25 Jul 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Consultant Dr. Melanie Kinser

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. As a consultant, Melanie Kinser, PhD, leverages her understanding of psychology and business to help leaders and safety professionals strengthen organizational culture and in turn, strengthen their bottom line. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Melanie Kinser, PhDSpeaker:
Melanie Kinser, PhD, focuses on translating complex topics into practical strategies that are realistic for her client's demanding work environments. Her clients include Fortune 500's, startups, and non-profits. She has partnered with organizations in the US, Canada and Australia in industries such as Technology, Healthcare, Energy, Pipeline Construction, Manufacturing, Higher Education and Nuclear. She has a Master’s and Doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Missouri. Dr. Kinser has published articles on organizational change and leadership development as well as presenting at several national conferences.

Garth Fowler, PhDHost:

Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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21 Jul 2017

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

In this 3-part web series, you'll learn the fundamentals of servant leadership, a leader or an organization that seeks first to serve others. The presentations cover effective communication, managing people and processes and positively transforming people and organizations. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

Each program runs about 1 hour:

Leadership and Communication

No communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively.

Leading and Managing People and Processes

In order to accomplish a mission, establishing a process is important. However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Learn the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

It takes strong leadership to help people and an organization transition in order to make a change. Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Learn what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

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20 Jul 2017

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

Leaders and managers should seek to positively transform people and organizations. Do not confuse the words “change” and “transition.” Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Certainly it takes a true vision to know where to go and the changes to make. But it takes strong leadership and management knowledge and skills to help the people and the organization transition in order to make the change. Communicator and leadership expert John A. Kline shares from his own experiences and those of others just what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

Learning Objective
Implement positive change.

John Kline, PhDPresenter
John A. Kline, (PhD, Iowa 1970) was a college professor, then from 1975-2000 the Air Force expert in Communication and Leadership. In 1986 he achieved Civilian (SES) status equivalent to a two-star general. From 1991 until 2000 he was the Air University Provost with responsibility for faculty, academic programs, libraries, technology, budget and support of 50,000 resident and 150,000 distance-learning students annually. Kline has written several books and many published articles, and is now the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development. He focuses on servant leadership and seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

 

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18 Jul 2017

Membership Pavilion Activities for the 2017 APA Convention

Membership Pavilion Activities for the 2017 APA Convention

This year marks the 125th anniversary of APA’s founding, and today, more than ever, APA is committed to providing our members with the tools that they need to develop and sustain successful careers. At the same time, APA staff, alongside our volunteer member leaders, continue the critical work of advocating for the field, engaging the public with psychology and supporting educators and students. During your time in at the 2017 APA Annual Convention in Washington, DC,  please make sure to visit the APA Membership Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall, Booth #540, to take advantage of the following activities, offers and giveaways:

Headshots: Get your FREE professional headshot when you provide a written testimonial (a $200 value)

 

 

 

 

Your APA Story: Share with us in a video testimonial how APA has been beneficial and receive a $5 Starbucks card and RFID sleeve protector

 

 

 

 

Limited-Edition Gift: Renew your APA membership for 2018 and receive a premium, limited-edition gift

 

 

 

Prizes: Take the Membership Survey for a chance to Win a FREE trip to San Francisco, CA, for the 2018 APA Convention

 

 

 

 

PsycIQ: Discover the latest specialized content from our new member-focused website, PsycIQ

 

Tools: Test-drive the newest members-only tools and resources in the Interactive Membership Lab

 

IonTuition: Download this web-based service that helps you manage student loan repayment, it's free with your membership to APA

 

Charging Station: Mobile running low on battery power? Recharge your mobile device while learning about new products and benefits of APA membership

 

Benefit Partners: Learn about financial, business and travel discounts available exclusively to members

17 Jul 2017

Leading and Managing People and Processes

Some leaders and managers focus primarily on the process, task, or mission.  Others focus on the people. Which is best? The military phrase: “Mission First, People Always” says it well.  To be effective, those in charge must focus on both.  Obviously the mission must be accomplished, therefore, the process is important.  However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Leaders and managers must have a dual focus. Communication and leadership expert John A. Kline, PhD, shares from his experience of managing and leading groups with a handful of people to organizations of thousands.

