The American Psychological Association (APA) currently has 54 divisions that cover a wide spectrum of psychological areas. That may change, however, if the Council of Representatives for APA approves four new recently proposed divisions.
In an email, Sarah Jordan, director, Division Service Office, Governance Affairs for APA, indicates that the Council last approved a new division, Trauma Psychology, in 2006. APA has received questions on new areas on occasion, but no concerted efforts have been made until recently.
Mary Gresham, Ph.D., who has a private practice in Atlanta, Ga., filed a letter of intent with several colleagues to form a Financial Psychology Division. Since the mid-90s, she has worked through financial matters with clients and has become fiscally literate about investing, creating estate plans and other money-related issues. “The majority of people do not have a system to receive this type of knowledge,” she says, pointing out that psychologists with some financial background could offer help.
Gresham says that clients could benefit from counseling on four different levels: symbolic, mathematically rational, values and process levels. “We could teach about the dynamics of money, the value, what money symbolizes, how to look at cognitive errors in dealing with money,” she says. “What a difference it would make.”
A second division under consideration is Implementation Science in Psychology. A steering committee, including Cara C. Lewis, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Indiana University, notes in a letter of intent that this division would “bring together members from all areas of psychology in the service of addressing the gap between science and practice,” which the advocates fear may remain “fragmented and limited in terms of its scientific and public health impact.”
Lewis says that implementation science seeks “to better understand the process of moving science to practice.” She says, “There have been several conference initiatives of implementation scientists around the globe, but APA was not joining the party.”
According to Lewis, this division would offer access to “true trans-disciplinary science” that will benefit a variety of stakeholders. “Since implementation science is a new field, independent researchers have noted a limited publication outlet base for this science. We would be a new outlet to access,” she says. “This is also an effort to serve as a home for junior colleagues. We would have a standing division devoted to implementation science and would create a presence within the profession.”
This past March, doctoral student Rosemary Marie Amaral filed a letter of intent to create a Division of Entertainment Psychology that asserts this division, “devoted to the scholarly and practical study of the psychological aspects of the entertainment industry, holds the promise of significant benefit to the field of psychology, our clients and society at large.”
In April, Marlene Maheu, Ph.D. and a committee of 14, petitioned to form the Society for Technology & Psychology to “serve as a central point of contact and synergy for APA members interested in technology issues in psychology and to help increase the impact of the APA through collaboration with outside health and non-health-related disciplines.”
“The next step for [these proposals] is to collect the signatures of almost 800 APA members and fellows. That’s quite a task and the main reason it takes so long for a division petition to be moved forward for approval by the APA Council of Representatives,” writes Jordan.
All petitions for new divisions can be found and signed online at the APA Web site.
By Phyllis Hanlon