ARE WE TRANSPARENT ENOUGH AS A DIVISION?

I am honored to have been elected to lead Division 22, which has been my professional “home” within APA for 30 years.  I am writing this column three weeks following the release of the Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture which detailed alleged collusion and currying of favor by the APA with the Department of Defense and a subversion and manipulation of APA Council’s power.  Many differing, and often extreme, opinions abound across various listserve, social and public media outlets.  Although the report needs to be deconstructed from its prosecutorial perspective, the report does highlight problems within the communications hierarchy of our Association and reveals processes, such as groupthink and problems with dual roles, which demonstrated a drift from the organization’s core values.  The full implications and actions taken from these findings for the Division and the larger APA have not yet been determined.  However, it does highlight areas of needed reform and action.  As social scientists, we must take the time to digest the review itself and the multifaceted perspectives of those allegedly involved and identify elements of the system that enabled any collusion and unethical behaviors to occur and persist.  Organizationally, APA is a complex labyrinth.  Hopefully, the structures of APA will be examined to address identified issues related to the Ethics Office, organizational conflicts-of-interest, and processes for membership inclusion in governance.

I believe it is false to paint APA as a whole or the majority of its members with a broad brush as supportive of psychologists’ involvement in enhanced interrogation and confinement conditions or not to report that changes have occurred since 2005. The review failed to take into account the changes following the Report on of the APA Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) to bring about stronger and more definitive anti-torture policy.  There were individuals within APA and many Divisions who worked tirelessly to strengthen APA's position against torture both inside and outside of national security settings.  We must now also strongly advocate for institutional processes that model how we listen to diverse perspectives and dissenting opinions to resolve internal conflicts.

From our own Division’s perspective, this review is clearly at odds with what we hope to do as rehabilitation psychologists to advance human health and well-being.  However, times of crisis present opportunity.  We must examine if we have our own house in order.  Are we transparent enough as a Division?  How does our Executive Committee handle conflicts of interest when setting up committees and task forces?  Are there structures and procedures to reduce the likelihood of groupthink taking place within our own decision making? Do we need Division policies to promote regular changes in leadership positions?  These questions will be a part of the conversations that I hope will be ongoing throughout the year to strengthen our Division.  I believe we have the best volunteers across multiple committees who are working diligently to advance rehabilitation psychology and the work of our Division.  How can we best help each of you do your work more effectively and efficiently?

DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS

Our Division has been involved in a strategic planning process for the past three years under the leadership of Mary Brownsberger and Gitendra Uswatte, which was originally conceived as an interim process to a larger effort in 2020.   A task force was created this year as an outgrowth of the strategic planning retreat at the RP15 Executive Committee (EC) meeting to provide recommendations to the EC at convention.  Several action items were presented to the EC and approved.

First, the EC approved beginning the comprehensive strategic planning process in a two step process.  Initially, in 2015, we will hire a consultant, familiar with working with Associations, to facilitate strategic planning and rebranding.  This initial consultation will culminate in a strategic planning retreat with identified external stakeholders prior to convention in Denver in 2016.  The scope of work of this consultation would include 'front work' to develop the agenda and talking points and to identify external stakeholders.  If you would like to be involved in the task force moving forward, please let me know.  The outcome would be a strategic plan that clearly identifies who we are, what we do, how we are distinct from other sub-specialties, and where we are going (e.g., what tables we need to be at, key strategic initiatives).  The deliverables are to include solidifying our mission, vision, prioritized goals, action plan, and decision about rebranding and Division name change.  A second part of the process will be the hiring of a separate marketing consultant to assist the Division to get the message out about who we are and what we do.   Specific deliverables still need to be defined.  This consultant will not be solicited until the strategic planning effort is complete. 

Second, the EC concurred that we need to continue to further develop the public and membership face of the Division across different platforms to clearly and more widely communicate about rehabilitation psychology and RP psychologists.  We commend the Communications & Science Committees which have already been taking the lead on enhancing website and social media offerings to highlight rehabilitation psychology.

The final recommendation was to develop Division 22’s leadership pipeline with APA and other organizations to ensure that rehabilitation psychology is at the necessary health care “tables”.  To that end, Doug Tynan, APA Director of Integrated Health, attended our EC meeting at convention and is interested in partnering with us to develop specific rehabilitation psychology materials in integrated care.  Division 22 has also been long involved in the Interdivisional Health Committee (IHC), a consortium of seven APA practice divisions with an interest in health care, which is ably led by our own Rob Glueckauf and Barry Neirenberg, who serves as our Division 22 liaison. 

The IHC was instrumental in identifying individuals to draft briefing sheets produced by APA’s Center for Psychology and Health about a variety of health conditions.  In addition to psychologists’ use, these briefing sheets are also used to assist in educating policy-makers about psychology’s role in healthcare.  What topics might Division 22 recommend and create to target highly specific rehabilitation service delivery or patient population education?   What other health care related organizations should we consider partnering with to insure that rehabilitation services and rehabilitation psychology’s interests are well represented?