Learning Objective
Comprehend the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

John Kline, PhDPresenter
John A. Kline, (PhD, Iowa 1970) was a college professor, then from 1975-2000 the Air Force expert in Communication and Leadership. In 1986 he achieved Civilian (SES) status equivalent to a two-star general. From 1991 until 2000 he was the Air University Provost with responsibility for faculty, academic programs, libraries, technology, budget and support of 50,000 resident and 150,000 distance-learning students annually. Kline has written several books and many published articles, and is now the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development. He focuses on servant leadership and seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

 

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12 Jul 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Investment Vehicles

A Beginner’s Guide to Investment Vehicles

Of all the questions in the personal finance world, "What should I invest in?" easily comes to mind as the most common. Truth be told, there's really not a 100% correct answer or blueprint for people that are just starting out in their careers.

However, if you arm yourself with as much information as possible, it's so much easier to jump in and create your own investment strategy.

Even before we jump into potential strategies and goals, it's important to have a baseline understanding of what's out there to actually invest in! In this two-part investing series, we are going to take a look at the most common investment vehicles that will be available to a beginner investor.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to avoid real estate investments (for now). The following list will give a baseline definition of the investment vehicle, as well as important characteristics like what level of fees are typically involved and how much risk is associated.

Here are a few of the main investment vehicles that you need to know about early in your career:

1. Stocks

Diversification: Low

Risk: High to Moderate

Fees: Low

Stocks Definition: “Security that signifies ownership in a corporation and represents a claim on part of the corporation’s assets and earnings.”

What you need to know:

Almost everyone has heard of stocks (commonly called shares or equities) in some form or fashion. When you buy stock, you are essentially buying a small part of a specific company.

To purchase stock in a company, you have to use a broker like Schwab, E-Trade, Fidelity, etc., to manage the transaction. The broker will charge a fee per transaction that you make through their purchasing platform. Because there are so many brokerages available online, fees in recent years have become extremely low and can range anywhere from $4 to $7 per trade.

In terms of risk, stocks aren't all created equal. The quality of a company that you are buying is a major factor in how risky a stock can be. Blue chip stocks like Coca Cola, Exxon, and the other large companies that you can think of tend to be seen as less speculative, whereas smaller, unproven companies can be more risky to buy.

You do not need a fund manager to invest in stocks, unlike some of the other vehicles on this list.

2. ETFs

Diversification: High

Risk: High to Low

Fees: Low to Moderate

ETF Definition: “An exchange-traded fund is a ‘marketable’ security that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds or a basket of assets like an index fund.”

What you need to know:

ETFs have become extremely popular in recent years, because they combine a variety of investing options with a large amount of diversification while having low fees.

An ETF essentially tracks a sector like energy, or an entire market like the DOW or NASDAQ. So, if you were to buy an energy ETF, you would actually be buying shares of several companies that are contained in that particular sector.

The range of investment options with different ETFs allows investors to choose their particular level of risk.

3. Mutual Funds

Diversification: High

Risk: High to Low

Fees: Moderate

Mutual Funds Definition: “An investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of money collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets.”

What you need to know:

Mutual funds are an extremely popular investment vehicle because they specialize in diversification. Like an ETF, when you invest in a mutual fund you are actually buying a variety of stocks.

There are many different types of mutual funds, but for the purpose of this article we are going to focus on "actively managed" funds.

Actively managed means that there is a fund manager that oversees the investments made within a specific mutual fund. Their goal over time is to guide the fund in a way that hopefully outperforms the market.

This active management does lead to extra fees associated with the mutual fund, which will have an effect on your overall return on investment. In addition, mutual funds can have a higher tax burden than other diversified investment vehicles (like ETFs) because more transactions are made by the fund manager that are subject to capital gains tax.

There is a large range of investment options associated with mutual funds, and even mutual funds that invest in a range of other mutual funds!

4. Bond Funds

Diversification: Moderate

Risk: Moderate to Low

Fees: Moderate to Low

Bond Fund Definition: “A fund that invests in bonds or other debt securities.”

