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American Psychological Association

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American Psychological Association

American Psychological Association
Logo of the APA
Formation 1892
Headquarters 750 First Street, NE
Washington, D.C., United States
Membership 134,000 members
2014 President Nadine J. Kaslow
CEO Norman B. Anderson
Website .org.apawww

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States and Canada.[1] It is the world's largest association of psychologists with around 137,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. The APA has an annual budget of around $115m. There are 54 divisions of the APA—interest groups covering different subspecialties of psychology or topical areas.[2]


The APA has task forces which issue policy statements on various issues of social import such as the APA position on psychology of abortion; APA position on human rights such as detainee welfare, human trafficking, and rights for the mentally ill; APA position on IQ; APA position on treating homosexuality (sexual orientation change efforts); and APA position on men and women (gender differences).[3]


APA is a corporation chartered in the District of Columbia. APA’s bylaws describe structural components that serve as a system of checks and balances that ensure democratic process. The organizational entities include:

  • APA President. APA’s president is elected by the membership. The president chairs the Council of Representatives and the Board of Directors. During his or her term of office, the president performs such duties as are prescribed in the Bylaws.
  • Board of Directors. The board is composed of six members-at-large, the president-elect, president, past-president, treasurer, recording secretary, CEO, and the chair of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS). The Board oversees the association’s administrative affairs and presents an annual budget for council approval.
  • APA Council of Representatives. The council has sole authority to set policy and make decisions regarding APA’s roughly $60 million annual income. It is composed of elected members from state/provincial/territorial psychological associations, APA divisions and the APA Board of Directors.
  • APA Committee Structure: Boards and Committees. Members of boards and committees conduct much of APA’s work on a volunteer basis. They carry out a wide variety of tasks suggested by their names. Some have responsibility for monitoring major programs, such as the directorates, the journals and international affairs.[4]

Good Governance Project

The Good Governance Project (GGP) was initiated in January 2011 as part of the strategic plan to “[assure] APA’s governance practices, processes and structures are optimized and aligned with what is needed to thrive in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment.”[5] The charge included soliciting feedback and input stakeholders, learning about governance best practices, recommending whether change was required, recommending needed changes based on data, and creating implementation plans.[5] The July 2013 GGP update on the recommended changes can be found in the document "Good Governance Project Recommended Changes to Maximize Organizational Effectiveness of APA Governance, July 2013." The suggested changes would change APA from a membership based, representational structure to a corporate structure.[6] These motions will be discussed and voted upon by Council on July 31, 2013 and August 2, 2013.[6]

Organizational structure

APA comprises an executive office, a publishing operation, offices that address administrative, business, information technology, and operational needs, and five substantive directorates:

  • the Education Directorate accredits doctoral psychology programs and addresses issues related to psychology education in secondary through graduate education;[7]
  • the Practice Directorate engages on behalf of practicing psychologists and health care consumers;[8]
  • the Public Interest Directorate advances psychology as a means of addressing the fundamental problems of human welfare and promoting the equitable and just treatment of all segments of society;[9]
  • the Public and Member Communications Directorate is responsible for APA's outreach to its members and affiliates and to the general public;[10]
  • the Science Directorate provides support and voice for psychological scientists.[11]

Membership and title of "psychologist"

APA policy on the use of the title psychologist is contained in the Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists:[12] Psychologists have earned a doctoral degree in psychology and may not use the title “psychologist” and/or deliver psychological services to the public, unless the psychologist is licensed or specifically exempted from licensure under the law. State licensing laws specify state specific requirements for the education and training of psychologists leading to licensure. Psychologists who are exempted from licensure could include researchers, educators, or general applied psychologists who furnish services outside of the health and mental health field.

Full membership with the APA in United States and Canada requires doctoral training whereas associate membership requires at least two years of postgraduate studies in psychology or approved related discipline. The minimal requirement of a doctoral dissertation related to psychology for full membership can be waived in certain circumstances where there is evidence that significant contribution or performance in the field of psychology has been made.[13]

Affiliate organizations

The American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) and the Education Advocacy Trust, which operates autonomously as a part of APAPO, are 501(c)(6) entities, separate from APA. They engage in advocacy on behalf of psychological practitioners and health care consumers and psychology education, respectively.

