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This community blog is written by the current OPA Board of Directors' President.

 

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President's Message: June 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Tuesday, June 16, 2020

As if the challenges of living within our COVID-19 pandemic society were not painful enough in its life disruptions, we once again were shown the ongoing historic racism, oppression, and marginalization Black and Brown Americans continuously face after we witnessed the senseless murders of several Black Americans through the hands of law enforcement action within the past month. Our communities have been struggling with discord and unrest as they remind us Black Lives Matter in hopes of evoking change to shift these patterns of ingrained structural racism. Within our shared work, these are dynamic sociopolitical times that call all of us to action within our ethical duties as psychologists to promote equity, social justice, and systemic change.

The Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) continues to advance our duty towards supporting our membership in these perilous times. Since the past month, OPA has hosted several virtual assemblies and town hall sessions towards advancing our understanding and essential conversations about race. At the end of May, we engaged in a thoughtful dialogue about race and COVID-19 that explored the disparities in health care and differential challenges faced by People of Color and Indigenous Individuals, hosted by Drs. Elizabeth Harris and Kia-Rai Prewitt. Our graduate students through OPAGS also had a poignant town hall experience that further explored their responsibilities within social justice as training psychologists, expertly curated by Drs. Cathy McDaniels Wilson and Chikako Inoue Cox. Our Committee on Social Responsibility (CoSR) has developed both responses to these horrific deaths and provided numerous resources for both our membership and Ohio community through the OPA website (https://ohpsych.org/page/allypsychologistresources). If you are interested in supporting this critical work and our Association as we advance calls for law enforcement training, community and legislative outreach, and ongoing professional development for us all, please email me or contact the OPA office at 614-224-0034.

Separate, but interrelated to our Association’s advocacy on race, we continue to provide resources to our membership on navigating practice complexities within COVID-19. A multidisciplinary virtual panel was convened on Friday, June 5 that afforded practice information from a public health physician, several large practice owners, OPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, and legal-ethical guidance. In addition, our Prevention and Wellness Program (PWP) continues to offer biweekly self-care and wellness sessions, led by Dr. Howard Fradkin and his PWP team. In case you missed either the informative and well attended reopening practice session, or our ongoing PWP self-care forums, recordings are available as a benefit of your OPA membership on the OPA site at https://ohpsych.org/page/PandemicResources.

Finally, as we approach the beginning of a new fiscal year, please remember to renew your dues.  As the past few months of ongoing virtual training and community sessions have reminded us, OPA continues to be a responsive, nimble, and member focused Association that is here to support all of your practice and professional development needs. Thank you for your generous support and we look forward to being here for you moving forward.

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President's Message: May 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Friday, May 22, 2020

Since our last monthly OPA newsletter, all of us have seen our lives continuously change in unforeseen ways with each week seemingly different than the previous. Within the past week, Public Health officials and the Governor’s Office have begun to slowly lift many of the quarantine demands, shelter-in-place directives, and restrictions on business operations.

Hearing from many of our membership, OPA is pleased to announce a Virtual Town Hall Forum entitled, “Unlocking the Lockdown: Keying into Reopening Your Psychological Practice Virtual Town Hall” on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 7-830pm. This unique and unparalleled community experience for our membership will feature a comprehensive panel of varied experts to help you towards restarting and reopening your practices. Panelists will include Cuyahoga County Public Health Medical Director and Case Western Medical School Professor, Dr. Heidi Gullett, Attorney and Forensic Psychologist, Dr. Bob Stinson, Practice Owners, Drs. Matt Capezzuto and Virginia Clark, OPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, Dr. Jim Broyles, and event MC, Dr. Richard Ashbook. The Town Hall topics will range from sanitation and social distancing considerations, insurance and billing issues, legal and ethical concerns, and learning about steps you can take to ensure you are both successfully able to reopen to see clients in person while ensuring everyone’s wellness. Please watch your email for an invitation for this free event, provided as a service to all of our OPA membership. Registration will be limited to the first 100, so be sure to register quickly before this event “sells out!” In case you miss the event, be sure to visit the OPA website afterwards where a recording the session will be available on our COVID-19 resources page (https://ohpsych.org/page/PandemicResources).

Similar to the forthcoming OPA Virtual Town Hall, OPA continues to support its membership during these precarious, uncertain, and involved times through numerous virtual assemblies, town halls, and consultation team meetings. Over the past month alone, OPA has hosted over 11 free events that ranged from prevention and wellness, information for Directors of Clinical Training, supporting our graduate students in OPAGS, to specialty areas like geropsychology and BWC. OPA continues to work on behalf of its membership and strives to maximize the value of your membership by offering these sessions. Within the community of professional psychology and state associations, OPA remains a national leader in its outreach, high quality professional development, and primacy placed on valuing each of you as our Association members.

