Summary of APA Activities Related to the Independent Review
October 2016

The Commission on Ethics Processes held its second meeting to review and discuss progress to date and the plans of work groups focusing on ethics adjudication/education; APA ethics policies and procedures; APA institutional culture, structure and external relationships/power influences; and best practices of other organizations. In addition, commission members reviewed comments received from APA members through the commission webpage and the town hall meeting at the APA Annual Convention in August 2016. The commission plans to submit a report to the Council of Representatives in February 2017.

August 2016

The Commission on Ethics held a town hall at APA’s Annual Convention in Denver. The commission also gave a status report to the Council of Representatives.

The Council of Representatives approved a revision to Ethics Standard 3.04 that was proposed by the Ethics Committee and provides that “[p]sychologists do not participate in, facilitate, assist or otherwise engage in torture.” The revision takes effect Jan. 1, 2017. 

The work group addressing guidelines for individuals serving on APA task forces gave a progress report to the Council of Representatives. 

June 2016

The Board of Directors appointed members of the Task Force on Human Rights, which is charged with producing a report to guide APA in the development of future activities to promote human rights. The task force plans to submit a report to the board at is February 2017 meeting.

May 2016

The Commission on Ethics held its first meeting and went over the Independent Review and other information, including relevant letters, articles and documents from other groups. The commission developed several work groups as part of its mandate. They include groups on ethics adjudication/education; APA ethics policies and procedures; APA institutional culture, structure and external relationships/power influences; and benchmarking best practices of other organizations. The goal is to develop recommendations that will be disseminated for public comment. The commission also plans to hold a town hall at APA’s Annual Convention in Denver and to send an initial report to the Council of Representatives in August.

April 2016

APA re-engaged attorney David Hoffman and the law firm Sidley Austin on a limited basis to review and respond to questions regarding specific Department of Defense policies that may be relevant to the findings of the Independent Review the association released last year. The existence of these policies and their potential relevance to the findings and conclusions of the IR were raised in two reports submitted to APA by members of the association’s Div. 19 (Society for Military Psychology) and several individual psychologists who were mentioned in Hoffman’s original review.

February 2016

The Board of Directors selected 17 distinguished psychologists and other ethics experts from various disciplines to serve on a special commission to review the association’s ethics processes and procedures. A progress report is planned for the August Board and Council meetings, with the final report to be considered at the February 2017 meetings of the APA Board of Directors, Council Leadership Team and Council of Representatives.

The Ethics Committee began soliciting public comments on two proposed changes to the Code of Ethics to address psychologist involvement in national security interrogations.

The Council approved a measure prioritizing ethics, human rights and social justice in all aspects of APA’s next strategic plan. The Council also engaged in a diversity training program related to Islamophobia.

The Council approved establishing a work group to review best practices in order to develop APA organizational policies and procedures. The Council also approved establishing a work group to develop civility principles and procedures for all forms of communication within and on behalf of APA. A call for nominations to both groups was slated for spring.

January 2016

The Board approved funding for a meeting of an Advisory Committee on Human Rights in 2016. A call for nominations was included in the spring cross-cutting agenda.

The Board approved funding to develop a human rights continuing education workshop series for the 2016 convention.

November 2015

A Conflict of Interest Work Group was appointed by the Council Leadership Team. The group has developed two draft work products that were to be included in the spring cross-cutting agenda: 1) Proposed conflict of interest principles and procedures and 2) a decision-making model. Boards and committees were slated to submit feedback by April 15, after which the work group will make any necessary revisions. The documents will undergo legal review before they are sent to the Council of Representatives for action.

September 2015

Many of the 15 APA committees that met in Washington, D.C., for their twice yearly meeting discussed within their own groups and with members of the Board of Directors the implications of the findings of the Independent Review. Then-President-elect Susan McDaniel, PhD, and 2015 President Nadine Kaslow, PhD, the members of the Special Committee for the IR, led an open meeting Sept. 18 in which there was a frank and robust discussion on a range of issues related to the report and its aftermath. Those issues included: the desire for all of the Board to be engaged in discussions with members; the importance of diversity issues being more central in the discourse; the need to include input from Muslim psychologists; and a strong statement about social justice being visible and more central to APA’s mission, core values and goals. The Board of Directors spent time refining and expanding its original recommendations in response to the IR report, based on additional feedback.

At the regular People of Color meeting Sept. 19, there was equally direct discussion about some difficult topics. Concerns about the level of Islamophobia in this country were raised, and it was noted that this was among the choices offered to the Council for its next diversity training.

The Board and the Council Leadership Team developed a vetting group to review nominations to the panel that will evaluate APA’s ethics processes and procedures. The Council Leadership Team agreed to convene a group to strengthen the process and content of APA’s governance policy on conflicts of interest.