Upcoming Annual Conventions

  • 122nd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (7–10 August 2014)[14]
  • 123rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (6–9 August 2015)[15]


Each year, the APA recognizes top psychologists with the "Distinguished Contributions" Awards; these awards are the highest honors given by the APA.


The American Psychologist is the Association's official journal. APA also publishes over 70 other journals encompassing most specialty areas in the field, including:[16]

The APA has published hundreds of books.[17] Among these books are: the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (and a concise version titled Concise Rules of APA Style), which is the official guide to APA style;[18][19] the APA Dictionary of Psychology;[20] an eight-volume Encyclopedia of Psychology;[21] and many scholarly books on specific subjects such as Varieties of Anomalous Experience.[22] The APA has also published children's books, software for data analysis, videos demonstrating therapeutic techniques, reports and brochures.[23]

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace program

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) is a collaborative effort between the American Psychological Association and the APA Practice Organization designed to help employers optimize employee well-being and organizational performance. The PHWP includes APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, a variety of APA Practice Organization resources, including PHWP Web content, e-newsletter, podcast and blog, and support of local programs currently implemented by 52 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations as a mechanism for driving grassroots change in local business communities. The awards are designed to recognize organizations for their efforts to foster employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance. The award program highlights a variety of workplaces, large and small, profit and non-profit, in diverse geographical settings. Applicants are evaluated on their efforts in the following five areas: employee involvement, work-life balance, employee growth and development, health and safety, and employee recognition. Awards are given at the local and national level.[24][25]

APA Style

American Psychological Association (APA) Style is a set of rules developed to assist reading comprehension in the social and behavioral sciences. Designed to ensure clarity of communication, the rules are designed to "move the idea forward with a minimum of distraction and a maximum of precision."[26] The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association contains the rules for every aspect of writing, especially in the social sciences from determining authorship to constructing a table to avoiding plagiarism and constructing accurate reference citations. "The General Format of APA is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. General guidelines for a paper in APA style includes: typed, double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. The font should be clear and highly readable. APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font."[27]


APA maintains an abstract database named PsycLit and Psychological Abstracts. APA also operates a comprehensive search platform, PsycNET, covering multiple databases.[29]



The APA was founded in July 1892 at [30] Today the APA is affiliated with 60 state, territorial, and Canadian provincial associations.[31]

Dominance of clinical psychology

Due to the dominance of Psychonomic Society in 1959 (with a primarily cognitive orientation), and the Association for Psychological Science (which changed its name from the American Psychological Society in early 2006) in 1988 (with a broad focus on the science and research of psychology). Theodore H. Blau was the first clinician in independent practice to be elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1977.[32]

Past presidents

Positions on homosexuality

Cause of homosexuality

The APA states the following:

"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."[33]

Conversion therapy

In 1975 APA issued a supporting statement that [37][38][39][40][note 1]

The APA adopted a resolution in August 2009 stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments. The approval, by APA's governing Council of Representatives, came at APA's annual convention, during which a task force presented a report[41] that in part examined the efficacy of so-called "reparative therapy," or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

The "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts"[42] also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services "that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."

Same-sex marriage

The APA adopted a resolution stating that it is unfair and discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage and to all its attendant rights, benefits, and privileges. It also filed an amicus brief in the federal court case in which Judge Vaughn Walker struck down California's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.[43] The APA later praised the decision and denied the existence of any "scientific justification" for a ban on same-sex marriage.[44]

In August 2011, the APA clarified their support of same-sex marriage in light of continued research suggesting that the same community benefits accepted as result of hetero-sexual marriage apply to same-sex couples as well, "We knew that marriage benefits heterosexual people in very significant ways, but we didn't know if that would be true for same-sex couples," said Dr. Clinton Anderson, associate executive director of the APA and director of the Office on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns. Anderson would also go on to clarify the Association's view on Civil Unions as an alternative to same-sex marriages: "Anything other than marriage is, in essence, a stigmatization of same-sex couples. Stigma does have negative impacts on people." [45] Anderson's statements have been met with scrutiny from organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage, that dispute the notion that communities are more accepting of homosexuals in states that legally sanction same-sex marriage.


