Let’s Start at the Very Beginning: How to Be a Psycadvocate®!

We have trained hundreds of psychologists and psychology students to meet with policymakers on Capitol Hill and advocate on behalf of the discipline of psychology. To stay informed of when the best time is to weigh in on policy issues impacting psychology, you can join our Federal Action Network and send your own message to your congressional delegation on a range of science, education or public interest issues. Don’t know where to start? A Psychologist’s Guide to Federal Advocacy is a valuable resource that provides an overview of the legislative process, APA’s federal advocacy efforts and how you can get involved.

Video courtesy of APA’s Science Science Directorate 

You can learn more about the federal legislative process and how APA works to pursue our advocacy goals through the PsycAdvocate® training modules, which were designed to provide psychologists and psychology students/trainees the skills to become effective public policy advocates at the federal, state and local level.

Module one begins with an introduction to advocacy and includes an overview of the APA Government Relations Offices, how APA determines its federal legislative and policy priorities, and how psychologists and psychology students can get involved.

Module two provides a review of the structure of the U.S. federal government and explains the responsibilities of each of the three separate governing bodies: the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government.

Module three focuses on the federal legislative process, including the authorizing and the budget and appropriations processes. This module also discusses the regulatory process and provides tips and tools to locate federal legislation, laws and regulations.

Module four presents the essential elements needed for any successful legislative strategy. It also identifies factors that can motivate legislators and how the psychology community can use these to best inform and influence the legislative process.

The module concludes with tips for communicating effectively with policymakers. Module five, the last in the series, provides an overview of the role of advocacy at the state and local levels, as well as a discussion of the importance and value of participating in political activities.

About the Author

Karen Studwell, JD
Karen is the Associate Executive Director of Government Relations for the Education Directorate. Prior to joining the Education Directorate, she worked for 12 years in the APA Science Directorate as a Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer. Karen leads APA’s federal advocacy agenda for graduate psychology education and training, focusing primarily on expanding federal support for programs within the Health Resources and Services Administration. She has been recognized for her work by both APA, receiving the APA Employee Service Award in 2004, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, which honored her with the Distinguished Service on Behalf of Social-Personality Psychology Award. Karen received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio University and her law degree from Seattle University.