Introduction

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 2007, 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 2007, BPA’s roster included the following distinguished psychologists:

3rd Year
Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD (2005-2007)
Barbara T. Roberts, PhD (2005-2007)
Peter L. Sheras, PhD (2005-2007)

2nd Year
Vicki Vandaveer, PhD (2006-2008)
Michael Roberts, PhD (2006-2008)
Jaquie Resnick, PhD (2006-2008)

1st Year
Cynthia Sturm, PhD (2007-2009)
Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD (2007-2009)
Martin Iguchi, PhD (2007-2009)

Strong Support from Practice Directorate

Staff changes throughout 2006 and 2007 could have challenged BPA’s work and efforts.  Fortunately, 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.  BPA recognizes and commends its staff liaisons, Associate Executive Director Lynn F. Bufka, PhD and Mary G. Hardiman, M.S., for their roles and resilience in ongoing transitions, including the departure of Practice Directorate Executive Director Russ Newman, PHD and Sr. Associate Ernestine Penniman.

Governance Meetings

BPA meets twice a year, once at APA Spring Consolidated Meetings and, again, during APA Fall Consolidated Meetings, Round II. BPA convened two (2) business meetings in 2007, on March 23-25, 2007 and November 2-4, 2007 respectively.  In each of these meetings, BPA addressed more than sixty (60) business items 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 an annual Retreat prior to Fall Meeting on the topic of Pay for Performance for Psychology.

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 the Committee for Professional Practice (CAPP) to coordinate policy and seek input on issues related to professional practice.  In 2007, BPA Chair Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD served as official liaison to CAPP. 

BPA 2007 Retreat

Pay for performance as retreat topic. The psychology practice community, like other health professions, is faced with potential challenges of “pay for performance” (P4P) models which place reimbursement contingencies on the health care provider for documented outcomes. P4P provides for payments to the providers based on conformance to practice standards using models of accountability and documentation of outcomes, often relying on client/patient satisfaction measures, evaluations of clinical outcome, performance indicators, and adherence to practice guidelines. Given that there are currently numerous P4P models being applied in medicine (including psychiatry), the implications for psychological practice and practitioners are immense. 

In this regard, the 2007 BPA Retreat Subcommittee proposed “pay for performance” as a topic and advanced the following retreat purposes:

(1) To educate BPA members on the development of pay for performance models for health care professions and settings (e.g., general background, experiences in medicine, what other health professions are affected, etc.);

(2) To learn about current status of P4P in psychology and mental health disciplines and how its application/implementation might compare to or develop differently from that used in other fields;

(3) To understand and debate the merits and hazards of P4P models as applied to professional psychology; and,

(4) To begin formulating a coherent, proactive BPA stance concerning P4P concepts that reflects necessary concern for the impact on quality care for recipients of psychological services and for the viability of psychologists in the marketplace.

Expected product. In addition to greater understanding of these content and context of issues of P4P for psychology, the 2007 BPA Retreat was a first step in developing a brief paper or aide de memoire expressing BPA’s general approach to the issue.

Retreat Subcommittee members included: BPA Members Jaquie Resnick, PhD, Michael Roberts, PhD, Cynthia Sturm, PhD and Vicki Vandaveer, PhD and APA Practice Directorate staff Lynn F. Bufka, PhD and Mary G. Hardiman, M.S. 

Retreat presenters included: Diane Pedulla, JD, Director of Federal Regulatory Affairs for the Practice Directorate’s Government Relations Department, Ann Doucette, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, at the Center for Health Services Research and Policy, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and Katherine Nordal, PhD, Chair, APA Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP).

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. 

BPA continues to enhance its commitment to diversity in several ways and adopted the following measures:

(1) Undertakes broad review of all items placed before BPA for consideration, including agenda items at its Fall and Spring Meetings, and analyzes 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 on how their recommendations or BPA actions might impact diversity.

(2) BPA continues to refine its audit process or instrument that is keyed to the mission statement, goals and objectives. 

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

(4) BPA continues to encourage APA staff to share Board approaches and strategies in this area.

