From MPA's President Robin McLeod, Ph.D., LP: APAPO - The Voice of Psychologists in D.C.

Hang around me long enough, and you learn that I am a complete and total APA Practice Organization (APAPO) geek.  As Alan Nessman (Senior Special Counsel at the American Psychological Association) once said to me, “You drank the Kool-Aid, Robin!”  That’s right…I am a true believer in the mission of APAPO, which is “…to advance, protect and defend the professional practice of psychology.”  You read that right!  APA exists to promote the interests of psychology.  APAPO exists to promote the interests of psychologists

In the early years of my professional career as a psychologist, like many early career psychologists, I was very focused on building my practice at the same time that I was building a family life.  I didn't look beyond my own small world in those years.  Honestly, and somewhat humbly, I have to say that I really didn't even realize that there was so much more going on in the world of professional practice; that is how turned inward that I was in those early years.  Realizing, however, that it was important to belong to our professional associations during those years, I continued to pay annual dues to both APA and MPA.  I recall thinking that someday I would get involved in these organizations, but at the time chose to focus on what was immediately in front of me.  With hindsight, I often wish that someone would have tried to shake me up a little and help me realize that the practice of psychology goes far beyond the small business I was trying to build.  I think if someone I respected had sat me down and explained that all of what I was building really was even possible because of the political advocacy that comes from our professional associations, specifically from APAPO and MPA, I might have looked up long enough to have realized that if I could not contribute my time, I could at least contribute money towards those efforts.

Recently, Luana Bossolo, the Associate Executive Director of Practice Communications for the APAPO, invited me to answer questions for an article she was writing for Good Practice, a quarterly magazine available to APAPO members. The article was about the APAPO’s political action committee, and she wanted to share the perspectives of an APAPO-PAC contributor (remember, I am an APAPO geek, so I also am an APAPO-PAC contributor).  I want to share that conversation with you here.

Luana Bossolo:  How do you think the psychology profession benefits by having a PAC?

I think a better question might be -- How does anything get accomplished for psychologists without a PAC?  Politicians in Washington DC listen to the organizations who support them financially.  The APAPO-PAC is working around the clock advocating for our interests.  There is no other organization in Washington, D.C., that advocates for psychologists.  APA advocates for the interests of psychology; the APAPO-PAC advocates for the interests of psychologists.  If we want our professional psychology practices, to have a voice in D.C., if WE want a voice in D.C., we must support the voice of our PAC.  The APAPO-PAC is our voice.  And, if we want our voice to have enough power to create change that is in the interests of psychologists, we need to put some umph behind that voice.  And as much as I might wish it wasn't the case, money is the umph that becomes a powerful voice for change.

Luana Bossolo:  Why is there a stigma toward political action committees among some psychologists?  

This question is puzzling to me.  I really didn't know that there was a stigma associated with PACs.  Well, I'll take a guess (it's really just a guess).  The only stigma I can imagine is that some psychologists might have issues with how money and power work in politics.  When they read about special interest PACs, maybe they think about big money working for interests that do not benefit typical people living ordinary lives.  Maybe they think it is the 1% who are influencing political outcomes.  Psychologists in general tend to have big hearts.  Maybe they are associating PACs with hurting the little guy.  If there is a PAC in DC that has a heart, it would be the APAPO-PAC!

Luana Bossolo:  What's your message to your colleagues as to why they should support psychology's PAC?

You can bet that other doctoral-level medical professionals are sending money to their PACs, and they are way ahead of psychologists in this game.  Psychologists in professional practice need to be stepping up to support what we believe in -- the independent practice of psychology, and I don’t just mean in independent businesses, but also the ability to practice with the level of independence warranted by our doctoral-level training within larger healthcare systems.  With more and more master's level practitioners entering the mental health field, if psychologists are not politically active, we will become invisible in the healthcare political fray.  I don't have the numbers in front of me, but if we do the math -- if every psychologist in professional practice were to contribute the equivalent of one clinical hour (say we round that to $100), what would our total PAC dollars become?  Where would that put the APAPO-PAC -- the voice of PSYCHOLOGISTS -- in the hierarchy of PACs with power in Washington?  Far closer to the top, I believe.  No one else is going to do this.  Psychologists must.

To contribute to the APAPO-PAC, visit:  http://www.supportpsychologypac.org/

Robin McLeod, Ph.D., LP, is the 2016 MPA President. She founded and owns a small private practice behavioral health specialty clinic with two locations: Woodbury & St. Paul.  You may email her at [email protected].  Her websites are:  http://www.cpwmn.com and http://www.cpspmn.com

 

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