A Leading Measure
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• Survey Interview Form
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daily living skills
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A new Vineland™-II
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are confronting conscience clauses. A year after Arizona passed
its law, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a similar
bill for its public colleges and universities, but the legislation
died in the Senate. Earlier this year, Tennessee legislators
introduced similar legislation, prompting more than 10,000
emails to legislators from psychologists and others opposing the
legislation. The bill passed the state’s Senate but was tabled for
further consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.
Psychology training directors and anyone else concerned
about ensuring a competent psychology workforce should find
that trend disturbing, says Linda Forrest, PhD, who chairs the
BEA working group. Created in 2011, the group is charged with
providing recommendations and creating resources to inform
training directors; students; state, provincial and territorial
psychological associations (SPTAs); and the public about
“Our position is that all trainers need to help students be
fully prepared to see a wide cross-section of different kinds of
clients,” says Forrest.
Plus, she says, APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists, and
Code of Conduct includes an anti-discrimination clause. “We
don’t want to be supporting statements on students’ part about
not wanting to provide services to certain groups of clients,”
At first glance, conscience clauses may not seem so bad. “On
the surface, it sounds reasonable,” says Judith A. Kovach, PhD,
a BEA working group member and public policy consultant
to the Michigan Psychological Association. “It doesn’t benefit
patients for someone to see them who doesn’t want to see them
or doesn’t hold them in high regard.”
But, she says, APA’s accreditation standards require students
to learn cultural competency and psychology’s ethics code
requires psychologists to put patients’ needs first. While it’s one
thing for professionals in practice to select the kind of clients
they serve, says Kovach, students who refuse to learn how to treat
all kinds of clients are limiting the public’s access to services,
especially in rural areas where referral options are limited.
And it’s not just the LGBT population such laws potentially
harm, adds Kovach, who testified against Michigan’s legislation.
“The way the bill in Michigan read, it could apply to students refusing to see people contemplating a divorce, engaging in extramarital sex or contemplating abortion,” she says. “Students could
also refuse to see someone based on their racial or ethnic identity.”
Taking a stand
Now the APA working group is developing resources to help
training programs, the SPTAs and others take action.
The working group has developed a statement called
“Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse
Public: A Core Requirement in Doctoral Education and
Training.” Approved by BEA, the statement — available at
diverse-public.pdf — is designed to help training programs
5/23/13 1: 43 PM