Board of Professional Affairs: 2008 Annual Report

The Board of Professional Affairs (BPA) addresses broad issues related to (1) developing recommendations for and monitoring the implementation of APA policy, standards, and guidelines for the profession of psychology; (2) maintaining relationships with other professional organizations and groups appropriate to its mission; (3) recognizing contributions to the profession of psychology through awards and honors, (4) proposing to the Association ways to enhance the profession of psychology; and, (5) fostering the application of psychological knowledge in order to promote public welfare. 

This report provides information on some of BPA’s major activities in 2008, including its commitment to and incorporation of diversity in its focus, interests and deliberations.

Composition of the Board of Professional Affairs

BPA consists of nine (9) members of the American Psychological Association who serve for terms of three years each, except when filling a vacancy on the Board.  Insofar as possible, BPA members represent the range of interests characteristic of the profession of psychology.  Likewise, BPA is a diverse board in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, experience, field of interest, settings, among others. 

In 2008, BPA’s roster included the following distinguished psychologists:

3rd Year
Jaquie Resnick, PhD (2006-2008)
Michael Roberts, PhD (2006-2008)
Vicki Vandaveer, PhD (2006-2008)

2nd Year
Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD (2007-2009)
Martin Iguchi, PhD (2007-2009)
Cynthia Sturm, PhD (2007-2009)

1st Year
June Ching, PhD (2008-2010)
Thomas Kubiszyn, PhD (2008-2010)
Judith Patterson, PhD (2008-2010)

Dr. Cynthia Sturm has been selected as the chair of BPA for 2009.  An independent practitioner in clinical practice in Oregon, Dr. Sturm has been active in APA governance for many years, including having served as Chair of the Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS).  She is, likewise, active in her Divisions and state association and will no doubt be a very hard working and effective Chair.

Strong Support from Practice Directorate

BPA continued to receive strong support, encouragement and guidance from Practice Research & Policy, a key department in the APA Practice Directorate and central to Board and Committee operations.  As such, BPA recognizes and commends its staff liaisons, Assistant Executive Director Lynn F. Bufka, PhD and Director of Board Operations Mary G. Hardiman, M.S., for their respective roles and resilience in ongoing transitions, including the impending reorganization within the Practice Directorate.  Beginning in January 2009, a new department, Governance Operations, will assume responsibility for the activities of the two major Boards and Committees for Practice, including BPA, the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP), and Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS), as well as track governance activities Directorate-wide.  It is anticipated that this reorganization and new Department will provide strong governance support and facilitate a coordinated approach to advancing the Practice agenda. 

Governance Meetings

BPA meets twice a year, at APA Spring Consolidated Meetings and, again, at APA Fall Consolidated Meetings, Round II. As such, BPA convened two (2) business meetings in 2008, on March 28-30, 2008 and October 24-26, 2008 respectively.  In each of these meetings, BPA addressed more than fifty (50) governance items and issues of importance to APA, its members and the field of professional psychology.  Some of these items dealt with examining practice-related issues and policies, whereas others were cross-cutting, relevant and germane to psychologists in science, education, and public interest.  BPA also held its annual Retreat prior to the Fall Meeting and the 2008 topic was Coaching.

BPA’s Executive Committee conducts meetings on a monthly basis via telephone conference call, and initiates conference calls for the entire Board as warranted.  In addition, BPA members provide leadership to other APA governance groups, i.e. committees, task forces and work groups, and integrate the work of these groups into the mission and purpose of BPA.  Formal liaison assignments are made in January of each year to these APA governance entities, and some of these same BPA members network with outside organizations, such as the National Commission on Correctional Heath Care (NCCHC) and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). 

Like other APA parent Boards, BPA takes great pride in its policy role and, consequently, brings strong focus and due deliberation to formal governance items and other matters that come before it.  BPA members and staff liaisons work in close coordination with CAPP to coordinate policy and seek input on issues related to professional practice.  In 2008, BPA Chair Jaquie Resnick served as official liaison to CAPP. 

BPA 2008 Retreat

In its 2008 Retreat, BPA explored the topic of Coaching (both Executive and Life), including the similarities and differences with psychotherapy and other aspects of psychological practice.  In this regard, the 2008 BPA Retreat Subcommittee, charged with developing the retreat agenda, posed the following critical questions on both Executive and Life Coaching:

  • What do Psychologists bring to coaching that is unique and significantly value-adding to clients? 

