APA Division 2: Society for the Teaching of Psychology

I am writing to you as a candidate for the position of APA President-Elect and respectfully ask for your endorsement in the upcoming election. 

My undergraduate education in psychology has played a critical role throughout my career. It was an introductory psychology course that inspired me to become a psychologist. As a graduate student at The Catholic University of America, I taught more introductory psychology courses than anyone else in the history of the department, developed a training program for psychology graduate student instructors and teaching assistants, and won my department’s inaugural graduate student teacher award. During this time, I also joined the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, reviewed APA Convention proposals for the organization, organized a Society for the Teaching of Psychology panel titled “Empirically Supported Pedagogical Techniques”, and served on the 2009 Presidential Task Force on Member Involvement and the 2011 Presidential Task Force on Diversity. 

Now, as an assistant professor at Columbia University, I continue to be involved in the teaching of psychology. In addition to my teaching and training responsibilities, I host and produce The Psych Show, a free YouTube series dedicated to making psychological concepts fun and easy to understand for the public. I am an active contributor to regional psychology teaching conferences, most recently with the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology and later this fall with the Mid-Atlantic Teachers of Psychology Conference. I was also responsible for #ThisPsychMajor, a national conversation that emerged in response to disparaging comments then presidential candidate Jeb Bush made about the psychology undergraduate degree.

As APA President, I will remain committed to advocating for our teaching profession. Specifically, I will work with individuals like Dr. Jane Halonen who advocate against state budget cuts targeting undergraduate psychology courses. Psychology is a hub science and knowledge of psychology can help individuals to improve their lives and be more productive in their work. By emphasizing psychology’s value to funding entities, and ensuring undergraduate psychology majors have informed consent about what they can and cannot do with a psychology degree, we can preserve our undergraduate institutions as the best venue to disseminate psychology to the masses. 

I also want to make the APA a home for psychology majors. This is why I’ve advocated for creating a new nonvoting APA public membership category for psychology majors. Each year more than 100,000 individuals graduate with a baccalaureate degree in psychology. APA has an opportunity to advance its mission to use psychology to improve lives by developing a connection with undergraduate psychology majors. I have advocated for this new membership category through my position on the APA Council Leadership Team and have been pleased to see the APA Council of Representatives approve a motion to create a “Friends of Psychology” membership category. If approved through an APA bylaws vote, I will collaborate with Psy Chi and Psy Beta to determine the best way for us to build a professional home for our undergraduate majors. 

I will also incorporate an international focus into our education and training. This means collaborating with our international partners to develop global standards of training that are responsive to culture, protect the public, and facilitate professional mobility. At the undergraduate level, this includes expanding APA’s cultural exchange program from focusing exclusively on graduate training to also including undergraduate teaching. Such efforts could lead to the development of best practice strategies all teachers of psychology can use to diversify their curriculum and pedagogy. 

Lastly, I have two goals that would empower teachers of psychology. To support the growth, understanding, and application of psychology I want to launch a modern public education campaign. This campaign will incorporate YouTube science communicators. The content that emerges out of this campaign would incorporate undergraduate psychology teachers and students. I am also interested in organizing APA members to become science ambassadors by engaging elected representatives, schools, and local communities. Teachers of psychology would provide critical leadership in this goal. 

For more information about my platform outside of our teaching profession, please visit alimattu.com/apa. Thank you for your consideration. 

Division 17: Society of Counseling Psychology

Briefly state your current or past involvement with the Society of Counseling Psychology and how your involvement has served to further the mission, activities, and values of Counseling Psychology and of the Society.

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my presidential platform as it relates to the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP).

I have not been personally involved with SCP and am not presently a member. Rather, my interactions with SCP have been through meeting SCP leadership while serving on the APA Board of Directors, APA Council of Representatives, and APA boards and committees.

While I knew SCP was an organization that advocates for the science and profession of counseling psychology, what I learned through my time at APA is the strong value of diversity within SCP. I’ve seen your leadership consistently advocate for increasing the diversity of perspectives in APA meetings, challenge the implicit bias inherent in APA governance, and bring awareness to policies that promote social justice.

It is also clear that your organization values diversity in leadership and works to create a diverse leadership pipeline. I’ve witnessed this at the SCP breakfasts at APA consolidated meetings, noted it as I studied the SCP Leadership Academy while serving on the APA Good Governance Project Implementation Work Group, and am reminded of it when I see so many colleagues from my time at the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) now serving in your association’s Executive Board, as Section Chairs, and in your ECP Committee.

Inclusion of diverse perspectives and diversity in leadership were also areas of focus throughout my time at APA and are issues I will champion as President-Elect of APA.

