06 Feb 2017

APA’s Response to Presidential Executive Orders and Statements

APA’s Response to Presidential Executive Orders and Statements

APA is a nonpartisan, scientific and educational organization with a mission to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare. When appropriate, APA takes positions on policy issues that are relevant to this mission.

Before adopting any positions or publishing any statements, APA staff, in consultation with association officers, carefully screen the issue to ensure that APA’s engagement is consistent with our mission and association policies, that psychology has something meaningful to contribute to the discussion, and that there is benefit to the organization in getting involved, among other factors considered.

APA has issued public responses to four of the President’s executive orders and public statements. Here are the official executive orders from the White House and a news story regarding a statement by the president, along with APA's responses:

Foreign Entry

Hiring Freeze

'Enhanced' Interrogation

Dakota Access Pipeline

Wish to leave a comment? Please reply below, or email us at membership@apa.org

39 thoughts on “APA’s Response to Presidential Executive Orders and Statements

  1. I applaud the APA for responding to such issues that can affect individuals psychologically and psychosocially. There’s plenty of research that demonstrates how political, social, and cultural practices and policies affect individuals, families, and groups of people, to include social psychology, psychological and cognitive anthropology, cultural anthropology, ecological systems theories and research, cross-disciplinary research, microaggression research, racism research, evolutionary theories and research, etc. Scientists share information with one another and inform the public, including those entities that govern the public. Friends of the court also “weigh in” to political and legal matters, to include clinical and forensic psychologists. When public health crises related to the safety of our physical health is an issue, organizations associated with the physical medical fields “weigh in” on political issues; thus, so should mental health and related fields. The mind, body, and behavior are all connected, as are the factors within our surrounding environments that affect our mind, body, and behavior. If we would like to see mental health parity, part of that should also include the same freedoms that biomedical and physical health fields have when contributing their knowledge and advocating for people on a political level – not simply having equal access and affordability to mental health care, but also being able to contribute politically where necessary, but the macrosystem also affects individuals, macrosystems, mesosystems, exosystems, and the chronosystem.

  2. I certainly agree that the opinions expressed by the APA appear biased and often very political. APA comments should stick just to mental health issues that are researched base. The pipeline issues does not appear to be a mental health issue that is researched based. The issue of stopping immigrants from certain areas does not appear to be a researched based statement. How about our fear of terrorist coming into the country? Over the many years I have been a APA member, it appears that a majority of official statements and positions seem political and usually do not represent my opinion (some do). As a member, I would ask the leadership of APA to refrain from these political statements/positions. I think they do our organization harm.

  3. I see two professional approaches under the same roof of the APA: one that is helping people and society with scientific study and observation, and another side that uses such knowledge to empower one’s professional business and practice as an authoritative practitioner. The dichotomy acts as the left and right brain of the organization. However, several conservatives are dissociating over the function of when to inform in a public statement as opposed to preparing for the increased business opportunity such foreign policies generate. Both positions are valid for the interests of those who hold them as more beneficial relative to their worldview. And those positions are our own personal political positions, yet as for being a collective association when-to-speak-out comes in shifts of degree, and it is not an exact threshold that is either on safe ground or obviously over a cliff. Here the APA seeks through the science of observation and understanding and history to establish a warning somewhere before the cliffs edge of tilting towards more harm than good. We as professionals should stand together in our profession and knowledge as authorities on the subject of psychology as a science of human understanding of mind and leave our political position out of the scientific observations that influence the professional opinion the APA has put forward in representing our professional science though it might not be in our political will or business interest to do so. We should let knowledge be shared while weighing the alternatives and facts so decision making is informed at the national level with professional understanding—forming a well founded and tested opinion for our President elect who represents all of us in the USA. Perhaps saying the APA is becoming political is just a projection of our own politicizing the issues to promote our own personal agendas. To disprove this, one has only to show an opinion set forth by the APA that is not backed by research or has been disproved. Ad hominem attacks using liberal is not equal to an argument using science. Let’s make America great, and again keep it great with the influence of APA’s scientific professionalism in support of both the POTUS and the POAPA. United we stand.

  4. well , we should have the courage to speak truth, listen truth , adopt truth and to accept truth in spite of concealing/escaping the realities. All are the knots of a life cycle , whether political, professional, economical, psycho-social , the missing of any knot can lead to instability in Dynamic Equilibrium of Life sustenance .So those who are blessed with this stats of courage should give voice to silent grudges leading to frustration.
    Keep up the Good Work!

  5. I wish that the APA would desist from commenting on these political issues. The assumption that the membership is in agreement with these responses is unjustified and there is no reason to think that the APA or its members have any special expertise that entitles them to weigh in on these issues.