  • What practices are coaches doing that are psychological practices and therefore should be limited to psychologists or under the scope of practice of the licensing laws of other disciplines? 

  • Pathways to coaching:  How can psychologists trained in various psychology areas apply their skills in executive coaching and in life coaching?

BPA invited Richard Kilburg, PhD and Sandra Shullman, PhD, both experts in the field of coaching, to lead Retreat discussion on several key issues, such as branding, licensure, technology, insurances, pipeline, the science base, guild concerns, among others.  BPA member Vicki Vandaveer chaired the Retreat.  Retreat Subcommittee members included Nabil El-Ghoroury and Judith Patterson.  BPA resolved to track these issues and plans are underway to host a Convention Session on Coaching at APA’s 2009 Convention in Toronto.

Enhancing Multicultural Diversity within Governance

In response to APA’s Committee on Structure and Function of Council (CSFC), which was directed by the Council of Representatives to gather input regarding the direction, nature, focus, and process by which Boards and Committees expanded their multicultural/diversity capabilities, BPA continues to hold meaningful discussions on ways to enhance multicultural diversity and understanding amongst themselves, within governance and within professional practice.  BPA has determined that it has been quite proactive in this area and demonstrates its continued commitment through diverse representation on the Board. 

Additionally, BPA has enhanced its commitment to diversity in several ways and adopted the following measures:

(1) Broad review of all items placed before BPA for consideration, including agenda items at its Fall and Spring Meetings, and analyze these items for their implications on diversity.  BPA agreed that its meeting minutes need to include the item’s diversity implications, and BPA members who are assigned meeting items need to both prepare the items for discussion and decision, and include a statement, where appropriate, on how their recommendations or BPA actions might impact diversity.

(2) BPA continues to refine its explicit commitment to diversity, through its multicultural mission statement, agenda setting, and Board composition. 

(3) BPA regularly assesses the possibility of having diversity skill building activities (i.e. discussions of articles/issues/topics) offered at each BPA meeting.

(4)  BPA encourages its members and APA staff to share model diversity programs and practices from the broader non-profit community. 

Actions to enhance diversity will be evaluated as they are implemented.  Ideally, these actions will:  (1) strengthen diversity within professional practice; (2) increase sensitivity to diversity issues and concerns; and, (3) increase diversity within the governance process.

Reviews and Establishes Priorities

BPA determined that the priorities facing professional practice have changed little from the year before, would continue to be tracked by BPA, and would guide its strategy and work plan.   BPA’s priority items include issues related to practice and treatment guidelines policy and development, health information technology, corporate gifts and external funding issues, with implications for diverse populations discussed for each.

Guidelines Affecting Practicing Psychologists

According to APA policy, guidelines are created to “educate and to inform the practice of psychologists. They are also intended to stimulate debate and research. Guidelines are not to be promulgated as a means of establishing the identity of a particular group or specialty area of psychology; likewise, they are not to be created with the purpose of excluding any psychologist from practicing in a particular area. Guidelines must be reasonable, as described in the APA ASME Guidelines (APA, 1992). All guidelines should be well researched.”  To make sure that guidelines conform to APA policy and format, BPA and the Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS) spends considerable time facilitating guidelines development and review, requiring significant collaboration and support among governance members and Practice staff.  BPA closely collaborates with COPPS as guidelines come through the APA governance pipeline for development, review, revision and approval. 

In 2008, COPPS focused its attention and efforts on two guidelines in particular:  Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters; and, Guidelines for Psychological Practice in Healthcare Delivery Systems (formerly Hospital Privileges: Credentialing and Bylaws). In addition, COPPS Chair Eric Y. Drogin and the Committee worked diligently throughout the year to review, revise and draft other guidelines as referred by BPA, and responded to BPA inquiries as needed. 

At its Fall 2008 Meeting, BPA approved Guidelines for Evaluation of Child Custody in Family Law Proceedings, and recommended its approval by APA Board of Directors and Council at their December 2008 and February 2009 meetings, respectively. 

Dr. Lisa Piechowski has been selected as the chair of COPPS for 2009.  A forensic practitioner in independent practice that covers five (5) states, Dr. Piechowski will no doubt be a hard working and effective COPPS Chair.

