Wednesday, September 17, 2008

APA Passes Resolution Passes on Psychologists' Working in Detention Settings

The American Psychological Association has just issued a press release stating that the membership passed a resolution forbidding work in settings where "persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights."

The full text of the petition is here.

If I read this right, there are no significant loopholes.  Psychologists should either work for detainee's well being or not at all.

It's about time!

I think some people thought that there was room for psychologists to work within the system to better the detainees' situation.  I don't believe that's possible.  While it's enticing to think of the heroic psychologist fighting the system, human nature (not to mention Solomon Asch and BF Skinner) tells me that the psychologist would just be co-opted into the system.

It was also particularly galling that the AMA had done this long ago while the APA wimped out. So, as I often teach my clients, time only goes forward.  It would have been better for APA to have done this sooner, but doing it today is better than doing it tomorrow.

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