Committee Reports

Council of Representatives Report

Sally Barlow, Ph.D.

The Council of Representatives met in Washington DC February 24-25th, 2017. A lot of business was conducted, some of which I cannot report on because it occurred in Executive Session. Sorry about that. Wish I could. But we have been harshly warned by our legal counsel not to divulge anything. Perhaps I will be able to do this later.

Of interest was a vote on apportionment—long history of this squabbling that has gone back and forth. You can refer to pdf below for status. A very nice thing that happened from the floor of Council was that we all agreed to make sure all the geographic locations (e.g. Virgin Islands) weren’t stripped of their votes. I have also attached the minutes from the meeting if you are interested. Most of you are no doubt up to your eyeballs in work: serving the public, teaching the next generation of group clinicians, running groups etc. The happiest thing I must report is that the CRSPPP petition for specialty status just ended its comment period. The petition itself can be read at  along with the almost 50 pages of comments, which are primarily quite supportive. We have Nina Brown to thank for this tremendous effort: THANK YOU NINA!!

Although group is recognized by the American Board of Professional Psychology as a specialty it has yet to be recognized by CRSPPP—the committee on recognition of specialties and proficiencies in professional psychology. In related action, the PTSD guidelines were voted upon.  It was an almost 2-hour debate. APA staff in charge of the PTSD guidelines apparently have been working on this document for 4 1/2 years to compete with psychiatry guidelines. The committee (staff and psychologists) were given the charge to follow the guidelines from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).  I believe that is what set the agenda here–so that only PTSD research under-girded by RCTs was the norm. It is no wonder CBT and its offshoots along with medication won this horse race. Comments from the floor ranged from defensive (the APA staff essentially said, “If we want to be a player here with psychiatry we need to get these guidelines out now”; representatives from division 39, psychoanalysis, claimed unfair treatment of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic TX,) to accurate (the president of the Women’s division strongly suggested that decontextualizing PTSD was dangerous to those who suffered from it,) to the idiotic (sorry about casting aspersions here–but I am always fascinated when psychologists in love with RCTs and meta-analyses as the only viable evidence base stand at the mic and spout effect sizes etc.–overlooking the important contributions from qualitative research, and misunderstanding how RCTs are based on drug trials that simply do not translate to humans. Here is what I said at the mic (you can only talk 2 minutes):

“I am Sally Barlow from Division 49 Group Psychology and Group psychotherapy. I am against these PTSD guidelines in their current form, extensive as they are.  Because the freeway was closed from Park City to SLC due to an oil tanker fire, I spent an extra 8 hours at the airport re-reading the 2,000-page document and accompanying 1,000 no and yes comments–the no’s outweighing the yes’s by 30-1. The document never mentions treatment delivery modalities, only treatment types such as CBT. In particular, I am persuaded by Dr. Moench’s comments on page 1649 who suggests this document goes against expert international guidelines for PTSD. Further, Les Greene and associates from science to service task force of American Group psychotherapy Association on page 1678 suggest the guidelines fail to sufficiently delineate differential and unique effects of different treatment modalities such as individual vs. group treatment. In clearly growing data bases for group investigations, group treatment is often superior to, certainly equivalent to treatment as usual and wait list controls. Finally, clinical expertise appears to be obviated by the report’s overly strong and narrow recommendation of CBT treatments and medication.”

I wrote it down to read because it is truly nerve-wracking to stand at the mic.

Several council members followed suit. However, there was strong support from the floor not to send this back to the drawing board as it would take another 5 years, and we would “lose” to psychiatry. Before we voted on the motion, the Practice Directorate promised to put out an accompanying document on professional psychology guidelines highlighting clinical expertise, in order to encourage psychologists treating patients with PTSD,  to 1) take cultural/diversity context into account, 2) properly contextualize PTSD interventions so that individual patients issues were attended to, 3) report some of the growing body of research from EMDR, Psychodynamics and emotion focused therapies, and 4) pay more attention to treatment delivery such and individual and group therapy. (Because I had carefully read the entire document I did note that there was a nod to “brief psychodynamic therapy” in the treatment of PTSD already, but there is nothing about group vs individual.) I look forward to these accompanying comments. The vote to accept the PTSD guidelines, along with this forthcoming document from the practice directorate, passed at almost 80%. (I have the 2,000 page document if you would like to read it—just email me at I voted against it as I think it needs to be re-written but I was clearly in the minority. I am also uncomfortable with the notion that these narrow guidelines were passed in what appears to be a turf war; but maybe I am unrealistic.

Here is what I think we should do next: Write a succinct document highlighting the efficacious and efficient use of groups as a delivery model for PTSD intervention and send this to Kathryn C. Nordal, email: She strikes me as a smart, very competent person who will listen to us. Recently at the American Group Psychotherapy Association annual meeting in NYC I attended the Science-to-Service-Taskforce where we discussed this. Gary Burlingame agreed to send this information to Dr. Nordal at the APA Practice Directorate.  This is all good news for all of us in this division who understand the power of small group dynamics.

Other business of interest was a presentation on diversity on implicit attitudes (check out for interesting details about this North Star project presented by Glenda Russel and Andrea Iglesias.) Budget items were reviewed—sadly too many of our colleagues have dropped out of APA because of the bad publicity we have gotten from the Hoffman fallout. A proposed policy and procedures document on implementing transparency was discussed. Item 12, removal of barriers to admission to doctoral programs in psychology using the GRE was passed. Trial delegation of authority to the board of directors was discussed; this is all part of the Good Governance Project designed to make APA nimbler. Let’s hope it works. Until next time. Thanks for allowing me to represent you from Division 49. Sally H. Barlow

Committee Reports

Council of Representatives Report

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

Council of Representatives for the American Psychological Association is made up of 178 hard-working people, along with APA staff, tackling tough problems ranging from torture to training. The recent February meeting in Washington DC from February 18-21 had a full agenda including following up on the resolution passed in the August meeting in Toronto to close the loophole allowed by the collusion between Dr. Behnke and the Department of Defense. We voted on a number of important resolutions (for a full report go to the APA website:

1) Inclusion of ethics, human rights and social justice in revision of strategic plan

2) Revised criteria for recognition of organizations that provide certification in specialties and proficiencies in professional psychology

3) Follow up strategies regarding good governance project

4) Establishment of a work group to develop civility principles and procedures

This last item was likely a result of the lit-up list serve during the last year when ad hominem attacks occurred often. Debate on council floor was civil but occasionally heated as members discussed how best to follow-up on the findings of the Hoffman report. Our diversity training this meeting was on religious tolerance and discrimination with a focus on Islamophobia. Perhaps most interesting of the 3 days of meetings was the Sunday council retreat led by the sociologist/ethnographer Mal O’Connor, who has been attending our meetings for a year at the invitation of our president Susan McDaniel. He is helping us to identify our “culture” in an effort to understand our past e.g., (the collusion with the DOD, which led to allowing psychologists to participate in detainee torture), our present (e.g., how does the minority opinion get heard when the majority is talking all the time), and perhaps our future (e.g., a strong ethical foundation as well as strong education and training, increased patient welfare and public trust).

Thank you for allowing me to serve as the representative for Division 49.

Sally H. Barlow.

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