Category Archives: Advocacy

Thoughts on the EPPP Step 2

By Christine Jehu, Ph.D., APAGS Chair

You may have heard that the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) is currently developing a second examination (EPPP Step 2) for psychology licensure to assess clinical competency. This exam would follow the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Continue reading

Wear Orange

Repost – #WearOrange: The One Simple Thing You Can Do to Address Gun Violence

From Psychology Benefits Society, a blog from the APA Public Interest Directorate • June 1. 2016

By Amalia Corby-Edwards, MS (Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, APA Public Interest Directorate)

June 2nd marks the second annual observance of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as “Wear Orange Day”.

Wear OrangeThe financial cost of gun violence in the United States was an estimated $229 billion in 2012; this amount does not account for the psychological toll on those directly or indirectly affected by firearm violence–those who witness or fear firearm violence in their homes or communities or who are left behind when a loved one dies by suicide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • In 2013, there were 33,636 firearm deaths in the U.S. and more than 84,000 non-fatal firearm injuries.
  • Firearms are involved in more than half of suicides and more than 2/3 of homicides in the United States.
  • There are more than 30,000 firearm fatalities each year in the United States and more than 80,000 non-fatal injuries requiring emergency medical care or hospitalization.

Read more and take the pledge to wear orange!

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: DaveBleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Signing on for Acceptance: Can Adding Your Gender Pronouns to Your Email Signature Make a Difference?

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: DaveBleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: Dave Bleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

For many of us, especially those of us who hold more privileged identities, a trip to the doctor might not be enjoyable but we can at least assume we will receive relatively respectful service. However, for individuals who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC), seeking healthcare can be challenging and at times even dangerous.

According to a study conducted by Lambda Legal:

  • Over one quarter (27%) of TGNC individuals have reported being refused healthcare due to their gender identity.
  • 70% of TGNC people report having experienced explicit discrimination from healthcare professionals, including providers refusing to touch them or using excessive precautions, or blaming the individual for their health status.
  • More than one in five people who identify as TGNC reported experiencing harsh or abusive language from healthcare providers.
  • Nearly 8% of TGNC individuals stated they have experienced physically rough or abusive treatment.
  • TGNC people of color and people who are low-income reporting higher rates of these forms of mistreatment.

These negative interactions with the healthcare system serve as a barrier that prevents TGNC people from receiving sufficient medical treatment, leading to higher rates of preventable illnesses. (For a more personal look at the importance of inclusivity and acceptance in the healthcare setting, check out this video by NYC Health and Hospitals.)

It is clear that there is an urgent need to improve inclusivity for transgender and gender nonconforming people, not only in society at large, but also specifically in the healthcare contexts where we may be working. However, sometimes it can feel daunting to take on something as big as the healthcare system, not to mention society’s attitudes toward gender identity in general.

So what can we do about that as students?

This year healthcare professionals, including psychology students, have worked together to lead several initiatives to address these disparities. For example, Washington, DC recently passed the LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act that will require cultural competency training for all healthcare providers practicing in Washington DC on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is believed to be the first bill of its kind in the nation to pass, but similar bills have been proposed in other states. Does your state have a bill like this in the works? Connect with your local government and LGBT advocacy organizations to find out!

In another effort that we all can directly participate in, Medical students at the University of Vermont and the Northeast Medical Student Queer Alliance are leading the charge on a simple but powerful way to promote greater awareness and inclusion for TGNC individuals. In honor of LGBTQ Health Awareness Week (Mar. 28-Apr. 1, 2016), they created the hashtag “#pushforpronouns” and are encouraging everyone to add their preferred pronouns into their email signature. (See what kind of traction #pushforpronouns is getting on Twitter.)

My email signature now reads:

“University of Wisconsin – Madison

Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program

APAGS Subcommittee Chair:

Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

jzbenjam@gmail.com

Pronouns: She/her”

By including our preferred pronouns in email signatures, we normalize asking about the pronouns of others and volunteering our own pronouns. This can help create a more inclusive atmosphere for individuals who do identify as TGNC by indicating we are accepting of all gender identities and aware of the importance of using preferred pronouns. The direct presentation of pronouns may help challenge assumptions about the gender binary by encouraging email recipients in our communities and workplaces to think and talk about gender pronouns. In this way a small action, like adding our preferred pronouns to our email signature, may be one step along the pathway to creating a more inclusive and accepting society and healthcare system for all people.

