Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Division of Psychoanalysis and the American Psychological Association-Part I

In the last few weeks a great deal has been written by our members on the Bylaws Discussion Forum concerning the Division’s relationship with APA. Many of those opposed to the bylaws changes frame their concerns in terms of our need to remain connected to APA, its governance and policy making. Their concerns can be summarized a follows:
  • If psychologists are allowed to be full members of the Division, many current members will resign from APA, thereby weakening our ability to sustain our current number of representatives to APA Council and thereby reducing our influence within APA.
  • If psychologists and nonpsychologists who are not members of APA are allowed to serve in the offices of secretary, treasurer and president, our ability to represent psychoanalytic psychology within APA will be reduced as these officers would have no credibility in their dealings with APA.
  • If psychologists who are not APA members are allowed into the Division, and they, along with nonpsychologists are allowed to hold key offices, our organization will become a "generic" psychoanalytic association rather than a force to promote and defend the science, practice and teaching of psychoanalysis in psychology.
These reasons for opposing the bylaws changes rest on a number of assumptions that I do not find credible, at least partly due to history of previous changes. For four years, nonpsychologist members of the Division have been eligible to vote in our elections and run for the office of section representative and member-at-large. There has been no great influx of nonpsychologists into the division and no one has competed for an office at the board level in that time. Also, although always true, in the last three years, we have realized that psychologists who are not APA members are able to join the Division as Affiliate Members, without voting or office holding rights. (The Division board had always assumed differently until we asked APA attorney to review our bylaws. The finding was that the Affiliate category, while not intended for psychologists, could not exclude them.) Still, few have chosen to do so. This was the history we relied upon in developing the bylaws proposals regarding membership and membership rights.

Obviously I do not share the dire predictions listed above. More importantly, I actually do share the concerns of members concerning our need to involvement in the governance and policymaking of APA. This is a challenge that will continue regardless of the outcome of the bylaws vote. More on that in Part II.

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