It’s who you know

Lynn F. Bufka, PhD, assistant executive director for practice research and policy, spearheads research efforts related to psychology practice while helping members with questions about practice-related APA guidelines and policy

Lynn F. Bufka, PhDJanuary 13, 2011 — Several months after her birthday, Lynn F. Bufka, PhD, is still finding pieces of chocolate hidden throughout her office. Because Dr. Bufka makes no secret of her sweet tooth, her co-workers stayed late one evening to hide chocolate in desk drawers and between the books on her bookshelf and wrapped pieces in ribbon and stuck them to the ceiling with thumbtacks. Though chocolate still hangs from her ceiling, Dr. Bufka credits her co-workers as being “great colleagues – they make it fun to come to work and think about psychology every day.”

Like chocolate, she finds working with and for members extremely satisfying. “I’m a member of the public as well,” says Dr. Bufka, who is an APA and APA Practice Organization member as well as the Assistant Executive Director of Practice Research and Policy for the American Psychological Association (APA). “So it’s important to me to help make being a psychologist easier for others.”

A licensed psychologist since 1998, Dr. Bufka reviews draft policy and guidelines generated both within the APA and by external organizations and federal agencies that will impact professional practice. Dr. Bufka develops and comments on such guidelines so that they are practical and helpful for the practice of psychology and for clients. 

Two significant policy documents that Dr. Bufka and her team worked on are APA’s Policy Statement on Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology, which was passed by the APA Council of Representatives in 2005 and provides important context for current work, and the APA’s Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists, passed by the Council in 2010. The Model Act for State Licensure was updated to be more reflective of professional practice now and as envisioned in the future to better address “the mobility of licensure and the needs of practicing psychologists,” says Dr. Bufka.

Dr. Bufka utilizes her own background and experience to help answer member questions about licensing, guidelines, best practices and other areas of interest for practicing psychologists. In particular, Dr. Bufka handles inquiries from psychologists in more isolated settings who may not have easy access to other psychologists for consultations.

Telehealth services (PDF, 1.88 MB) are becoming an increasingly popular area of interest for psychology – and for Dr. Bufka. In addition, Dr. Bufka’s skilled four-member Practice Research and Policy team – all with  backgrounds in psychology and including another psychologist and a health information technology expert – in the Practice Directorate has compiled a selection of resources for psychologists. Though the list is not all-inclusive, it provides a number of useful articles and reference materials. 

The Practice Research and Policy Department in the Practice Directorate also conducts research on practice patterns and trends and surveys members to gain data to inform the development of policy and other initiatives. The Directorate can then use this information “to educate the public about what psychologists do and advocate on Capitol Hill for the profession,” says Dr. Bufka.

In addition to her department’s research, Dr. Bufka is often called upon to review journal articles for publication, as well as present at conferences and professional meetings on topics such as guidelines, evidence based practice, functioning and classification, and treatment outcomes. She also collaborates with journal editors, governance groups and other professional organizations to identify topics of shared interest and ways to support those interests to benefit psychology.

A current priority for Dr. Bufka and the Practice Research and Policy Department is the establishment of the APA’s clinical treatment guidelines advisory steering committee, which will help shape the clinical treatment guidelines development process. The committee will develop the process and initiate the development of clinical treatment guidelines for APA consistent with existing APA policy and best practices in guideline development in the larger health care arena.

Dr. Bufka has spoken on stress and mind/body health matters for media outlets including U.S. News and World Report, National Public Radio and CNN Radio. She has also been interviewed regularly as an expert on APA’s annual Stress in America survey.

Prior to joining APA in 2002, Dr. Bufka served as the Associate Director of the Doctoral Clinical Training Program at Boston University, the institution from which she earned her PhD, and as Director of Practica Training at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She is certified in the delivery of Panic Control Therapy and has extensive experience delivering and evaluating cognitive behavioral therapy approaches for a multitude of anxiety disorders.