Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dr. Alan Kazdin Replies

Dr. Kazdin has written a letter in reply to Drs. Wessells and Arrigo (see yesterday's post). Dr. Soldz has posted it at his website. Here it is in its entirety:
Dear Drs. Arrigo and Wessells,

Thank you for your letter regarding the formation of the APA Presidential Advisory Group on the Implementation of the Petition Resolution. I, too, am optimistic that the work of this group will help to unite the organization and enable us to move forward to implement this new policy, which was approved by a vote of our membership.

Over the past few weeks, we have received several recommendations regarding the group process - all that it ought to and ought not to include. In response to your words of caution, I can assure you that the process has been, and will continue to be, open and transparent. While I appreciate your suggestion of an independent monitor, I have invited all three original sponsors of the petition for the very purpose of ensuring that the views and interests of those bringing the petition forward are well represented in the group’s discussions.

I would be grateful if you would forward this response to those you copied on your email.

Thank you.

Best wishes,

Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., ABPP
President, American Psychological Association
John M. Musser Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry
Department of Psychology
Yale University
PO Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
I haven't much time for full analysis, but Dr. Kazdin's rejection of the recommendation of an independent monitor is disappointing. Such a monitor would not be under the same pressures as the "three original sponsors of the petition" on the Advisory Group. Observation and participation are different operational functions, as organizational theory might tell us. They should be staffed by different individuals, as the work tasks involved are not the same.

Nor do I see the process of choosing the members of the Advisory Group to have been "open and transparent." But then, I am an outsider (at this point), looking mainly at the lateness of the appointments to the Group, and pondering over the wisdom of these assignments, as well as the relative weights of the interests represented.

On the other hand, Dr. Kazdin seems friendly and willing to listen to alternative voices. Others are more optimistic than I, who tends to be somewhat of a pessimist (though I would rather say "realist"). Hence, I cannot shake the idea that the process is stacked with the idea of minimizing the impact of the non-participation resolution. We shall soon know, as the Advisory Group is set to meet beginning tomorrow. Again, I wish all participants luck, and hope that the spirit of the resolution, meant to curtail psychologists from participating in abusive settings that fail to observe international standards of human rights, is obeyed, and with it, the intent of the majority of APA's membership.

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