APA internship crisis for graduate students

The APA is the main accrediting body for U.S. clinical and counseling psychology doctoral training programs and internship sites.[46] APA-accredited Clinical Psychology PhD and PsyD programs typically require students to complete a one-year clinical internship in order to graduate (or a two-year part-time internship). However, there is currently an "internship crisis" as defined by the American Psychological Association, in that approximately 25% of clinical psychology doctoral students do not match for internship each year.[47][48] This crisis has led many students (approximately 1,000 each year) to re-apply for internship, thus delaying graduation, or to complete an unaccredited internship, and often has many emotional and financial consequences.[49] Students who do not complete an APA accredited internships in the U.S. are barred from certain employment settings, including VA Hospitals, the military, and cannot get licensed in some states, such as Utah and Mississippi.[50][51] Additionally, some post-doctoral fellowships and other employment settings require or prefer an APA Accredited internship.[50] The APA has been criticized for not addressing this crisis adequately and many psychologists and graduate students have petitioned for the APA to take action by regulating graduate training programs. Many graduate students attend APA accredited programs, yet are unable to secure APA accredited internships possibly leading to financial and employment hardships.

Warfare and the use of torture

A year after the establishment of CIA began funding numerous psychologists (and other scientists) in the development of psychological warfare methods under the supervision of APA treasurer Meredith Crawford. Donald O. Hebb, the APA president in 1960 who was awarded the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 1961, defended the torture of research subjects, arguing that what was being studied was other nations' methods of brainwashing. Former APA president Martin Seligman spoke upon the invitation of the CIA on his animal experimentation where he shocked a dog unpredictably and repeatedly into total, helpless passivity. Former APA president Joseph Matarazzo designed a new CIA interrogation regimen and supervised the torture of Abu Zubaydah at a secret CIA detention site in Thailand. Former APA president Ronald F. Levant, upon visiting Guantanamo Bay, affirmed that psychologists were present during the torture of prisoners, arguing that their presence was to "add value and safeguards" to interrogations.[52] Former APA president Gerald Koocher argued, referring to allegations of continuing systemic abuse by psychologists, that such allegations were originating from "opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars".[53]

The APA claims that it condemns the use of any of the following practices by military interrogators trying to elicit anti-terrorism information from detainees, on the ground that "there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether induced by a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, that may be invoked as a justification."[54]

When it emerged that psychologists as part of the [58] The diluted directive by the APA was in contrast to the American Psychiatric Association ban in May 2006 of all direct participation in interrogations by psychiatrists,[59] and the American Medical Association ban in June 2006 of the direct participation in interrogations by physicians.[60] In addition, an independent panel of medical, military, ethics, education, public health and legal professionals issued a comprehensive report in November 2013 that "charged that U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm".[61]

In September 2008, APA’s members passed a resolution stating that psychologists may not work in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the U.S. Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.”[62] The resolution became official APA policy in February 2009. However, the APA has refused to sanction those members known to have participated in, and in some cases, designed abusive interrogation techniques used in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan interrogation centers.[63][64][65]

Amending the Ethics Code

In February 2010 APA's Council of Representatives voted to amend the association's Code of Ethics[66] to make clear that its standards can never be interpreted to justify or defend violating human rights. Following are the two ethical standards and the changes adopted. Language that is in bold was newly adopted:

1.02, Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority

If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take reasonable steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code. Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

1.03, Conflicts Between Ethics and Organizational Demands

If the demands of an organization with which psychologists are affiliated or for whom they are working are in conflict with this Ethics Code, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code, and take reasonable steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code. Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

See also


  1. ^ Mainstream health organizations critical of conversion therapy include the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the National Education Association.