  6. It is very disappointing to me every time APA strays from being a professional scientific or practice organization and delves into politics. It makes us look bad as a profession when APA puts out political statements. If you want activism then join an activist group, but leave our APA out of it.

    1. As an alternative point of view, the science of psychology is pertinent to the psychology of political control. There is an undeniable connection between the consequences of that control and the effects it has on the mental health of individuals and communities. (Including epigenetic factors that can impact future generations as well) When political decisions have a negative impact on mental health, the APA has an ethical obligation to release that information to the general public. If the APA had been willing to be more outspoken about personality disorders, narcissism and the psychology of political control, perhaps we wouldn’t be talking about activism vs. “looking bad.”

  7. I am in full support of APA statements. These statements are responsible and professional representations of our professional ethics, guidelines, and responsibilities.

  8. I applaud the APA for taking a public stand in defense of those whose well-being is at risk in the current climate of xenophobia and other assorted bigotries. To those upset by the APA’s statements: when mere acknowledgment of the harm that can result from such far-reaching government policies is considered “partisan,” that’s a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

    By the way, the research you all claim to want is easily accessible with a simple Google Scholar search.

    1. I fully agree with the APA statements and as a European feel assured that there is hope in the current political climate that disregards American principles including egality, progress, freedom of speech, etc. There is no way an Association like the APA that stands for human rights, dignity and values can refrain from issuing such political statements. Please continue! You have my full support.

  9. Psychologists have no special expertise to comment on these blatantly political issues. By doing so, we divide our membership and delegitimize our organization as an impartial source of information.

  10. The APA is unfortunately becoming another predictable, liberal, painfully politically correct organization. This unnecessary and non-productive activism is why I am a former member. I did not renew my membership and will not until the APA acts like the professional organization it was intended to be.

  11. I beg to differ with the description that these statements are “nonpartisan” or nonpolitical. Many moderate to conservative colleagues have discontinued their APA memberships due to their disagreement with the APA’s political stances (even when offered under the guise of “research”). Please strive to carefully remain neutral in the midst of political upheaval, focusing instead on the balanced representation of our field to the public as a whole.
    If individual members of APA would like to take a stand on political situations, so be it as a means of practicing our free speech, but to ignore the fact that there are conservative members of the public that are served by conservative and independent psychologists seems short-sighted and limited.

  12. It is difficult for me to see how all the above policy issues could warrant an official APA stance. The Dakota Access Pipeline issue is a political matter with no direct bearing on psychology. Please stick to psychological science and practice issues and avoid giving the appearance that this professional organization of psychologists is unified on political views only a small subset has adopted.

  13. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Perhaps you are stuck on the difficulty of measuring evil, but I find it hard to wrap my mind around psychologists registering complaints about our organization publicly denouncing the Trump administrations plan to reinstate torture. There are times when it is important to step out of rational detachment and stand up for what is good and right for all people.

  14. Most of the comments by APA members seem to advise the APA to refrain from joining the political battle over the president’s executive orders. I agree with them and respectfully urge our organization’s leaders to concentrate on more scientific and professional matters.

  15. The APA has once again taken very partisan stances on political issues, while overtly calling itself nonpartisan. This duplicity rightly calls into to question the veracity of anything the APA has or will espouse. Like others I am also wondering whether I need to support this organization anymore. I’m not sure my voice is loud enough to be heard over so many with liberal political agendas. I hope our profession can survive this organization’s ever increasing willingness to masquerade, and in more recent years overtly blast, political opinions as representative of the “science” of psychology. Even if I agree personally with any of these opinions, you’ve at the very least damaged the APA’s credibility by overstepping the boundaries of this professional organization. You’ve made it much easier for the public and those within our organization to rightly question decades of APA declarations and conclusions.

  16. The APA needs to be political, particularly as it regards the underserved, marginalized, targeted and otherwise vilified. How long should our institutions stand by silently? How long does it take for fascism to take hold of government. As a psychologist, I have dedicated my entire professional career to working with individuals who have been victim to the antics and hate of people like the current administration. It is time to get real and recognize that we are dealing with malignant narcissism on a grand scale where nobody is safe or respected. It is about time the APA stepped up and accepted the responsibility to call a lie a lie and to require accountability and respect of our government leaders.

