Greetings from the Past President – Fall 2016

This past year was a difficult year—an oppressive year…for myself in the role of SCP President—and I know for many of you individually and professionally.  It is been difficult for our division, for psychology, and for our communities and our country.  One filled with

  • terrorist attacks at home and abroad,
  • violence by police against citizens,
  • violence by citizens against police,
  • violence by citizens against citizens,
  • One filled with the spewing of political, religious and racial hatred and bigotry that has included vicious attacks against marginalized groups.
  • One filled with acrimony and distrust of individuals, organizations and institutions that we expect to be beyond reproach—including our own professional association (APA).

It was a difficult year last year too, and before that.  And I suspect we will continue to see terrorism and violence, witness expressions of hatred and bigotry, and experience feelings of skepticism and distrust—irrespective of the outcome of the November elections.

Jim Lichtenberg headshotWe will struggle with how to understand these events when they occur, as we mourn the victims and their families and friends.  And we will be challenged as individuals, as communities, as a division, and as a society by how to address these instances when they occur–how to stop them and how to prevent them from happening again.

Psychology has a role in understanding and intervening and preventing such events—these tragedies.  And Counseling Psychology and SCP have a commitment to contribute to the research, education and training, and intervention practices that will help address these social ills and injustices.

Our division has shown, and continues to show, leadership within APA in addressing social and social justice issues.  And our division members and leadership (individually and in groups) have been at the forefront of organizing and giving support for individuals and their communities who are targets of these social injustices.

I want to personally thank all who are working for social change and who are contributing to SCP efforts to make things better.

And I want to encourage—to urge—your involvement (or continued involvement) locally and nationally, personally and professionally, in addressing these matters.  You are all well-trained, knowledgeable, just, and compassionate professionals.

When I was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the late 60’s and early 70’s—a time of considerable social and societal unrest and upheaval, a clear focus of my graduate training program in counseling psychology, a “theme” of the program, was on preparing us as SOCIAL CHANGE AGENTS—on changing systems that create and perpetuate the harms for individuals and constrain their healthy development.

Counseling psychology has not changed in this regard.  I hope we all will keep that as a mission and purpose for being counseling psychologists and that we will keep this at the front of our thoughts and actions.  But counseling psychologists and counseling psychology are about more than social activism, and I hope that whatever your profession role(s) might be—whether as practitioner, educator, researcher/scholar—and whatever our personal backgrounds, we will continue “activism” with regard to our prescribed organization purposes of (a) guiding professional education and training of specialists in counseling psychology, (b) encouraging the generation and dissemination of research and scholarship in the specialty of counseling psychology, (c) supporting the ethical and competent practice of counseling psychology in a variety of applied settings, (d) promoting diversity within the SCP and the application of counseling psychology in the public interest, and (e) supporting effective communication among counseling psychologists and between the SCP and other entities.

Jim Lichtenberg, PhD

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