Join us in the #pushforpronouns!

Dr. Anatasia S. Kim is the 2015 recipient of the APAGS Guardian of Psychology Award.

Developing Professional Identities in Legislative Advocacy and Leadership

 

Dr. Anatasia S. Kim is the 2015 recipient of the APAGS Guardian of Psychology Award.

Dr. Anatasia S. Kim, PhD is the 2015 recipient of the APAGS Guardian of Psychology Award.

By Anatasia S. Kim, PhD

What is the role of legislative advocacy and policy in my capacity as a clinical psychologist? The answer is found in my years of community-based work with children, adolescents, and families. As a graduate student at UCLA some 15 years ago, I never imagined one day lobbying in the Capitol on behalf of the profession and my clients. But this is exactly what brings tremendous excitement, passion, and hope for me today.

I started my clinical career working with at-risk youth in East Los Angeles using brief intervention models to treat behavioral, emotional, and academic problems. Back then I naively believed that therapy alone would be enough. I continued my work with this population and expanded to working with incarcerated youth and immigrant communities. While involved in research efforts in these areas, it became undeniably apparent that a significant, if not majority, of the psychological problems that challenged my clients were in fact a result not of some intrapsychic forces, but rather, a system  failure.

As a graduate student at UCLA some 15 years ago, I never imagined one day lobbying in the Capitol on behalf of the profession and my clients. But this is exactly what brings tremendous excitement, passion, and hope for me today.

The disparities in mental health, access to and quality of care, and other resources ultimately reflect a broken system of socially unjust policies that impair the wellbeing of the communities we serve. Just as one cannot separate the mind from the body, we cannot separate people from their environment, which includes the social system in which they are inextricably embedded. The solution then rests in large part to our capacity and willingness to be personally and professionally accountable to the world around us.  Ultimately, this means that we have to take responsibility for and develop solutions to social problems that plague our communities, particularly those that have and continue to be the most marginalized and oppressed.

As socially conscious and morally responsible professionals, we cannot simply spew out diagnoses and “fix” broken psyches. We can and must do much more. Indeed, we must fully acknowledge that social injustice, cultural apathy, and moral irresponsibility lead to and cause mental illness. We must acknowledge that mental illness is birthed from community violence, broken educational system, intergenerational poverty, and proliferating prisons. Mental illness is also perpetuated in our silence, when we don’t speak up or use our privilege to challenge the status quo.

My responsibilities as a legislative advocate are not only to the profession of psychology, but more importantly, to the clients I serve. The few letters that follow my name give me access and authority to places that my clients don’t have, including a seat at the table where discussions and ultimately decisions about policies can be influenced. In fact then, legislative advocacy is our ethical responsibility and a moral imperative not only as psychologists, but also as citizens who vote and can demand just polices that promote instead of inhibit mental health.

Psychologists have something critical to offer in the social and public policy discourse. Beyond the therapy and classrooms, our commitment to social justice must be earnest and unwavering. As such, we must get involved in our local, state, and national professional organizations and their growing efforts in governmental affairs including the California Psychological Association’s Leadership and Advocacy Conference.

What then is the role of legislative advocacy and leadership for psychologists? For me, it is ultimately about the courage to use my power and privilege to give voice to those without.


 

Editor’s note: Anatasia S. Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA, is the 2015 winner of the “Guardian of Psychology” award from the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team.  She was nominated by Eric Samuels, a doctoral student from Wright currently interning at Indiana University, and the 2016 APAGS liaison to APA’s Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology.  An earlier version of this article appeared in the newsletter of the Alameda County Psychological Association.

