5 Functions of the American Psychological Association

Updated December 1, 2022 · 2 Min Read

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The American Psychological Association, also known as the APA, is the largest and most important psychological organization operating in the United States. Founded in 1892, it opened during the early stages of psychological study and originally helped regulate those working in the field. The APA now performs a number of functions to assist both professional psychologists and those studying psychology.

Recognizing Top Names

The American Psychological Association is responsible for recognizing top names in the field through the awards that it hands out every year. It identifies up to 10 prominent professionals in the field who the organization views as the most important. The APA Award for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology is its top award and only goes to those who did significant research into the field of psychology. Other awards include the International Humanitarian Award, Distinguished Professional Contributions to Practice in the Private Sector Award and Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest Award.

Overseeing Publications

If you ever took a psychology course before, you probably read one of the publications that the APA oversees. It is currently responsible for the release of more than 70 professional journals. These academic journals provide readers with abstracts and case studies of some of the hottest studies done in the world. Many relate to a specific field of psychology like school psychology, developmental psychology or abnormal psychology. Other publications overseen and released by the APA at least once a year include the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Health Psychology and Psychology of Violence.

Maintaining New Programs

The American Psychological Association often works with other agencies and organizations to build and implement new programs. One of those programs is the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. Also known as the PHWP, it consists of a blog, an electronic newsletter and a podcast that providers readers and listeners with help keeping their workplaces healthier and safer. It also helps employers create healthy living programs within those workplaces and awards those who do the best jobs each year. The APA created similar programs to help college students and volunteers.

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Accrediting College Programs

Accredited college degree programs are the best college programs, and the American Psychological Association is responsible for accrediting some psychology programs at the undergrad, graduate and doctoral levels. Prior to giving a college or university accreditation, the APA will take a detailed look at the overall requirements of the program, ask current students and graduates about their feelings and examine the professors working in the psychology program. The APA also accredits internships and residency programs for advanced students too. Many graduate and doctoral programs require that students spend 1,000 hours or more doing clinical work in the field. The APA offers accreditation for programs of this type.

Ensuring Valid Knowledge

According to the American Psychological Association itself, ensuring knowledge is one of its key functions. It does this through the use of professional conferences and meetings that take place throughout the year. These conferences allow students and working professionals to hear from those working in the field and to learn more about research currently going on. The APA also releases reports that you can read or download via its official website and facilitates discussions among psychologists.

The APA is the largest organization in the world devoted to psychological studies. Since launching in the late 19th century, the APA helped standardize the research done on psychological topics and found new ways of treating patients suffering from mental diseases. Some of the functions that the American Psychological Association performs today include accrediting college programs, overseeing publications and recognizing the best psychologists and researchers.

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