Important Reasons for Getting Involved with Psychology Associations
The first thing to know about psychology associations (psychological associations) is that each state has their own. State associations are geared for members in their locale and often differ from those in other geographical areas. Although there are also national associations, for our purposes we will be looking primarily at the many benefits of membership in state-based organizations.
Although each state association is unique, there are general characteristics that run throughout most:
Associations Provide a Means of Personal Development and Support
In a field which clearly recognizes and appreciates the role of stress in the development of disease and mental illness, involvement in a state organization provides members with a chance to connect with individuals who share the same or similar life challenges. Knowing one is not alone is paramount to a sense of well-being and the group affords its members the opportunity to reach out and develop valuable personal relationships.
Associations Present a Means for Professional Development and Support
Many professional challenges can only be fully understood by someone who has encountered or is encountering a similar situation. Professionals, who work in fields which bind their practitioners to confidentiality, need an outlet for the free discussion of ideas and challenges without fear of disclosing protected information. Association involvement provides a venue where members can meet colleagues from other cities and towns. These acquaintances can often be valuable resources for advice and direction since the required anonymity will not be challenged by familiarity with prospective community members.
Other professional benefits usually include assistance with licensing regulations, solutions for ethical questions, ethical dilemma training and resolution of clinical questions. Mentoring programs are often available, as well as member vetting to assist in intern placement. In most states, if there’s a problem in the field the association is eager to assist their members in whatever ways possible and practicable.
Dennis Riley M.A. has belonged to a psychological association since he was an intern and feels it has helped him become a better person as well as a more proficient professional.
“I joined the psychological association in my state (Alabama) very early on in my career. I can’t encourage graduates enough to join to their local organization. I have felt as though I had “a group” behind me my entire career, encouraging me and providing a personal and professional foundation for my practice.”
-Dennis Riley M.A.
Associations Are Purveyors of News Important to the Field of Psychology
Associations disseminate the latest national and local psychology news via press releases and articles on their websites. For example, state associations across the nation were abuzz when the Affordable Care Act unveiled terms regarding its parity provisions; those mandates requiring health insurance providers to equally match physical health benefits with mental health benefits.
Associations offer classes, practice documents, free access to scholarly articles, seminars and workshops, as well as organize conventions; all of which facilitate the meeting of accreditation requirements and/or continuing education needs. Typically there are early careers mentoring programs for the newly licensed, as well as grad student guidance and various types of colleague assistance.
Associations Can Furnish Affordable Advertisement Opportunities
Most all associations maintain websites, newsletters, brochures, and even publications regarding their activities, industry news and the broad range of scientific and medical advancements pertinent to the field of psychology. These tools are vehicles for cost-effective advertising for members since many are distributed throughout the higher educational system as well as related fields. The association may even offer “piggyback” promotional opportunities at or in conventions, workshops, lectures, calendars of events and newspaper announcements.
Associations Can Contribute to the Financial Stability of Its Members
The range of financial benefits to association members obviously depends upon the particular group. Some of the most common services offered to association participants are: special rates on life insurance, long-term care insurance, identity theft protection, hotel and rental car discounts, roll-backs on office supplies, discounted legal services, credit union membership, encrypted e-mail services, collection and billing services, credit card processing, and disability insurance and group health insurance. Some state associations also offer special member rates for dental, vision, accident, automobile, home and cancer protection insurance.
Sidney Regan M.S. had a private practice and was able to obtain reasonable insurance through her state association.
“I can’t tell you how much the association helped me with my insurance coverage. Although there are now many more options available with Obamacare, that was not the case a few years ago. The packages that were available through my state association kept me healthy and for premiums that were doable.”
-Sidney Regan M.S., Alabama
Associations Provide Career-Building Opportunities
Associations can enhance a member’s career by publishing articles authored by the member as well as feature the member in news pieces. Many organizations hold award ceremonies; those receiving public recognition are certainly rewarded in their subsequent pursuits. Members are given the chance to lead focus groups, speak at conventions and other activities which help develop the member’s public persona and reputation.
Associations Challenge a Member to Be on the Cutting Edge
Although the list of reasons for pursuing membership in state psychological associations is substantial, maybe the one least quantifiable is most valuable. Membership in an association will inspire and assist the individual in being on the cutting edge of the profession. It will provide the means for keeping one’s life work dynamic, relevant and refreshingly challenging.
Some other important points to consider for joining a psychology association:
- Associations provide speaking and service opportunities for their members
- Associations have referral services which can supplement a member’s client base
- Associations have influence in numbers for legislative measures; associations have lobbyists furthering the interests of the field of psychology at both a state and national level.