What you need to know:

A bond is a debt investment in which the investor loans money to a borrower, and then after a certain period of time is repaid with interest. Bonds are typically thought of as much more stable than stocks, but have lower returns on an investment.

Bond funds operate in a similar way to mutual funds, and are often actively managed by a fund manager. Rather than buying stocks, a bond fund will invest in a variety of bonds.

Interest rates can have a major effect on bonds and bond funds, so it's important to keep track of how the Fed is currently setting rates (at the time of this writing, the Fed is slowly raising interest rates).

5. Money Market Accounts

Diversification: Low

Risk: Low

Fees: Low

Money Market Account Definition: “An interest-bearing account that typically pays a higher interest rate than a savings account, and which provides the account holder with limited check-writing ability.”

What you need to know:

Money market accounts operate in a similar way to a regular savings account and are seen as one of the safest investment vehicles.

The investor places money in the account, and is given a return by the bank at a set rate over time. These accounts can be a good option for investors that may not be ready to jump in fully to investing, but don’t want inflation to diminish the value of their available cash.

Usually, banks will take money that is invested in a money market account and buy low-risk vehicles like certificates of deposit or debt securities with a short maturity rate. The idea is to create a return on investment without risking too much to market volatility.

This is just the beginning...

There are obviously many more investment vehicles out there (we didn't even mention real estate!), but the key to early investing is to keep everything as simple as possible. If you stick with understanding the basic options and grow your strategy from there, you'll have a long and successful stint with investing over the course of your career and life.

In part two of this series, we'll discuss how to define your investing goals and ultimately develop the right strategy to meet them.

-- Bobby Hoyt is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance site MillennialMoneyMan.com full-time, and has been seen on CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Reuters, Marketwatch, and many other major publications.

The opinions and advice expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those held by the American Psychology Association (APA).

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12 Jul 2017

How to Create an Investment Strategy Early in Your Career

How to Create an Investment Strategy Early in Your Career

One of the most intimidating aspects of personal finance when you are just starting out in your career or beginning to get ahead is choosing an investment strategy that works. Unfortunately, we are all bombarded with "get rich quick" investment products and messages on almost a daily basis. It muddies the water and distracts from the reality that building wealth is a process that just doesn't come easily.

No matter what path you choose in investing or what anyone else tells you, the ultimate factor is time. You want your money to be subjected to the incredible force of compounding interest for as many years as possible.

What you choose as the vehicle to build your wealth is up to you, and honestly there are a lot of ways to do it. In our last investing article, we detailed some of the most basic investment terms and vehicles to create a foundation to build on.

This article is going to dive into the actual process of picking a strategy that works the best for your career and life.

Here are four important factors to consider while choosing an investment strategy:

1) What are your goals?

Just a few decades ago, the biggest reason for the average person to invest was pretty simple. You worked for a set amount of years while putting money into investment accounts, with the hope that you would be able to retire at the end of your career and live off of your various investments.

Today, things have changed drastically. Millennials in particular are rewriting the definition of what retirement actually means. Young people are wanting to retire earlier, work less and enjoy their families more, and also are willing to cut back on lifestyle costs to put more money away.

So, before you decide anything, you need to look at your life and career and decide what you want it to look like.

Do you want to retire early? Then you'll need to grow your retirement accounts as aggressively as possible and make sure your money isn't locked up in IRAs until you are 59 1/2.

If you want to take the traditional route, there are a range of investment options available to you. Your biggest goal would be to make sure you maximize your returns over time and make educated guesses on when you think you'll realistically want to retire.

2) See what options are readily available first

Of course, before you jump into any type of plan to build wealth through investing, you need to fully understand what options are available to you through your career path.

Does your company have an attractive 401(k) match? If so — that's essentially free money that you'll want to max out first before applying investment funds elsewhere. Also, how limited are the investment options within that 401(k)?

You might be working with a company that has an annuity-based retirement system, where you have no control over the funds that you contribute to retirement every month. If that's the case — there's a good chance that you'll want to supplement your retirement plan with an IRA that allows you to buy ETFs (exchange-traded funds), mutual funds, or individual stocks and bonds as you please.

If you're self-employed, you really have a wide range of options depending on your business income. The best strategy here would be to hire a great accountant that can guide you on what type of account(s) will work best to keep your taxable income low.

