As I write this entry, I have just completed my first month as chair of the APA Division 17 Older Adult Special Interest Group (OA SIG). As I begin this term, it seems fitting to discuss where we, as a group, have been and where we are going.
This Special Interest Group (SIG) originated under the leadership of Merla Arnold, R.N., Ph.D. In the fall of 2004, Merla learned that there was an inactive email list of Division 17 Members who were interested in older adults. Merla inquired about the possibility of starting an Older Adult SIG, gained the necessary interest and support, and moved a proposal forward to the Division 17 Board for consideration in January of 2005. The Board “heartily approved” the proposal to create the SIG and the first annual meeting occurred in August of 2005 at the APA Convention in Washington, D.C. Merla championed the mission of the SIG for many years. THANKS, MERLA!
The mission of the SIG is to bring together Counseling Psychologists to work with and on behalf of older adults, their families, and caregivers in a multicultural society. Goals of the SIG include:
- increased collaboration and peer support among Counseling Psychologists who work with older adults
- mentorship to early career professionals and students
- sharing geropsychology resources and opportunities
- advocacy for the behavioral health and wellness needs of older adults
- collaboration with other APA groups with overlapping interests, and
- promotion of issues related to aging and older adults within Division 17.
I became aware of the SIG via a Division 17 Listserve announcement in June of 2012. At that time, the group was not especially active. An annual meeting occurred in August of 2012 at the APA Convention in Orlando. Michiko Iwasaki, Ph.D. and Mary Lewis, Ph.D. stepped forward to serve as co-chairs for the 2012-2014 biennium, with the hope of reviving the group. The SIG held annual meetings in August of 2013 at the APA Convention in Hawaii and August of 2014 at the APA Convention in Washington, D.C. We also held a meeting at the Atlanta Counseling Psychology Conference in March of 2014. During the biennium we conducted a membership survey (Fall 2013) and several members developed an article for The Counseling Psychologist entitled, “Social Justice Training within Geropsychology: Non-Traditional Pedagogies to Cultivate a Competent Workforce” that was published this month (Zucchero, Iwasaki, Lewis, Lee, & Robbins, 2014). At the 2014 APA Convention, we also awarded the 1st Annual Student Award to Kathy Ramos, M.A., M.Ed., for her passion and commitment to the intersection of counseling psychology and geropsychology.
As I look to the future, I see increased activity on the horizon. Based upon the SIG’s mission and goals, and results of the 2013 membership survey, our efforts will focus on assisting members to network and collaborate, and dissemination of information (e.g., geropsychology training opportunities, job opportunities).
Our officers will blog every month or two about an issue of relevance to the clinical needs of older adults or about research related to older adults. We welcome members who are interested in blogging to join us! We also hope to have a more active Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Div17OlderAdultSIG). We are currently seeking proposals for the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto (contact Maggie Syme for more information, firstname.lastname@example.org) and plan to have an annual meeting there. As a number of new members joined the SIG at the Atlanta Conference, we plan to conduct a follow-up membership survey to better understand the current needs and interests of members. Finally, we will be the voice of geropsychology within Division 17.
I welcome dialogue about this blog entry, including the history of the SIG and the activities in which you would like to see the SIG engage in the future.
Renee’ Zucchero, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology, Xavier University
Chair, Division 17 Older Adult SIG (2014-2016)