APA board appoints clinical treatment guidelines advisory steering committee members

Nine members have been appointed to the newly formed Advisory Steering Committee to oversee APA’s clinical treatment guidelines process

by Practice Research and Policy Staff

October 27, 2010 — The American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Directors recently appointed nine distinguished psychologists to the newly formed Advisory Steering Committee, which will oversee the development of the clinical treatment guidelines process.

At its February 2010 meeting, the APA Council of Representatives approved the creation of an Advisory Steering Committee. A major focus of this group will be to consider overarching policy and procedural issues such as the APA policy development process as it defines the progress of the clinical treatment guidelines process.

The newly appointed members of the Clinical Treatment Guidelines Advisory Steering Committee are:

  • Steven D. Hollon, PhD (Chair), Nashville, TN 

  • Patricia A. Areán, PhD, San Francisco, CA 

  • Michelle G. Craske, PhD, Los Angeles, CA 

  • Kermit A. Crawford, PhD, Boston, MA 

  • Daniel R. Kivlahan, PhD, Seattle, WA 

  • Jeffrey J. Magnavita, PhD , Glastonbury, CT 

  • Thomas H. Ollendick, PhD, Blacksburg, VA 

  • Thomas L. Sexton, PhD, Bloomington, IN 

  • Bonnie Spring, PhD, Chicago, IL

In December 2010, the committee will meet for the first time to begin discussing, among other things, the scope and vision for treatment guidelines, which will include the following:

  • finalizing the process by which the APA will develop clinical treatment guidelines 

  • identifying priority areas for clinical treatment guidelines 

  • determining the parameters for the audience and scope of guidelines 

  • developing the format for guidelines 

  • formulating criteria by which APA’s clinical treatment guidelines panels will be appointed

In addition to defining the clinical treatment guidelines process, the committee will consider existing APA policy and how it informs the development of future guidelines. Guidelines form the basis for many treatment decisions made by payers and leaders say that psychology needs to share its knowledge and expertise on psychological treatments.

“Getting involved in the treatment guidelines process lends credibility to what practicing psychologists do. If we don’t get involved, the ‘default guidelines’ will continue to come from psychiatry and will focus primarily on medications,” said APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD.

The committee itself will not write clinical treatment guidelines or conduct systematic reviews of existing literature. Panels will be specifically appointed at a later date for the task of creating and developing clinical treatment guidelines. 

The APA Board of Directors will have oversight of the committee, and any policy decisions will need to be approved by the Council of Representatives. The steering committee may have input in the panel nominations, but many processes are still being clarified.

Committee members were selected from a list of consensus nominees put forth by the Board of Professional Affairs (BPA), Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA), and Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) that represents the diversity of the APA, as well as a broad range of experience and expertise.

Members each have 10 years or more of professional experience in multiple areas of clinical practice or clinical research, and documented expertise with guidelines or evidence-based treatment development or implementation. In addition, members have been nationally recognized in peer-reviewed publications and via professional awards, advanced credentials, or involvement in national professional organizations.

Members will serve a three-year term, and can serve up to two terms. Initial term lengths will be staggered so that only two members will be potentially replaced each year.

“The committee is tasked with representing the interests of the association so it will be important for the steering committee members to have broad APA member input,” said APA Practice Directorate Assistant Executive Director, Practice Research and Policy, Lynn Bufka, PhD. While communication procedures are being developed, any comments sent to APA staff about the treatment guidelines process will be collected and shared with steering committee members in advance of their first meeting.

Calls for nominations for newly formed panels or task groups will be widely disseminated throughout the association. Also, any proposed guidelines will be submitted to the membership and the public for comment and review.

Though the process is still in its early stages, Nordal is excited about the opportunity presented by the development of clinical treatment guidelines: “The guidelines development process is the ultimate science-practice bridge – it helps brand psychologists as the scientist-practitioners we are.”