I would like to personally thank those who volunteered to be a part of the strategic planning task force this year:  Mia Bergman, Lisa Brenner, Mary Brownsberger, John Corrigan, Bradley Daniels, Jennifer Duchnick, Efrat Eichenbaum, Karen Freed, Narineh Hartoonian, Robert Karol, Clare Kubiesa, Jennifer Lumpkin, Nancy Merbitz, Joseph Rath, Stephanie Reid-Arendt, Tim Shea, Aaron Turner and Jerrold Yeo.  You are rock stars!

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP & MENTORSHIP

“When women are at the table, a broader agenda is discussed, an agenda that looks out for all Americans, particularly those who are voiceless.  Women’s voices are not better than men’s, they’re different and the broader perspective that we bring often leads to better results.  That’s why I’ve been such an advocate for more women to run for office and make their voices heard.” (New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Huffington Post, 2013)

The quote above has been an inspiration for me to mentor others into leadership and to insure that diverse perspectives work collaboratively for the greater good.  One of my hopes, as I stood for election to lead this Division, was to promote the leadership of rehabilitation psychologists within APA, APAPO and within external health care organizations, and to promote our interdisciplinary research and practice to advocate for our members in the complex health care arena in which we are invested.  As a rehabilitation psychologist, I have had terrific mentors along the way who taught me to advocate strongly for psychology and psychologists’ skills and leadership, a competency not taught throughout my formal graduate training.    

Within the challenges of our shifting health care system, the nature, structure and funding of clinical practice is changing..  Our healthcare system is still not designed to address the biopsychosocial complexities, nor the reimbursement structures, that are necessary for integrated, patient-centered health care.   To remain current, rehabilitation psychology must also change in response to increasingly complex and dynamic health care services across different health care delivery systems and settings.  

While APA and APAPO remain focused on Medicare as the national funder, we must partner with our state psychological associations (SPTAs) to focus on state reform initiatives, particularly around primary care, capitated rates and Medicaid expansion.  Private insurers usually follow the lead set by Medicare.  The recent call for a bundled payment for joint replacement is a clear sign that we, as psychologists, need to be part of those bundles.  This is a bundle for one episode of care, a surgical procedure.  How will rehabilitation psychologists be included in this bundling for rehabilitation services?  It is not clear if rehabilitation and other services will be included in bundled payments and, if so, when.  How are you tracking the data to identify your specific contributions in your team?  Although we are facilitating and advocating for the recipients of our care within rehabilitation teams, sometimes, as part of a team, the data no longer identifies our unique contributions.  How are you demonstrating improved outcomes?  It is often difficult to evaluate our contributions as psychologists, identify our workforce needs and our added value.  It is critical as rehabilitation psychologists to understand and be vigilant to the business, economic, and political forces at work that are driving the changes in health care.  This is often outside the comfort zone of the areas in which we were traditionally trained to be competent.  But competence is learned and this calls for us to learn how to best advocate for ourselves.  Payment systems which often do not match our delivery of services should not be the primary source for evaluating care.  It is vital for rehabilitation psychologists in health settings and systems to talk with your administrative leadership about which datasets are used to evaluate, demonstrate and track care.  We must also develop relationships with our state and federal legislators to advocate for the full spectrum of reimbursement of rehabilitation psychology services in insurance plans, which are likely to increase use of bundled payments. 

Given our professional degrees, the public sees us as leaders.  In the next year, I hope, as psychology leaders, you will ask yourself what is needed and what can you best do to be of service to our discipline, our profession, and our organization.  I hope for you each to reflect on how you can use your influence as psychology leaders, in whatever arena you are comfortable, to pursue leadership roles and how the Division can support you in those efforts.  I also hope that we can engage in helping find the best actions to support our best structures, i.e. APA and APAPO, for sustaining and promoting our profession.  We must better harness the synergy of the work of Division 22 members and the programs of each of the APA Directorates to aid in our support of the recipients of our care and the full diversity of human rights. 

I would love to hear from each of you about how we can work together to seek answers to the questions I’ve raised.  Are there other questions we need to be addressing as a Division?  Please feel free to join any of our Division committees or task forces that are working on solutions or contact me at ksbrown33@gmail.com to provide your input or to arrange a time to talk.  I look forward to working together with you this year. 

Kathleen (Kate) S. Brown, PhD

President, Division 22  


A Message from Division 22 President
Kathleen (Kate) S. Brown, PhD

Thank you for your time... the best gift of all.

Wow! What an incredible year. Where has the time gone? This has been a busy and productive year with an amazing team of volunteer Rock Stars who have given freely of their time and talents to grow opportunities for the Division, despite the APA crisis in which this year began and unfortunately continues. It is still hard to believe that my year as President is coming to an end and this is my last column. I want to end this year with some specific “Honoring” that needs to go on record.

