Today I had the honor of speaking to the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives about my vision for the future of the association. Below is a transcript of my remarks.
Thank you, President McDaniel, for this opportunity to address the American Psychological Association.
I want to begin by acknowledging how unusual it is for me to be running for APA president.
As a child I never cared about school and almost flunked out. Everything changed when I took introductory psychology at community college.
The first lecture by Professor Wendell Goesling inspired me in a way no other class had before. He taught me practical ways I could use psychology to become a better student, improve my relationships, and set a new course for my life. Now, I aspire to bring that type of change to others as a clinical psychologist at the Columbia University Medical Center.
This is also why I’ve spent the last decade serving APA. Its mission to improve society resonates with me. From APAGS to the Policy and Planning Board, the Board of Directors and the Council of Representatives, the Good Governance Project and its implementation team, and now with the Council Leadership Team, APA gives me a chance to serve the field that has given so much to me.
I believe in APA.
APA advocates for our science and interventions, promotes high quality accredited training, and uses psychology to promote human rights and social justice. The field of psychology would not work without APA.
But APA is not working the way it used to. For the 7th year in a row, our membership has declined and we recently learned our net assets have sharply decreased.
How did we get here?
We stopped prioritizing the needs of our members. Just look at our membership application — the primary benefits are discounts to journals, videos, and books. This advances our publishing arm, but it does little to help psychologists.
Since 2009, the financial burden of attending graduate school in psychology has increased 33% for PsyDs, 77% for health service PhDs, and 90% for research PhDs. Psychologists enter the field with an average of $130,000 of debt and earn stagnant salaries that keep us in debt for years to come.
Reimbursement has declined. Out of network benefits are disappearing. Our scope of practice is regularly attacked. Research funding is depleting. And the journal publication system APA depends on for revenue is falling out of favor with scientists, the government, and the public.
Many see APA as out of sync with its mission and the needs of psychologists. The APAPO’s class action lawsuit and the Hoffman Report exacerbated these concerns. Our checks and balances did not work and we failed to communicate honestly.
Despite all of this, I continue to be inspired by psychology. I’m not the only one – the #ThisPsychMajor campaign reached over 3 million people who love this field. They deserve an association that is above reproach.
I believe we can be that change. These crises have created an opportunity for a new beginning. This is why I have made the unusual decision to run for APA President as an early career psychologist.
I know I haven’t served APA as long as some of you, but I have served it long enough to know that this association is not meeting the needs of my generation or yours.
If you give me a chance, I will champion a new way forward.
I will stand with our members in calling for reforms that repair the problems identified in the Hoffman report.
I will advocate for a new APA culture that responds to the needs of all members through a dramatic reduction in membership dues and by strengthening programs that members value.
I will encourage the APAPO to develop products that help psychologists practice psychology, protect our scope of practice, improve patient access to care, and increase the integration of psychologists in healthcare.
I will call for an APA Leadership Institute that will broaden leadership opportunities within APA, build a diverse leadership pipeline, and help psychologists become leaders in their local communities.
This election is not about any one candidate. It’s about all of us renewing our commitment to improving lives and meeting the challenges facing our world.
If you give me the chance, I promise together we will ensure APA continues to inspire future generations.