How much debt do you have? It's no secret that getting a degree in the mental health profession isn't cheap. Many mental health professionals have high student loan debt loads. When you are deciding what to do with money that you've set aside for investing, how do you know that you shouldn't apply it to your debt instead?

The answer is fairly simple: What's the interest rate on your loans?

If you have a higher interest rate at 6% or more, you might want to consider putting your money there first. Any time you pay off higher interest debt, you are keeping a lot of money that would have gone to interest in your pocket. So, paying off your debt is almost a guaranteed return.

If you look at stock market average returns over history, they have averaged anywhere from 7–12% (depending on the source you're reading). If you feel confident that you will outperform your student loan interest rate in the market, you might want to put your money there.

Just understand — investing is never guaranteed and there is a risk of losing your money, so make sure you take that into consideration when dealing with the debt vs. investing question.

3) Taxes have a huge impact!

Taxes are rarely on people's minds at the beginning of their careers, but if you ignore them, they can eat a hole into your investment returns.

That's why it's typically a good idea to use a "tax advantaged" investing strategy. Most commonly, that means putting money into designated retirement accounts like a Roth or Traditional IRA.

Very quickly, here's the difference between those two popular IRA choices:

Roth IRA: Money is taxed at your current income tax rate when you contribute money to the account, and then grows tax free until you take the money out at retirement.

Traditional IRA: Money is not taxed when you contribute to the account, but when you take it out at retirement it will be taxed at whatever tax bracket you fall into later down the road.

Why is this important? It has a ton to do with your investment strategy! When you are young, you generally are in a lower tax bracket, so the investment funds may be better served in a Roth IRA. That means that those funds will be taxed at a lower rate and then grow over the course of your career tax free.

If you opt for a traditional IRA, you are essentially betting that your tax bracket will be lower in the future than it is now.

It's always important to consult with a tax professional when making these choices, but know that even the best accountant can't predict future tax rates. You'll have to make the best informed decision you can and hope for the best.

4) Are you paying too much in fees?

You need to be aware that fees can eat away at your returns over time in a drastic way.

Every time you make a trade in your investment account, you'll have to pay a commission. Those $4 to $7 dollar fees might seem small, but they can slowly pile up to a huge amount over 30-plus years of investing. Buying and selling too often and based on impulse within your accounts is a good way to lose a large sum of money over time.

There are also management fees to consider. Mutual funds in particular are often packed with fees that you may not even know about, and your investments will suffer over the long term.

The popular personal finance site NerdWallet recently conducted a study that showed even a 1% fee could cost a young investor up to $590,000 over a 40-year investment period.

Bottom line—pay attention to the fees.

5) Do you want income, or growth?

This is a huge debate in the personal finance world right now. Buying dividend-producing stocks is a popular investment strategy because particular equities with a high-dividend yield (or amount paid to you quarterly in the form of cash) can essentially produce a passive income. That sounds great, right?

The rub is that historically, dividend stocks don't produce quite as much growth as other equities that don't pay a dividend.  Some argue that while dividend income is nice, they would much rather own companies that reinvest those potential dividends back into the company so it can grow larger and more valuable (and in turn make your stock more valuable).

Like everything in investing, there isn't necessarily a "right" answer. Everything is based on your financial goals and what you are most comfortable investing in and understand the most.

Finally and above all else—never invest in a vehicle that you don't fully understand. You can create all of the goals and strategies that you'd like, but if you don't know what you're actually buying with your investment funds, you're probably going to lose money.

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12 Jul 2017

Tips for Applying to Graduate School

Tips for Applying to Graduate School

Applying to graduate school can be a challenging process that requires effort, patience and time. However, there are many things you can do to overcome your anxiety about the application process. Here are some tips that APA gathered from recruiters and successful graduate students that can help bring you one step closer to acceptance at your dream school.