First, I want to thank the Division 22 Executive Committee for assisting and guiding me in my Presidential duties. Drs. Gitendra Uswatte and Mary Brownsberger were wonderful mentors to me throughout my presidential term and were always available for consultation. Several past-presidents gave me much appreciated guidance. It is also readily apparent that the Division is in wonderfully capable hands when our President-elect, Lisa Brenner, accepts the gavel in Denver. I look forward to working closely in the triumvirate model, which is now a part of every Division Committee, with Lisa and Michelle Meade, as President-elect, during my year as Past-President.

I am looking forward to enjoying our wonderful Division program at the APA Convention in Denver.Marlene Vega has done an incredible job with convention planning. The program focus, Transforming Healthcare: Leadership & Teamwork in Rehabilitation Psychology, is not only timely given changes in health care reform but also fits nicely into the larger presidential theme of APA President Susan McDaniel promoting the health of individuals, families and organizations. Not only is the Division programming excellent but the conversations scheduled by Sarah Raskin in the hospitality suite will add value to your convention experience. Please be sure to stop by!

Congratulations to Dr. Beatrice Wright, a founder of Division 22, who will receive the American Psychological Foundation’s Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in Psychology in the Public Interest. Dr. Wright’s value-laden beliefs and principles, which integrate the science and practice of psychology, are foundational to all that we do in Rehabilitation Psychology.

We are also pleased to welcome the Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology (CDIP) who are joining us for the inaugural joint social and awards ceremony on Thursday, August 4. A copy of the full Division 22 program can be found at http://www.div22.org/apa-2016. We hope to see you all in Denver.

I think you will agree that the Division’s accomplishments over the past year are many. I am particularly excited about the progress being made in our planning for an exchange program by year’s end with the Israeli Psychological Association (IPA). Thank you to Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Chair, International Committee, for initiating this exciting opportunity and to Connie SungMarlene VegaSarah Raskin and Lisa Brenner for working on the details with Omer Porat and Perri Segal of the IPA. The primary goal of the program is to explore opportunities for research and clinical collaboration through the exchange of rehabilitation psychologists at U.S. and Israeli rehabilitation facilities around the time of each partner’s annual convention. Please look for further details in September to see if you meet criteria for applying for this exciting training opportunity.

I am also very grateful for the work of our Strategic Planning Task Force. The task force is represented by our past-presidents and future leaders: Mary BrownsbergerJohn Corrigan,Stephen WegenerMia BergmanConnie SungBradley DanielsEfrat EichenbaumBob Karol,Nancy MerbitzTim Shea and Jerrold Yeo. On behalf of the Division I thank you for your hard work! Hopefully, all of you have received and replied to a stakeholders’s survey to provide input in preparation for our two-day strategic planning meeting pre-convention. Your input helps us shape the Division’s strategic goals and objectives over the next 2-3 years. The next steps of our strategic plan will then move to marketing and branding of Division 22.

I want to give Kimberley Monden a hearty thank you for chairing our Communications Committee and refashioning our website and social media presence, which are the face of our Division to our members and the public. Welcome to Amanda Childs as the new Communications Chair! And thank you to Angela Kuemmel who will be turning over the Awards Committee at year’s end.

It was a pleasure to serve on the Rehabilitation Psychology Editor Search committee. As is often the case with these types of processes, all of the final candidates were exceptionally well-qualified, making the work of the committee and the final decision even harder. I am happy to report thatDawn Ehde will assume the editorship of Rehabilitation Psychology in 2018.

I also want to recognize the Division Services staff of APA who work behind the scenes, doing important administrative tasks for our division, but receive little acknowledgment. Keith Cooke, in conjunction with Emily Laumeier, skillfully manage our division business, alerting us to all of the “to do’s” that arise throughout the year. They have been wonderfully professional people to work with.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge and congratulate our incoming Board members: Michelle Meade, President-elect, Pam Fitzpatrick and Paul Perrin, Members-at-large, and Kim Gorgens, who continues to represent us in our APA Council of Representatives. We look forward to the valuable contributions that each of you will bring to the Division over the next few years.

I am indebted to so many of our Division Rock Stars who helped me and Division 22 across this year. There is work to be done, healing to occur, and transformation to hopefully begin within the larger APA. At the very least, what we have learned is that transparency and inclusion must permeate every aspect of our organizational functioning. Our Division must be a model for this. Our committees within Division 22 are strong and vibrant with many opportunities for engagement and building our leadership pipeline. If you are not yet involved, please join us. Thank you to all.

I look forward to seeing you all in Denver!

Kathleen (Kate) S. Brown, PhD
President, Division of Rehabilitation Psychology 2016