• Jean Lau Chin - in memory

Highlights of Psychologists:LEAD Let’s Talk about Advocacy Forum

For those of you who missed the PsychologistsLEAD: Let’s Talk about Advocacy Meeting on 7/11/2019, here are the highlights. First, my apologies for the computer glitch where some of you could not sign on. If you were one of these members, please contact me. It was great to hear from APA members about advocacy, what you concerns were, and what might I do as APA president to address these issues.

Advocating for all of psychology

Given APA’s new Advocacy structure and Strategic Plan, a major concern was how to to ensure that APA will be advocating for all of psychology. We made a distinction between professional and social advocacy. As a member organization, it was strongly felt that APA needs to advocate for professional issues related to how we practice, train, and research psychology. However, it was also strongly felt that we need to advocate for social issues that impact all of us and society—i.e., immigration, violence, terrorism, climate change, racial intolerance, social justice and equity.

It is important to distinguish between legislative advocacy and social advocacy. APA’s Government Affairs does a lot of good legislative advocacy, but we also need to much more on social advocacy. We need to reach the public via media, news outlets, and social media to promote psychology and advocate for social issues. We need to be in communities to help address pressing social issues.

APA has many coalitions through which we have collaborated on legislative advocacy. However, we have not been as good about communicating to the public and our members about what APA is doing. More emphasis on communication and branding if we are to promote APA and our profession.

Advocacy and Enforcement

While we have done much legislative advocacy for things like parity to get the law passed, we have done little to urge enforcement. Regulations and monitoring is not in place for how implementation will take place. We cannot stop short of that.

How do we advocate?

I propose Integrative Leadership Forums to change the mindset of APA in how it does business. We can use these forums to bring together all perspectives, invite different voices, to listen and learn from one another, and develop innovative action oriented solutions to pressing problems given how it is rapidly influencing psychology in so many ways. APA needs to be proactive in addressing the use of technology, the growth of internet and online practice, and guidelines to ensure quality and ethical use. Such a forum can define an agenda for how we use technology in psychology, and the growth of internet and online applications for counseling services.

We also need to get out there to the public. We spend too much time looking inward so the public has a limited view of psychology; they do not hear from us. We need to do more op-ed pieces. We need to use social media, like Twitter to advocate, bring visibility to psychology, and get the public to use us more. We should explore news outlets, e.g., get ourselves a regular column in the New York Times.

Psychologists as leaders

We should use our voice of psychology build awareness, promote psychology and psychologists as leaders able to weigh in on many facets of everyday life. We do not quite have this mindset. The escalation of hate speeches evident in society today is but one example of where and how psychology should be more impactful and make a difference using our science. However, our profession often maintains the position that we should not be political and stay focused on our data and scholarship. APA tends to remain internally focused and talk to ourselves. This is not a liberating stance. We need to be more externally focused—to look outward and do more to support our members and the population at large.

Importantly, APA needs to do in seek Division and member input. Many spoke to few opportunities for input, not enough outreach to division to seek input, and not considering input that is given. It was suggested that we develop a protocol to increase division and member input, use it when they get it, and let members know why they or did not use it. Several members says their board has never been consulted about specific issues aligned with their expertise though it was offered, and then surprised to see some policy emerge.

Members who participated were actively engaged, and felt we need to do more of this and reach action oriented solutions.

PsychologistsLEAD: Let’s Lead together to Empower, Advocate, and make a Difference. Vote for Jean Lau Chin for APA President. Ballots come out September 15, 2019. Go to my website to learn more:

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