Briefly describe the importance of SCP’s endorsement in your campaign.

SCP’s endorsement is meaningful to me because our visions are complimentary.

SCP champions diversity, builds a leadership pipeline, works towards inclusion, breaks down power imbalances, and strives for equal opportunity for all psychologists in practice, research, and leadership.

I share these values and want to spend my time at APA building an association that prioritizes members, reflects the diversity of psychology, connects psychologists, develops leaders, and is above reproach.

But I cannot do this alone. I do not have all the answers or the resources to bring this type of change to APA. We have to work together. An endorsement from SCP will be a first step forward in helping me renew APA and its commitment to benefit society.

If elected as APA president, briefly discuss how your presidential initiative(s) might reflect the mission, activities, and values of Counseling Psychology and of the Society.

As APA President, I will champion a new APA culture that also reflects the values of counseling psychology and SCP.

The lack of diversity in our leadership remains APA’s greatest challenge. We have spent decades recycling a small group of leaders who perpetuate an outdated governance system that does more to divide us than unite us. As a result, APA is growing less relevant to psychologists and the public we serve.

I will advocate for:

·      Complete accountability and transparency to our most important stakeholders – the membership of the association.

·      Creation of an APA Leadership Institute.

·      A new strategic plan that will unite us on goals shared by all psychologists.

·      Openness to new ideas through an integration of diverse perspectives in APA.

Diversity must also extend to our membership. APA’s membership continues to decline for the seventh year in a row and the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) has lost 40% of its members over the last ten years. The APA and APAPO membership do not reflect the diversity of the psychology workforce. 

I propose the following:

·      Build value in APA membership by connecting psychologists, helping us grow our careers, and increase psychology’s voice in our local communities.

·      Create a membership concierge program that will personally contact members and ask, “What can APA do for you?”

·      Reduce APA membership dues to levels consistent with other non-profit organizations.

·      Consider new membership models to increase the voice of the 60% of members who do not belong to a Division, many of whom represent marginalized groups.

·      Invite psychology majors to join APA through a new non-voting public membership category.

If we want to attract a diverse membership, we must also address the problems identified in the Hoffman Report and rebuild our trust with the public. We must first bring transparency to the opaque system that allowed our failures of checks and balances to occur.

I will advocate for:

·      Using technology to increase the voice of membership in governance.

·      Increasing accountability of leadership through live broadcasting of meetings and by making all votes public.

·      Creating online town hall meetings between the CEO, President, and members.

·      Developing an online petition system that allows members to introduce items into APA governance.

Finally, I want to return APA’s focus to its vision of using psychological science to promote human rights and social justice. Specifically, I will:

·      Focus APA on issuing scientific policy statements about the social crises facing our world, increasing our impact across federal and state governments.

·      Encourage our CEO to revisit the hiring of APA’s first Chief Diversity Officer, a position “paused” since 2009.

·      Expand our focus by integrating members of the public into our deliberations.

I have spent the last decade of my life serving APA for one reason — its mission to benefit society resonates with me. My experiences have prepared me to be a leader in psychology. I know how to find consensus within a group, even when there are diverse opposing views. I know our history and value the breadth of our field. I understand the challenges we face. I hope we can work together to build a better future for psychology.  

Division 19: Society for Military Psychology

1.  What are your views on the role of psychology vis-à-vis military populations and military organizations?

My position as an academic medical center clinical psychologist exists because of military psychology. From psychological assessments to clinical interventions, psychologists became an integral part of our healthcare system because of our role in World War I and World War II. The relationship between psychology, military populations, and military organizations also goes beyond assessment and treatment. Psychological science should be used to recruit diverse active-duty personnel and civilian defense workforce, effectively train soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors, and defense contractors, and be used to reduce causalities during military operations.

2.  If elected, what will you do to support and help advance military psychology?

We have spent decades recycling a small group of leaders who perpetuate an outdated governance system that does more to divide us than unite us. As a result, APA is growing less relevant to psychologists and the public we serve. These limited perspectives in leadership became salient in the wake of the APA Independent Review as all stakeholders felt disenfranchised by APA executive leadership. The primary focus of my term as APA President will be dedicated to creating openness to new ideas and diverse perspectives at APA, building value in APA membership, and increasing the accountability of APA leadership. This platform will support military psychology, and other underrepresented groups, in increasing your voice at APA. Specific details of this plan are available at http://alimattu.com/apa/vision.

3.  The past year has been witness to a considerable degree of divisiveness stemming, it appears, from strong emotions related to the Hoffman report as well as differences regarding the potential roles for psychologists, issues of particular salience to Division 19.  How do you see working with Division 19, and other like divisions, in addressing these concerns and making APA a home for all psychologists?

