Report from the APsaA Executive Council
This past year I was elected as our representative to the APsaA Executive Council, the Board of Directors of our national organization. The Executive Council is comprised of the APsaA elected officers, (President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Past-President), the officers of the Board of Professional Standards (Chair and Secretary) who are non-voting members, eight Councilors-at-large, who are also elected by the APsaA membership, and a representative from each of the Association’s affiliate organizations (institutes, societies and centers from around the country). As SFCP’s Executive Councilor, I will be attending the APsaA Executive Council meetings in January and June, for a 2-year term.
I attended my first Executive Council meeting as SFCP’s Executive Councilor (I attended part of the June 14 meeting with Bill Glover, our prior Councilor) on January 17, during the meetings of APsaA in New York. For those of you who subscribe to the APsaA Members Listserv, you will have already read about some of the drama that occurred during the meetings and of the ongoing conflict between the Executive Council and the Board of Professional Standards (BOPS). This article is my attempt to share my experience on the Executive Council and to inform the SFCP membership about the motions that came before the Council and how I voted.
APsaA’s Organization Structure: the Executive Council & BOPS
Historically, the Executive Council and BOPS have been, to varying degrees over the years, operating as if they were equal partners responsible for the operations and maintenance of APsaA, with the Executive Council responsible for the operational management of APsaA as a professional membership organization and non-profit corporation and BOPS responsible for education: setting educational standards, the accreditation of affiliate training sites, certifying graduate analysts, and granting TA appointments. It is my understanding that legal consultations over the past decade have clarified that under New York corporate law the Executive Council, as the Board of Directors of the corporation, holds the authority for all decisions effecting the organization. Although BOPS is tasked (in the bylaws) with developing, implementing and maintaining educational standards, the final authority lies with the Executive Council. It is also my (current) understanding that the leadership of BOPS, along with many of its members disagrees with this view of the corporate structure and believes the authority BOPS has over educational aims is autonomous.
Currently, a primary source of tension within the organization revolves around conflicting views of the Training Analyst system. Continuing debates about the certification process and its prerequisite for appointing to TA has also been a
part of the tension.
At the June meeting of the Executive Council, President-Elect Mark Smaller put forth the following motion that was approved by a vote of 27-13:
Resolved: It is the policy of the Association that the appointment of training analyst shall be based on objective and verifiable criteria, and the Executive Council encourages the Board on Professional Standards to develop methodology
to implement this policy.
As the January meetings were approaching, the Board of Professional Standards had not responded to the Executive Council’s request for the implementation of this new policy.
January’s Executive Council Meeting
Several members of the Executive Council drafted and pre-circulated a motion calling for the establishment of a temporary set of objective and verifiable criteria for the national appointment of Training Analyst status, to be effective only until such time as BOPS has established permanent and workable criteria. In addition, the motion called for the President to appoint a temporary ad hoc committee to review TA applications and make appointments. The temporary criteria for TA appointment are:
A. The analyst is a member of APsaA.
B. The analyst has graduated from an APsaA or IPA training institute or substantially equivalent training.
C. The analyst has had at least five years of unsupervised postgraduate psychoanalytic experience, subject to the following conditions:
1. Postgraduate psychoanalytic experience includes the treatment of at least four (4) nonpsychotic psychoanalytic cases, each for a minimum of three (3) years.
2. At least one these four cases has been carried through to termination.
3. At least two of the four cases were initiated after graduation.
4. Until January 2018 or until the BoPS adopts permanent standards approved by the Council, which ever occurs first, any applicant who qualifies for appointment under the objective numerical experience standards of the existing system shall also be considered to meet these interim experience requirements.
D. The analyst has completed the following post-graduate seminars:
1. Completion of a one-semester seminar in clinical practice addressing the ethical issues and technical complications arising in the analysis of candidates.
2. Participation in one or more continuous case seminars or study groups on clinical analytic process for a minimum total of two years.
E. The analyst is in good ethical standing.
F. The analyst holds the credential of certification, as required by the APsaA Bylaws.
G. All members who are currently designated as Training Analysts will be automatically included in the national list of Training Analysts.
It would require far more space than I think this article should take, and would likely be more than most of you would want to read, to describe the sequence of events during the meeting and the degree of conflict, tension, acrimony and, sometimes, hostility that occurred during the discussion of this motion. Suffice it to say that feelings and opinions were strong on both sides of the debate.
As SFCP’s voice (and vote) on the Executive Council, I was very aware of the responsibility I held, and that I was being asked to make an immediate decision on a policy that may have a major impact on the national organization. The pressure I felt to act was not unlike the pressure I believe we have all, at times, felt from our patients. I thought there was something much bigger happening, something that involved the organization and our relationships with each other within our organizational roles, that needed to be understood before we could effectively move forward. This is what I attempted to say when I stood at the microphone and shared my thoughts with the Council. Keeping in mind that our membership at SFCP has expressed strong support for a local option that allows institutes and centers to develop their own models for TA appointment that may or may not include national certification, I expressed support for the spirit of the motion, but that I was not clear about how this new set of objective and verifiable criteria would be helpful in San Francisco. I also expressed my concern that the current power struggle between the Executive Council and BOPS would not be resolved by an assertion of authority.
Although I had gone back and forth in my mind all morning between supporting and rejecting the motion, when discussion ended and the motion was called just before the lunch break, I voted against it. The motion passed by a vote of 24 to 22, and so this temporary pathway to a national TA appointment has become APsaA policy. Even though there are now two pathways to TA appointment at the national level, SFCP is not obligated to designate local TA status to a nationally appointed TA. Procedures for TA appointment here at SFCP remain unchanged. Certification and completion of our TA developmental process are still required.
On a more positive note, a second motion was distributed to Councilors prior to the meetings and was drafted by Lee Jaffe, a Council-at-large from San Diego. This motion, which I supported and was endorsed by BOPS and passed in the Executive Council by a wide margin, proposed a bylaws change that would allow each institute to select a non-TA noncertified analyst faculty member to one of its two positions on BOPS. Current APsaA bylaws require that all BOPS fellows must be Training Analysts. To implement this new policy, a bylaws amendment will have to be passed by 2/3 of the APsaA membership.
Finally, a third motion, calling for a 2-day joint meeting of members of the Executive Council and BOPS, was passed by one vote. Although this seemed like a very reasonable course of action, many members of the Executive Council expressed skepticism about BOPS good intentions for such a meeting, especially since the BOPS leadership did not return to the Council meeting after lunch. Ever the optimist, I voted in favor of the joint meeting and do believe that the only chance the national association has of resolving the conflicts between the Executive Council and BOPS will be through dialogue.
I have been aware of the ongoing conflicts within APsaA over the TA system, however I was not fully prepared for the level of tension, acrimony, and disparity of beliefs I encountered in my first Council meeting. Recognizing that there are diverse opinions and positions among the members of BOPS and the Executive Council, I am hopeful that common ground can be found to the benefit of our national association and the practice of psychoanalysis in the United States.
SFCP leadership, Harriet Wolfe and Robin Deutsch, our BOPS representatives, Erik Gann and Steve Goldberg, William Glover, elected a Counselor At Large at the meeting, and I are conferring on how best to inform our APsaA members and ascertain your views as the situation evolves. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us with questions, comments or feedback.