February 25th and 26th, 2022
Your Division 42 Council Representatives, Drs. Lenore Walker, Lisa Grossman, Norm Abeles, and Jana Martin are pleased to provide you with a summary of the work of Council during its recent February 2022 meeting. We have used the Overview provided by APA and added our own thoughts and additional information on several items. APA members will be asked to vote on several items, and we encourage you to be familiar with all aspects of the issues prior to voting. We are happy to address any questions you may have.
Thank you for the honor of serving you and Division 42.
APA Council of Representatives Meeting Overview
The Council of Representatives received a comprehensive audit of current anti-racism activities by APA, including policies, practices and procedures aimed at stemming racial inequities and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. This was the next step in a process detailed in a resolution Council passed in October that accompanied an apology for past racist actions and omissions by APA and the discipline of psychology.
“We are trying to do something the association has not done before,” APA President Frank C. Worrell, PhD, said in introducing the audit. “Eradicating racism is not an easy thing … so this will take a lot of hard dialogues.”
APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, noted that APA is engaged in a wide array of racial equity activities but until now, they had not been coordinated. “Our members and our leaders want us to have impact, not just activity,” he said. “This is an organizational commitment that we’ve made.”
The audit opens the door to the next phase of APA’s work in this area: creation of a roadmap of prioritized actions aimed at dismantling racism. Those proposed actions will be presented to the Council in August, as directed in the resolution passed in October 2021.
Other key actions during the Council’s meeting on February, 25th and 26th included accepting a report by the Task Force on Climate Change; adopting new standards for the teaching of high school psychology; adopting a policy on population health; reaffirming APA’s support for women’s health, including the right to legal abortion; and eliminating a question on the association’s membership application regarding whether an applicant has been convicted of a felony (see below for additional information).
In response to the escalating situation in Ukraine, the Council quickly drafted and passed a motion voicing solidarity with the National Psychological Association of Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and colleagues in the Eastern European region, as the Ukrainian nation defended itself against military invasion. The vote was 167-0, with one abstention.
Amendments Approved for Forwarding to the Membership for a Vote
Changes to Membership Policy and Procedures
- REMOVING THE FELONY STATUS QUESTION FROM APA MEMBERSHIP APPLICATIONS
The Council voted to remove the question on the APA membership form asking if applicants have been convicted of a felony. Proponents of removing the question argued that it was discriminatory, deterred otherwise qualified people from joining the association and needlessly stalled the process of becoming a member. The policy change passed by a vote of 157- 9, with two abstentions.
APA, like many other organizations has requested information from psychologists applying for membership about whether they have been convicted of committing a felony. If they check yes, then the Ethics Committee is asked to review with that psychologist, the details of such a conviction to help the membership committee make a decision whether or not to accept the person’s membership. Given the inequities in the present criminal justice system, research shows that this question does not give either reliable or valid information about protecting APA members or the public from dangerous felons. BIPOC and those with few financial resources are more likely of being convicted of a felony for the same actions that other more privileged people have reduced to a misdemeanor or even dismissed. They may have been rehabilitated if the criminal acts were committed as juveniles or younger adults. The membership committee has been conducting a research project that has supported its removal, and the Ethics Committee also supported its removal. Since the response is voluntary, the most dangerous felons might not even check the box. After very moving testimony from a psychology professor who was forced to resign from APA when he checked the felony status question and another who worked with people in the correctional system and described the barriers to rehabilitation such questions pose for those who are justice-involved, the resolution to remove the question was passed.
- AMENDMENTS TO APA BYLAWS AND ASSOCIATION RULES TO UPDATE THE MISSION OF THE MEMBERSHIP BOARD
The Council passed a motion to request APA membership to vote to amend the APA Bylaws to update the mission of the Membership Board and related amendments to the Association Rules.
Specifically, the recommended change is (bracketed/strikethrough material to be deleted; underlined to be added): The Board shall  provide guidance regarding membership engagement in advancing the mission of the Association.
Those presenting the motion for this amendment to Article XI, Section 2 of the APA Bylaws said that removing the oversight would “bring the mission of the Membership Board in alignment with current practices.” Questions were raised about why the Membership Board was not, in fact, functioning in line with its authority to provide such oversight as outlined in Article XI.
The motion to amend the language passed by a vote of 148-13 with 3 abstentions.
An additional change would remove the following language from Association Rule 10-2.4: shall “oversee Association membership retention, recruitment and engagement activities and make annual reports on these activities to the Council” and replace it with, “provide guidance regarding membership engagement in advancing the mission of APA.”
Concerns expressed included transferring the Membership Board’s power and authority to APA staff.
Both these items will be sent to the membership with Pro-Con statements.
- AMENDMENT TO APA BYLAWS REGARDING VOTING PRIVILEGES FOR ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
Council voted to request an APA membership vote to amend the APA Bylaws to “provide that Associate members would achieve voting privileges in the President-Elect, Board of Directors Member-at- Large Elections, and the Bylaw Amendment and Apportionment Ballots after one year in the status of Associate Membership.” Currently, Associate members achieve voting privileges after five consecutive years of APA membership.
Proponents of the change cited the bylaws amendment passed in 2020 giving Graduate Student members voting privileges after one year, and “this item proposes changes to the APA Bylaws that enhance the experience of equity and inclusion within the organization. By involving Associate members more intentionally, APA has an opportunity to foster more participation and engagement that will serve to strengthen and diversify the organization.”
Concerns presented included: 1). Only 26.5% of the current 7600 Associate members are BIPOC; 2). Associates by definition, in addition to those who have a Master’s degree, include individuals who have completed at least 2 years of graduate work in psychology without completing/obtaining a degree and would be able to influence bylaws for doctoral level psychologists after only 1 year of membership instead of 5 years; 3). With the current APA support of Accreditation of Masters in Psychology Programs, a potential outcome is that Associates could impact what kind of representation Divisions and SPTAs have on Council, especially if such Divisions and SPTAs support doctoral level practice and other issues. 4). Efforts to include diverse doctoral level psychologists should be a priority.
The motion passed 107-58 with 1 abstention. This will be sent to the membership with Pro-Con statements.
Additional Council Action
- REPORT OF APA TASK FORCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Council was asked to receive the Report of the APA Task Force on Climate Change, “Addressing the Climate Crisis: An Action Plan for Psychologists.” The Task Force was authorized by Council in February 2020 in the resolution on APA’s Response to the Global Climate Crisis. On the basis of a review of APA’s previous activities on climate change; and an examination of recent work on climate change in psychology, other fields, and by other organizations; the Task Force received input from other psychologists with expertise in climate change and identified current needs and opportunities for psychologists’ engagement with climate. The Task force formulated recommendations for future APA activities related to research, practice, education, advocacy, communications, and APA’s own energy use and sustainability practices.
Council approved the motion to receive this report with a vote of 155-6 with one abstention.
- RESOLUTION AFFIRMING AND BULIDNG ON APA’S HISTORY OF SUPPORT FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
The Council adopted a Resolution for Reproductive Justice: Affirming Abortion Access,
committing the Association to continuing to work for and support reproductive justice. This includes helping to preserve the right to legal abortion and supporting equal access to affordable contraception, comprehensive sex education, and freedom from sexual violence for women and child-bearing individuals, with particular emphasis on those from marginalized groups. The measure passed by a vote of 145-14 with five abstentions.
In September 2021 when the United States Supreme Court began deliberating on a Mississippi case limiting women seeking abortions after 15 weeks and another in Texas pushing back the limit to 6 weeks, it became clear to the Women’s Caucus on Council that the 50-year Roe v Wade opinion granting 24 weeks was in jeopardy. The 24 weeks in Roe v Wade was chosen as a point of viability of a fetus to live outside of the mother’s body if born at that time. Scientific testimony has determined that very few fetuses could survive at 15 weeks gestation and none at 6 weeks. APA has long been interested in providing accurate scientific information about access to abortion being a necessary part of women’s health and that lack of such access disproportionately impacts poor women of color. Nor are there any negative psychological effects from abortion itself.
Since the last resolution that APA issued on abortion was in 1992, the Women’s Caucus decided to update it and ask COR to reaffirm APA’s policy to support abortion access and choice as part of all women’s health care. Different groups added specific information to their group, such as the issue of forced sterilization many women from marginalized groups experienced, making the resolution even stronger calling for reproductive justice. The references in the resolution will be helpful for all who wish to continue research and education on this important topic as the battle for health care equity continues in state legislatures.
- DEFINING PSYCHOLOGY’S ROLE IN ADVANCING POPULATION HEALTH
The Council voted 154-6 with three abstentions to pass a policy regarding psychology’s role in advancing population health. The measure calls for working within and across diverse systems to advance population health, which focuses on improving the health, health equity, safety, and well-being of entire populations, including individuals within those populations. The policy also advocates for working upstream by promoting prevention and early intervention strategies. It also urges psychologists to enlist and educate a diverse array of community partners.
Many practitioners who work with individuals raised concerns about the focus moving away from individual psychotherapy and towards changing the environment to prevent mental illness. However, there was assurance that working in our independent practice model would not be supplanted by this population health approach.
- NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR HIGH SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY CURRICULA
The Council voted unanimously to adopt revised National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula, with an increased focus on the scientific underpinnings of the field and the importance of incorporating diversity into understanding mental health. The revised standards promote the scientific nature of psychology by making scientific inquiry and research methods the foundation for content cutting across all units in high school psychology courses, including biological bases for behavior, cognition, development and learning, social and personality, and physical and mental health. Council also voted to approve December 31, 2031, as the expiration date for the Standards.
- RESOLUTION ON INTERROGATION OF CRIMINAL SUSPECTS
The Council adopted, by a vote of 160-1 with one abstention, an updated resolution regarding the interrogation of criminal suspects. The new measure will strengthen APA’s standing as an authoritative voice for psychology by providing more up-to-date scientific evidence on this topic, especially in light of issues related to false confessions.
In 2012 a similar resolution was proposed by APA Division 41, American Psychology Law Society, which documented the harm done to vulnerable citizens by certain police interrogation methods, often causing them to falsely confess. At that time, research was on males and those who suffered from mental illness or disability. COR passed that resolution with the provision that it be brought back in five years to determine the research on women, especially abuse survivors. This did not happen until Division 41 representatives brought it back this year. Unfortunately, there has not been that much research on either those BIPOC and other marginalized clients or women, but those who work in this area with justice-involved people know the high numbers of false confessions that come when such coercive interrogation techniques are used. Therefore, in an effort to further stimulate research and discourage police from using such interrogation methods, this new resolution was passed.
- RESOLUTION ON POVERTY AND SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS
Council was asked to archive the 2000 Resolution on Poverty and Socioeconomic Status and adopt the revised Resolution on Poverty and Socioeconomic Status as APA policy to recognize the later research in these issues. The new resolution recommits APA to advocate for culturally sensitive and inclusive research that examines the causes and impact of poverty across the lifespan, including structural racism, economic disparities, and related intersectional issues. The new policy was adopted by a vote of 162-0 with two abstentions.
Guidelines Adopted as APA policy
- The Council voted unanimously to adopt revised Guidelines for Assessment and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities.
- The Council also adopted Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings, which promote ethically informed practice in disputes over decision making, parenting time, and access to children when relationships dissolve. Additionally, Council approved December 31, 2031, as the expiration for the Guidelines. The vote was 162-1 with four abstentions.
Although these child custody guidelines had many good suggestions for psychologists working in what often is a contentious area, we felt that there needed to be several stronger statements added. They included: 1.) Psychologists strive to follow the science even when working with other professional; 2.) Psychologists would be well-served to be aware of the research on domestic violence and how alienation allegations may be used as a defense against such allegations; 3.) It is important for psychologists to be aware of their own and others’ explicit and implicit bias and how that may impact their work as custody evaluators. The working group that prepared these guidelines met both prior to and during COR to add these suggestions and updated some references making these guidelines even stronger and more helpful for practitioners engaged in performing custody evaluations.
- The Council adopted revised Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals in Research, which are widely used in the education and training of psychological scientists. The guidelines passed by a vote of 163-0 with one abstention.
- Council adopted revised Guidelines for Ethical Conduct of Behavioral Projects Involving Human Participants by High School Students.
In February 2009, Council established the Committee on Human Research with the mission to facilitate research with human participants that complied with the then prevailing ethical principles. At its inaugural meeting in spring 2010, the Committee reviewed and decided to update the Guidelines for the Use of Human Participants in Research or Demonstrations Conducted by High School Students which is a section of the Ethical Guidelines for the Teaching of Psychology in Secondary Schools, adopted by Council in 1977. It was adopted by Council in February 2010.
These Guidelines were set to expire this past February. The Committee initiated a revision of the Guidelines in 2020 and requested comments from boards and committees. Council Leadership Team and Board of Scientific Affairs recommended approval.
The motion to adopt as APA policy the revised Guidelines was approved by Council, and December 2031 was approved as the expiration date for these Guidelines. The vote was 147-9 with six abstentions.
- COMMITTEE ON MINORITY AFFAIRS (CEMA)
Council was asked to agree to change the name of CEMA to remove the term “minority” from its title and mission statement and substitute it with the term, People of Color. However, what had been proposed reflected a very narrow view of those who have been marginalized and racially discriminated against. One example given was that many racially discriminated against people in international countries are not identified by skin color. Those discriminated against with antisemitism are also Jewish people of many different skin colors. After some debate towards the end of the meeting, this agenda item was referred to its committee for further clarification.