There are many bridges between counseling psychology and the aims of my own work. Specifically, I believe my professional activities overlap with the mission of SCP: “to connect, to collaborate, and to coordinate efforts toward creating a more just and equitable world where ALL people and communities can thrive.”
The identity and values of SCP are central in my lived personal experiences and in my professional life’s purpose. Serving the underserved, prioritizing education, advancing social justice and prevention, and nurturing cultural diversity are the values that SCP brings to psychology and that reflect the ongoing commitment of SCP to embed these values in APA and the profession.
To whom much is given, much is expected. I have experienced the barriers, the marginalization, and uneven playing field represented in the SCP values and am committed to advancing these values to the benefit of others.
Although I am still fleshing out details, I am committed to two areas as Presidential initiatives: (1) Integrated care for the underserved and marginalized populations. Because of classism, lower socio-economic conditions, logistical challenges, and stigma, the barriers to health care can seem insurmountable for some populations. As an independent practitioner I have flexibility and latitude to advocate for health services and to actively collaborate interprofessionally in ways I could not do in other settings. Many of my clients have disabilities, workplace injuries, and chronic pain and are people for whom the health systems failed. Because I have no externally imposed protocols, I can do a small part in reducing health disparities through patient education, focusing on life barriers, and attending to important barriers that may never have been even explored before. I participate in most insurance panels, including Medicare, as I believe ALL clients should have access to adequate mental health care by well trained professionals. I work primarily with clients with chronic health conditions, conducting both psychological evaluation and treatment. I frequently evaluate clients to determine their appropriateness for medical interventions and importantly identify potential barriers to successful treatment outcome. I assist clients in managing their chronic medical condition, highlighting the strengths they bring to the hardships they are facing and to live the most productive lives possible, given their health challenges. My integrated care initiative will incorporate my model of education, training, and practice, to bring social justice, reduce health disparities, and offer a way to bring health care to marginalized populations. (2) Serious mental illness (SMI). This population is among the most marginalized and underserved. I believe that we have much to offer in working with this population, and that all of psychology can make a difference. Psychology has not found a way to include these individuals in the mainstream access to health care. The fee structure for practice has significantly impeded access. A new model of care is past due, one that will involve community practitioners in breaking down the barriers for this population. In APA, I would work with the Task Force on Serious Mental Illness and Severe Emotional Disturbance (TFSMI/SED), which will become effective in August 2019. With both initiatives there is much work to be done to have desired impact, and I would welcome the collaboration and scholarship of Counseling Psychologists and SCP.
APA will also continue to address the issue of Masters programs in psychology which will move forward in 2020 and beyond; SCP has a strong history and expertise on this issue, which is needed and will be called upon. This initiative is critically important to the profession and SCP’s leadership is imperative.
The community activities in which I have been involved also reflect my own values and those of SCP and are bolded below for ease of reading.
I currently serve on the Advisory Board of the Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology; prior to this I served on the Executive Board and faculty of the Institute. Within LIWP we have worked with and mentored mid-career women psychologists, assisting them in advancing their professional life while addressing the demands of their personal lives. We have also worked hard to increase the diversity, number and effectiveness of women psychologists as leaders.
I am, perhaps, most proud of my work with the Diversity Leadership Development Workshop, a program that was my presidential initiative while serving as president of Division 31, a program that continues to occur every two years. With the support of a CEMRRAT grant and other funding, the leadership development/training workshop has the primary goal of assisting ethnic minority diversity delegates to advance into leadership positions within their respective State, Provincial, and Territorial Association (SPTA). Since the program started in 2009, 69 psychologists of color have gone through the program and have progressed into leadership positions within their SPTA (including President) and APA (including Council of Representatives and Board of Directors).
Finally, while serving on the APA Board of Directors as Recording Secretary, I was the liaison to the Ethics Committee (including the Ethics Commission), and the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) and its committees. The Ethics commission reviewed: APA’s educational and adjudicative functions related to ethics; potential conflicts in human rights considerations; and current policies, practices and procedures of the Ethics Office. As you know, BAPPI assures that psychology serves the public interest and advances social justice, health and well-being for all people. My liaison work with BAPPI was harmonious with commitment to diversity and my belief that it is critical if we are to solve concerns facing society. This is consistent with the mission of SCP.
I have been actively involved in Leadership Atlanta since 2003. The mission of Leadership Atlanta is to build a better community for everyone in the Atlanta region through education about the key issues facing the region and inspiring leadership committed to serving the common good. In addition, I am active in the metro Atlanta Lions Club, which is a part of Lions Clubs International, whose mission is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding. I previously served on the Boards of both Chris 180 (formerly ChrisKids, whose mission is to heal children, strengthen families, and build community through high-quality, trauma informed behavioral health services and support systems) and 3Keys (formerly Project Interconnections, whose mission is to provide permanent housing for homeless individuals while treating their mental illness).