APA 2014 presidential candidates answer questions about practice

By APA Presidential Candidates

July 30, 2012—The five candidates for 2014 president of the American Psychological Association answered these two questions on issues pertaining to professional practice:

  1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing professional practice in the next three to five years, and how would you address them? 

  2. How will you support the development of non-dues revenue for the APA Practice Organization (APAPO)?

To read each candidate’s reply, select the tab with their name.

Sheldon M. Cohen
Sheldon M. Cohen, PhD


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing professional practice in the next three to five years, and how would you address them?

It seems to me that present and near future professional practitioners will need to be: (1) highly aware of proximal and distal changing contextual conditions/circumstances. The impact of widespread or limited global events on the U.S. economy; the rise of the price of a gallon of gas to $10 could have a profound impact on clients and practitioners; the emergence of a large population of post war trauma disorders requiring immediate therapeutic intervention; economic depression – clients losing jobs, homes – and the evolution of tele-technology offer practitioners new challenges and opportunities, etc.; and (2) Practitioners will also need to be multi-modal a la Dr. Arnold Lazarus and beyond; Being flexible in perspective, use of technique, professional selfhood, etc.; and (3) Be open to becoming a professional combination, e.g., you are a psychologist who is also a physician or a lawyer or a religious minister or a TV news analyst or a legislator or a financial adviser etc.

2. How will you support the development of non-dues revenue for the APAPO?

Fellow APA members who have been following my hundreds of posts on Facebook know that I've been advocating for a review of all APA Executive positions.

I believe a fair review will lead to reduction of executive salaries and consolidation of executive positions. One example: When the current yearly salaries of the APA's CEO and APA's Director of Communication are reduced to the current yearly salaries of the President and V.P. of the USA, the APA Organization will save $317 thousand dollars a year. Once ''the APA'' stops fleecing APA membership dues and dues invested in real estate etc., there will be millions of dollars left for truly benefiting APA members of APAPO. APAPO will no longer need non-dues revenue.

Paul L. Craig
Paul L. Craig, PhD


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing professional practice in the next three to five years, and how would you address them?

My presidential theme is “The Year of Our Youth.” Specifically, as president of the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO), the foundation of my presidential platform will be built on addressing the needs of our students, as well as our early career and midcareer psychologists. To the extent the leadership of the APAPO tenaciously advocates for the well-being of our next generation of professional psychologists, the future for all practicing psychologists will be brighter.

The president of the APA also serves as president of the APAPO – the organization we established to advocate for psychology practice. As president of the APAPO, I will advocate for inclusion of “psychologist” in the federal definition of “physician” – a definition that already includes optometrists, chiropractors, dentists, medical doctors and others. This is an important foundational issue that will help assure that psychologists are broadly recognized as doctoral-level health professionals within the nation’s health care system. Legislation to include psychologists in the federal definition of “physician” has been introduced by Congress. Now we must tenaciously advocate for enactment of this legislation.

As president of the APAPO, I will also focus on positioning our profession to be seamlessly integrated doctoral-level members of the primary care health team. Advocacy for funding of services provided by psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows, similar to the funding of other health professions’ trainees included under the federal definition of “physician,” will help solve psychology’s internship bottleneck and will significantly increase practice opportunities for early career psychologists – to the benefit of all psychologists.

2. How will you support the development of non-dues revenue for the APAPO?

Having served as APA’s treasurer, I have a demonstrated track record of sound financial management. During October 2008 – 10 months into my three-year term as treasurer – the US financial system collapsed. I worked with governance and management to implement the changes needed for the economic survival of APA and APAPO. At the end of my term, I turned over a solid balance sheet to the next treasurer.

Increasing non-dues revenue will require collaboration among governance, management, and members. Because the APA is a 501 (c)(3) organization, it cannot transfer assets to the APAPO – a 501(c)(6) organization. To increase non-dues revenue within the APAPO, I will collaborate with its management to identify and pursue entrepreneurial goals consistent with the APAPO’s mission.