I have spent the last decade of my life serving APA for one reason — its mission to benefit society resonates with me. I believe APA can only achieve its mission when the perspective of all psychologists are integrated into open dialogues and deliberations. If you ask our colleagues in APA, State, and Division leadership, you will hear a consistent message – I work to find consensus within a group, even when there are strong opposing views. Organizations work best when dissenting opinions are shared, not silenced. I want to work with you to help build this future for APA and the field of psychology.

4.  Are you a member of Division 19, Society for Military Psychology?

I am not a member of Division 19.

Division 20: Adult Development and Aging

Question #1:  Do you have any interests and/or any previous involvement in Division 20?  Our members would be interested in knowing if you are a member or fellow of the division and if you have been active in any way in Division 20.

I am not a member of Division 20 and have not been active in the division. 

Question #2:  Do you have any professional or scholarly interests in issues related to the psychology of adult development and aging? Naturally, we are interested in a wide range of professional activities, including practice, consulting, supervising, research, teaching, or advocacy.  

I was trained as a child clinical psychologist and work as an assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center. Recently, I have become a coordinator of our Launching Emerging Adults Program, an innovating family-based treatment designed to help young adults function independently. While this program is focused on young adults age 18 through 30, it takes a developmental approach to supporting both young adults as well as their aging parents. My role includes practice, consulting, supervising, and teaching. We are anticipating the launch of a research study related to this program in the coming year. 

Question #3: Are you involved with any other organizations that address issues of adult development and aging, including issues of psychological aging.

Related to my work with young adults and their families, I am involved with APA Division 53 (Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology) and previously served on their executive committee as one of their APA Council Representatives. 

Question #4:  Could you briefly explain any way in which adult development & aging is part of your platform or agenda for your presidential year?

Psychology has become a critical component of healthcare and there is great demand for psychologists with expertise in issues related to adult aging. Our greatest challenge to capitalize on these opportunities remains our reluctance to change. We have spent decades practicing psychology in silos – private practices, clinics, or departments. We often work independently, focus exclusively on mental health, and maintain a 50-minute structure for our interventions.

Being overly focused on tradition has made us slow to prepare our workforce for emerging healthcare marketplaces. While current models will remain sustainable for the near future, early and mid-career psychologists need to expand their practices to thrive in future marketplaces. If we do not prepare for these changes, our profession will be fighting over the crumbs of healthcare while other disciplines will be eating cake.

As President-Elect of APA/APAPO, I will focus on the following:

  • Advocate for the inclusion of psychologists in all aspects of healthcare reform implementation.
  • Encourage graduate training that helps students apply psychological interventions towards population-based problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
  • Help psychologists to diversify their practices beyond mental health.
  • Provide resources that will help psychologists take advantage of new reimbursement systems (e.g. bundled payments) by easily demonstrating the value of their existing treatments.

Division 29: Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy

I am writing to you as a candidate for the position of APA President-Elect and respectful ask for your endorsement in this election. Below, I am providing additional information regarding my background and platform as it relates to psychotherapy.

Biography

I completed a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at The Catholic University of America. I was drawn to this small APA-Accredited program in Washington, D.C. because of its focus on children, families, and cultures. I completed a thesis on culture and marital conflict and a dissertation on the development of Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder). My clinical training included experiences in the D.C. public health system, university counseling centers, and independent practice settings. I completed my training as an intern at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Center and as a post-doctoral fellow at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Now, I’m an assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center where I specialize in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Additionally, I am a coordinator of our Launching Emerging Adults Program, an innovative family-based treatment designed to help young adults function independently. Approximately 70% of my time is dedicated to direct patient care. The remainder is focused on training psychology graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and psychiatry fellows. 

Leadership experience

My career has been motivated by one idea — psychology can help humanity move forward. From traditional media to new media, professionals and the public, everything I’ve done has focused on translating psychological science into practical applications people can use to make their lives better.

This is why I’ve spent the last decade of my life serving the American Psychological Association — its mission to benefit society resonates with me. I chaired APAGS, served on the Policy and Planning Board and the Board of Directors, was appointed to the Good Governance Project and its implementation team, completed multiple terms on the Council of Representatives, and presently serve on the inaugural Council Leadership Team. These experiences have taught me how to find consensus within a group, even when there are diverse opposing views.

