The APA mission statement is to advance psychology:
as a science and profession and
as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare by the encouragement of psychology in all its branches in the broadest and most liberal manner;
by the promotion of research in psychology and the improvement of research methods and conditions;
by the improvement of the qualifications and usefulness of psychologists through high standards of ethics, conduct, education, and achievement;
by the establishment and maintenance of the highest standards of professional ethics and conduct of the members of the Association;
by the increase and diffusion of psychological knowledge through meetings, professional contacts, reports, papers, discussions, and publications;
thereby to advance scientific interests and inquiry, and the application of research findings to the promotion of health, education, and the public welfare.
Each year, the APA recognizes top psychologists with the "Distinguished Contributions" Awards; these awards are the highest honors given by the APA, and among the highest honors that a psychologist or psychology researcher can receive.
Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology (Early Career / Senior)
Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest (Early Career / Senior)
Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology
Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology
Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research
Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Practice in the Public Sector
Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology
The Theodore H. Blau Early Career Award for Outstanding Contribution to Professional Clinical Psychology
The use of "psychologist" as title
APA policy on the use of the title psychologist is contained in the General Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services: "Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology from an organized, sequential program in a regionally accredited university or professional school" and suggests "refer[ence] to master's-level positions as counselors, specialists, clinicians, and so forth (rather than as 'psychologists')." A definition of psychology is offered: "the study of the mind and behavior.".
The Psychologically Healthy Workplace program
The Psychologically Healthy Workplace is a program sponsored by the American Psychological Association designed to promote better employment practices. The program and award recognizes employers that provide outstanding work environments and programs in five key areas: Employee Involvement, Work-Life Balance, Employee Growth and Development, and Employee Recognition. Awards are given at the state and national level.
2007 national award winners included: El Nuevo Dia, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Healthwise, Koinonia Homes, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network.
APA is perhaps best known for APA style, a writing style and formatting standard widely used in the social sciences (especially psychology), and is occasionally confused with the American Psychiatric Association (who also use the acronym APA).
Psychologists advising interrogators
When it emerged that psychologists are advising interrogators in Guantánamo and other US facilities on improving the effectiveness of interrogation techniques, the Association called on the U.S. government to prohibit the use of unethical interrogation techniques and labeled specific techniques as torture.
Critics pointed out that the APA declined to advise its members not to participate in such interrogations.
This was in contrast to the American Psychiatric Association ban in May 2006 of all direct participation in interrogations by psychiatrists, and the American Medical Association ban in June 2006 of the direct participation in interrogations of physicians.
The APA was founded in July 1892 at Clark University by a group of 26 men. Its first president was G. Stanley Hall. There are currently 54 professional divisions in the APA. It is affiliated with 60 state, territorial, and Canadian provincial associations.
Dominance of clinical psychology
Due to the dominance of clinical psychology in APA, several research-focused groups have broken away from APA. These include the Psychonomic Society in 1959 (with a primarily cognitive orientation), and the Association for Psychological Science (which changed its name from the American Psychological Society in early 2006) in 1988 (with a broad focus on the science and research of psychology). Within APA, the Science Directorate provides support and voice for psychological scientists. Theodore H. Blau was the first clinician in independent practice to be elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1977.
^ Stephen Soldz: Psychologists, Guantánamo, and Torture: A Profession Struggles to Save Its Soul (ZNet, 3 August 2006); Protecting the Torturers Bad Faith and Distortions From the American Psychological Association (Counterpunch, 6 September 2006); Letter to the CEO of the American Psychological Association (OpEdNews.com, 28 November 2006)