Your OPA Board continues to meet monthly for virtual meetings and to transact the Association’s administrative affairs. The Board of Directors celebrates the leadership of our entire OPA staff during these tenuous times, being responsible financial stewards and fiduciaries of our limited resources. Please be sure to reach out to any of our OPA staff or me if there is something further we can do to support you as our valued member. We are in this together and strong as a community of Ohio psychology!

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President's Message: April 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Wednesday, April 22, 2020

As all of us appreciate, these past few months of quarantine, shelter-in-place, and closure of much of Ohio society have brought numerous challenges to the daily practice of psychology. Certainly, it has resulted in practices rapidly converting to telepsychological services, finding and deploying necessary HIPAA technological resources, gaining necessary telepractice competencies, and still supporting our own families wellness and self-care.

Early March represents an exciting time for all of North America’s state, territorial, and provincial psychological associations. Each year, leadership delegates from the United States and Canada convene in Washington, D.C. for a weeklong experience called the Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) through the American Psychological Association (APA). While the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 contagion were only beginning at the national level, psychology leaders spent this time learning about psychology advocacy, lobbying, and connecting with their constituents around the APA network. Your current OPA president was fortunate enough to attend this leadership experience, gaining opportunities to attend numerous training sessions, APA leadership seminars, and developing psychological advocacy skills while also building relationships across our APA network.

While April would traditionally represent the Ohio Psychological Association’s (OPA) Annual Spring Convention with over 80 different professional training sessions, much like the rest of the professional development arena, it was reluctantly cancelled to fulfill social distancing and prohibition of large group gathering requirements. With the licensure biennium coming to a close this September 2020, there is an increased need to ensure all Ohio psychologists have obtained their required 23 hours of mandatory continuing education. OPA will be converting approximately half of these scheduled convention sessions into virtual training experiences that members can access at their discretion to gain access to necessary professional development.

OPA has also been tenaciously active in trying to support their membership across the diverse array of telepsychological competencies and personal care alike. Currently, OPA is offering virtual sessions that offer didactic instruction across the following domains:

  • Telepsychology insurance and billing matters
  • Telepractice technological support, including HIPAA compliant platforms
  • Telepsychology consultation groups, including specific sessions by practice specialty (e.g. child/adolescent, geropsychology, Bureau of Workers Compensation)
  • Targeted COVID-19 content specific related training sessions
  • Self-care and wellness through the OPA Prevention and Wellness Program

These virtual didactic sessions are being scheduled at a frenzied pace, free to any psychological practitioner as a service to our statewide community, based on OPA participant and member requests. To date, we have held 10 different virtual sessions across the gamut reflected above with 8 further sessions scheduled in the next 3 weeks. OPA members who are interested in any of these above topics are invited to attend. Please visit the OPA website (https://ohpsych.org/default.aspx) and check out the Calendar section for forthcoming sessions.

With the number of virtual sessions we are offering, a moment of gratitude is necessary for our volunteer facilitators, consultants, experts, and session MCs who have been incredibly generous in their time to contribute to those experiences. If you have telepractice, insurance or a specific area of COVID-19 related practice interest and would like to volunteer, please email me

Our OPA professional office staff, like so many of us, have had to adjust to the realities of telework and managing our Association from home. These same OPA staff have also graciously navigated all the logistics towards these virtual sessions, cancelling and redirecting our Annual Convention, and overseeing our complex Association financial picture. Particular appreciation to OPA’s Director of Education and Communication, Mrs. Karen Hardin, who is directly responsible for coordination of the educational and communication efforts is necessary here. Our outreach and membership support could not happen without Karen, recognizing that both managing the scores of virtual sessions while also converting our Convention into virtual professional development have been momentous undertakings. Our Association CEO, Mr. Michael Ranney, has been astutely coordinating an exhaustive cadre of diverse communications from members, Association leaders, and countless organizations as OPA continues to try to lead in these unprecedented times of disruption. With MCE concerns mounting, Ms. Beth Wherley has been at the helm, helping membership to ensure they meet their MCE expectations. Financially, our Association has had to further tighten its purses to remain responsible stewards of our monetary resources, given the uncertainty of losing the Convention and other revenue streams, with Director of Operations and Finance, Mr. David Savoia, leading these efforts. In addition, as our members have faced uncertainty and had numerous insurance, billing, and telepractice concerns, OPA’s Director of Professional Affairs, Dr. Jim Broyles has readily availed himself to nearly weekly updates and virtual consultation sessions. Finally, Mrs. Carolyn Green has been continuing her efforts as Director of Membership to ensure you are able to access all the resources OPA has to offer while ensuring you are receiving the most value from your membership contributions. Having offered this, please do remember that the volume of emails and outreach has been overwhelming in these past few weeks. If you have attempted to connect with the OPA office and our staff, please do afford them some latitude as they continue to parse through a mountain of such communication. And, please do remember to offer them your appreciation for an amazing job, well done over these past few weeks!