Along the way I’ve advocated for psychology on Capitol Hill with the New York State Psychological Association, was appointed to two Society for the Teaching of Psychology presidential task forces, and was an officer of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Critical issues for psychotherapy

This is an exciting time for practice of psychotherapy. Our field has become a critical component of healthcare. Medical schools now require all incoming students to have a foundational knowledge of psychology. Medical research continues to reinforce the need for psychological interventions when treating obesity, preventing HIV, and promoting immunization. Consequently, medical practice is moving towards the integration of mental health with physical health.

Our greatest challenge to capitalize on these opportunities remains our reluctance to change. We have spent decades practicing psychotherapy in silos – private practices, clinics, or departments. We often work independently, focus exclusively on mental health, and maintain a 50-minute structure for our interventions.

Being overly focused on tradition has made us slow to prepare our workforce for emerging healthcare marketplaces. While current models will remain sustainable for the near future, early and mid-career psychologists need to expand their practices to thrive in future marketplaces. If we do not prepare for these changes, our profession will be fighting over the crumbs of healthcare while other disciplines will be eating cake.

As President-Elect of APA/APAPO, I will focus on the following:

  • Advocate for the inclusion of psychologists in all aspects of healthcare reform implementation.
  • Encourage graduate training that helps students apply psychological interventions towards population-based problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
  • Help psychologists to diversify their practices beyond mental health.
  • Provide resources that will help psychologists take advantage of new reimbursement systems (e.g. bundled payments) by easily demonstrating the value of their existing treatments.

Psychotherapy training

In regards to training models, the APA Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology focus on “broad and general” training in the practice of psychology rather than a specific type of training or training model. I am supportive of this approach as it provides students with a substantive choice in their education while also encouraging high quality training experiences. Diversity in training models also allows for creativity in how training is implemented and facilitates flexibility in career pursuits.

At the same time, professional psychology training programs must balance broad training with market demands. Most growth areas in psychology require specialization (e.g. geropsychology). To ensure our field is effectively preparing psychologists to enter these specializations, we need standards for our specializations at the graduate, post-graduate, and post-licensure career stages. Our present challenge is to determine how we can best continue encouraging diversity in training while also providing consistent training experiences as they relate to specialization tracks, particularly with population-based healthcare.

Legislative agenda

To best support the psychotherapy community, APA should emphasize advocacy related to:

  • The Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program, our only federal program dedicated solely to the education and training of doctoral-level psychologists.
  • Making the work of doctoral interns reimbursable under Medicare and Medicaid, increasing funding sources for psychology internship programs and expanding access to care for the public.
  • Full adoption of APA’s model licensing act, allowing psychologists to become license eligible upon receipt of doctorate.
  • Expansion of National Health Service Corps loan repayment and scholarship programs to alleviate the average $130,000 of debt graduate students earn on the road to their doctorates.
  • Inclusion of psychologists under Medicare's "physician" definition, removing barriers to services and unnecessary supervision under existing scope of practice laws.

Student loan debt

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 (Doran et al., 2016). 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. Early career psychologists cope by delaying marriage, starting a family, purchasing a home, or saving for retirement.

To alleviate the financial burden of becoming a psychologist, I recommend:

  • Complete transparency regarding the cost of an APA accredited graduate program, availability of financial support, and expected salaries during first 5 years post-doctorate.
  • Creation of a student loan assistance program within APA’s Graduate Student and Early Career Psychologist Offices to disseminate information on repayment options and forgiveness programs.
  • Full adoption of APA’s model licensing act, allowing psychologists to become license eligible upon receipt of doctorate.
  • Advocacy for National Health Service Corps loan repayment and scholarship programs.  

Opportunities for collaboration

If elected APA President, I aspire to champion a new APA culture that puts members first, builds transparency, expands practice opportunities, grows our science, promotes social justice, relieves graduate student debt, and invests in new leadership. Further details about my platform are available at www.alimattu.com/apa.

Our greatest area for collaboration is expanding psychotherapy opportunities. While I have previously discussed ways to expand our practice in the United States, I am also interested in helping psychologists to practice internationally. Division 29 and APA could work together with our international partners to develop global standards of practice that are responsive to culture, protect the public, and facilitate professional mobility.

Thank you for your consideration. 

APA Division 34: Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my platform as it relates to the Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology.

APA has developed memoranda of understanding with 18 international partner psychology associations. Additionally, APA is an accredited nongovernmental organization at the United Nations and works to bring a psychological perspective to international deliberations. Given these relationships, we are well positioned to unite a global community of psychologists around the most urgent issue facing our planet — climate change.