  1. ^ "About APA". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  2. ^ American Psychological Association. "Divisions of the APA". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  3. ^ "Psychology Topics". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  4. ^ "APA Governance". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Good Governance Project". American Psychological Association. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  6. ^ a b "Good Governance Project Recommended Changes to Maximize Organizational Effectiveness of APA Governance, July 2013". American Psychological Association. 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  7. ^ "Education Directorate of the American Psychological Association". APA. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  8. ^ "APA Practice Directorate". Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  9. ^ "Public Interest Directorate". Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  10. ^ "Public and Member Communications". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  11. ^ "Science Directorate". Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  12. ^ "Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  13. ^ "APA Membership information". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  14. ^ "APA 2014 Washington". Eventegg. 
  15. ^ "APA 2015 Toronto". Eventegg. 
  16. ^ "American Psychological Association Publications Search". Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  17. ^ A search of the Library of Congress catalog on 24 September 2014 for books published by the American Psychological Association returned 1583 results, but some of these results are other media that are misclassified as books.
  18. ^ Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: APA. 2010 [1929].  
  19. ^ Concise Rules of APA Style (6th ed.). Washington, DC: APA. 2010.  
  20. ^ VandenBos, Gary R., ed. (2007). APA Dictionary of Psychology (1st ed.). Washington, DC: APA.  
  21. ^  
  22. ^  
  23. ^ "Publications". APA. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  24. ^ Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program,
  25. ^ Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program website,
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  27. ^ "General APA Guidelines". Purdue OWL. Retrieved 2/9/12. 
  28. ^ "PsycINFO Journal Coverage". American Psychological Association. January 2010. Archived from the original on 20 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  29. ^ "Psycnet". University of San Francisco: Gleeson Library—Geschke center. 
  30. ^ "APA History and Archives". APA. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  31. ^ "State and Provincial Psychological Associations". APA. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  32. ^ "Noted psychologist Theodore Blau". St. Petersburg Times. February 1, 2003. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  33. ^ What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?" Page 4""". APA. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  34. ^ Spitzer, R. L. (1981). "The diagnostic status of homosexuality in DSM-III: a reformulation of the issues". American Journal of Psychiatry 138 (2): 210–15.  
  35. ^ "An Instant Cure", Time; April 1, 1974.
  36. ^ "The A.P.A. Normalization of Homosexuality, and the Research Study of Irving Bieber". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  37. ^ a b "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel". American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, The Interfaith Alliance, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, National Education Association. 1999. Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  38. ^ "American Medical Association policy regarding sexual orientation". American Medical Association. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  39. ^ "Homosexuality and Adolescence" (PDF). Pediatrics, Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics 92 (4): 631–634. 1993. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  40. ^ "Physician Assistants vote on retail clinics, reparative therapy". Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  41. ^ Glassgold, Judith M.; Beckstead, Lee; Drescher, Jack; Greene, Beverly; Miller, Robin Lin; Worthington, Roger L.; Anderson, Clinton W. (2009-09-28). "Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation". Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  42. ^ Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts
  43. ^ "Brief of the American Psychological Association, The California Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy as amici curiae in support of plaintiff-appellees - Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of California Civil Case No. 09-CV-2292 VRW (Honorable Vaughn R. Walker)" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  44. ^ "APA Praises Prop 8 Decision as Victory for Science, Human Dignity". 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  45. ^ By Alden Mahler Levine, CNN. "Psychological association calls for legalization of same-sex marriage". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  46. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  47. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  48. ^ "2011 APPIC Match Statistics - Phase I". Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. February 25, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  49. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  50. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions: Internship Applicants - Match Eligibility & Participation". Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  51. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  52. ^ Chalquist, Craig. "Why I Am Not a Member of the American Psychological Association". Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  53. ^ Koocher, Gerald V. "Speaking against torture". APA. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  54. ^ Reaffirmation of the American Psychological Association Position Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Its Application to Individuals Defined in the United States Code as “Enemy Combatants”
  55. ^ APA Press Release, August 20, 2007
  56. ^ NPR: Psychologists and Guantanamo. August 19, 2008.
  57. ^ ACLU: American Psychological Association Sees No Evil. June 16, 2009.
  58. ^ "Open Letter". Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  59. ^ Statement on Interrogation (PDF file)
  60. ^ Opinion 2.068 - Physician Participation in Interrogation
  61. ^ "Torture Report". Institute on Medicine as a Profession. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  62. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  63. ^ "US psychology body declines to rebuke member in Guantánamo torture case". The Guardian Newspaper. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  64. ^ "Annul PENS Task Force". Ethical Psychology. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  65. ^ "APA Fails to Sanction Psychologist in Guantanamo Torture Case". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  66. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 

External links

  • Official website
  • American Psychological Association Rejects Blanket Ban on Participation in Interrogation of U.S. Detainees
  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility
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