March/April 2009 Issue

Pamela H. Harmell, Ph.D, 2009 President


As a LACPA member, do you take full advantage of the opportunities for which you are paying dues?  Do you know what LACPA has to offer you?  You know there are sensational continuing education courses at discounted rates; you know there are networking opportunities, a fabulous annual convention, and a listserv for referrals and other professional needs.  However, did you know that LACPA has five standing committees, 10 Special Interest Groups (SIGs), and three Clubs?


Last summer when I was considering my presidential theme, Unlocking Your Potential with LACPA” came to mind due to my own valuable experience as a graduate student member of LACPA.  In 1990, a few years after my licensure, I joined the LACPA Ethics Committee.  I discovered how LACPA committee participation affords invaluable lessons about collaboration, team work, leadership, and the underlying operation of a large organization. (In mid-January, 2009, LACPA membership stood at 1050.)


All committee members are volunteers; thus, participation on a LACPA committee may satisfy APA Principle B (Fidelity and Responsibility) which states: “Psychologists strive to contribute a portion of their professional time for little or no compensation or personal advantage.” (APA, 2002, p. 3)


In other words, psychologists are required to contribute to the public and the community by providing pro bono services or by lending expertise to the profession without the expectation of financial gain.  Serving on a LACPA committee provides the psychologist with a satisfying experience that may additionally “help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior.” (APA, 2002, p. 3, Preamble)


The Preamble of the Principles also reminds psychologists to “respect and protect civil and human rights and the essential importance of freedom of inquiry…”  Committee involvement supports LACPA as a professional organization which additionally “promotes [the] accuracy, honesty and truthfulness” of psychology in general and one’s own practice specifically, as required by Principle C (Integrity). (APA, 2002, p. 3)   


Four of LACPA’s committees are briefly discussed below for your perusal.  These groups can offer you an opportunity to reach your potential and concurrently fulfill your ethical obligation. 



Student Leadership Committee (SLC) – Chair, Sarah Silverman, M.A. ([email protected]) If you work with trainees, interns, or students, the SLC is a group that will interest you and your students.  This committee is responsible for communications with, and coordination of, activities of the student members of the Association.  Student membership ensures the future not only of LACPA but of psychology in general.  It is a thrill to observe the newest members of our profession learning from the more experienced members of LACPA’s Board of Directors.  The learning goes both ways: Student members bring inspiration, new ideas, and exuberance to Board and committee meetings.  All student members on the Board are represented by one vote.  One previous student member went on to become President of LACPA.


The Colleague Assistance and Support Program (CLASP) -- Chair, Linda Bortell, Psy.D. ([email protected]) CLASP is critically important to ensure the ethical and appropriate functioning of psychologists.  The mission of CLASP is to provide preventive resources that will support psychologists in maintaining and enhancing their general health and mental well-being.  As a psychologist who has been involved in professional ethics my entire career, I have seen the importance of de-stigmatizing help-seeking behavior when one feels the need to reach out.  Prevention through education, consultation, and early identification is mandatory.


Disaster Response Committee (DRC) -- Chair, Barbara Racy, Ph.D. ([email protected]) These committee members act as a liaison with statewide Disaster Committees throughout California and with the local Disaster Mental Health Chair of the American Red Cross.  The DRC is responsible for keeping LACPA members aware of disaster response functions locally and statewide, for recruiting interested psychologists, and identifying how to provide appropriate services. Unfortunately in these difficult and complex times, we need the experts on this committee more than ever.  Interested psychologists should contact the Dr. Racy.


Diversity Committee--Co-Chairs, Miriam Hamideh, Ph.D. ([email protected]) and Gitu Bhatia, Psy.D. ([email protected])  This important committee is comprised of psychologists working to support and provide education and training in all areas of diversity by organizing workshops regarding race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and religious issues.  The committee’s goal is to increase knowledge and understanding of individuals of all backgrounds.  Members of this critical committee are available for consultation on diversity issues.


I hope you will take a moment to consider all that LACPA has to offer, and how LACPA might provide a satisfying new professional experience for you.  I look forward to introducing more of our outstanding committees, SIGs, and Clubs to you in the future.  For more information about how to join one of LACPA’s committees or attend an upcoming event, please go to the Website at www.lapsych.org for more details.