Non-dues revenue also comes from return on investments. Historically, the APAPO has kept its savings in a money market fund – preventing loss of capital when the equity market collapsed in 2008. In today’s interest rate environment, other fiscally responsible options may be worth considering (e.g., convertible bonds, blue chip equities with stable dividend yields, etc.).

If we, the members of the APAPO, do not take the steps necessary to improve the financial health of the APAPO, we will not have the organizational infrastructure needed to advocate for psychology practice. Lacking effective advocacy, our profession may end up diagonally parked in a parallel universe – far from the mainstream of our nation’s health care system. Let’s work together to create a brighter future for psychology practice. Join me in “The Year of Our Youth.”

Todd Finnerty
Todd Finnerty, PsyD


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing professional practice in the next three to five years, and how would you address them?

The most important issues we’ll face in the next three to five years will be our own apathy, pessimism and inaction. We must face them because they are more deadly than Medicare payment reductions and more harmful than being left out of the physician definition. The next three to five years will bring dramatic changes, however they won’t be improvements for psychologists unless we stand up and commit to being informed and involved. Let’s fight to ensure access to insurance panels for ECPs and fair reimbursement from insurance companies. 2014 may be the most crucial year for payment reform that psychologists will ever see. This election determines what APA will pay attention to during this crucial year. We cannot be bystanders and hide, walk-by or look-away from the many in need of our help. We have the greatest opportunity in a generation to bring high quality, timely care to the many people who need our services but just can’t find a way to access them. Only 40 percent of adults with mental illness receive any kind of mental health treatment at all. This is unacceptable. It’s their story, not ours, which motivates advocacy, legislative action and improvements for psychologists. We’ll work to ensure that everyone can access a psychologist— no matter where they live, how much they make or who their ancestors were. Opening up this market makes great business-sense, but it also reflects our ethical principle of justice. Rank me number one and APA will never again be a bystander to the forces shaping psychology’s destiny.

2. How will you support the development of non-dues revenue for the APAPO?

We’ll explore renaming the Practice Assessment and offer easier payment options for these voluntary donations (including smaller monthly payments rather than larger annual ones). To bring in more non-dues revenue we’ll actually decrease our focus on revenue. Members must view themselves as members-- not just customers or donors. We won’t measure the APAPO’s success by the money we collect; we’ll measure it by how informed, engaged and involved all psychologists become. Our end goal is not simply to raise money. We cannot simply spend our way to successful advocacy. Each and every one of us must step forward and join the cause of psychology; it’s time to make that easier by removing our own bureaucratic barriers. National membership should lead to automatic membership in state and local associations. We’ll educate and engage each and every APA member locally. We’ll organize them to act within integrated state and national advocacy campaigns. Our efforts will focus on real, meaningful issues that actually impact most psychologists. Together we’ll defend psychology and promote the importance of psychotherapy and assessment. We’ll ask every psychologist for something more valuable than their money; we’ll ask for their time, their commitment and their passion-- and we’ll act in a way that earns them. While we may have concerns about affording the APAPO’s dues, none of us can afford to be bystanders any more. We must act now. Learn more at Todd Finnerty's website and Twitter page.

Douglas C. Haldeman
Douglas C. Haldeman, PhD


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing professional practice in the next three to five years, and how would you address them?

Professional practice is changing more rapidly than at any time in the past, owing to its expansion in the context of integrative health care. We are well positioned to take a leadership role in behavioral health, given our research base. As APA president, I will prioritize attention to the following important issues:

  • Psychology’s full recognition as a STEM discipline, acknowledged by those we seek to serve as well as those other disciplines with whom we seek to partner in integrative care; 

  • Educating the public as to what distinguishes psychology from other mental health disciplines, so that psychological science is more readily usable in everyday life; 

  • Securing psychology’s status as the leading behavioral health discipline in environments where we compete against Masters’-level practitioners for employment; 

  • Advocacy for reasonable reimbursement rates so that psychologists are available to the public; 

  • Ensuring that ECPs have training opportunities that prepare them for serving an increasingly diverse society, and that their professional futures are secured with expansion of internship opportunities and debt forgiveness plans; 

  • Using technological advances in the development of products and web-based media that make psychological knowledge accessible to everyone; 

  • Training psychologists at all points on the professional development spectrum to work with physicians, nurses and other health care professionals in integrative settings.