Find you perfect match

Selecting the graduate program in psychology that is best for you requires thoughtful consideration. First, think carefully about your career goals and training interests, then apply to programs with graduates that succeed in the types of jobs and training programs you are most interested in. In addition, make sure your previous education and training have prepared you for success in the program. As you review graduate programs, ask these questions:

  1. What is the profile of recently admitted students in terms of academic background, standardized test scores, research experience, work experience and demographic characteristics? Your profile should be similar to theirs to help ensure your acceptance to and success within the program.
  2. What is the program's success rate in terms of the percentage of admitted students who graduate, and what is the average number of years they required to do so?
  3. What are the goals and objectives of the program? Do they match your interests and academic preparation as a prospective graduate student?
  4. For programs with an emphasis on academic and research careers, what is the record of graduates' success in obtaining postdoctoral research fellowships, academic appointments or applied research positions outside a college or university setting?
  5. For programs that require an internship or practicum, what is the success rate of placement for students attending the program? What level of assistance is provided to students in obtaining practicum and internship placements?
  6. For programs with an emphasis on professional practice, what is the program's accreditation status (only applicable to clinical, counseling and school doctoral programs)? Are their graduates successful in obtaining licensure, in being selected for advanced practice residencies, and in getting jobs after they finish training?
  7. What types of financial assistance does each program offer?

Graduate school is more of a mentorship program, where students are required to conduct their own research. Therefore, graduate schools look not only for students who will do well in the program, but also for those who will benefit from the program and contribute to the research projects of the schools. Before you apply, make sure that the program is the best fit for you academically and financially. Research the program carefully so that you can find out whether you are the best fit for the program.

Settle Your Score:  GRE and GPA

Most graduate schools seek the best students who will match their programs and offer the most to the field. One approach they use to select these students is to consider students’ GPA and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Even though these are not the only elements graduate schools use to decide whether a student will be accepted to the program, they are usually the explicit cutoff point. Your awesome recommendation letter or experience will not be considered if your GRE and GPA score is below the required level. There are many things that you can do to prevent yourself from a GRE/ GPA crisis:

  1. Set a goal to get your GPA and GRE scores up to the level that the schools expect you to have. This will offer more opportunity for your recommendation letters and experience to be considered.
  2. It is always smart to start early. You will never realize how difficult and time-consuming the GRE can be until you begin your learning process. Therefore, plan to study for the GRE early, so that you will be well prepared despite other unexpected factors that might affect your plan.
  3. Ask other students to study for the GRE with you. Having a partner can motivate you to be more serious with your study plan.
  4. Take advantage of all the resources you have. There are many different books, apps, and websites that can assist you in getting a higher GRE score.

In contrast with the GRE, building a strong GPA is more of a long-term process. You have to keep on working hard throughout all four years of undergraduate school to achieve a good GPA. The good news is that you do not need to have a 4.0. Be ambitious but also be realistic when you set out to reach your goal GPA so that you will not lose your motivation. Always keep in mind that you have to meet the requirements of the schools to which you are applying. If you have already tried hard but did not get the GPA or GRE score that you wanted, don’t let this undermine your academic career. You can still impress many programs with a well-written personal statement and by spotlighting research experiences and providing strong letters of recommendation. It is important to remember that many graduate programs, including the top ones such as Stanford University, look at more than just your GPA and GRE score.

Research Experience

  • Start research early. Graduate school admission reviewers expect stellar grades and strong GRE scores. Stand out from the applicant crowd by immersing yourself in research as soon as you think a psychology career might be in the cards for you, says Katherine Sledge Moore, a third-year cognitive psychology graduate student at the University of Michigan.

"Research experience is the best preparation for graduate school, and these days is virtually a requirement," she says.

There are many ways you can find research opportunities before applying to graduate school:

  1. Ask professors from your undergraduate psychology courses if they need research assistants or want to take on independent study students. And completing a senior thesis is a must, she adds, because it shows that you have the ability to conduct an entire research experiment from idea conception to final data analysis.
  2. Get psyched for summer.  Spend your free time over summer break or during afternoons off, for example, working in a research lab or volunteering at a hospital's behavioral health center.
  3. If you are having difficulty finding research opportunities, go to the APA’s PSYCIQ website: http://psyciq.apa.org/psyciq-quick-links-funding-sources/. There you will find search tools for locating grants, funds, internship, and research internships.
  4. Always remember to start early. Do not wait until the first semester of your senior year to look for your first research team. If you start early, you will be well prepared by the time you apply for graduate school.

