I have paid close attention to the process and function of the Board of Directors during my two years as President-Elect. I have witnessed the reality of cultural and language differences and how they result in discovery and joy and also in misunderstanding and distrust. The matter of communication has risen to the top of my priority list in terms of governance and the future of our profession.
We need to communicate with one another and with the outside world in understandable terms. I have become aware that although English is the official work language of the IPA, understandably many members do not speak English fluently. The reality of a multi-language international organization includes the challenge of understanding one another sufficiently to solve complex problems. I have learned we must not assume we are making ourselves understood nor that we fully appreciate what a colleague who has a different mother tongue is telling us.
IPA languages and cultures are sources of richness and sources of difference. We plan to address the tension between the two in many different ways. We will explore translation capacities that may be advanced enough in this internet age to make efficient, accurate translation possible and affordable for large group meetings – whether administrative or clinical.
We will propose to the new Board a plan to reorganize the Communications Committee of the IPA, building on the groundbreaking work of Romolo Petrini and his committee members, to focus on the audience we want to reach. We propose three subcommittees aimed at addressing (1) our external audience (mental health professionals and the public); (2) our internal audience (members and analysts-in-training); and (3) full and understandable scientific communication. The third subcommittee will ensure we have consistent, understandable language in our communications as well as thorough coverage and communication of what members and committees of the IPA are doing. There is much more benefit to members through the activities of fellow members and IPA committees than many members seem to know.
We have instituted a new method of enhancing communication between IPA societies and the IPA Board. It is called the Presidents Meeting Process (PMP). It complements the link function of regional Board representatives to specific regional Societies. We had a trial run of this new initiative at the Vancouver biennial Society Presidents’ Meeting. Twelve interregional small groups of Society presidents were established and they will meet online approximately six times over two years rather than just biennually at the meetings tied to the IPA Congress. The goals of the PMP are:
First, for interregional Society presidents to get to know one another, and also to:
- learn whether their experiences are shared or unique,
- offer one another consultation,
- offer the IPA suggestions for the all-Presidents’ meeting agenda at the next Congress,
- open a channel of bilateral communication between the Society Presidents and the IPA Board, and
- share with the members of their local societies the experience of meeting with other IPA presidents from around the world.