Climate change has been implicated as a contributor to the extinction of species, rising seas and changing landscapes, water shortages, increased natural disasters (droughts, fire, floods, storms), economic losses, and political instability. While 195 countries have signed a historical agreement to prevent some of the most severe effects of climate change, the implementation of this plan will require psychological science. A new international partnership is needed to promote psychological solutions to the climate crisis including:

  • Reducing psychological barriers that limit political action on climate change
  • Applying prevention programs to address population growth, energy use, and consumption of natural resources
  • Developing interventions which will improve coping and adaptation to climate change
  • Identifying unanswered questions related to the psychology of climate change and developing international scientific partnerships to address these empirical issues

In my platform, available at www.AliMattu.com/APA, I discuss how international collaborations can encourage action on climate change and support other 2030 United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals. If elected, I look forward to working with the Society for Environmental, Population and Conservation Psychology to address this pressing issue. 

APA Division 44: Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues

I am writing to you as a candidate for the position of APA President-Elect and respectfully ask for your endorsement in this year’s election.

While I have not been personally involved with Division 44 and am not presently a member, I have learned through my time at APA that Division 44 is committed to promoting diversity. I’ve seen Division 44’s leadership consistently advocate for increasing diversity of perspectives in APA meetings, challenge the heteronormative and gender binary bias inherent in APA governance, and bring awareness to policies that are affirming of all people.

It is also clear that your organization values diversity in leadership and works to create a diverse leadership pipeline, particularly as it relates to early career psychologists. I am consistently reminded of this as I see colleagues from my time at the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) now serving in your association’s Executive Board, Standing Committees, and Special Committees.

Inclusion of diverse perspectives, promotion of policies that improve all lives, and diversity in leadership were also areas of focus throughout my time at APA and are issues I will champion as President-Elect of APA. This is why I am seeking Division 44’s endorsement in this election. Your endorsement would be meaningful to me because our visions are complimentary.

In addition to promoting diversity at APA, I have remained committed to promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in psychology. As APAGS’s Member at Large, Diversity Focus, I collaborated with Dr. lore dickey (then Chair of the APAGS Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns) in finalizing the APAGS-CLGBTC Climate Guide. As APAGS Chair-Elect, I worked with the APAGS Convention Committee to develop a series of marriage equality convention programs to respond to the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel controversy. Later as APAGS Past-Chair, I worked with the APAGS Committee to advocate for the removal of footnote 4 of APA’s Commission on Accreditation Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology, which could be used by universities to discriminate against LGBT graduate students. As a member of the Policy and Planning Board, I provided feedback to the task force developing the Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People, voted to approve these guidelines as a member of APA Council, and co-chaired a panel about the guidelines with Dr. Doug Haldeman at the 2015 APA Convention.

I will remain committed to advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in psychology during my presidential term. As APA President, I will champion a new APA culture that also reinforces Division 44’s commitment to diversity.

The lack of diversity in our leadership remains APA’s greatest challenge. We have spent decades recycling a small group of leaders who perpetuate an outdated governance system that does more to divide us than unite us. As a result, APA is growing less relevant to psychologists and the public we serve.

I will advocate for:

  • Complete accountability and transparency to our most important stakeholders – the membership of the association.
  • Creation of an APA Leadership Institute.
  • A new strategic plan that will unite us on goals shared by all psychologists.
  • Openness to new ideas through an integration of diverse perspectives in APA.

Diversity must also extend to our membership. APA’s membership continues to decline for the seventh year in a row and the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) has lost 40% of its members over the last ten years. The APA and APAPO membership do not reflect the diversity of the psychology workforce. 

I propose the following:

  • Build value in APA membership by connecting psychologists, helping us grow our careers, and increase psychology’s voice in our local communities.
  • Create a membership concierge program that will personally contact members and ask, “What can APA do for you?”
  • Reduce APA membership dues to levels consistent with other non-profit organizations.
  • Consider new membership models to increase the voice of the 60% of members who do not belong to a Division, many of whom represent marginalized groups.
  • Invite psychology majors to join APA through a new non-voting public membership category.

If we want to attract a diverse membership, we must also address the problems identified in the Hoffman Report and rebuild our trust with the public. We must first bring transparency to the opaque system that allowed our failures of checks and balances to occur.

I will advocate for:

  • Using technology to increase the voice of membership in governance.
  • Increasing accountability of leadership through live broadcasting of meetings and by making all votes public.
  • Creating online town hall meetings between the CEO, President, and members.
  • Developing an online petition system that allows members to introduce items into APA governance.

Finally, I want to return APA’s focus to its vision of using psychological science to promote human rights and social justice. Specifically, I will:

  • Focus APA on issuing scientific policy statements about the social crises facing our world, increasing our impact across federal and state governments.
  • Encourage our CEO to revisit the hiring of APA’s first Chief Diversity Officer, a position “paused” since 2009.
  • Expand our focus by integrating members of the public into our deliberations.

