Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Some Alligators in the Room

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Some Alligators in the Room

Article excerpt

The John C. Service CPA Member of the Year award recognizes the service to the profession of its volunteers. John Service sym- bolizes to many of us a "commitment to our discipline" (Veitch, 2012, p. 50). As I heard John Service say several years ago as then Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Executive Director: "the good ship CPA is built on volunteers." The CPA Board, committees, sections, task forces, directorates, accreditation panel, and so forth, are built on the time of dedicated volunteers, a dedication fueled by a passion for the psychology profession and discipline and what it has to offer. Last year's recipient of this award, Jennifer Veitch (2012), in a thoughtful article entitled "Reflections on Service to CPA," noted that professional volun- teering is rewarding, and these personal rewards include influence, feelings of mastery, and belonging.

I would also echo Jennifer Veitch's sentiment that it is an honour to be associated with past recipients. The list includes the late Terry Hogan (awarded in 2001), which is especially gratifying for me as Terry was my graduate school Director of Training at the University of Manitoba, and provided me with key guidance then and later. Another recipient is Pierre Bérubé (2010), the Executive Director of the Psychologists Association of Alberta, with whom I had the pleasure of working in the inaugural meetings of the CPA Council of the Practice Directorate in 2009, a body providing collaborative linkage between the national and provincial associ- ations. Carole Sinclair (2006), Marvin Simmer (2007), Peter Henderson (2011), and the dynamic rascal John C. Service himself (2008), have each contributed to the profession with passionate interest.

As the 2013 recipient, I was invited by Martin Drapeau, Editor of Canadian Psychology, to write this article addressing "some of the challenges and difficulties that national and provincial associ- ations are faced with." This article can be viewed as a sequel to Dr. Veitch's (2012) thoughts. Rather than duplicating her excellent reflections on the personal rewards of volunteer service to the associations, I accepted as personally timely the invitation to reflect on the challenges to the profession that our associations need to tackle.

My concerns include both professional practice and academic research, but it must be noted that it is primarily the former from which my experience is derived. My tenure on the CPA Board (2008 -2011) was as Practice Leader, and my service to CPA in recent years has been to coordinate two CPA task forces: the CPA Task Force on Prescriptive Authority for Psychologists in Canada (CPA, 2010a; Sexton, 2010); and the CPA Task Force on the Future of Publicly Funded Psychology Services in Canada (CPA, 2013b, in progress). Both of these task forces in quite different ways challenged their members to consider the scope of the discipline and profession, and what is required to insure its future success. Should we consolidate our professional activities within their current areas of recognised expertise, or radically expand the profession's boundaries and scope? How do we insure that those in need have access to psychology services in health care, education, and criminal justice settings? Both of these task forces necessarily considered the adequacy of training programs, and what they should include. For example, the Prescriptive Authority (RxP) task force made recommendations concerning CPA accreditation re- quirements for graduate programs and continuing education for all practitioners, leading to the development of a CPA online course entitled "A Psychologist's Guide to Psychopharmacology" (re- leased in 2013).

The challenge facing Canadian psychology associations in this era, as in all past and future time periods, centers on the collective thriving of its members. "Thriving" as an individual professional or scientist means getting and remaining employed as a psychol- ogist after graduation, having a long successful career, ensuring a flow of customers if one is a practitioner (public or private), and getting research grants and tenure if one is an academic psychol- ogist. …

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