The American Psychological Association (APA) formed over a century ago to promote the exploration of psychology through research and clinical practice. This impressive association is the largest and most influential psychological organization today.
History And Mission
The APA was formed in 1892 at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Originally comprised of 26 members, its current membership has expanded to more than 150,000. The APA continues to use its size and power to aid psychological practice and research.
An excerpt of the APA’s mission, found in its bylaws, is as follows:
The objects of the American Psychological Association shall be to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare by: the encouragement of psychology in all its branches . . . the promotion of research in psychology…. the improvement of the qualifications and usefulness of psychologists . . . the increase and diffusion of psychological knowledge . . . the promotion of health, education, and the public welfare.
Structure And Leadership
The APA’s bylaws supersede all other internal rules of the APA and can only be changed by vote of the entire membership. These bylaws establish the leadership structure of the APA, which includes a council of representatives, a board of directors including the APA officers, and a central office. The APA’s council of representatives, selected from the divisions and state and provincial psychological associations (SPPAs), votes in six board members and has control over its budget. The board of directors heads the organization in all business aspects and is comprised of these six members appointed by the council of representatives and six APA officers elected by the APA membership. These officers include the APA president, past president, president elect, treasurer, secretary, and chief executive officer.
The APA generates more than $71 million through membership dues, investments, publications, and real estate. There are 53 professional divisions in the APA, which reflect specialties and interest areas (such as the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Society of Clinical Psychology, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and American Psychology Law Society, among others.)
The APA promotes education in psychology, research and scientific affairs in psychology, the clinical practice of psychology, and the dissemination of psychological information. Serving as the accrediting board for advanced degree programs in psychology, the APA currently accredits more than 355 doctoral psychology programs, 469 doctoral internships, and 15 postdoctoral residency programs. The APA also approves organizations to be continuing education providers to maintain and advance the skills and competency of its licensed practitioners.
In the area of research and scientific affairs, the APA provides advanced training institutes (ATIs), which instruct psychologists on up-to-date methods and techniques in research. The APA also promotes research by annually funding graduate students through dissertation research awards. The APA’s science policy staff endeavors to ensure that psychological research and knowledge are used in legislative policy decision making, and its Amicus Briefs on relevant, psychological issues also promote the use of relevant psychological knowledge within the legal system. The APA also strives to more generally disseminate psychological knowledge through its journals, books, and electronic databases such as PsychINFO, PsychARTICLES, and the APA Web site. The 49 APA journals are the premiere journals in psychology, publishing no less than 1,798 empirical and conceptual articles in 2002.
The APA supports its clinical practitioners and the consumers of psychological services, for example, by providing strong legislative advocacy for managed care reform in the mental health area. The APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct guides practitioners, teachers, and researchers of psychology to ensure the integrity of the profession and welfare of its clients.
The APA is a large, influential organization that focuses on psychology, its development, its impact, and clinical practice through its varying publications and 53 divisions.
- American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org
- American Psychological (2002). The publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
- APA Online. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/html
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