2012 APA Presidential Candidate Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD

by Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD

What are your short-, mid-, and long-term plans to insure the financial stability of the APAPO?

The APAPO’s financial stability depends upon (1) a focused adherence to its mission and (2) clear value-added to its members. Its establishment as a 501(c)(6) organization gives it the freedom to focus on advocacy and the promotion of practicing psychologists’ professional interests. The APAPO will always be faced with a multiple demands and pressures to generate additional revenues. However, in my view, its financial stability can best be assured by maintaining a disciplined focus on its mission and providing evidence of its success.

The APAPO is financed by the practice assessment paid by APA licensed psychologists. For this reason, the APAPO’s activities must not only be mission-driven but be viewed as valued added by its members. This requires effective APAPO organization - member communication. Members must understand the APAPO mission, the purpose of the practice assessment and must view APAPO activities as successful or value-added to their professional lives.

For most practicing psychologists, advocacy was rarely modeled or taught in graduate school. Graduate training programs work hard to produce competent clinicians but the financial and policy barriers that may prevent these graduates from practicing their skills in real-world settings are often ignored.Graduates learn the hard way, without the benefit of any background in organized advocacy. For this reason, I believe the long-term financial stability of the APAPO will depend on reaching out more effectively to trainees and early career psychologists. Unless the next generation is dedicated to advocacy, the financial stability of the APAPO will be in peril.

What initiatives will you undertake to educate the public about the services of psychologists?

The APA’s award-winning website is its public face. There the public can learn about the power of psychological interventions and locate a psychologist practicing in their area. APA is the largest publisher of psychological science in the world. With appropriate support and resources, I believe the APA website can become the primary web resource for psychological information used by the American public.

APA’s Public Education Campaign is another effective communication strategy that helps educate the public about the importance of psychological services. Carefully crafting and targeting its messaging to be consistent with APA’s strategic plan will enhance its impact.  TOPPS (Teaching of Psychology in Secondary Schools) is an APA program that supports high school teachers of psychology. Psychology is also one of the most popular undergraduate majors on college campuses. APA needs to continue to provide a home to the thousands of teachers of psychology that do so much to assure an educated American public who understands the value of psychology and demands access to psychological services.

Although APA already engages in an impressive array of activities to educate the public about psychological services, I would like to see an added focus on educating primary care providers. Most people in need of psychological services ask their doctor for a referral. Building strong collaborations with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and other primary care groups could greatly enhance public access to quality psychological care.

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