BPA encourages APA staff to collect and bring to BPA 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.   Evidence Based Practice in Psychology (EBPP), Pay-For-Performance (P4P) and the Integration of Practice and Science were determined to be growing areas of concern or areas of interest to practitioners and, consequently, were added to BPA’s priority list, and would be tracked accordingly.  More effort would be made to track Education and Training issues as a separate and distinct category from, say, “The Big Picture,” and each of these priorities determine the framework for which BPA represents the issues impacting practice and psychology today.

Guidelines Affecting Practicing Psychologists

In 2007, BPA through a continuing committee, the Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS), brought a final iteration of Record Keeping Guidelines (RKG) before the APA Board of Directors and Council of Representatives for review and approval in February 2007.  Efforts are underway within COPPS to develop dissemination materials that State, Provincial and Territorial Associations (SPTAs) could use in educating the members on the revised guidelines.

Guidelines are created to educate and to inform the practice of psychologists. They also stimulate debate and research. As the field of psychology is ever-changing, BPA and COPPS’ efforts to develop and revise guidelines continue to receive strong staff support from the Practice Directorate. 

In 2007, COPPS reviewed several guidelines documents that are in development, including Guidelines for Practice in Pharmacotherapy by Division 55 (American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy), and provided substantive feedback to the originators. COPPS continued to revise the following practice guidelines: Guidelines for Evaluating Parental Responsibility (formerly Child Custody Guidelines); Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters; Guidelines for Psychological Practice in Healthcare Delivery Systems (formerly Hospital Privileges: Credentialing and Bylaws); among others.

Colleague Assistance

One of BPA’s ad hoc committees, the Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance (ACCA), gives significant attention to the student or psychologist impacted by stress, distress or impairment. 

2007 was a productive year for this Committee and, consequently, saw ACCA develop a pilot survey and present preliminary data at APA Convention on incidents affecting psychologists’ competency to practice and barriers to seeking help. The pilot survey tested and helped identify incidents and barriers experienced by professionals or trainees seeking help, asking respondents to give demographic data and report problems, impairment, responses, effectiveness and barriers.

ACCA also launched a new ACCA-SPTA Listserv to network psychologists involved in developing or implementing colleague assistance programs on the state level. This Listserv has produced an impressive exchange of ideas on career issues related to prevention, self-care, education, distress and impairment.

As tragedy struck APA psychologists in two states on different coasts, ACCA was poised to help the Association engage its membership in figuring out better ways to provide support and assistance to psychologists impacted by stress, distress or impairment.  ACCA members are continuing to refine strategies and materials on critical topics like suicidality for use by State, Provincial and Territorial Associations (SPTAs).

Finally, in 2007, ACCA produced and edited a series of articles on colleague assistance for eventual publication to educate Association members and leaders on issues and processes related to colleague impairment and colleague assistance.  ACCA continues to draft resources on how SPTAs through colleague assistance can be better equipped to meet their members' needs when there is a crisis (e.g. suicide, natural disaster, etc.)

Convention Sessions 2007

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

  • APA Model Licensure Act: Updating Laws and Regulations that Affect Psychologists

  • Help for the Helper: Meeting the Needs of Psychologists Impacted by Disasters

  • Incidents Affecting Psychologists' Competency to Practice, and Barriers to Seeking Help

  • Practice Makes Perfect: What to Know about Practice Guidelines

  • The Future of Practice: Emerging Trends

  • Zero Tolerance in Schools: Maintaining Safety or Fostering Inequality

  • Colleague Assistance Members Social Hour (Sponsored by the Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance (ACCA)

BPA’s 2007 Convention sessions were well attended and received, and several carried CE credit.  Due to its examination of demographics and pipeline issues, the session entitled, Future of Practice: Emerging Trends may become an annual session at APA Convention.

2007 Distinguished Professional Contribution Awards

BPA, in carrying out its Association mandate, recognizes distinguished contributions to professional psychology.  The following individuals were named recipients of the 2007 Distinguished Professional Contribution Awards which were presented at the 2007 APA Convention:

2007 Award for Distinguished Graduate Student in Professional Psychology
Gabriela Livas Stein, MA (now PhD)

2007 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Practice in the Public Sector
Thomas W. Miller, PhD

2007 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research
Bruce E. Wampold, PhD

2007 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent or Institutional Practice in the Private Sector
Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD