June ChingHaving just returned from the annual APA Convention held in Toronto, the significant proceedings related to the Hoffman Independent Review (IR) are still very much on my mind. For obvious reasons, the 2015 Convention was not “typical” for those in attendance. There was the allure of beautiful Toronto, valuable social networking and fellowship with colleagues, accompanied with well attended plenaries and outstanding program offerings. However, given that the recent events of the “leaked” report had unfolded just one month before Convention, members were still trying to process the information and grapple with the implications. I considered the predominant atmosphere to be subdued and contemplative, with an undercurrent of tension and anxiety in most conversations about present and future uncertainties. There was no denying that findings of the Hoffman report had far reaching impact and resulting ramifications for psychologists individually, for APA as an organization, its 54 Divisions, State Provincial Territorial Associations, and our communities. Some convention program sessions were cancelled, replaced by APA and Division Town Hall meetings to provide a forum for member reactions and to address questions and answers related to the IR. Opinions were diverse and varied with painful expressions of sadness, anger, sense of betrayal and mistrust. Most conveyed an imperative that APA incorporate a re-invigorated moral compass to “right the ship” by enacting policies and practice in staunch commitment for human rights and ethical practices, along with greater transparency and accountability. Indeed, all eyes were focused on Council, the governing and policymaking body of APA and the upcoming Council meetings held at convention. Council members would be meeting with Mr. Hoffman to address prior submitted inquiries about his method, IR report and findings. Council would also discuss and vote on action steps and policy directions needed to move our organization forward. In light of these historical events, my final Presidential Column will focus on an overview of the Hoffman report and crucial APA activities which transpired since its release. Correspondingly, I will communicate key initiatives implemented by your 42 leadership Board in response to the ensuing challenges and call for action, looking internally at our own policies, communication and activities. In closing, I would like to highlight accomplishments from the year, and also offer acknowledgements to our dedicated and committed leaders who have worked unselfishly and diligently on behalf of our Division, Psychologists in Independent Practice.

Overview of Hoffman Report

In November 2014, the APA’s Board of Directors (BOD), retained David Hoffman, former federal prosecutor, and his firm of Sidley Austin LLP of Chicago, to conduct an independent review of whether there was any factual support for the assertion that APA engaged in activity that would constitute collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support, or facilitate the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror. The APA BOD decided an independent investigation was necessary because of plaguing concerns spanning over 10 years, with respect to the human rights issue of torture in detainee interrogations. Mr. Hoffman was asked to conduct a “definitive” and “thorough” investigation into the allegations and was instructed that he was free to go “wherever the evidence led him,” with plans for the full report to be released to the public in its entirety. He and his team of 6 other attorneys conducted more than 200 interviews and examined 50,000 documents during an eight-month investigation that produced a 542- page report. (To read the full report, go to www.apa.org/ independent-review/index.aspx.) The APA BOD received the report on June 27 and it was subsequently shared with Council. Before Council had time to review the report entirely, it was “leaked” by an undisclosed source to the New York Times which published an article on July 10. APA therefore decided to release the full report to the public ahead of schedule. Hoffman’s principal findings relate to the 2005 Presidential Task Force on Ethics and National Security (PENS) which issued a finalized report on June 26, 2005 containing 12 ethical guidelines that were adopted as official APA ethics policy by the APA Board. The IR determined that “key APA officials…colluded with important DoD officials to have APA issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that did not constrain DoD in any greater fashion than existing DoD interrogations guidelines.” The report further concluded that APA’s principal motive was to align APA and curry favor with DoD with the motive to “create a good public relations response, and to keep the growth of psychology unrestrained in this area.” While the IR did not find direct APA collusion with the government to support torture, the report was seriously alarming due to findings of previously unknown secret coordination between a small group of APA representatives and the DoD that resulted in the lack of a clear and consistent anti-torture stance; limited guidance for military psychologists in the field; revelations of APA’s lack of internal checks and balances to detect the tainted process by which the PENS TF was created and report generated; failure to uphold a properly acknowledged conflict of interest policy with regards to PENS; lack of independence from government influence on related activities in relation to the Bush administration’s war on terror; and the discounting of some APA members and critics for raising concerns.

APA Action

Immediately after release of the IR, APA issued apologies for the deeply disturbing findings and organizational failures. Nadine Kaslow, chair of the IR’s Special Committee stated, “The organization’s intent was not to enable abusive interrogation techniques or contribute to violations of human rights, but that may have been the result. The actions, policies and lack of independence from government influence describe in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values. We profoundly regret, and apologize for, the behavior and the consequences that ensued. Our members, our profession and our organization expected, and deserved better.” Staff personnel action followed. Stephen Behnke was removed from his position as Director of APA’s Ethics Office. Early retirement was announced for CEO Noman Anderson and resignations accepted for Michael Honaker, deputy chief executive officer, and Rhea Farberman, executive director for public and member communications. The BOD then recommended a number of actions for consideration by the APA Council related to the ethics office, PENS/past actions, organizational procedures, and checks and balances. On August 7, 2015 the APA’s Council of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to prohibit psychologists from participating in military and national security interrogations in settings that operate outside the protection of the U.S. Constitution and military law. The historical measure passed by a vote of 157-1, with 6 abstentions and 1 recusal. The resolution states that psychologists “shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation.” The new policy does allow for psychologist involvement in general policy consultation regarding humane interrogations. The prohibition does not apply to domestic law enforcement interrogations or domestic detention settings where detainees are under the protection of the U.S. Constitution. The resolution also aligns APA’s stance on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment with that of the U.N. Convention against Torture. Two days prior, Council had also voted to create a blueribbon panel of psychologists and non-psychologist experts to review APA’s Ethics Office and ethics policies and procedures and issue recommendations to ensure APA’s policies are clear and aligned with the very best practices in the field. In addition, APA stated that they will institute clearer conflict-of-interest policies going forward. The commissioned panel was asked to report back to Council in August 2016. These historical resolutions by APA’s Council and Board of Directors can be viewed as concrete initial actions toward rectifying past organizational shortcomings and recommitting to psychology’s essential values in an attempt to re-emerge as a stronger and better association. As a council representative from the Hawaii Psychological Association, I am cognizant that much more work is still ahead to change the culture of APA in regaining the trust of its members and the public.

Personal Reflections

Prior to assuming presidency of our Division, I conscientiously approached a number of past-presidents, asking them to impart their wisdom in helping me to prepare for this important leadership role. I was told to expect that each presidential year would be punctuated by a challenging issue or task to contend with. Never, ever, would I have imagined the extraordinary events which have since unfolded in 2015 when the Hoffman report was revealed. It would be an extreme understatement for me to say that activities related to the IR have been all consuming 42/7. It was painful to read through the 542-page IR and to discover the breeches which transpired secretly and without association oversight. I felt bombarded by the explosion of postings from multiple listservs which I subscribe to in addition to that of Division 42. In the first few days, I was reeling from the realization that my trust in APA was broken. I was shocked and overwhelmed with deep feelings of sadness and anger. The basic human principles that I thought we all abided in had been compromised. My professional identity as a psychologist was sorely shaken. Wasn’t psychology supposed to be one of the noblest and learned professions? My fears were projected into the future, worrying that the promising legacy I worked so hard to provide for the next generation of psychologists had evaporated. I cringed in recognizing the names of colleagues that were cited and tried desperately to reconcile the cognitive dissonance. Disruptive thoughts intruded my consciousness in the day and manifested in anxiety dreams at night. On my part, there has been much soul searching and processing of information to try and understand the context and dynamics in which APA’s fundamental values were compromised. I have since come to terms with the enormity of this undertaking, while simultaneously shifting my focus to a proactive stance. I have been relying on a Hawaiian concept of “Ho`oponopono” which is a dedicated process to correct and change things to perpetuate what us right in the life of the association.

42 Takes Action

A positive by-product generated from the Hoffman IR crisis is the resounding re-affirmation that our 42 Board is fully operational and responsive as leaders to the concerns and needs of our Division and its members. It was heartening to discover that within 6 days following release of the Hoffman report, your BOD met for an emergency conference call and established a coordinated and constructive course of action which entailed the following:

  • Ensuring that we are presenting forums and avenues to truly listen to our members.
  • Identifying additional areas of need to strengthen our Division.
  • Re-examining our own by-laws and policies to confirm they are being executed properly
  • Implementing systemic procedures to safeguard for transparency and enhanced communications.
  • Continuing to develop and execute important initiatives of the Division.

Council. Our Division has a strong and effective body of representation in APA governance through our 6 Council members, who actively monitor, submit, champion and vote on policy items in support of independent practice interests. Thanks go to 42’s Council Representatives for their diligent service – Lenore Walker, Doug Haldeman, Robert Resnick, Nancy Molitor, Robert Woody, and Jeff Younggren.

Board of Director’s Meeting. Our Division 42 BOD meeting on August 8, 2015 had a full and extensive agenda, with a number of division members and guests in attendance. The meeting started with a presentation of kukui nut leis to each of our Board members and committee chairs, to convey my appreciation, honor and respect towards each of them. Robust discussion was generated on the Hoffman report, the pros and cons of possibly combining Fast Forward and the Forensic Conference in the future, the composition of the 42 Board, and issues related to membership recruitment and retention. Our Board voted to pass key items:

  • Transfer of our membership data base management to APA.
  • Co-rank the endorsement of candidates Drs. Antonio Puente and Jessica Henderson Daniel for APA presidentelect.
  • Commend Lisa Grossman, Lori Thomas and Elaine Ducharme for their excellent work in chairing the Endorsement Process Committee and to adopt the developed EPC model in the future.
  • Approval of an amended proposed balanced budget for 2016.
  • Appointment of Andrea Kozak Miller as incoming associate editor for the Independent Practitioner Bulletin from 2016 – 2018.
  • Unanimous agreement to nominate Jeff Younggren for the newly formed APA blue ribbon ethics panel.

