Report on APA’s Educational Leadership and Advocacy Conference

This fall I had the privilege of attending the 11th Annual Educational Leadership Conference sponsored by the Education Directorate of APA on behalf of Psi Beta.  The theme of this year’s conference was Promoting Quality and included programs designed to improve the quality of classrooms, departments, programs and mental health facilities.  In addition to attending conference presentations about quality, this conference also gave participants the chance to learn about advocacy for psychology programs at the national level.

During the first two days of this conference, we attended presentations discussing quality in teacher education, collegiate accreditation, undergraduate standards, and professional development.  The speakers represented faculty and administration at two and four year colleges, high school psychology faculty, medical and clinical psychology practitioners.  Together we learned about how various programs across the country are working to promote quality within organizations.  One of the unique things about this conference is the multidisciplinary approach.  During the conference proceedings, participants had the chance to discuss issues facing psychologists everywhere in defining and promoting quality within their workplace, amongst their students or clients, and within the science of psychology as a whole.

The last part of this conference we learned about the work of the Federal Advocacy Coordinator Program (FEDAC) which is affiliated with the APA Education Directorate.  This group consists of campus representatives, practitioners, and other psychologists who are interested in facilitating grass-roots advocacy for issues relevant to psychology at the local, state and national level.  Participants received training on how to advocate for programming or funding from the federal government learned about communicating with members of congress and were provided information about the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program.  This program provides federal funding of clinical psychology graduate students within interdisciplinary medical facilities, many of whom are able to provide services for conditions such as depression as a part of patient treatment plans.  The value of this approach is that by treating the psychological facets of a disease, many patients are actually able to recover from physical conditions, such as high blood pressure, faster and have fewer visits to the doctor over time.

After our training, we went in groups to visit the congressional and senatorial representatives from our area.  Learning about the role of advocacy as a psychologist in setting policy was by far the most rewarding part of this conference for me.  While not a clinician, hearing about the role of clinical psychologist in the community health settings was truly meaningful.  I hope to be able to put what I have learned in to practice not only within my own campus, but in encouraging others to examine how they can advocate for policy from the perspective of psychology at their school.  If you are interested in learning more about the APA FEDAC program or advocacy in general, please email me at katherine.wickes@blinn.edu or visit the FEDAC page on APA’s website (http://www.apa.org/about/gr/advocacy/fedac.aspx).

By Katherine Wickes, Southwestern Region VP

Print article Print article