Dr. Ruth Fassinger's Presidential Initiative

The “Presidential” Theme this year actually is a division-generated theme, as it has evolved from the most comprehensive, deliberate, and inclusive strategic planning process that SCP has ever engaged in – a theme that forms the bedrock for all of the excellent futuristic thinking, visioning, and goal-setting that is occurring right now in SCP! The theme is COMMUNITY, COURAGE, CHANGE.

COMMUNITY is what we create with and for one another, and it is reflected in the inclusion, engagement, and communication of our members, in the ways in which we integrate our myriad professional roles and identities, and in the leadership our members provide both within counseling psychology and in psychology and society more broadly. It is through strong community that we find COURAGE, individually and collectively, to advocate for and make CHANGE. Courage can be found in every professional role we take on in our work as counseling psychologists, from holding a hand and bearing therapeutic witness to suffering, to scientific daring that challenges the knowers and the known, to education that builds capacity for solving problems we can’t even yet anticipate, to advocacy that actively disrupts deeply-rooted systems of privilege and oppression. Change is what happens when we harness our courage in community to work toward a healthier, more equitable, more just world — the overarching goal of counseling psychology.

As we move toward articulating an historically-grounded but future-savvy strategic plan that will provide a clear, accessible, and accountable blueprint for division activities going forward, there are a number of intermediate steps that can be taken. I will be focusing much of my presidential year (and beyond) on trying to strengthen the division through initiatives on member support, leadership, ethics, and international concerns, all aimed at developing an effective approach to enacting social justice in counseling psychology.

More specifically, I will be forming 4 Special Task Groups (STGs) to work on producing models/structures/processes/viable directions in the following areas:

  • Providing “Integrated Stealth Care” for Counseling Psychologists
    • This STG will focus on how SCP can provide support for division leaders and members experiencing challenges in their professional roles inside or outside of counseling psychology, especially concerning (but not limited to) their advocacy for multiculturally sensitive, socially just policies and practices.
  • Articulating an Ethics of Advocacy and Social Justice in Counseling Psychology
    • This STG will focus on articulating an ethics of social justice for our field, particularly in areas where advocacy or social justice goals conflict with other counseling psychology values or practices (e.g., when policy/advocacy goals are not supported by available science, when developmental approaches to education and training conflict with competency in serving marginalized populations, when social justice stances taken by some counseling psychologists bring potential harm to other counseling psychologists, and when an approach to intervention is embraced by U.S.-oriented counseling psychologists that may recapitulate fear and oppression in home cultures of their international colleagues). Particular attention will be given to articulating an ethics of socially-just science
  • Fostering Intentional Leadership by Counseling Psychologists
    • This STG will focus on describing, developing, and supporting conscious, ethical, socially just leadership by counseling psychologists, including issues of climate, processes, structures, practices, identity, and politics of using oneself as an instrument of change.
  • Linking Counseling Psychology to Global Justice
    • This STG will focus on how counseling psychology as a field might more effectively view and act concerning global issues of human rights and justice. Particular attention will be given to articulating and responding effectively to international perspectives on U.S.-based social justice aims and activities.

I welcome your feedback on these and all SCP priorities and activities. I encourage you to reach out to me or any member of the SCP Executive Board to share your thoughts or perspectives.

Here’s to a peaceful, productive, successful, and fun year ahead!