2. How will you support the development of non-dues revenue for the APAPO?

The fiscal health of the APAPO is critical for the future of professional practice. As president, I will support the following products and services to generate non-dues revenue for the APAPO in the evolving health care environment:

  • A full and comprehensive set of CE programs relative to the establishment and development of an independent practice, as well as the development of a practice (or transition to one) in an integrative care setting. These are needed by practitioners all along the generational spectrum, given the scant attention paid to business of practice issues in most training programs. 

  • The development of written materials for sale that go above and beyond those currently available to people paying the practice assessment, and that are available at slightly higher cost to those practitioners who choose not to pay the assessment. 

  • Development of online synchronous and asynchronous educational programming for a fee. 

  • Exploring ways in which corporations that benefit from the work of practicing psychologists (e.g., publishers of practice software, test developers) can become sponsors of the APAPO.

Nadine J. Kaslow
Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing professional practice in the next three to five years, and how would you address them?

  • Healthcare reform

○ Enhance APA’s healthcare reform activities 

○ Promote integrated culturally-informed care 

○ Develop trainings for psychologists to work with healthcare systems 

○ Foster accredited training programs that support a pipeline of early career psychologists competent to function in a healthcare context 

○ Disseminate models and training programs involving psychologists in primary care medical homes 

○ Facilitate culturally-diverse individuals’ access to behavioral healthcare

  • Financial remuneration 

○ Support Government Relations staff’s educational activities about healthcare reform’s influence on reimbursement 

○ Encourage efforts to include psychologists in Medicare’s definition of physician 

○ Support advocacy endeavors to raise Medicare reimbursement rates for psychologists to ensure their continued participation and services for vulnerable populations 

○ Advocate inclusion of health and behavior CPT codes in Medicaid plans nationwide 

○ Work with private insurers to ensure reasonable reimbursement 

○ Inform psychologists about antitrust legislation to promote effective legal responses to managed care rate reductions 

○ Distribute research to policy-makers demonstrating cost-effectiveness and intervention efficacy

  • Marketplace prospects 

○ Educate psychologists about diverse marketplace opportunities through myriad continuing education formats 

○ Create a best practices website with novel practices 

○ Earmark Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) legislative grants to encourage states to expand marketplace opportunities

  • Stigma 

○ Strengthen Public Education Campaign to ensure individuals and organizations appreciate psychology’s value and the benefits of psychological services 

○ Reach out to culturally diverse communities with targeted stigma reduction programs

2. How will you support the development of non-dues revenue for the APAPO?

  • Overall approach 

○ Collaborate, including encouraging a retreat, with relevant parties to determine creative ways for APAPO to be a strong, vibrant organization that provides valuable and much needed services for practitioners 

▪ APAPO staff and board 

▪ CAPP 

▪ Stakeholders (representatives from states; Division 31; State, Provincial, and Territorial Psychological Associations (SPTAs); practice divisions; psychologists from different practice settings, students; early career psychologists; individuals from various multicultural communities) 

  • Support the creation, expansion, and dissemination of a broad array of affinity programs that could be purchased by APAPO members 

  • Encourage development of an electronic health records system that is useful to psychologists and once developed, support its marketing to APAPO members and other healthcare practitioners 

  • Facilitate productions and marketing of a breadth of training materials about the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 

  • Sponsor online and in-person continuing education programs relevant to practice (e.g., starting a practice, business of practice, legislative advocacy, technology solutions, social media, telepsychology), the fees for which would go to the APAPO 

  • Support collaborative projects between APAPO and the APA Publications Office to develop publications specific to practitioners (e.g., evidence-based treatments, working in integrated care), with the funds received for these publications to be shared in a fair fashion between the two groups.