Author bio: Dr. Kim received her B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA. She is a National Ronald McNair Scholar, recipient of American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship as well as the Okura Mental Health Fellowship. In addition to teaching, she has a private practice in Berkeley specializing in treating adolescents/young adults with anxiety disorders, depression, and neurocognitive deficits using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In recent years, she served as President of the Alameda County Psychological Association (ACPA), member of California Psychological Association’s (CPA) Governmental Affairs Steering Committee, Chair of CPA’s Immigration Task Force, and CPA’s state Diversity Delegate. In addition, she has served on various local boards including Ethnic Health Institute and Berkeley Alliance aimed at addressing educational and health disparities in Alameda County. Finally, recent her research and clinical projects include: program evaluation for school-based interventions; recruitment and retention of ethnic minority students in graduate training; pipeline for advanced degrees in psychology for historically underrepresented students; and cross-disciplinary approaches to working with systems-involved youth and families.

 

#psychologyforblacklives

National Die-In Recap

Fellow Advocates for Social Justice,

First, I want to apologize for the interval between the National Die-In and this post. I had two weeks of finals immediately after our Die-In and was focused on that. It is the challenge of being both a student and an advocate for social justice, something I know may of you are familiar with. I also needed some time and distance to reflect on what was a very powerful experience.

#psychologyforblacklives

That said, the National Die-In was a great success! Our event in Chicago had approximately 50 participants, mostly students and faculty from schools throughout the Chicago region, who attended despite frigid temperatures and snow. The fact that so many attended despite the weather was inspiring. We lay on the pavement in front of City Hall for 16 minutes, representing the 16 bullets shot at Laquan McDonald, while a student read 16 key points from the APA’s Resolution Against Racism and Racial Discrimination. Folks who just happened to be walking by lay down next to us on the cold pavement in support of our cause. One of these individuals, a high school senior, even helped us carry signs back to the school afterward. Others were not as supportive, with one passerby expressing his opinion that we should leave the United States and form our own country. We were also filmed by two local news crews, and I hope to be able to retrieve the footage so that we can share it on social media. Please check out pictures from the Chicago Die-In on our Facebook event page.

Die1 - Chicago

Students participating in the Die-In in front of City Hall in Chicago.

D1 - ChicagoThis has been an inspiring journey for me and I thank you all for your collective efforts in making this happen. We staged a coordinated event at 20 schools, across 12 states, with hundreds of student and faculty participants. You should all be proud of your efforts! Of course, this is just the first step in the #psychologists4blacklives movement and I hope that together we can keep the momentum going. We are planning to be at the APA Convention in August. An even bigger event next year would be awesome. There are so many possibilities. We just need to connect those willing and able to do the hard work that it takes to stage events, with those with the courage to attend them.

Die-In, U of Denver

Students at University of Denver, participating in the Die-In in their school library.

Die In, U of DenverSchools throughout the country uploaded their pictures as well! Die-In participants at Virginia Commonwealth University, Boston College, University of Denver, and the University of North Texas also uploaded their pictures, and these schools were joined by Auburn University with multiple tweets about their Die-Ins. I also received pictures from the University of Oregon’s Die-In. I thought we had it rough with the weather but compared to Boston College we had it easy. The BC Die-In took place on what looked to be at least 6 inches of snow. Thank you so much for those who have already used social media to disseminate news about their events. For those of you who haven’t yet, please upload your pictures to our Facebook event page, Twitter, and any other sites that you use so that we can get maximum exposure for our #psychologists4blacklives Die-Ins. Also, please share this information with your school and local news sources.

Die In, Boston College

Students at Boston College, braving the snow to support the Die-In.

Boston College Die InParticipating Schools:

  • Illinois School of Profession Psychology at Argosy, Chicago
  • Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago
  • University of North Texas
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago Campus
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, DC Campus
  • Chicago Art Institute
  • University of Illinois School of Social Work
  • Adler University
  • Boston College
  • Auburn University
  • Adelphi University
  • Howard University
  • Roosevelt University
  • University of New Haven
  • The New School for Social Research
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Denver
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Oregon
  • National Louis University

In Solidarity,

Luciano
#psychologists4blacklives