Startling Outcome of Request to APA Council for a New Division for Technology & Psychology in February of 2014

APA Council

Barn’s burnt down — now I can see the moon.

On February 23, 2014 the American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives voted against our establishment of a new APA division to support “research, development and consultation for psychological technology.”  This outcome was the apex of our 2.5 years of earnest desire and diligent effort to meet all of the APA’s requirements as outlined in APA bylaws. That effort included the collection of 768 petitioner names (significantly more than the 710 required). 

As the Steering Committee of ST&P, we sought to grow and advance psychology by unifying psychologists interested in technology through APA, and therefore to galvanize the many efforts that are currently isolated in APA Divisions and other groups. By organizing these existing “silos” of technology-focused information, we sought to fuel the growth of psychology as a leader in 21st Century behavioral health. More specifically, we sought to create a shared community of psychologists and a supporting portal of information about psychological technology.  Such a network would fuel the development of resources to make our work easier, more productive and more effective by supporting the development of needed resources such as:

  • a bibliography of references related to psychological technology
  • a clearinghouse for:
    • evidence-based apps for a variety of mobile devices
    • communication technologies such as video platforms that “bake” our ethics codes and legal requirements into their frameworks
    • wireless, wearable computers to securely monitor and report behavior, to augment therapy and connect clients to resources
  • a psychological technology center dedicated to research supporting psychology as a STEM science to help psychology receive outside funding
  • an electronic journal to give our researchers an opportunity to showcase their work and be identified by the international community

A Voice

A remarkable 38% of ST&P petition signers were “unaffiliated” APA members. That is, they do not belong to any APA division. Their petition signatures in such high numbers suggest that the APA’s existing structures are not meeting their needs. Added to the 559 members we’ve organized through LinkedIn, we already have successfully recruited approximately 1000 supportive psychologists internationally. They are expressing a strong need and deserve a voice.

Current Mission

Fueled by our understanding and involvement in the technological revolution, we stand strong in our mission to support psychology.  We also seek to create a vibrant “home” for the many serious technology-related psychologists who have chosen to go outside of APA for collegiality and synergy.  Many have also shed the label of “psychologist” for more high-paying identities as Information Technology (IT) professionals. We have learned that many would join a group led by psychologists experienced in technology.  It might interest you to know that we therefore continue to seek collaboration and affiliation through three activities, described below:

  1. Collaborative Effort at APA. Representatives from five APA Divisions have approached us to explore synergies after APA Council’s decision in February. Given this unexpected turn of events, we are in conversation and are seeking guidance for how to maximize widespread interest in our unique mission, which is to create opportunities for psychologists with technology. As a group unencumbered by the politics of specialty divisions at APA, we seek other APA Division liaisons that support our excitement and share our goals.  Contact Marlene Maheu through her web-based desk to join our conversation.
  2. American Counseling Association (ACA).  Since Council’s decision, some of us have acted upon an opportunity to work toward a technology-related Division within the American Counseling Association (ACA). In keeping with our vision of forming inter-professional liaisons, we responded to an invitation that arrived within three days of APA’s decision.  As a result, a petition has been mounted to establish an ACA Organizational Affiliation and then a Division with governance voting privileges. Within ten days of the invitation, we had our petition mounted online. Less than a week later, we’ve collected more than half of the petition signatures needed to make our request for formal representation in ACA’s Council. If you are an ACA member, please sign the ACA petition here.
  3. Association for Technology and Behavioral Health (ATBH). We have re-organized as a new group known as the Association for Technology and Behavioral Health (ATBH), a non-profit organization. We therefore invite all stakeholders and professional associations to join us in our efforts to advance evidence-based approaches to technological research, education, training, development and consultation in all behavioral sciences.  Our mission is to create opportunities for behavioral health professionals and professional groups working toward using technology to meet the need shared worldwide, but most recently articulated in the United States Health Care Reform’s Triple Aim goals of:
  1. increasing access to clients/patients
  2. reducing costs and
  3. improving care through research, development and consultation

 As APA members, fellows, early career professionals (ECPs), students (APAGs) or affiliates, you are invited to join our community.  If you are not affiliated with the APA, we also invite you to join us. Show your support for our mission by visiting our website or becoming a member.  Post and comment in our LinkedIn group.

 Special Invitation for Graduate Students and ECPs.  ATBH particularly welcomes you. You are our future! You will find ATBH to be a helpful and exciting organization, led by industry leaders.  We particularly seek students and ECPs interested in a new journal, blog contributors, online forum discussion leaders, video producers, non-profit informational services and mentoring.

 Special Invitation for Associations. We seek collaborative opportunities and welcome broad input. To invite us to join your group, send us a private email. All options will be given serious consideration.

 We serve researchers, practitioners, trainers, consultants, professionals and organizations who share an interest in technology development for 21st century behavioral health care. Please circulate this letter to all potentially interested parties, including our international colleagues.

Respectfully signed as the ATBH Steering Committee:

Marlene Maheu, Ph.D., President

Kenneth Drude, Ph.D., Secretary

Robert K. Ax, Ph.D., Member-at-Large

Ray Folen, Ph.D, Membership Chair

Erica Abel, Ph.D.

Martha E. Banks, Ph.D.

Timothy Brearly, M.A.

Jean Lau Chin, Ed.D.

Pat DeLeon, Ph.D.

Tom Farris, Ph.D.

Robert Glueckauf, Ph.D.

Barry Gordon, Ph.D.

Greg Greenwood, Ph.D.

Julie Kinn, Ph.D.

Luciano L’Abate, Ph.D.

Richard Landers, Ph.D.

David Luxton, Ph.D.

Mary Macedonio, Ph.D.

Fred Muench, Ph.D.

Eve-Lynn Nelson, Ph.D.

Brian Newton, Ph.D.

Richard Shuster, Psy.D

Albert (Skip) Rizzo, Ph.D.

Arlene Strugar, Ph.D.

Karen Wall, MA, RN-BC, BSN

Shawna Wright, Ph.D.

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2 comments on “Startling Outcome of Request to APA Council for a New Division for Technology & Psychology in February of 2014

  1. It’s unfortunate when our organizations become so, uh “organizational,” that they appear more committed to the status quo than meeting expressed member needs. It would be easy to become quite cynical, but that won’t help us achieve our goals. Forward!

  2. Very cohesive and excellently presented!!! No doubt, this point in history will be remembered as a negative act that was transformed into a positive movement to galvanize those who support the meaningful application of digital technology in the helping professions.

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