The next OPA Board of Director meetings will be held virtually at 10 a.m., on Saturday, May 16, Saturday, June 13, and Saturday, July 11, 2020, respectfully. Any OPA member who is interested in learning more about OPA or perhaps joining our leadership team are strongly encouraged to contact me for more information. You are most welcome to attend a Board meeting as a guest to discover more about OPA.

Finally, please remember OPA is here to support any Ohio psychologist in these uncertain times. If you discover an area of support or have practice questions, please do feel welcome to reach out. We have been servicing outreach throughout the United States, with several specific psychology practice related questions. Our dedicated elected officers, leadership teams, and OPA staff would be delighted to help you too. 

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President's Message: March 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Monday, March 30, 2020

Over the past several days, your Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) leaders have been participating in the annual Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) through the American Psychological Association in Washington, DC. This yearly conference brings together state, provincial, and territorial psychological association leaders to discuss SPTA leadership, learn about key legislative issues, and tomorrow, visit the Capitol to meet with our legislative actors regarding support of behavioral/mental health priorities.

During the APA PLC reception, our Ohio Psychological Association Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Ranney, was recognized by the APA President, Dr. Sandra Shullman, one of Ohio's own psychology dignitaries and past OPA president through an APA Presidential Citation. She notes that Mr. Ranney has been the tireless OPA administrative leader since 1997, effectively and without fail, guiding OPA in its efforts to support all of us within the profession of psychology, the constituents of psychology, as well as navigating the business operations of our shared association. Moreover, Mr. Ranney has been a celebrated colleague and leader across his team of SPTA executive directors and APA Division 31, which represents SPTA affairs. His leadership not only betters OPA and our Ohio psychology lives but has an international impact on others throughout the work of leading a psychological association.

Please take a moment to wish Michael your heartiest congratulations and perhaps offer him a token why we all appreciate him for his leadership, commitment, and tireless guidance to ensure Ohio remains one of the strongest and most remarkable SPTA's within the APA network, mranney@ohpsych.org.

All the best and on behalf of the OPA Board of Directors, our sincerest congratulations for more than a job well done, Michael.

 

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President's Message: February 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, February 20, 2020

With February arriving, our favorite weather prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil could not find his shadow, hopefully foreshadowing an early spring. Of course, Spring is also a particularly dynamic and active time for your statewide Association too.

OPA delegates will be attending the APA’s Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) in Washington, D.C., in the beginning of March. Statewide, territorial, and provincial psychological association leaders will be convening to network, grow from one another’s leadership experiences, learn more about advocacy, and honor a selected member of Congress. OPA has long enjoyed a potent delegation at PLC and each year sends a diverse cohort from elected officers to early career leadership team members. This year’s PLC Reception will acknowledge US Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce whose commitment to reducing gun related violent events through inclusion of mental health professionals, along with championing women’s health, keeping seniors from poverty, and mental health supports for active service members, all reflects upon her as a notable Congressional ally for psychology. To continue our Association’s rich tradition of PLC attendance though, we do need your help to fundraise so we can secure as many seats at the PLC dinner honoring Representative DeLauro. Please contact President-Elect, Dr. Cindy VanKeuren at to pledge your donation today!

Since adopting the Association’s new governance model, and reducing the size of the Board to the primary elected officers to afford a more nimble and streamlined administrative team, we will be gathering on March 28, 2020 in Akron, Ohio for an in-person OPA Board and leadership meeting. Our Association’s leadership has reported that they value coming together at least twice at year in-person to build upon the efforts we transact during our monthly virtual meetings. All Board of Director, Committee Chairs, and other Association leaders are most kindly invited to attend. 

Spring also brings OPA’s annual Association election cycle. This year we are seeking to fill member elected positions across APA Council, Vice Presidential roles in Science/Education and Diversity, and President-Elect. Have you ever considered running and volunteering your skills in the governance of OPA? We would be delighted to have you remit your interest and join our leadership team. Please contact me or President-Elect, Dr. Cindy VanKeuren to learn more.

Finally, the 2020 OPA Convention registration is open! Each year, psychologists and allied behavior/mental health providers from across the state convene to learn from scholars and leaders across numerous practice specialty areas. This year’s theme is “Today’s Psychology: Practice, Research, and Emerging Trends” will feature over 80 hours of programming, 15 hours of ethics, and 80 presenters throughout 26 scheduled sessions. Visit the OPA website to learn more, and I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

As always, feel welcome to contact me if you have any thoughts about how OPA can further support you and accept our best wishes for that arrival of an early spring.

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