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


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President's Message: February 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, 6 hours ago

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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President's Message: January 2020

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, January 30, 2020

Welcome to 2020! Hopefully this January 2020 OPA updates finds your recent holiday season to have been enjoyable, peaceful, and full of merriment and good will. The Roaring 2020s has arrived and with it, many of us are harboring thoughts of renewal and probably a resolution or two towards improving some aspect of our lives. In thinking about those new year revitalization opportunities, I want to ask each of you, as our valued OPA members, to consider how we might further serve you and support any professional resolutions you may have in the coming year too.

On January 23 and January 24, 2020, OPA collaborated with the American Psychological Association (APA) leadership in offering a collaborative opioid epidemic advocacy and pain management experience entitled, “The Role of Psychological Pain Management Care in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic.”  Each of us in the practice of psychology are finding our clients, patients, and their interconnected systems affected by the opioid epidemic, making this APA and OPA partnership all the more salient today. 

Have you heard about integrated care? Are you wondering what integrated care looks like for psychologists? Join us online for the Ohio Psychological Association of Graduate Students (OPAGS) Winter Workshop, “Integrated Care for Psychologists” on February 22 from 9 – 11:30 a.m. OPAGS welcomes Dr. Kathy Ashton, Dr. Sara Heinz, and Dr. Catherine Troncone, who will speak about their experiences as psychologists working in integrated care. Topics discussed will also include advantages and disadvantages of integrated care and what to know stepping into integrated care. We hope that all and any psychology graduate students in Ohio will attend. See you then! For more information, please see the OPA website at https://ohpsych.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1323550.

Finally, the OPA Board of Directors is also seeking members who may be interested in pursuing committee membership and leadership opportunities within our shared Association. We have openings available in all of our various committees and specific leadership positions within Political Advocacy, Communications/Technology, and many other areas, depending upon your interests and availability. In addition, as OPA continues to emphasize the promotion of diversity across numerous domains in Ohio psychology, we would love to have our membership, especially those who identify themselves across any number of diverse dimensions, further involved with our Diversity leadership teams. Our Nominations and Election processes are also readying for the 2020-21 election cycle, with elected leadership positions in our APA Council Representative, Vice President of Diversity, Vice President of Science, and OPA President-Elect roles all available. If you ever thought about sharing your professional talents, passion, and giving back to Ohio psychology and your Association, please consider dropping me an email, and I would be delighted to link you with Association leaders who are “standing by” as our marketing and sales colleagues are opt to say.

Until then, please do accept my best wishes for a wonderful 2020 and we look forward to having OPA be a part of your new year’s professional experience in Ohio psychology.

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President's Message: December 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, December 19, 2019

December has arrived and with it, hopefully ample holiday cheer as we all prepare to celebrate with family, faith, and friends towards the forthcoming New Year. Your Ohio Psychological Association Board of Directors continue their work on behalf of the Association during the yuletide season and in hopes that Santa (or their preferred nocturnal gift bearer) might reward our leaders with stockings full of treats in celebration of their volunteer efforts.

As we appreciate in the behavioral sciences, prescription opioid use is a major risk factor for developing opioid use disorder, and initiatives underway in both Ohio and across the country have begun reducing opioid prescribing. However, rates of prescription opioid use in the U.S. are still two to five times higher than in most other developed countries, and the CDC reports that Ohioans are being prescribed opioids at a higher rate than the U.S. average. OPA, in partnership with the American Psychological Association, will be hosting a first-ever Ohio Opioid Summit, shared across two days: January 23, 2020 and January 24, 2020. The January 23 event will be a shared forum with Federal, State, and Local policymakers, national pain management experts, along with APA and OPA leadership to review evidence-based psychological pain management interventions and their potential role in patient care, and discussion of policies affecting access to these services. The next day, January 24, 2020, OPA will be hosting a daylong Psychological Pain Management Training that will feature nationally recognized experts who will provide participants with a strong understanding of the biopsychosocial nature of pain and the use of psychological and behavioral approaches to addressing chronic pain in adult populations. You can learn more about both events through the OPA website, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Over the past weekend, your OPA Board of Directors also convened for its December meeting. We are excited to announce a new focus for the former OPA Colleague Assistance Program with a new name, the OPA Prevention and Wellness Program. This group of dedicated OPA colleagues offers the opportunity to support OPA members in a diversity of needs, ranging from consultation to linkage to our own psychological services to ensure we are functioning at our best while protecting the interests of our clients and patients. Our appreciation to the exceptional Prevention and Wellness Program Committee for their passionate efforts to advance this resource for our members. You can learn more by visiting the OPA website.