I have spent the last decade of my life serving APA for one reason — its mission to benefit society resonates with me. My experiences have prepared me to be a leader in psychology. I know how to find consensus within a group, even when there are diverse opposing views. I know our history and value the breadth of our field. I understand the challenges we face. I hope we can work together to build a better future for psychology.  

APA Division 52: International Psychology

1.    Are you a member of Division 52?

I am not a member of Division 52.

2.    What is your vision for international psychology?

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my platform as it relates to Division 52.

Psychology has always evolved its methods to understand the current issues impacting our world. Over the past decades, the internet has made us more interconnected and interdependent. Additionally, the major challenges facing our society (e.g. climate change, terrorism, refugee crises, economic stability) are global in nature.

If we want to support APA’s vision of using psychological science to improve society in the 21st century, we must adopt an international perspective. This means understanding the cultural bias with which we approach psychology in the United States, collaborating with our international partners, and learning from each other.

3.    If elected president, what might you do to promote international psychology? 

If elected President, I will aim to help APA become a leader in the international community through the following actions:

  • Collaborate with our international partners to develop global standards of research, practice, and training that are responsive to culture, protect the public, and facilitate professional mobility.
  • Discuss the role of psychological science in creating solutions for the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Cultivate international collaboration by expanding funding for APA’s cultural exchange program.
  • Improve linguistic access to our website by translating popular resources into multiple languages.

American Board of Professional Psychology

1. What are your views regarding board certification in psychology?

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my American Psychological Association (APA) presidential platform as it relates to the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).

This is an exciting time for professional psychology. Our field has become a critical component of healthcare. Medical schools now require all incoming students to have a foundational knowledge of psychology. Medical research continues to reinforce the need for psychological interventions when treating obesity, preventing HIV, and promoting immunization. Consequently, healthcare is moving towards the integration of mental health with physical health.

As professional psychology becomes more integrated across healthcare, it has become increasingly important for our field to demonstrate competency throughout one’s training. Hospitals and insurance companies expect healthcare providers to have competency related to foundational knowledge and skills, functional competency related to the work psychologists engage in, and ongoing competency through lifelong learning.

The ABPP peer review board certification process provides psychologists with an opportunity to demonstrate competency as they become specialists. This process is critical to the legitimacy of our field as it protects the public and demonstrates self-regulation. It is also likely that psychologists will not be able to access future marketplaces (e.g. bundled payments for population-based treatments such as diabetes) without demonstrating competence at all stages of professional development. Finally, and most importantly, board certification is an important part of our responsibility to ethically practice psychology.

It is for these reasons why I exercised the ABPP early entry option as a trainee and am in the process of completing board certification myself and why I encourage my colleagues and trainees to seek board certification as well.  

2. What are your views regarding specialization within psychology?

I want to ensure all psychologists have an opportunity to understand the diversity of our field and then specialize in areas they are drawn to.

The APA Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology focus on “broad and general” training in the practice of psychology. This is important as it ensures all practicing psychologists have a consistent fundamental knowledge of psychology, allows for creativity in how training is implemented at the graduate training level, and facilitates flexibility in career pursuits.

At the same time, professional psychology training programs must balance broad training with market demands. Most growth areas in psychology require specialization (e.g. geropsychology and forensic psychology). To ensure our field is effectively preparing psychologists to enter these specializations, we need standards for our specializations at the graduate, post-graduate, and post-licensure career stages. The APA Education and Training Guidelines: A Taxonomy for Education and Training in Professional Psychology Health Services Specialties provide a framework to identify how specialization experiences can be implemented relative to major area of study, emphasis, experience, and exposure. State licensure does not assess for these specialization experiences. It focuses on the broad knowledge needed to begin practicing independently. ABPP, however, can certify that psychologists have met the post-licensure standards needed to become a specialist. 

My own experience reflects the benefits of broad training as well as the opportunity for specialization. My coursework and clinical experiences gave me an appreciation for the breath of opportunities for health service psychologists. Through these broad exposures, I became drawn to clinical child and adolescent psychology. During internship, fellowship, and post-licensure stages, I focused further on treating children and adolescents using cognitive and behavioral interventions.

3. If elected, how can APA and ABPP work together toward improving our field?

APA advocates for our science and interventions, upholds quality training, and uses psychology to improve people’s lives. The APA Practice Organization (APAPO) makes sure we have the opportunity to continue practicing psychology. APA and the APAPO need to work with ABPP to achieve these goals.

Beginning with education and training, APA and ABPP can continue to create consistent standards for specialization. Both organizations also need to collaborate to dissemination this information to the public seeking specialization services and trainees gaining specialty experiences. In regards to new standards, I would like to see APA and ABPP collaborate with our international partners to develop global specialization standards that are responsive to culture, protect the public, and facilitate professional mobility.