"In two years, you'll have the substantive amount of work done, maybe even enough to submit for publication, before you apply," she says.

Personal statement

The personal statement is the most important element in your application package. You may have chosen the right schools to apply to, but now you must prove that you are the best fit for their program. Throughout your personal statement, show the recruiters that you have amazing research experiences, abilities, potential, clarity of plan, and writing skills. There are a few things that you should keep in mind while drafting your essays:

  1. Do not use the same statements for all schools. Different programs might have different requirements, which means you have to adjust your statement accordingly to what the programs are looking for.
  2. When you are writing about your goals and experiences, aim for precision and detail. Avoid generic statements.
  3. Proofread your statement many times before submitting it.

Recommendation letter

Most graduate school applications require recommendation letters, often from faculty you've worked for or taken classes with. It is easy to get a recommendation letter, but it takes more effort to get a good one that can impress the recruiters:

  1. Remember to ask the right people. Choose only those who know you and your abilities well, and who won’t simply say you got an A in the class.
  2. Make the process easy for your professor. He or she will appreciate it. Be specific about the program or position you are applying for, and provide an accurate list of your experiences and activities.
  3. Do not forget to show your sincere appreciation. A thoughtful, handwritten thank-you note may increase your chances for a future recommendation should you need one.

We hope that this advice gives you a clearer idea of the application process and what you can do to increase your chances of success. Remember that you have to show the recruiter how special and unique you are. Many applicants have outstanding grades and research experience, so make sure that you stand out to the recruiter with your own story. Applying for graduate schools can be challenging, but APA has tools and resources to assist you on your journey.

The information for this article comes from APA’s Graduate and Postdoctoral Education website:

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11 Jul 2017

Nancy Sidun Wants Psychology to Help Prevent Human Trafficking

Nancy Sidun Wants Psychology to Help Prevent Human Trafficking
Nancy Sidun
APA Fellow Nancy Sidun's clinical work has covered international relations and women's issues as well as working with the military.

What Nancy Sidun, PsyD, loves about being a psychologist is that she gets to help people attain a better life than they might otherwise have—her patients, her colleagues and the subjects of her research.

"It's hokey but true," Sidun says. As a girl, "I saw that movie, The Miracle Worker, and I was so taken by the fact that Annie Sullivan didn't give up on Helen Keller. I wanted to be like Annie Sullivan. I wanted to spend my life investing in people others thought were disposable. That's the great thing about clinical psychology. Your job is trying to empower people to be the best they can be." 

 In her own career, Sidun has followed that goal into some tough areas. In 2014, she co-chaired the APA's Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls after chairing a similar investigation for Division 52. "They were the ones who gave me voice" for pursuing the issue, Sidun says of the  APA’s Division of International Psychology, but "it became clear that we needed the support of the full APA" to effect any real change. She first got involved with the issue a decade ago, in part because she had adopted a daughter from China. "My God, what if her life had taken a different path?" Sidun says.

She's excited about the influence organized psychology may eventually bring to bear on human trafficking, which the task force report defines as the "economic exploitation of an individual through force, fraud or coercion."

The International Labor Organization has estimated that 12.3 million people worldwide are now living in some kind of forced servitude. Far and away, most victims are women. While many are forced into agricultural work and urban industries like sweat shops, nail salons and domestic service, the overwhelming majority are exploited sexually. In the United States, when women are trafficked for sex, the coercion is most likely psychological, a "grooming" process whereby a woman is lured into a seemingly caring relationship with a man who will put her to work for his benefit in the commercial sex trade, Sidun says.

"Psychology can do so much to help, but we're very late to the table. Every other discipline has been attending to trafficking," Sidun says.

Psychologists can help prevent trafficking by backing empowerment programs for vulnerable women, working to change the public's perceptions about the commercial sex trade to reduce demand, championing the rights of victimized women and identifying at-risk individuals in schools and other settings. Psychologists can also develop effective therapeutic interventions that will address the "extensive and complex" needs of women for whom the very concept of trust has been shredded, and evaluate governmental and nonprofit programs that have been set up to intervene.

