ABPP Questions for APA President Elect Candidates
Kirk J. Schneider, PhD
Q. What are your views regarding board certification in psychology?
A. I believe it is a time-honored process that provides evidence of distinction among those who are awarded the certificate.
Q. What are your views regarding specialization within psychology?
A. I believe we need a healthy balance between specialization and holistic perspectives on the field. Whereas holism and integration can err on the side of defusion of psychological knowledge; specialization can err on the side of over-compartmentalization (the old adage about missing the forest for the trees). However I advocate for a psychology that to the best of its ability emphasizes both depth and breadth, and that’s what I try to cultivate with my students, publications, and theoretical formulations (such as my work on “Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy.”
Q. If elected, how can APA and ABPP work together toward improving our field?
A. ABPP can lend its considerable prestige and encourage its certificate holders to bolster psychotherapeutic practice and psychological knowledge everywhere its needed today, and I set forth some ideas about this in my 1000 word platform statement that I attach here. I believe this is a critical time for psychology to take the lead in tackling our era’s most challenging personal and social problems, and many of these relate to areas, such as emotionally impoverished relationships, that ABPP is in an optimal position to acknowledge and address.
Q. If elected, how can ABPP help with your presidential agenda?
A. Join my calls for expanding healing dialogues across our great social and political divides. both in our country and profession; help me to mobilize a Task Force on Relational Equity to make available such dialogues as well as emotionally reparative relationships much more broadly, and particularly to the underserved; and participate in my call for a Task Force to look into the merit of a federal office of psychological consultants to amplify our expertise at the level of our government and public at large. Again, please see my platform statement attached, particularly the second half where I enumerate these aims.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration of my candidacy and aspiration to bring transformative leadership to APA.
2021 President-Elect Candidate Statement on the Issues Facing Psychology
One’s platform is shaped by how one lives; not just by what one says. Here, then, is a briefdescription of how I’ve lived, which in turn informs my platform.
I grew up in a very psychologically-minded household, where my mother placed herself in psychoanalysis after the shattering death of my seven-year-old brother when I was two. My father was a humanistic educator, immersed in the writings of such fellow psychologists as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Rollo May. This background was extremely important for me because, along with growing up as a secular Jew in a working-class Christian neighborhood, it set the tone for key challenges I have grappled with my entire life. Undoubtedly, my foremost challenge was facing the swarm of anxiety that surrounded my brother’s death. A second—and related—challenge was the psychoanalysis my parents had the foresight to arrange for me when I was about five years old. The third major challenge was dealing with my ethnicity in a homogenous ethnic enclave. While I was mostly OK with this enclave, I also experienced painful periods of estrangement and devaluation.
On the whole, however, and through much inner grappling, I learned a great deal from my early life predicaments. Primarily, I learned to be fascinated with—as well as profoundly humbled by—the big questions of life: how am I to live in the face of death, why do we treat each other as we do, and how do we make the best of our time on earth? These questions led to my pursuit of psychological knowledge from the start of college, and over the years this inquiry led me to mentors who were some of the most accomplished figures in our field. For example, I had the great privilege to study intensively with and become an intern for James F.T. Bugental, one of the major pioneers of existential-humanistic psychology. I also had the privilege of studying under and eventually becoming a co-author with the avowed founder of existential- humanistic psychology in America, Rollo May. Finally, I was a work-study student for Stanley Krippner, one of the world’s leading authorities on whole-person healthcare, indigenous healing practices, and international psychology. I am deeply grateful for these mentors and the remarkable life path that I have traveled. I would like such opportunities offered to many more people.
This, then, is the personal context that I bring to the critical issues facing psychology today— and the role that psychology can and should play in addressing today’s existential threats.
I intend to be a transformational leader of U.S. psychology at a time when transformational leadership is both urgent and necessary. My overarching goal is to shift psychology from a secondary to a national and international priority by:
- Addressing “emotionally impoverished relationships” across political, racial, and class divides. Due to COVID restrictions, racial and economic disenfranchisement, technology, and other factors, this is our country’s number one psychosocial crisis in my view, and every one of my platforms pertains to it. In all frankness, I believe we need the equivalent of a Works Progress Administration-style approach to this problem, and I would call for that.
- Mobilizing psychologists to facilitate healing dialogues to address the alarming political and racial divides in our country and within our profession. See The Depolarizing of America and demonstrations of a healing dialogue format I developed and continue to facilitate called the Experiential Democracy Dialogue. Applications of this format to divides within our society and profession are available on my website.
- Developing a Relational Equity Task Force to further the work of APA’s current Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Framework, but with an emphasis on optimizing in- depth, emotionally-reparative mental healthcare and organizational functioning— particularly in underserved areas. This includes an APA-sponsored extension of waivers nationwide for cross state telehealth service until the PSYPACT legislation is complete. Right now, interjurisdictional practice is limited to the 27 states that have enacted the PSYPACT agreement, leaving 23 states, including New York and California barred from providing services across state lines. Again, one of the chief problems in our country is the inequitable provision of longer-term, relationally-centered facilitators to address the appalling deprivation of such opportunities in the culture at large, and we are paying the price for this deprivation with crushing rates of depression, isolation, anxiety, addiction, and crime. The elaboration of medical, vocational, legal, and other off-sets would also be key to this Task Force’s inquiry.
- Calling for a summit of leaders in all our specialties to investigate how we can holistically address the many psychosocial crises of our time. These include violence, racism, healthcare, political extremism, climate change, educational inequities, and domestic abuse, just to name a few—and the need to communicate our findings to media, the public, and the government.
- Calling for a Presidential Task Force to investigate the merit of urging the U.S. Congress to create an Office of Psychological Consultant(s) to the U.S. This office would be comprised of distinguished experts in psychosocial approaches to mental healthcare and organizational functioning, and would augment the excellent work of our current APA advocacy efforts by 1) promoting innovative national programs, such as the healing dialogues movement and in-depth therapy in underserved communities; 2) being available 24/7 from within government to advise leaders from the executive branch to Congress to the U.S. public on the present crises we face; and 3) utilizing the large presence of a government office to boost our media presence and public voice.