As previously discussed, professional psychology is becoming more integrated across healthcare. While the APAPO is advocating for the inclusion of psychologists in all aspects of healthcare integration, we need the ABPP process to be able to demonstrate that our field abides by the same standards of competency as other healthcare providers. A collaboration between the APAPO and ABPP will encourage more psychologists to become board certified and thus open more avenues for psychologists to become integrated in healthcare settings beyond psychiatry. This will improve access to quality of care for many patients who presently cannot see a psychologist.  

4. If elected, how can ABPP help with your presidential agenda?

If elected APA President, I aspire to champion a new APA culture that puts members first, builds transparency, expands practice opportunities, grows our science, promotes social justice, relieves graduate student debt, and invests in new leadership. While details about my platform are available at www.alimattu.com/apa, as I’ve outlined above our greatest area for collaboration is in expanding practice opportunities for psychologists.

While traditional 50-minute mental health interventions models will remain sustainable for the near future, early and mid-career psychologists need to expand their practices to thrive in future marketplaces. If we do not prepare for these changes now, our profession will be fighting over the crumbs of healthcare while other disciplines will be eating cake. To help psychologists expand beyond mental health and into population-based problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia, we need more psychologists to pursue board certification. If psychologists are rising to the same standards of other healthcare professionals, APA and the APAPO will have more success advocating for our inclusion in all aspects of healthcare reform implementation and allow us to take advantage of new reimbursement systems. 

National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology

1. What are your views regarding training models in professional psychology (e.g. practitioner-scholar, scholar-practitioner, scientist practitioner)? What are the most pressing issues in the education of health service psychologists?

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my American Psychological Association (APA) presidential platform as it relates to the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP).

This is an exciting time for professional psychology. Our field has become a critical component of healthcare. Medical schools now require all incoming students to have a foundational knowledge of psychology. Medical research continues to reinforce the need for psychological interventions when treating obesity, preventing HIV, and promoting immunization. Consequently, healthcare is moving towards the integration of mental health with physical health.

Our greatest challenge to capitalize on these opportunities, and the most pressing issue in the education of health service psychologists, remains our reluctance to change. We have spent decades practicing psychology in silos – private practices, clinics, or departments. We often work independently, focus exclusively on mental health, and maintain a 50-minute structure for our interventions.

Being overly focused on tradition has made us slow to prepare our workforce for emerging healthcare marketplaces. While current models will remain sustainable for the near future, early and mid-career psychologists need to expand their practices to thrive in future marketplaces. If we do not prepare for these changes, our profession will be fighting over the crumbs of healthcare while other disciplines will be eating cake.

As APA President, I want to encourage graduate training that helps students apply psychological interventions towards population-based problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. APA should also train graduate students to take advantage of new reimbursement systems (e.g. bundled payments) by easily demonstrating the value of their existing treatments.

In regards to training models, the APA Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology focus on “broad and general” training in the practice of psychology rather than a specific type of training or training model. I am supportive of this approach as it provides students with a substantive choice in their education while also encouraging high quality training experiences. Diversity in training models also allows for creativity in how training is implemented and facilitates flexibility in career pursuits.

At the same time, professional psychology training programs must balance broad training with market demands. Most growth areas in psychology require specialization (e.g. geropsychology and forensic psychology). To ensure our field is effectively preparing psychologists to enter these specializations, we need standards for our specializations at the graduate, post-graduate, and post-licensure career stages. Our present challenge is to determine how we can best continue encouraging diversity in training while also providing consistent training experiences as they relate to specialization tracks, particularly with population-based healthcare.

2. What should be the focus of APA's advocacy efforts in education and practice?

To best support our students and the training community, APA should emphasize advocacy related to:

·      The Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program, our only federal program dedicated solely to the education and training of doctoral-level psychologists.

·      Making the work of doctoral interns reimbursable under Medicare and Medicaid, increasing funding sources for psychology internship programs and expanding access to care for the public.

·      Full adoption of APA’s model licensing act, allowing psychologists to become license eligible upon receipt of doctorate.

·      Expansion of National Health Service Corps loan repayment and scholarship programs to alleviate the average $130,000 of debt graduate students earn on the road to their doctorates.

3. What actions are needed to address the changing employment market for health service psychologists?

As stated earlier in my response, reluctance to change is our greatest challenge.

At APA, we have spent decades recycling a small group of leaders who perpetuate an outdated governance system that does more to divide us than unite us. As a result, APA is growing less relevant to psychologists and the public we serve.

