The Dallas Psychological Association is committed to supporting mental health providers as we promote the mental health and well-being of our clients. Thus, we are concerned about the impact recent policy developments may have on diversity training for racial minorities and women as well as access to mental health providers of LGBTQ and disabled individuals in Texas.
Why now? Why is the rallying cry for much-needed, long overdue awareness of and action around racial injustice gaining so much traction in the past few months? Hypotheses abound, but what is clear is that there has never been a time like this in our history – a time where an unprecedented groundswell of people of diverse backgrounds are motivated and energized to learn more, understand more and do more to heal the trauma of racial inequity in our country. For whatever reason, the killing of George Floyd clearly was a catalyst for this opportunity for growth, and we as DPA are determined to do our part to promote progress and healing.
As such, we have created a Diversity Task Force and are exploring ways to meaningfully address the impacts of social injustice in our world. We will be more intentional about promoting topics of diversity and social justice aside from our commitment to regularly-scheduled diversity CEU opportunities. We will find more opportunities for our members to learn from our colleagues of diverse backgrounds about the impacts of racism and other systematic oppression. We are committed to exploring these topics within ourselves as well as within the various structures in our communities. We endeavor to welcome voices across the political spectrum as we fulfill these goals. As mental health providers we are as diverse in our experiences and beliefs as the world at large – but we can rally around our shared value of supporting diversity and promoting emotional health and well-being for all individuals.
As a first step, and in agreement with suggestions from the American Psychological Association, we will host an informal, free book club discussion on the mainstream book, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. We invite you to sign up for this discussion, read the book, and come ready to listen, ask questions, learn and be heard in a supportive group discussion with other mental health providers about the concepts (and controversies) of this book.
Presidential Executive Order 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping issued on 09/22/2020
This presidential executive order directs diversity training for federal government (including federal grants), federal contractors/subcontractors and United States Uniformed Services to disinclude teaching systematic racism and broadly labels exploration of unconscious or systematic bias as “divisive concepts” or “race or sex scapegoating.” It further threatens to terminate federal contracts that do not comply with the order. As the premiere provider of CEUs for mental health providers in Dallas, we strongly support training on inclusion, prejudice and discrimination - including as these relate to understanding and combating unconscious, systematic, historical and/or unintentional racism and/or misogyny. Several national health-related associations have issued statements expressing concern about or requesting that this order be rescinded. A shared statement by the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association noted the importance of training that addresses, “social determinants of health, implicit bias, and historical systems that have led to unequal access to care.”
Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, with direction from Governor Abbot, eliminated disability, sexual orientation and gender identity from the nondiscrimination clause of their code of conduct
DPA joins myriad local, state and national groups decrying this action. This could promote the refusal of much-needed services for individuals who are all too often prone to increased rates of mental health concerns and are already underserved and marginalized with respect to access to care. Thus, this development is counter to our values of promoting diversity and inclusion and we call on and support our social worker colleagues to correct this injustice immediately.
DPA Executive Committee Sends Letter to BHEC in Support of Texas Social Workers
October 25, 2020
Dr. Spinks, Ms. Canseco, and Council Members,
On behalf of the Dallas Psychological Association, the executive committee would like to voice not only our concern, but our strong disapproval of the choice by the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners to allow for discrimination against gender diverse, disabled, and LGBT Texans. We further would discourage the Behavioral Health Executive Council from applying this to any other boards under the jurisdiction of the council, particularly the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.
The Dallas Psychological Association is a local organization comprised of over *** licensed, doctoral-level, psychologists; licensed associates and graduate/post-graduate students in psychology-based programs, and affiliates with interest consonant with the purposes of the organization. Since 1956, our membership has worked to forward understanding and acceptance in our community, develop and promote ethical standards, and stimulate discussion of issues relevant to psychology and its practice, as well as foster responsible community ties and encourage constructive relations with Allied professionals. While we are voluntarily affiliated with the Texas Psychological Association, we are a local independent organization. We recognize and support the standards of the American psychological Association.
We understand that Texas government institutions may feel pressure to appease and maintain the favor of Governor Abbott, but to do so at the cost of the most basic values of mental health professionals, is unacceptable. As a member of the disabled community himself, we would hope for the governor to advocate for his peers. Instead, these powerful words allow licensed mental health professionals to refuse service to individuals who are all too often vulnerable to increased rates of mental health concerns and already underserved and marginalized with respect to access to care. We acknowledge that our state does not recognize these community members as part of protected classes, but as mental health providers, we are called upon by all of our professions to hold ourselves to higher standards, and we expect our boards to do the same.
When the legislature elected to subsume the Texas State Board of Practice of Psychology under the Behavioral Health Executive Committee, we were concerned that psychologists would ultimately be subject to decisions made by other boards. Our social work colleagues are appalled, and the Texas Chapter of The National Association of Social Workers has expressed their outrage. We would like to formally, vehemently oppose the application of this “usual” language to the code affecting psychologists. The Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct set forth by the American Psychological Association holds that “Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status…” Should this acceptance of discrimination be applied to all psychologists in Texas, the code would not only be incongruous with nationally mandated ethics, but would hold Texas psychologists to a uniquely low standard of practice for Texans. In a time of national crisis and widespread need for mental healthcare, Texans deserve our best. Please consider our message.
The Executive Committee of the Dallas Psychological Association