125 Years of the American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association (APA) began 125 years ago as a small club of a few dozen members in the parlor of its founder, G. Stanley Hall. In the decades since, it has faced many difficulties and even a few existential crises. Originally a scientific society, it spent the decades between the world wars figuring out how to accommodate the growing community of applied psychologists while still retaining and enhancing its scientific reputation. After World War II, with an expanded mandate, it developed formal training models for clinical psychologists and became an important player in legal cases pertaining to civil rights and other social justice issues. With practitioners taking an ever-greater role in the governance of the organization in the late 1970s, and the financial viability of the association in doubt in the 1980s, many psychological scientists felt the need to create a separate organization for themselves. The 1990s and early 2000s brought more challenges: declining divisional memberships; a legal dispute over fees with practitioners; and a serious upheaval over the APA Board of Directors’ cooperation with governmental defense and intelligence agencies during the “war on terror.” These clashes appear to have precipitated a decline in the association’s membership for the first time in its history. The APA has faced many storms over its century-and-a-quarter, but has, thus far, always ultimately found a way forward for itself, for its members, and for the wider discipline of psychology.