Donald N. Bersoff, PhD, JD
What is it about you that would make practitioners want to vote for you?
There are at least 6 reasons why practitioners should support my candidacy. First, I have been an independent practitioner. I have had a private practice in Ohio and Pennsylvania and empathize with the problems of maintaining an office, collecting fees, and dealing with managed care companies. Second, I have been a strong advocate of hospital privileges for psychologists. It is imperative that practitioners be allowed to follow their patients who need hospitalization to ensure continuity of care. As APA’s general counsel I authored APA’s amicus brief in CAPP v. Rank (1990), the largely successful effort to allow psychologists to practice in California’s hospitals. This must now become a national effort. Third, for the past 15 years I have served as the attorney for practitioners who have charged with ethical violations. I am pleased to say none of my clients have been sanctioned by the APA ethics committee or licensing boards (I can’t take total credit—I represent ethical clients). Fourth, I teach the Ethics and Professional Issues course for the Ph.D. clinical psychology program at Drexel University training future practitioners to understand the value of the ethics code and memberships in APA and APAPO. Five, I conduct continuing education workshops for clinical and forensic practitioners several times a year. Six, and most important, I have selected as my major presidential initiative the mental health of military, veterans, and their families. I want APA’s practitioners to be viewed as the best trained professionals to serve the needs of these clients.
The APAPO is the advocacy arm for professional practice. What will you do to insure its success?
It is imperative that we insure APAPO’s financial stability. In the past decade APAPO has had an extraordinary history of accomplishments on behalf of professional psychology. Funding for these activities is derived from the Practice Assessment paid beyond practitioners’ APA dues. But the integrity of this system has been compromised and there are challenges to the “mandatory” nature of the assessment. As an attorney as well as a psychologist I pledge to seek a fair and just resolution of this knotty issue. Whether mandatory or not, not all licensees pay the special assessment, creating a serious “free rider” problem. Nevertheless, even if all licensed practitioners paid the special assessment, APAPO’s financial stability wouldn’t be assured. Thus, APA and APAPO must solve the free rider issue as well as attract back practitioners who have abandoned APA because they believe APA has not addressed their interests.
To otherwise insure APAPO’s success it must not only advocate for integrative health care models but for the thousands of practitioners who labor on behalf of patients in their private offices but find it difficult to support themselves. Collective attempts to set fees by APAPO are not permitted under antitrust laws but there is no bar advocating for enhanced Medicare recognition and adequate reimbursement. Both APA and APAPO have been somewhat timid in this regard. APAPO must engage in zealous advocacy on behalf of practitioners, to the fullest extent the antitrust laws allow. If APAPO does this, it will become an even stronger and more valued organization.