Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues

The American Psychological Association (APA) is organized with divisions that focus on specialty and interest areas within psychology. As one of the 56 divisions of APA to date, the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (also known as Division 45) has its own governance structure elected by its members.

The Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues serves as a means to promote the development of knowledge and understanding of ethnic minority psychology; the application of psychological principles specific to ethnic minorities; consideration of how social concerns impact ethnic minority populations; and the incorporation of the importance of cultural diversity in society. The purpose of this organization, as noted in the Division 45 bylaws, is to advance the contributions of psychology as a discipline in the understanding of issues related to people of color through research, including the development of appropriate research paradigms; to promote the education and training of psychologists in matters regarding people of color, including the special issues relevant to the service delivery issues relevant to ethnic minority populations; and to inform the general public of research, education and training, and service delivery issues relevant to ethnic minority populations.

The formation of Division 45 can be traced to a long history of efforts by many individuals and organizations through the years, and a good account of this history can be found in an article by Lillian Comas Diaz in the division’s journal, Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology. In addition, a list of Division 45 founders is provided on Division 45’s Web site. The Council of Representatives of APA voted to establish Division 45 at the August 1986 annual APA meeting. An interim president and executive committee were selected to set up the organization and establish bylaws and procedures. Elections were held in 1987, and the first elected executive committee of Division 45 was formed. Division members elect representatives to the APA Council of Representatives, which is the governing body of the APA, and set policies and direction for the organizations and the field of ethnic minority psychology. Division 45 also has provided leadership in generating many policy changes within APA, as well as in contributing to the knowledge base of the field of psychology. In particular, sig-nificant inroads have been made to effect the representation of ethnic minority psychologists within the governance structure of the APA.

Division 45’s journal, Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, is regarded as one of the top APA journals in terms of utilization rate, hit rates on computerized searches, and subscriptions. The division’s newsletter, Focus, is published twice a year and provides information about Division 45’s activities and provides articles of interest to the membership of the division. Members of Division 45 have been very active in many other APA divisions and have advocated for the inclusion of multicultural issues within the field of psychology at large. This advocacy fostered the development of the APA Multicultural Guidelines, which were approved by the APA Council of Representatives in 2002. This document described cultural competencies for psychologists and the expected approaches for incorporating ethnic minority issues in research, teaching, psychology training, and practice. The APA Multicultural Guidelines represent a central guiding source for evaluating psychologists for licensing, ethical practices, training and education, and professional advancement in colleges and universities.

Division 45 also has collaborated on various other projects with APA divisions to enhance cultural diversity training and to bring resources to a broader audience, such as state psychological associations, practitioners via online continuing education training, and conferences, to examine various issues and evidence-based practices for ethnic minority groups. For example, several APA divisions have collaborated and cosponsored a biannual Multicultural Summit conference that focuses on ways to advance the field of psychology through multiculturally sensitive and competent efforts. Other such conferences have emerged or are being planned with similar collaborations on topics such as the impact of immigration, the effect of violence in diverse communities, and evidence-based practices with ethnic minorities.


  1. Comas Diaz, L. (in press). Changing psychology: History and legacy of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology.
  2. Division 45:

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