Ever wonder how you can support the Foundation for Psychology in Ohio (PSYOHIO) while transacting many of the online activities so many of us already do, especially during the fleeting days of holiday shopping? Consider linking your Amazon account to the Amazon Smile program, an effort by Amazon.com to allow its customers to support the organizations and causes that mean the most to them. As a part of this program, customers can select their preferred non-profit or charity, which Amazon.com will donate .5% of their eligible purchases. PSYOHIO’s mission is to promote healthy communities throughout Ohio. We do this by supporting educational programs that increase access to and awareness of psychology; and philanthropic efforts and initiatives that promote psychology. The Foundation for Psychology in Ohio envisions a day when “good health” in Ohio is synonymous with “good psychological health” for all Ohioans. You can learn more at the Shop…Save…Support with Amazon Smile at https://ohpsych.org/news/480655/Shop-Save-Support-with-AmazonSmile-Program.htm.

Calling all students…Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship applications are now being accepted! The Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund was created to provide financial assistance to support graduate student research projects in honor of Dr. Sullivan’s work with American Psychological Association, State, Provincial, and Territorial Psychological Associations and his commitment to diversity and inclusion. The deadline for the 2020 award is January 7, 2020. Proposals must be submitted electronically by 4:30pm (eastern) on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. Proposals must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format as described on the OPA website (https://ohpsych.org/page/MichaelSullivanDivSc). For more information or to submit proposals, please contact OPA’s CEO, Mr. Michael Ranney at mranney@ohpsych.org.

Finally, as an early Save the Date, our Diversity Committee will be hosting the 2020 Multicultural Conference, Saturday, November 14, 2020 at the Quest Conference Center. Dr. Josephine Ridley will share an entire day with attendees as she emphases culturally responsive psychological practice. Stay tuned for more information! 

On behalf of all of us at OPA, please accept our best wishes for a peaceful and joyous holiday season. We look forward to starting a new year in 2020 and working on behalf of each of our members to promote Ohio psychology. As always, do feel welcome to contact me if I might offer anything to support you.

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President's Message: November 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving is a reflective and celebratory holiday season where we are afforded opportunities to retrospectively acknowledge the prior year for all the joys, opportunities, bounties, and (hopefully) few trials, life has afforded. For many of those we serve though, Thanksgiving is also a time of year that serves as a distressing reflection of numerous challenges and social disparities between those who have and those who do not. As we celebrate with our families and friends alike, please do remember to take a moment to share in the appreciation of what you have to celebrate while continuously committing ourselves to serving those who do not. In doing so, I would be remiss if I failed to celebrate our shared work in psychology as part of what affords me so much, including the humbling opportunity to serve each of you as our Association president in remainder of this membership year.

Over the past week, your Board of Directors reconvened for its November Board meeting where we transact the affairs of the Association. OPA remains financially strong through the generous support of our members and fantastic attendance at OPA’s Annual Convention. Yet, we need to redouble our efforts towards improving our Association’s standalone workshops as an important offering in our professional development product line, accessed by many in the mental and behavioral health arenas. Our OPA membership base represents the premier body of Ohio psychologists who have advanced training and extensive content to share with our constituents. If you are interested in sharing your background and specialty area knowledge, please reach out to OPA’s Director of Education and Communication, Karen Hardin (khardin@ohpsych.org) to learn how to offer a standalone workshop in the coming year.

