MPA’s Relevance: To Connect, Protect and Grow

As President of the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA), I am so thankful to have the opportunity to lead an association of psychologists who have a passion for improving the lives of the people we serve.  I believe in the ability of psychologists to uniquely make a difference in the world and am thrilled that psychologists and mental health care are getting increased recognition for strengthening families and relationships, helping to mitigate the impact of trauma and adversity, improving public welfare, and for improving patient outcomes.  I appreciate your membership in MPA and will strive to make apparent the relevance of your membership in MPA.  Unless you are a member of a committee, task force, or the Governing Council, the relevance of MPA may not always be as apparent as I would like it to be.

MPA’s mission is “to serve the science of psychology and its application throughout Minnesota so the interests of public welfare and psychologists are mutually enhanced.”  So why is MPA relevant in 2015?

A quick answer is that MPA offers many opportunities to connect, protect, and grow.

Connect:  MPA offers many opportunities to connect.  Our profession as psychologists is made stronger through the collegiality of professional peers and the sharing of concerns, knowledge, and solutions.  Health care reforms are on a fairly rapid pace, and the support and wisdom that comes from a collective group of psychologists is invaluable.  Through MPA, we connect through our various listservs and by meeting and greeting each other at MPA’s Annual Convention, one of our Friday Forums, or the President’s Conference.  The Annual Rural Conference offers opportunities to learn and connect with presenters and conference participants in rural communities throughout the United States.

MPA has worked to establish professional connections with important partners in mental health care, including the American Psychological Association (APA), National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the Minnesota Legislative Network, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Board of Psychology.  Through these connections, MPA recently learned of an important Minnesota Court of Appeals decision regarding the language in the duty to warn statute in Minnesota that puts interns, post-doc fellows, supervisors, and employers of trainees at risk.  MPA is working collaboratively with the Board of Psychology to make sure the training of psychologists is not put in jeopardy in Minnesota.

Protect: There are many competing interests in any legislative session, and in difficult financial times, Minnesota Health and Human Services budgets are often the target of cuts.  MPA works hard to protect psychologists and mental health care.  For example, members of MPA’s legislative committee and MPA’s lobbyist maintain a watchful eye to make sure psychologists are included in the language of new legislation, such as including psychologists in legislation to direct or provide services in Behavioral Health Homes.

In 2015, MPA has been involved in a number of legislative issues, directly or indirectly, to improve funding for mental health initiatives.  In the 2015 Minnesota Health and Human Services budget, a number of initiatives were funded and supported by MPA, some of them including a) Behavioral Health Homes as one model for coordinating primary and behavioral health care; b) enhancements for mental health mobile crisis services; c) pilot initiatives to serve youth with early signs of psychosis; d) funding to analyze the state’s payment structure for mental health services and to stabilize the financially fragile mental health system; e) funding for suicide prevention and intervention training programs; f) loan forgiveness for mental health professionals practicing in rural areas and underserved communities; g) expansion of high quality Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services across Minnesota; and h) funding to implement reforms in non-emergency medical transportation including “protected transport” for people experiencing a mental health crisis.  At the Federal level, efforts by psychologists and others to permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) legislation were successful in 2015.  Without a permanent repeal, provider fee schedules faced considerable cuts each year without the passage of a temporary fix.

In 2015, other legislative initiatives supported by MPA did not become law and will require further action in the 2016 legislative session, including a bill to ban therapies that could result in harm like sexual orientation conversion efforts (SOCE).  MPA will go back to the State legislature in 2016 in an effort to improve fee schedules for mental health services provided by psychologists, and to the Federal legislature to lobby for permanent changes in how Medicare formulas determine fee schedules for psychologists.  Thanks so much to the MPA Legislative Committee for all of their hard work on behalf of MPA members.

Grow:  Finally, MPA offers many opportunities to learn and grow.  As psychologists, we grow in knowledge and leadership skill by participating in MPA committees, divisions, or on the Governing Council.  We grow professionally by consulting with each other, by asking questions on an MPA listserv, or by obtaining continuing education. Take a look at the wonderful continuing education programs that MPA’s Education and Training Committee put together in 2015.  If there is a topic that you would like to hear more about in 2016, let MPA know and I suspect you will find a conference or Friday Forum event to address your education and training needs in the near future.

Take a look at the 2015 President’s Conference at the St. Cloud Convention Center on Friday, August 14.  This conference will bring in national and state experts on resilience and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), including the co-principal investigator of the ACEs study, Dr. Vincent Felitti.  This program has captured the attention of some major community sponsors who are providing significant financial support to make this program affordable to all providers, educators, and professionals from the Department of Corrections.  Program and registration information about the President’s Conference can be found through the following link:

http://www.mnpsych.org/events/presidents-conference

With the help of a growing membership, MPA has initiated action steps to hire a Director of Professional Affairs (DPA) to provide additional membership support and to help MPA stay on top of the rapid pace of legislative and payer changes.  Stay tuned for announcements as we hope to have our DPA start this summer.  As President of MPA, I thank you for your membership and your loyalty to psychologists in this State.  I encourage you to invite a psychologist colleague to become a member and join the important mission of MPA.

Scott Palmer, Ph.D., is the Director of the Behavioral Health Clinic at St. Cloud Hospital, an assistant adjunct professor at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, and is President of the Minnesota Psychological Association.  He is a volunteer member of the Red Cross, where he provides psychological first aid to survivors of local or national disasters.  He is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) and uses MI in his practice to help people move toward positive change.

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Diversity Statement

The Minnesota Psychological Association actively encourages the participation of all psychologists regardless of age, creed, race, ethnic background, gender, socio-economic status, region of residence, physical or mental status, political beliefs, religious or spiritual affiliation, and sexual or affectional orientation.Although we are an organization of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, the Minnesota Psychological Association also recognizes our core unifying identities as Psychologists who practice in America. We also recognize that we may hold unintentional attitudes and beliefs that influence our perceptions of and interactions with others. Within this context of unity and self-exploration, we are committed to increasing our sensitivity to all aspects of diversity as well as our knowledge and appreciation of the unique qualities of different cultures and backgrounds.We aspire to becoming alert to aspects of diversity, previously unseen or unacknowledged in our culture. In this spirit, we are committed to collaborating with multicultural groups to combat racism and other forms of prejudice as we seek to promote diversity in our society. To this end, we are dedicated to increasing our multicultural competencies and effectiveness as educators, researchers, administrators, policy makers, and practitioners.