New PAC provides opportunity for APA members to support psychology

Contributions will help advance psychology’s legislative advocacy agenda

Oct. 11, 2012—The American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) has created a political action committee (PAC) that begins a new chapter in organized psychology’s involvement in the political arena.

APAPO-PAC is dedicated to supporting candidates who are friends of psychology for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. In addition to providing donations to candidates, the PAC also gives psychologists the opportunity to build relationships with key members of Congress who will support and help move psychology’s legislative agenda.

“Supporting congressional candidates is crucial for the success of APAPO’s legislative advocacy strategy,” says APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD. “More dollars for the PAC result in greater impact for psychology.”

According to Nordal, the creation of APAPO-PAC allows psychology to integrate political giving – supporting candidates for federal office – more closely than ever before with our federal legislative advocacy agenda, including direct lobbying on Capitol Hill and grassroots psychologists’ engagement with their members of Congress.

APAPO-PAC is part of the APA Practice Organization housed in the American Psychological Association (APA) headquarters in Washington, D.C. Established in 2001 as a companion organization to APA, the APA Practice Organization is devoted to advancing and defending the practice of psychology. In 2005, the Education Advocacy Trust (EdAT), which is dedicated to advancing education in psychology, particularly for psychology as a health profession, was created within APAPO.

The new PAC will focus intensely on addressing practitioners' concerns such as steep cuts in reimbursement for psychological services and inappropriate barriers to psychologists’ scope of practice. Further, APAPO-PAC, working with EdAT, will support efforts to advance psychology as a health profession through funding the education and training of psychologists in working with other health professions.

APAPO-PAC can actively encourage all APA members to support candidates by making contributions to the PAC. “We have a tremendous new opportunity to educate all APA members — not just those who also belong to APAPO — and get them more involved in advocacy and the political giving process,” says Dr. Nordal.

The new PAC builds on 10 years of affiliation between APAPO and the Association for the Advancement of Psychology (AAP), whose PAC known as Psychologists for Legislative Action Now (PLAN) has given psychologists a voice in the political process for nearly 40 years. AAP will continue to operate until the end of 2012.

As noted by representatives of both APAPO and AAP, operating the new PAC within APAPO will eliminate the need to sustain the overhead expenses of an outside organization, thereby allowing psychology to direct more dollars to political giving. 

An Interim Advisory Group consisting of members from the APAPO and AAP boards is assisting with start-up activities related to the new PAC. Meanwhile, staff for APAPO and EdAT have been actively involved in PAC operations, including the creation of a new website, which will be available soon for APAPO-PAC. 

Dr. Nordal emphasizes the critical need for psychologists to support advocacy on behalf of psychologists and their patients by contributing to APAPO-PAC. “We have important contributions to make in debates about the future of our health care system,” she says. “But without a strong political action committee, our voices will not be heard.”

Stay tuned for additional information and updates about APAPO-PAC.