President’s Message: September

AshtonBy: Kathleen Ashton, PhD, OPA President

I am excited to be starting my year as President of OPA! I would like to thank the OPA Board members, central staff, and especially Dr. Jim Broyles and Mr. Michael Ranney, who have been essential in supporting and preparing me for the honor of acting as OPA President.

When I ran for OPA President, I hoped to make improving communication a main area of focus. Newsletters such as these, our recently revamped OPA website and the various OPA listservs are all ways we work toward communicating what OPA is doing for Ohio psychologists and connecting Ohio psychologists with important information from around the state. Social media is also an important new tool for psychologists in Ohio to communicate with each other and the public about psychology in Ohio. OPA is on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites; if you haven’t already joined in, you may be missing out!

OPA is also reaching out to the public to communicate about the value psychologists bring to healthcare through legislative efforts, insurance advocacy and public education. Our advocacy, insurance, public sector and social responsibility committees are strong and active voices for Ohio psychologists to legislature, insurance companies and consumers.

OPA also provides communication to its members on state-of-the-art practices and research through their continuing education opportunities. If you haven’t already done so, strongly consider registering for the fall Convention, “Psychology’s Role in Integrated Health Care.” With leaders such as Drs. Katherine Nordal, Benjamin Miller and Barry Anton speaking, the Convention is sure to have essential insights about health care reform and the psychologist’s role in the new health care world. I would like to thank the Education Committee and the central staff for putting together such a strong program. Convention is also a wonderful occasion to communicate with fellow psychologists around the state, generate new ideas and network.

Communication between members and OPA central staff has always been important to OPA’s reputation as a leader among state psychological associations. The central staff members do much of their work behind the scenes, but are truly integral to the success of OPA. Few members realize the many hours of hard work that staff puts in with connecting with other organizations such as APA, mental health boards and state offices and legislature. In addition, the work that makes the website run smoothly or an OPA Convention appear seamless is almost entirely due to the staff. Please recognize their efforts in your courteous requests for help. My experience is that the staff is extremely responsive to member feedback.

Despite these avenues for communication, at times OPA members feel disconnected from what is happening around the state and at OPA. They may feel at times as if they have little voice in OPA leadership, direction, or decisions. In particular, the voice of members of marginalized groups can often seem to be lost in the communication process. OPA members have sometimes noted that they are not sure what the OPA Board does for them, or the function of different OPA committees. Even within leadership at OPA, at times the Executive Committee and the Board note difficulties with communication between each other or various committees. In part for this reason, Dr. Jim Broyles appointed a Governance Structure Task Force in 2012 to look at how possible changes in the OPA governance structure might help to enhance communication and engagement with members. OPA remains committed to hearing from all members about their needs whether early or late career, private practice or public sector, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.

As chair of the task force, I have had the pleasure of moderating four open forums with OPA members to receive feedback on possible changes to enhance communication. Possible recommendations have included optimizing technology better to connect psychologists across the state and considering town hall forums at events such as Convention on focused topics important to psychologists such as the internship crisis or insurance reimbursement. Another possible recommendation is to make all board seats elected by the membership to help increase their voice in leadership. Please be alert for more information on the process of restructuring, and be aware that no restructuring will take place without a membership vote. Your voice is important in this process.

I am interested in hearing your ideas as a member for how to improve communication and help OPA continue to support you as an Ohio psychologist. I look forward to talking personally with members at Convention, and would be happy to touch base by phone or email throughout the year.

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