A 2015 report commissioned by the American Psychological Association determined that the organization colluded with military and CIA officials to allow psychologists to participate in torture of military detainees. Five people named in that report have now sued the APA and the report’s author, David Hoffman. (The report is widely known and referenced as the Hoffman Report.) The lawsuit alleges that Hoffman worked with longtime APA critics to create a one-sided and often inaccurate telling of how the APA interacted with military and intelligence officials. This report then allowed the APA to use the five as scapegoats, they say, in some cases ending their careers.
The Hoffman Report, and the APA’s responses to it, are collected here. The lawsuit can be read here. They present vastly different perspectives on the events Hoffman and his team investigated.
The American Psychological Association apologized on Friday for its actions that allowed psychologists to participate in the torture of military detainees. Those actions are detailed in the extensive “Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture” (otherwise known simply as the Hoffman report). It is the most thorough examination to date of how APA staffers, aiming to remain in the good graces of the Central Intelligence Agency and (especially) the Department of Defense, actively sought to create ethics policies that allowed psychologists to be involved with torture and shielded them from consequences for doing so.
There was a lot to talk about at the just-concluded 2010 AAMFTAnnual Conference in Atlanta, where more than 1,700 clinicians and researchers from around the country gathered to share the latest ideas in treatment. This year’s theme was “Marriage: Social and Relational Perspectives,” and this year’s jump in conference attendance was well-deserved. Hitting some of the high points:
* For my money, Stephanie Coontz should be a keynote speaker every year. Last year, she talked about time-use studies and the changing face of American families. This year she gave a lively summation of her great book, Marriage: A history, putting modern marriage into a larger context. Next year’s theme will be “The science of relationships,” and I hope there’s a way to bring her into that, too. The woman could make the history of the paper bag engaging.
* The last plenary speaker, John Witte Jr., was not quite as advertised, but started great dinner-table conversation. He had promised a speech on “Marriage, Religion, and the Law,” which could have been wonderful — a more conservative counterpoint to the arguments others made in favor of same-sex marriage. Ultimately, he barely mentioned religion at all. Which was too bad — as I’ve argued before, there is a reasonable debate to be had about the role of religion in marriage (and specifically whether religious therapists should refer out same-sex couples they do not feel they can work with supportively). I really, really wish someone could put together a respectful dialogue on the topic. But for what it turned out to be, Witte’s speech was valuable. His proposals for legal-system remedies to the changes in family formation and dissolution in the US were far-fetched, but started some great conversations. We all want parents to be responsible for their choices, but how do you have a legal system that best balances supporting families in need with punishing those who are irresponsible? I loved the variety of ideas about that just at my own dinner table; I’m sure similar discussions were happening at plenty of others.
* We’re making great strides in the effective treatment of military veterans and their families. MFTs are ideally trained to help keep military marriages and relationships strong (or to end them more peacefully when necessary), and there was a whole track at the conference dedicated to just this kind of work. The timing could not have been better: finally, after years of struggle with the implementation process, the Department of Veterans affairs has a job description specifically for marriage and family therapists.
It’s always refreshing to renew old connections and make new ones at the conference, and I especially enjoyed the opportunity to present with some of my faculty colleagues from the Alliant MFT program. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who made the conference such a success. I can’t wait for next year!
For those of you familiar with VA hiring practices, MFTs now become part of the Title 38 Hybrid category, and entry-level MFTs will be brought in at salary grade GS-9. (While salaries vary by specific location, in California this is likely to mean starting salaries in the $50s/yr, judging by social worker positions at the same salary grade.) More experienced MFTs will be at GS-11 (mid- to upper-$60s and up), and supervisors at GS-12.