APAPO has as its primary mission to serve the interests and needs of practicing psychologists and can participate in activities that APA cannot as a 501(c)3 organization. These efforts include improving insurance and managed-care company practices and reimbursement policies, unrestricted lobbying on behalf of its members, and working with political action committees to facilitate political giving. Both APA and APAPO are working to ensure an appropriate role for psychologists as health-care reform is implemented. In addition, APAPO has been engaged in helping members adjust to changes in psychotherapy billing codes for 2013. (See a comparison between the 2012 and 2013 codes.)
The APAPO is almost entirely funded by APA members who are licensed health-care providers and pay the practice assessment for membership in the APAPO in addition to their APA membership.
In other action, the council:
Approved the association's 2013 budget with a projected very small deficit. APA's 2013 operating revenue is forecast to be $108,156,000 with expected expenses of $108,299,000. The council amended the 2013 budget to increase spending by approximately $76,000 to provide $500 in additional funding for members of council whose travel expenses are not otherwise paid by APA. All council members will now be eligible for reimbursement for two nights' lodging plus $500 to help offset their expenses for attending the council's meeting during the APA 2013 Annual Convention in Honolulu, July 31–Aug. 4. (See Roll Call vote on this budget amendment).
Approved continued funding for the APA/Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards /APA Insurance Trust Joint Task Force for the Development of Telepsychology.
Approved APA's endorsement of the document to improve care for acquired brain injury. The document, Structure and Function of an Interdisciplinary Team for Persons with Acquired Brain Injury, was authored by a joint committee on interprofessional relations drawn from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and APA Div. 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology).
Approved the Guidelines for Prevention in Psychology as APA policy. The guidelines will be submitted for consideration for publication in the American Psychologist and will be posted on the APA website. Once posted, notifications will be issued to the council, APA governance groups, staff liaisons, divisions and state, provincial and territorial psychological associations, among others. In addition, guidelines are often featured in Practice Update and Good Practice publications.
Approved APA endorsement of the report on the competencies need for health providers to practice as part of interdisciplinary teams. The report, Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice, was written by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) consisting of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Dental Education Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Association of Schools of Public Health. IPEC was created by the Federation of Association of Schools of the Health Professions, of which APA is now a liaison member.
Approved inviting each of the seven regional psychological associations to send an observer to future APA council meetings. Funding for travel to council meetings would be the responsibility of the regional associations.
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