American Psychological Association (AAP) Convention 2009

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I am recently back from attending the annual American Psychological Association, the major organization of practicing and research psychologists in North America. With 150,000 members, the venerable APA convened for the 117th time in Toronto. Over 10,000 members, representing major universities and clinical programs, attended, as well as many psychologists who are in private practice. A number of book publishers also exhibited.

One purpose of my visit, in representing AMHF, was to encourage research in our areas of interest that might be eligible for grant-funding and publication. Another purpose of the trip was to interview psychologists who are doing cutting-edge research in the treatment of mental-health issues and to consider them as possible authors in our series of AMHF Books, which has been launched with the publication (officially October 23, 2009, but now available) of The Violent Person by Dr. Raymond B. Flannery Jr.

The many worthwhile topics included Addictive Behavior, Aging, Behavior Analysis, Child Abuse, Clinical and Consulting Psychology, Assessment and Diagnosis, Geriatrics, Schizophrenia, Group Psychotherapy, Marriage and Family Counseling, Disaster/Crises, Gay and Lesbian Issues, Violence and Aggression, and Suicide.

I was privileged to be able to talk with consumer advocate and former Presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the train and to discuss the AMHF philosophy the welfare of those in need of mental-health care. We also talked about the application of Dr Flannery’s new book and how this topic of violence in America is increasingly relevant in the workplace.

Some of the helpful presentations in the field of Aging included Assessment and Intervention for Pain Disorders in Dementia, Health at Home, Cardiac Stress and Coping, Positive Aging as a Strengths-based Approach to Adaptation in Later Life, Pain, Obesity, and Overeating, and Insomnia ccross the Life Span.

I was very pleased to see that Group Therapy, one of the hallmarks of Dr. Stefan de Schill and AMHF, is alive and well in the psychology profession. Presentations in this area, so relevant to the traditions of AMHF since 1924 as well as to our future in the 21st century, included: Group Cognitive Therapy for Psychosis, Preparing Veteran’s for Group Psychotherapy, Preventing Attrition Among College Students with Disability who are in Group Therapy, Assessing and Treating Trauma in Medical Contexts, Vietnam Veterans and PTSD, as well as Group Sandplay for Children, Adolescents, and Adults.

Some effective efforts into work being done with children and adolescents included Diversity, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Family Functioning, At-risk Children and Adolescents, Issues Related to Disability, Disability Issues and Ethical Practice, Research on Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities, and Bereavement in Children and Adolescents.

It was most rewarding for me to meet with and converse with many fine colleagues I have known and worked with for over 25 years, including those from Marist College, New York State, and many places across the United States. Computers are a great asset to all of us; but personal interaction between ourselves and others keeps us true to our nature as human beings and better informed as professionals.

On a final note, I met many savvy and dedicated young psychologists, who were either finishing their dissertation or starting their careers. Their research and dedication represent the spirit and future of AMHF.

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