One of the most important roles for psychologists is to educate the public and officials in the criminal justice system. People need to know how to recognize trafficking when they see it, and how to follow up with appropriate action that will lead to freeing the women and prosecuting the traffickers. When coercion is psychological, it's not always easy to understand the dynamic without some familiarity with research that has been done on the topic, which psychologists can make available and digestible. They can also testify in court.

U.S. citizens are among both the victims and the perpetrators in the trade, and American Indian women are the most disproportionately trafficked of any U.S. group, Sidun says.

Research on trafficking can be "challenging" to conduct, as there is "no typical case," according to the task force report. What traffickers have in common is their utter willingness to exploit the vulnerable. Any instability creates an opportunity for them, notably poverty, natural disasters and political conflict. Orphans are at particular risk. Only about 6 percent of individuals trafficked into the commercial sex trade in the United States are male.

Sidun says trafficking "runs the gamut from mom and pop operations to organized crime," from sophisticated international enterprises to teenaged boys pimping out their girlfriends. One study that looked at 25 pimps in Chicago found that they often have been "born and raised in an environment where people were exploited. Trafficking is safer and more lucrative than the drug trade, and [pimps] are less likely to get arrested. They often think of themselves as the good guys, protecting the girls. It's quite disturbing," Sidun says.

A New Jersey native, Sidun spent most of her adult life in Chicago, but 17 years ago moved to Hawaii. In Chicago, Sidun taught at a number of colleges, but Hawaii didn't offer the same opportunities. She worked for several years in administration and direct service with Kaiser Permanente, and then went into "telehealth." In a state with a large military presence, Sidun now treats "100 percent" of her clients remotely, via secure clinical video-teleconferencing (VTC) systems. "Most of my clients are in Korea," others are in Japan, Guam, American Samoa, Alaska, and the far-flung islands of Hawaii. Virtually all are military dependents or personnel on active duty she treats through the Pacific Regional Tele-Behavioral Health Hub at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Sidun says.     

"For the younger generation, it's the normal way of communicating," she says. "And some of the service members are not as comfortable with emotions, so they don't mind being in an office by themselves during a session. In some ways, for them, that [remote aspect] can enhance treatments. I don't get to read the full body language, but I really like working this way."

She finds the "military culture fascinating. You have to be aware of the culture to be effective [with military clients], and I've enjoyed getting to know about that. I'll say one thing: If I give my military clients homework, it's going to get done!" she says.

In the past, some active-duty personnel may have been concerned their careers might stall if they sought help for such work-related conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but Sidun thinks that now, "the military is trying to change that mindset. There are good treatments for PTSD," including prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). "They can help people," she says, adding that military officials definitely are beginning to recognize and encourage active-duty personnel to get the help they need.

Sidun is a past president of the Hawaii Psychological Association. She thinks activity in associations is "critical in protecting psychologists' interests. We watch bills in the legislature very closely, and advocate if we think we need to," she says.

Sidun also trains psychologists in self-care, and she's returning to using her early training in art therapy in this sideline. "We psychologists are bad at self-care," she says. "We take care of our patients, not so much of ourselves."

You could say Sidun is pursuing the role that led her into psychology, that of the dauntless teacher.

"I love supervision. I love training. It's my favorite thing," she says. "I think I'm a good clinician, but I have an opportunity to touch more people if I'm teaching."     

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11 Jul 2017

Leadership and Communication

In one of his published articles, communication expert John A. Kline said, “If you can’t communicate, don’t try to lead.” But what is effective communication? Effective communication is more than just speaking or writing effectively; effective communication is simply the effective sharing of meaning. And no communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively. Kline shares basic insights and real life stories about his lifelong quest to become a better communicator.

Learning Objective
Apply skills that improve my communication skills.

John Kline, PhDPresenter
John A. Kline, (PhD, Iowa 1970) was a college professor, then from 1975-2000 the Air Force expert in Communication and Leadership. In 1986 he achieved Civilian (SES) status equivalent to a two-star general. From 1991 until 2000 he was the Air University Provost with responsibility for faculty, academic programs, libraries, technology, budget and support of 50,000 resident and 150,000 distance-learning students annually. Kline has written several books and many published articles, and is now the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development. He focuses on servant leadership and seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

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