The culture of an organization is defined by its mission. Its mission statement expresses the raison d’étre of the organization and its proposed output vis à vis the world and its members. APsaA’s mission, as expressed in the amended Certificate of Incorporation, is: “to study and advance psychoanalysis; to advocate and maintain standards for the training of psychoanalysts and for the practice of psychoanalysis; to foster the integration of psychoanalysis with other branches of science, and to encourage research in all fields having to do with the scientific knowledge and welfare of man.”
The 2011 Strategic Plan approved by Executive Council states the following more recent Vision and Mission for APsaA:
VISION: We envision a world in which psychoanalytic knowledge advances human potential and relieves suffering.
MISSION: APsaA’s mission is to actively promote its vision within the framework of the following goal areas:
- Professional Education and Development
- Research and Scholarship
- Government and Public Relations (Advocacy/Image/Branding/Identify Partners)
- Marketing, Advancement (Fundraising/Development), and Communications
- Membership, Institute, Society and Center Operations
- Governance and Management
APsaA has many existing components that serve the public good and others that serve the members’ good. But there is no sense that a common good supersedes individual interests. Our political infighting is the clearest sign of this dilemma.
The majority of APsaA’s voting members do not vote, do not participate on the listserves, do not attend national meetings. How do we know we are serving their interests? If they are voting with their feet, then we are not meeting their needs
As long as we distract ourselves with infighting we risk missing the boat internally vis à vis our members and externally vis à vis the culture and the care of patients. Resorting to legal action is a sign of a brittle organizational culture, one that could implode and/or permanently alienate those whom it ideally serves.
We urgently need broader member involvement in the business of APsaA. Our understanding of one another and our views of the future of our profession would be aided by more face-time discussions. Although the BOD is ultimately responsible for policy, it cannot design adequate policy or establish meaningful priorities in the absence of members’ input.
I think there should be regular regional members’ meetings to brainstorm about APsaA priorities and procedures as well as several planned opportunities for in-person exchange at the two national meetings. The tone of these meetings would be social and the general topic would be psychoanalysis. Each group would select a reporter and the meetings would have minutes that are shared with established constituency groups. National groups (standing committees of societies, centers and institutes) would work together to set priorities and send recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board would regularly report back to the members regarding concerns that are raised and solutions that are proposed. Each issue of TAP could contain an update on members’ input.
The Association’s recent introduction of electronic voting for the upcoming election can enable fuller member participation in the reshaping of our organizational structure through bylaw change.
In terms of ongoing communication with each other, we need to shift from a focus on control to a focus on successful collaboration. Let’s replace the power language and tactics that are endemic to political bodies with rational organizational language appropriate to a task-oriented professional organization.
We will benefit from respecting one another, listening to one another, and from remembering our common interest in psychoanalysis, rather than competing for a piece of an illusory pie made of power, money and/or prestige.