Committee Reports

APA Council Report

Sally Barlow, Ph.D.
Sally Barlow, Ph.D.

Follow up on Independent Review Actions from Council’s August 2015 Meeting, Oct 14, 2015

IR Brief Summary

Item 23b: Resolution to Amend the 2006 and 2013 Council Resolutions to Clarify the Roles of

Psychologists Related to Interrogation and Detainee Welfare in National Security Settings, to Further Implement the 2008 Petition Resolution, and to Safeguard Against Acts of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in All Settings

  • The resolution is now posted in its entirety on the APA website under APA Actions in Response to the Independent Review Report
  • Send official correspondence to appropriate officers of the U.S. government, including the President, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, CIA Director, and Congress, to inform them that APA has adopted policy changes to expand its human rights protections to safeguard detainees in national security settings against torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. LETTERS IN FINAL REVIEW STAGE
  • In implementation section, a request to the Ethics Committee to incorporate the national security interrogation prohibition language from the motion into the Ethics Code. REQUEST COMMUNICATED TO ETHICS COMMITTEE AND THEY WILL BE MEETING IN NOVEMBER TO DISCUSS THIS FURTHER

1.Develop a vetting process and seek nominations for both psychologists and non-psychologists for an APA Commission on Ethics Procedures. CALL DISTIBRUTED. MEMBERSHIP OF THE NOMINATION REVIEW COMMITTEE DESCRIBED.

2. Develop criteria and seek nominations from Council, boards & committees and the general membership for Conflict of Interest work group CALL DISTRIBUTED WITH LISTING OF DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERS

3. Develop a procedure for Council to review and comment on motions submitted in August related to the Independent Review ONLINE REVIEW SITE PROVIDED TO COUNCIL MEMBERS 9/30/2015.

4. Update on costs related to the Independent Review CFO SENT UPDATE 9/30/2015

5. Board recommendations on items going to Council CLT POSTED BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS TO COR 9/30/2015

Council voted on a few other items as time allowed but the majority of the meetings entailed work on the aftermath of the Hoffman Independent Review.

Personal observations. I emailed Lee Gillis and Dennis Kivlighan during the meetings (which I believe they forwarded to the Division 49 membership) to keep them abreast of the very intense 2 days that council worked to repair the damage done to APA regarding the Hoffman Independent Review that was leaked to the NYT July 8th wherein, “deceptively crafted and permissive ethics policies facilitated the active involvement of psychologists in abusive and torturous interrogations of prisoners . . . . How easy it was for the APA officials to jettison the ‘do no harm’ moral rule to conform to the Department of Defense.” The resolution passed by council to close the loophole caused by Stephen Behnke during the Bush administration resulted in an individual verbal roll call. When the last person shouted yes (there was only one no vote from Larry James, who maintains that our national defense will suffer) the crowded room, which included many graduate students and reporters observing our process, burst into sustained applause. Steven Reisner and Jean Maria Arrigo (the two consistent whistleblowers over the last decade) were interviewed by many newscasters (you can find these interviews on YouTube).

The lead up to the August meeting included 100s of emails daily from council as we attempted to build an agenda that called for action. Sad to say, it was a bitter, often ad hominen fight; but build an agenda we did, with the able assistance of Nadine Kaslow and Susan MacDaniel. Current APA president Barry Anton had recused himself, given that he was named many times in the Hoffman report. I weighed in on the list serve several times carefully pointing out powerful group dynamics that were threatening to dismantle our ability to work together. Happy to report that many council members agreed with me.

Since that council meeting in August the list serve has lit up again with another bitter fight about the process involved in hiring the interim CEO now that Norman Anderson has also stepped down. Below is an email from Dr. Arrigo that captures the minority point of view:

“The Hoffman Report has documented the inability of the CEO to oversee the staff, the inability of the Board to supervise. The work of the CEO, and the failure of the Ethics Committee to adjudicate complaints.  The Bylaws as interpreted preserve the institutional dysfunction. But if authoritative APA bodies can appeal to legal counsel in making decisions, they can also appeal to counsel from other experts and stakeholders.” Jean Maria Arrigo.

When Dr. Arrigo was given an award during the second day of council meetings in Toronto for her courageous fight to address the torture-enabling instigated by Dr. Behnke, she said, “Thank you very much”—pause—“but I think this might be a public relations event designed to shut me up.” In fact she and Steven Reisner, along with others, have not shut up. They continue to fight for transparency. I invite you to search out this effort online—see for instance Reisner/Soldz comments to the APA board pdf, since this minority position is quite complex and lengthy, as it has taken place over the last 10 years.

While the final costs are not yet in as the Sidley Austin law firm has yet to send their last invoice, costs so far for the Hoffman report have reached almost 5 million dollars; this money is being paid out of the net assets of the Association which were 61.5 million as of December 31, 2014.

Finally, in an effort to be more transparent this recent email from APA includes good resources: The Communications Office has made changes to the home page ( to focus more on the work that APA does related to human rights issues and we are working to communicate more frequently about the activities within APA governance and advisory groups occurring in response to the Independent Review.

Thank you for allowing me to represent the Society for Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy on the Council of Representatives,

Sally H. Barlow

Thanks to Nancy Gordon Moore, Executive Director of Governance Affairs