Several guidelines required BPA’s special attention and consideration in 2008.  For example, BPA did not approve Guidelines for Practice in Pharmacotherapy developed by Division 55 (American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy) and provided, instead, additional, substantive feedback to the originators. BPA’s Executive Committee (EC) also undertook the issue of revision of the Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. Given the completion of  the APA Task Force on the Implementation of the Multicultural Guidelines (in February 2007), an extension for three years was suggested, which would move the revision cycle to 10 years after initial adoption.  In this discussion, BPA’s EC members were concerned about the energy/effort that went into the Report of the APA Task Force on the Implementation of the Multicultural Guidelines which were approved by Council last Spring, and wondered how that would effect recruitment of a revision group.  At the same time, BPA EC appreciated the importance of having guidelines that are relevant and timely and helpful to practitioners.  Practice staff agreed that there are multiple possibilities for revision, and agreed to reach out to Public Interest to explore the formation of a virtual working group or cross-collaboration to facilitate revision of this important set of guidelines.

BPA recommended to APA Board of Directors the establishment of a Task Force for the Development of Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, which was approved in June 2008.  Task Force members were, likewise, named by the Board in collaboration with BPA.  BPA selected Dr. Helen Brantley as Task Force Chair and the group made significant progress throughout the year to identify key areas for guidelines and develop an appropriate timeline for its work. 

Colleague Assistance

The Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance (ACCA) is an ad hoc committee of BPA and gives significant attention to the student or psychologist impacted by stress, distress or impairment.  2008 was a productive year for ACCA.  ACCA’s Chair was invited to present at the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards Midyear meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia in April, 2008.  Collaboration continues between ACCA and the Colleague Assistance and Support Program (CLASP) of the California Psychological Association on the creation of a survey instrument that will assess not only the nature and frequency of challenges experienced by psychologists, but also wellness and self care practices, as well as barriers to seeking help.  ACCA also continues to collaborate with American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) on a Student Survey designed to collect data in these same areas regarding students and trainees.  Membership in the ACCA-State, Provincial, and Territorial Association (SPTA) listserv continues to grow, and it has become an important networking and information sharing tool on colleague assistance.  And, ACCA continues its work on developing resources for SPTAs dealing with the topics of office safety and responding to the suicide of a psychologist.  In 2008, ACCA began the task of obtaining information regarding the current state of colleague assistance among the SPTAs.  ACCA intends to create a database of this information that will be maintained on an ongoing basis.  ACCA also continues to develop its “toolkit” resource. 

ACCA continues to collaborate with the APA Ethics Office.  In 2008, ACCA members participated in a Convention presentation sponsored by the Ethics Committee entitled “The Role of the SPTA in Promoting Self-Care and Healthy Professional Functioning.” Additionally, the focus of the annual ethics breakfast at convention was on colleague assistance.  Finally, Dr. Lindsay Childress-Beatty from the Ethics Office joined ACCA for one of its meetings.

Dr. Diane Bridgeman has been selected as the chair of ACCA for 2009.  Dr. Bridgeman has been active in colleague assistance in California at both the state and local levels for many years, and will no doubt be a very hard working and effective chair.

Convention Sessions 2008

The Board of Professional Affairs and its committees offered and/or participated in several Convention sessions, among them:

  • APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice in Health Care Delivery Systems: Promoting an Integrative Model

  • Future of Professional Practice in Psychology: Seeing the Glass as More than Half-Full!

  • Guidelines: Finding the Good, Avoiding the Bad

  • Pay-for-Performance

  • Psychologists’ Pursuit of Wellness Across the Lifespan: Benefits and Barriers to Self-Care Practices

  • The Importance of Epidemiological Data in the DSM/ICD Revision Process

  • PRESIDENTIAL PROGRAM: Evidence-Based Practice or Practice-Based Evidence? Is There Evidence to Support Either? (BPA and BSA)

  • PRESIDENTIAL PROGRAM: From Practice to Science to Practice: Women, Violence and Culture (BPA and BSA)

  • Colleague Assistance and the Professional Community – Practice, Regulatory, and Ethical Perspective

  • Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance (ACCA) Social Hour

BPA’s 2008 Convention sessions were well attended and received, and several carried CE credit. 

2008 Distinguished Professional Contribution Awards

In carrying out its Association mandate, each year BPA recognizes distinguished contributions to professional psychology.  The following individuals were named recipients of the 2008 Distinguished Professional Contribution Awards which were presented at the 2008 APA Convention in Boston:

  • 2008 Award for Distinguished Graduate Student in Professional Psychology (Maryam M. Jernigan, MEd)

  • 2008 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research (Richard Rogers, PhD)

  • 2008 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent or Institutional Practice in the Private Sector (Grady Dale, Jr., PhD)