We received an APAPO update by Katherine Nordal; Executive Director of Practice Directorate, a report with recommendations from the Communications & Engagement workgroup chaired by Gordon Herz; status account on the Division’s CE application; along with the submitted chair reports from Publications & Communications (website, social media, listserv, new Journal update, IP), Advocacy, Mentorshoppe, Membership, Next Generation Fund, Forensic Consultation Service, and S/ECP committees. A resounding appreciation was conveyed to Stephanie Mihalas and Luis Morales Knight, co-chairs of the Division’s Convention Programming, for producing an outstanding 2015 program.

42 Social Hour. In keeping with my presidential emphasis on promoting culture, an Aloha Hawaiian theme set the tone for our 42 social hour. Jeannie Beeaff, our administrator extraordinaire, outdid herself, transforming the room into a tropical paradise with the perfect blending of networking, program, food and drink. It was an exciting honor to present the Mentoring Award to Lisa Grossman, Distinguished Psychologist of the Year Award to Bruce Frumkin, and Distinguished Public Service Award to Arthur Evans. Stephanie Mihalas received a welldeserved Presidential Citation for her leadership, dedication and extensive contributions to Division 42. Congratulations were extended to Initial Fellows – Gerald Young, Keely Kolmes, Kristi Van Sickle, Lawrence Beer, Lisa Rocchio and Marc Diener, along with Old Division 42 Fellows – Robert Erand, Linda Sapalin and Pauline Wallin. Steven Walfish led the Fellows committee consisting of Jean Carter, Laney Ducharme and myself. Past-President Gordon Herz was recognized for his devoted governance leadership on the Board.

Division Accomplishments. There have been tremendous accomplishments this year due to the enthusiasm, vision, and expertise of dedicated committee chairs and their industrious members. Bruce Frumkin ran another successful Forensic Conference. Nancy Molitor is spearheading the 4th Annual Fast Forward Conference to be held in Chicago, October 2-4, 2015. As the appointed editor of the Division’s Practice Innovations Journal, Steve Walfish is fast at work to produce our inaugural publication in the spring of 2016. We are thankful for the valuable service of Larry Riso, who will be completing his three-year term as Editor of the IP with this fall edition. He will be passing the reigns to incoming Editor Stephanie Mihalas, her associate editor, and newly selected contributing editors.

Being the innovative and entrepreneurial community that we are, several value added programs were launched, including the Forensic Consultative Service chaired by David Shapiro and Bruce Frumkin, the Mastermind Workgroups spearheaded by Pauline Wallin, Learning Webinars, and Public Education Website blog coordinated by Laney Ducharme. With diversity in mind, we were able to award diversity scholarships for students and ECPs to attend the National Multicultural Conference and Summit, Forensics Conference and Fast Forward. Our Division was a contributing sponsor for the NMCS. The Division’s P&C infrastructure has been realigned and enhanced under the guidance of Terrence Koller. Gordon Herz and his Communications and Engagement workgroup are working on modifications to further improve the procedures for optimal communication workflow. Keely Kolmes and her team have done a masterful job in managing and maintaining the listserv. They have also developed guidelines to assist with client confidentiality when consultations are sought on the listserv, and are finalizing current listserv rules for optimal value in usage while being consistent with APA guidelines. Social media for the Division has reached a new high under the expertise of digital native co-chairs Lindsey Buckman and Derek Phillips. In response to requests for greater transparency, our website, chaired by Erlanger Turner keeps transforming with updated and relevant materials for members. Our Advocacy, Membership, Diversity, Student/ECP, Mentorshoppe Committees are all working tirelessly on behalf of the Division. We have been reaping the many benefits of having a strong array of activities to ensure a thriving future. Many thanks go to Sallie Hildebrandt, Judith Patterson, Michi Fu, Doug Haldeman, Derek Phillips, Lindsey Buckman, Lisa Grossman, Michael Schwartz, Lori Thomas, and Fred Alberts.

Mahalo Nui Loa (Heartfelt Thanks)

My “thank you list” is extensive because of the many colleagues that I have turned to throughout the year in order to carry our innovative initiatives, programs, and projects to fruition. I have been ever so fortunate to be surrounded by the wisdom, energy and enormous talents of our 42 Board, as we collectively provide leadership in implementing a progressive agenda for our community of psychologists in independent practice. I would like to extend a special appreciation to our executive board Lori Thomas, Gordon Herz, Gerald Koocher and Michael Schwartz. They have been sensational in their support when pressing matters needed to be addressed and resolved. Division 42 is in exceptionally good hands when I pass on the mantle of presidency to Lori Thomas, JD, PhD in January. Her clarity of thinking, highly developed problem solving abilities and multiple skill sets are really amazing. Furthermore, she is an absolute joy to work with.

In closing, it has been a true honor and privilege to serve as your first Asian-American woman president of 42. The year that is quickly passing has been a challenging, stimulating and most gratifying one, filled with heartfelt memories of working alongside wonderful and passionate colleagues with shared visions to carry our Division forward – Imua. To my Division 42, O`hana, Mahalo Nui Loa for giving me the opportunity to serve you.

Warm Aloha,
June W. J. Ching, Ph.D., ABPP
President, Division 42