New leadership is needed to unite us on goals shared by all psychologists. We can achieve this by increasing transparency and accountability to the membership of the association, creating openness to new ideas through an integration of diverse perspectives in APA, and collaborating with all organizations in the training community.

Collaboration across the training community is an issue APA has historical struggled with. I believe we can only achieve this goal when all perspectives are integrated into open dialogues and deliberations. If you ask our colleagues in APA, State, and Division leadership, you will hear a consistent message – I work to find consensus within a group, even when there are strong opposing views. Organizations work best when dissenting opinions are shared, not silenced. I want to work with you to help build this future for APA and the field of psychology.

4. In light of ongoing nation-wide tragedies related to diversity, what should be APA's next steps in addressing various diversity issues in psychology education and practice? 

To support APA’s vision of using psychological science to promote human rights and social justice, I recommend:

•      Focusing APA on issuing scientific policy statements about the social crises facing our world, increasing our impact across federal and state governments.

•      Encourage our CEO to revisit the hiring of APA’s first Chief Diversity Officer, a position “paused” since 2009.

•      Expand our focus by integrating members of the public into our deliberations.

•      Consider new membership models to increase the voice of the 60% of members who do not belong to a Division, many of whom represent marginalized groups.

As APA improves its ability to issue timely scientific policy statements, it can partner with the training community to ensure graduate students and faculty have the resources they need to integrate discussions of social crises into their classrooms and supervision.

5. How do you conceptualize the "Supply and Demand" issues related to psychology education, training, and employment? What are your plans to ensure that APA is moving toward completion of a work force analysis?

A thorough perspective of my conceptualization of “supply and demand” issues related to psychology is available in a recent issue of Training and Education in Professional Psychology (Wells et al., 2014).

To summarize here, the imbalance between individuals seeking a doctoral internship in psychology and the number of internships available is a long-standing problem. It significantly impacts graduate students, graduate programs, and psychology internships. This is also a problem that differentially impacts graduate students who do not have the privilege to apply broadly to a variety of geographic locations.

However, there is no one group within psychology who is responsible for this problem. As Dr. Robert Hatcher described in his Training and Education in Professional Psychology article, the internship crisis is a “common-pool resource” problem (2011). I believe this problem emerged as a result of our historical struggle to work together across training programs and organizations. Thus, it requires collaborative leadership across all stakeholders that addresses the multisystem problems contributing to this issue including funding sources for internships, the accreditation process, the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) match process, responsible admission practices, and self-correction from doctoral programs as needed. I am also supportive of collaborating with organizations such as the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) which have developed innovative regional solutions to the internship issue.

As a participant in the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) “Courageous Conversation II” internship imbalance meeting and an APA Council of Representatives member who voted in favor of the Internship Stimulus Program, I am confident the training community is largely headed in the right direction in regards to the internship issue and am supportive of continuing current efforts.

When it comes to employment, we simply do not have quality data as it relates to a workforce analysis. This has limited our ability to have conversations about our professional training and also limits our ability to advocate for psychology training on Capitol Hill. As APA President, I will work with APA’s newly appointed CEO to ensure the completion of a workforce analysis remains a top priority for the organization.  

6. What actions should APA take, if any, to deal with the shortage of accredited doctoral internships and post-doctoral fellowships?

APA’s $3 million internship stimulus program has created nearly 160 accredited internship positions at 29 different sites. However, this program will be coming to an end in the near future. The organization does not have sufficient funding to expand upon this program at this time. Instead, as previously stated, APA’s efforts should focus on advocacy that expands funding for the GPE program, makes the work of doctoral interns reimbursable under Medicare and Medicaid, and encourages the full adoption of the model licensing act. Additionally, APA should continue efforts to collaborate with all stakeholders and act as a gathering point for the training community.

7. What actions should APA take to guide students and ECPs with the critical national student debt issue?

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 (Doran et al., 2016). 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. Early career psychologists cope by delaying marriage, starting a family, purchasing a home, or saving for retirement.

To alleviate the financial burden of becoming a psychologist, I recommend:

•      Complete transparency regarding the cost of an APA accredited graduate program, availability of financial support, and expected salaries during first 5 years post-doctorate.

•      Creation of a student loan assistance program within APA’s Graduate Student and Early Career Psychologist Offices to disseminate information on repayment options and forgiveness programs.

•      Full adoption of APA’s model licensing act, allowing psychologists to become license eligible upon receipt of doctorate.

•      Advocacy for National Health Service Corps loan repayment and scholarship programs.  

For more information about my platform outside the education of health service psychologists, please visit alimattu.com/apa. Thank you for your consideration.