Speaking of our Annual Convention, we had over 40 outstanding proposals submitted for the 2020 Annual OPA Convention! With the licensure biennium arriving in a few weeks, please plan on attending next April 23-25, 2020 at the Quest Conference Center, where you can access everything in the realm of professional development you need to renew your license, including ethics and multicultural content matter. 

On January 23-24, 2020, OPA will be hosting a shared APA/OPA Opioid Pain Management program, which will be attended by many of the APA executives and should be both a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the challenges of treating opioid related issues while simultaneously showcasing Ohio’s leadership in this domain. Be sure to watch your email and the OPA webpage for more information as we close in on this exciting training and professional networking experience. 

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the commitment our Colleague Assistance Program has in serving OPA members by adopting a new name, the OPA Prevention and Wellness Program! Remember, this program of psychologists serving psychologists is one of the benefits you can access as an OPA member and helps to distinguish our Association in its care for its membership in times of need or wellness alike.

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President's Message: October 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, October 17, 2019

October is here, and at least in Ohio, means that the days are getting darker and shorter, leaves are turning their vibrant hues before their deciduous flora to transition into a winter slumber, and our thoughts start turning towards spooky hobgoblins as we approach Halloween. Children may be excited for the anticipatory sugary richness of trick-or-treating while some adults equally celebrate the arrival of Oktoberfest and its Bacchanalian array of beverages and foodie indulgences.

Fall is also a time of celebrations in the Ohio Psychological Association. During this past week, members of your Board of Directors held its October Board meeting and commemorated our future leadership pipeline members in the Leadership Development Academy (LDA). This year, 9 LDA fellows participated in a 10-month leadership experience, overseen by a cohort of OPA faculty, representing a diverse collection of our Association’s preeminent leaders, who met with these fellows on a regular basis towards development of a capstone project that supports Ohio psychology. Several of these LDA fellows shared their remarkable projects during the Board meeting, with topics ranging from substance use disorders, eye-opening Ohio psychological practitioner demographics, to development of a mentorship program for state and regional psychological associations among so many others. OPA envisions these LDA experiences to offer value to our membership towards cultivating leadership opportunities while helping us identify future Association leaders. Our next LDA cohort will be beginning in Fall 2020, and we cordially invite you to contact Dr. Wanda McEntyre, Dr. Jim Broyles, or Dr. Peg Mosher if you would like to become involved in this symbiotic and remarkable leadership exchange opportunity!

On October 26, 2019, OPA will be hosting its annual Fall Virtual Assembly, lead by President-Elect, Dr. Cynthia VanKeuren. The Annual Assemblies, which occur during fall and spring of each year, are a part of the Association’s new governance model we began several years ago. These assemblies are opportunities for you to discuss current challenges in psychological practice while informing your OPA leadership about topical trajectories we should pursue. This year’s Fall Assembly will focus on “Despair Deaths,” recognizing the societal and psychopolitical impacts of mass violence, suicidality, and trajectory so many of our clients and patients have experienced. Please accept this outreach as my warm welcome to have you join us for a dynamic and didactic professional experience this coming October 26. You can learn more about registering on the OPA website.

Finally, in reviewing the past year of fiscal and Association activities, we discovered there has been a shortage of standalone workshops offered through our Association’s professional development programming compared to prior years. We know our OPA membership represents a diverse and incredibly talented pool of myriad practice specialties, with so many of our members able to contribute outstanding learning opportunities for all of us. As the licensure renewal biennium comes upon us in 2020, we are hopeful to see many new workshop opportunities come to be offered. As someone who has presented in many of these workshops, I can tell you the process is very simple to propose such a workshop through our Association’s Education Committee, which carefully guides your proposal into a successfully scheduled workshop. From there, our dutiful OPA professional staff, led by Karen Hardin, organizes all of the logistics in consultation with you, allowing you to simply focus on preparing and delivering the training experience. If you would like to learn more about proposing and offering a future standalone workshop, please contact Karen Hardin in the OPA office at khardin@ohpsych.org. I look forward to learning from many of you in the coming year’s time.

As always, please do feel welcome to reach out to me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. I continue to look forward to hearing from our members and offering any support I can throughout my presidential year.

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