• Jean Lau Chin - in memory

PsychologistsLEAD: Let’s Talk Series--Using Technology for Psychological Good

PsychologistsLEAD: Let’s Talk Series

Using Technology for Psychological Good

August 19, 2019, Monday at 5PM EST


Charmain Jackman

Marlene Maheu

June Feder

Sukanya Ray and 2 others

If you missed it, here is a summary of the Let’s Talk about Technology session.

Use of Technology in Psychology

As technology becomes integral to all areas of practice, applied psychology, education, and research, we need to consider how we use technology “to better do our work”. Telehealth services have improved access to care across geographic distances in rural areas and to homebound clients. Videoconferencing has facilitated communication across and among constituencies, consultation, training and practice. Research using virtual reality, fMRIs, neuropsychological feedback and artificial intelligence has produced more innovation and knowledge about psychology. Technology has helped to manage our work, files, journals, electronic records. However, we need to address how psychology and APA plays a role in shaping the future growth and use of technology in psychology.


The introduction of technology, innovation and change to our areas of practice, applied psychology, research, and training inevitably raises concerns about being replaced whether it be by robots, machines, or those who are lesser trained. As one participant indicated, we need psychologists to be at the forefront of technology instead of trailing behind to catch up with technological advances. We know that 80% of the people have Smartphones. Psychologists need to be forward thinking about how we capitalize on this in serving our clients, doing our research, training, and advocacy. More and more clients organize themselves around their cellphones—What is APA doing to capitalize on this to reach their members?

We fret about technology and the harm it might create. We fear opening the floodgates to social workers and mental health counselors who are already out there if we expand access through PsyPact or online counseling. The reality is that they already outnumber us and are cheaper—insurance companies and the public is paying attention to these factors. Psychologists must begin addressing these issues.

As echoed by many, technology is here to stay. Psychologists must be forward thinking. We can use our science and our training to enhance what psychology has to offer. In psychology, we have tended to be cautious, negative and critical of new approaches; we need to be curious, forward thinking and positive about addressing the challenges of technology and finding solutions.

APA’s new Strategic Plan illuminates the role of technology with initiatives to launch a new Technology, Mind and Behavior journal, and convene its first Technology, Mind & Society conference last year. We need to educate our members about technology. But we need to do more than that—We need to translate our concerns to actions and solutions.

PsyPact to Expand Access via Telehealth

Telehealth has improved access, but still has many limitations. Some insurance companies do not allow telehealth services. We can’t deliver services across state lines. We need to advocate for expanded use, and raise issues of equity barring its use. APA can and should help states to do so.

The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) was created in 2015 by ASPPB with APA support to promote mobility for psychologists to deliver telehealth services across state lines. This has raised concerns that it might result in an influx of MA level psychologists from other states to compete with doctoral psychologists—a concern we felt was unfounded because both APA and ASPPB recognize and reflect our professional guidelines about eligible providers.

Better communication and education about PsyPact is essential, which is in fact, what is being planned by Jack Tsai as part of his presidential initiative for Division 18 on technology. He will bring together 20 divisions to weigh in urgent issues in technology—an initiative that could be linked with an Integrative Leadership Forum on Technology I would plan if I become APA president to move from concern to action.

Mobile Apps and Online Services - TalkSpace

Online Counseling, like Talkspace, is growing at a phenomenal pace. Counseling services are via text, video and audio messages in both real and asynchronous time within the day. These mobile apps advertise providing convenient, discreet and affordable access to counseling by licensed therapists at greatly reduced fees. For the most part, these services are not developed or regulated by psychologists. There are concerns about privacy, efficacy, ethics and safeguards for clients that have not been addressed. How do we get psychology and APA to legally and effectively provide and monitor such services?

Open Access Journals

The growing proliferation of open access journals as a central outlet for publishing our research was not discussed on the forum, but important to our scientists and researchers. They claim to be quicker, cheaper, and more accessible than print journals—a phenomenon that can change the entire nature of how scientists disseminate their work, affect criteria for tenure and promotion, and accreditation guidelines for educators. Psychologists need to pay attention and play a role in shaping its growth.

Role of APA in an Age of Technology

As an emerging area of psychology, some were concerned with current processes within APA that tend to silo and fractionate groups over who owns “technology” within APA. Does how we do business on council stifle creativity and innovation? Do our current methods of debate favor competition over cooperation that silence new views about the use of technology? Some felt that past discussions about technology placed the emphasis on using technology over creating knowledge about the applications of technology through evidence based and competency based methods.

APA needs to be a place that supports all voices and create opportunities for all perspectives on technology to grow and prosper. A top down approach, while useful for conformity and uniformity seems premature because it privileges the few as the experts, when in fact, the complexities of technology are yet to be known. We need a bigger “think tank” to bring forward all forms of expertise and create opportunities for involvement and contributions.

APA needs to rethink its role to its members. As a member organization, it has historically been a go to place for the newest knowledge about the profession. Today, this role has been overshadowed by what is available on the internet where members can get information faster and better for free. How must APA recognize their need to shift from a purveyor of information to one of fostering the creation of new information? APA needs to take leadership in educating members on technology, and serve as convener to bring together diverse perspectives toward actions and change.

Toward Actions and Solutions

From this rich discussion, there are several takeaway messages.

  • We as an association tend to focus too much on talking, and not enough on actions and solutions. We need to focus on what we should do, not what we should not do.

  • We need to look outward not inward to be forward thinking in addressing the use of technology in psychology

  • Consider setting up a review board to develop criteria for exhibitors and advertisers at APA Convention, journals, etc. so that we can ensure an alignment of their mission with APA strategic priorities. E.g. allowing TalkSpace to advertise to our members was contrary to our interests last year. APA needs to set the bar for how companies conform to evidence based methods in their work, informed consent, and quality standards in their services.

  • APA can be a convener--offer educational webinars on technology to inform and move us forward.

  • Much of the discussion focused on practice. Let’s expand our frame to discuss training and education, science, and advocacy as it relates to technology.

What can I do as APA president?

As to “what next”? The discussion was acutely related to what I can do as APA president. At the broadest level, we must change the mindset for dialogue—to be inclusive, to allow for creativity and innovation, and to bring the diversity of our science, practice and advocacy to the table. We can set the stage for us to be forward thinking about technology as a tool for us to manage. We can do this by building bridges, reengaging members, and use technology for psychological good.

Psychology needs to get a seat at the table on the many forums in and outside of our professions to promote action and solutions about our use of technology. Much of the discussion of the role we can play in aligned with my vision of creating Integrative Leadership Forums to bring together diverse perspectives and promote construct dialogue toward concrete actions and solutions on Technology.

Psychologists LEAD--Let’s LEAD Together with psychologists as Leaders to Empower, Advocate and use psychology toward actions that make a Difference

Go to: for full statement

Jean Lau Chin for APA President – Ballots come out in September

  • Experienced Leader with breadth as: Practitioner-Consultant-Researcher-Academic Dean-Executive Director and leadership within APA governance (Council Leadership Team chair and past-president of 3 APA Divisions - Women, International and Ethnic Minorities)

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