  17. I have been pleased/relieved that in the past, APA has only taken positions on issues where there is research evidence for the position. APA has in the past taken positions against torture not just on the fact that it is unethical but on the position that torture does not produce useful information and has undesirable consequences. The other executive actions APA has taken positions against have undersireable humanitarian consequences but not research based consequences. APA has has a rather good record for a liberal organization in working with a much more conservative government. APA seriously risks loosing this good relationship with government by taking positions not based on research evidence but on liberal humanitarian concerns. It would be very unforunate if APA were to be seen as just another predictably liberal organ rather than one based on science

  18. I am fully opposed to the APA engaging in opinionated, narrow minded diatribes; APA, restrain yourself! As a retired Psychologist and current member of APA, I can assert my own opinion on political matters. Should you continue in your present trend, I will make no further contributions to any APA organization. Nada!

    1. I agree with you. My membership is up for renewal and I may not renew.
      I wish the APA would not utilize membership dues to promote divisive rhetoric. Why not focus on how psychologists can reduce trauma during such times of change ?

    2. The recent public positions taken by the APA are far from “narrow minded diatribes” in that they are based on the APA stated mission which seeks to “advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.”

    3. When reading these public responses to current presidential actions I am proud to be a long standing member of APA, now 81 and practicing half-time. These are not “political” issues but actions taken by a new administration in Washington that threaten myself and my clients, and the welfare of Americans in general. History is littered with examples of where not speaking up or keeping views to oneself resulted in tragedy. Let’s all do what we can.

  19. This is not science. This is political. I certainly agree with our leaders commenting to the administration about policies, but to do so in an official public statement will divide psychologists and further fracture our association.

    1. Here’s a challenge for you: cite a study that finds that discrimination stress *does not* negatively impact mental (or even physical) health. The SCIENCE has repeatedly found that it does.

  20. These APA statements, with regard to the president are embarrassing to psychologist and the profession. APA, please stick to discussing research based facts, not the fears of a few select members who are in academia.
    Due to the overwhelmingly political and liberal nature of the APA, I feel it no longer represents the interest of psychologist at large, but is instead representative of only the institutionalized side of the profession (government and universities), as such I will not be renewing my membership.

    1. Jim I disagree with you. the response seems to fit the concern. It may not be a concern you have , but there is a large portion of the population that does. Instead of taking your toys and going home, present a paper based on your hypothesis with documenation. I look forward to reading it. To the rest of you who disagree based on your personal opinion please provide a researched paper to back up your hypothesis.

  21. I would take exception to the first sentence that APA is a “nonpartisan” organization. From my vantage point, the APA is a much more left-leaning organization than many of us feel comfortable with.

  22. I agree with APA’s position on all of the above issues. I am particularly concerned with the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I have been involved with the Ihanktonwan people (one of several smaller tribes within the Sioux Nation) for several years and more recently with the Dakota Presbytery. We have been working to rebuild relationships with a culture of Americans that have been mistreated for much too long. For the US to now attempt to alter an agreement, namely to interfere with land that was given to the Sioux when they are not in agreement, is an atrocity.

  23. While I agree with APA position on Hiring Freeze and Dakota pipeline, implementation shows that both were in the Executive Order and it was not necessary for APA to step in.

    As for Foreign Entry, I am appalled that APA made no mention of “posing harm” to American citizens! I find that dissapointing as a long-standing member of APA and indeed quite POLITICAL! I urge APA to remain neutral politically and to quote BOTH sides of a position, thus representing all of its membership NOT just the liberal side.

    By fiat, NOT VETTING TRRRORISTS into this Great Nation imposed “grave harm and danger” to every American.

    A copy of my comments have been forwarded to my COTUS representives and the POTUS.

    THANK YOU,
    Tom Tenbrunsel

  24. I support the above positions that APA is making on topics of Foreign Entry, Federal Hiring Freeze, “Enhanced” Interrogation, and the Dakota Access Pipeline. R. Osgood, Ph.D.

  25. Your positions are inline with the various liberal causes. Not that I necessarily disagree with them, they are obviously biased toward one side of the issue…for example, the conservative position on the “temporary vetting ban” would argue that it is done to better protect American citizens from the turmoil now evident in Europe and the Middle East; there is no “researched” evidence that the ban is going to cause irreparable harm to anyone…

    I urge the APA to stick to the behavioral science; present researched opinions and facts; stay out of political conjecture…consider supporting unbiased research into human behavior; stay out of the political “zeitgeist.”

    1. Is there another moral position to take? President Obama already had intense controls in place. IMO, when science has uncovered what is positive and negative for people, we should share findings.

  26. Please don’t turn into an activism organization. Why do you need to respond to these – there is no reason to jump on the outrage train. Let’s be unbiased and sensible; please. Did you also post these when Obama used this legislation to put holds on certain visas which were also TEMPORARY? This sadly does not seem to be non-partisan. However, as we all know the issue of torture and the APA is current – and that warranted a response.

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