APA’s recent publication of the Hoffman Report and its subsequent policy decisions and associated actions by Divisions and other related organizations are all based on what is, in essence, the face validity of the Report itself and the self-reported processes that the Hoffman legal team used to construct its findings. Many have called for wide-ranging, new initiatives based on those findings and some of those calls, including those for revisions in the APA Ethics Code and Standards, could have significant long lasting effects on the science and professional practices of every member of the Association. Before further action is taken based on the Report, it seems reasonable to require that APA’s Board of Directors and Council of Representatives take responsible steps to examine the validity of the Report and its findings. This is fully in keeping with the history and central values of the science of psychology, which require that any findings, particularly those thought to be extremely innovative or sufficiently controversial, be fully examined and challenged before being accepted into the common cannon of psychological theory and practice. In light of this, it seems reasonable to require that the Board of Directors and Council of Representatives take appropriate actions to mobilize the resources of the Association to those ends. Among the steps that must be considered include requests to:
1. The Division of History to provide a thorough examination of the Report, the associated materials, including access to the contents of the interviews that were conducted, the emails and personal communications of governance members and involved others – not just what was included in the binders – and any other materials needed to determine:
a. The accuracy of the historical narratives provided in the Hoffman Report
b. Further explication of associated historical narratives that were touched upon in the Report but not fully delineated including:
i. The work of military psychologists and others in the DoD and U.S. Intelligence Services to revise the U. S. Army field manual and to end abusive and torturous practices by U.S. personnel and contractors.
ii. Insofar as possible, the history of intelligence interrogations conducted by DoD and U.S. Intelligence Services after the adoption of the PENS Report and the revisions to the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence.
iii. Detailed exploration of the deliberations of the Boards of Directors during 2014 and 2015 leading to the decision to contract for an extra legal review, the choices of how to charge the Sidley team, the choices about what to do with the Report including personnel actions taken, and the active inclusion of only limited individuals in considerations of follow up implementations.
iv. The construction, presentation, and word-smithing of all of the drafts of the Resolution passed at APA’s Council of Representatives meeting in August of 2015.
v. The active lobbying and advocacy undertaken by all parties inside and outside of the Council of Representatives and Board of Directors during 2014 and 2015 regarding these matters.
vi. In so far as feasible, a review of any and all activities undertaken by members of APA governance and the Association in general outside of the organization’s normal channels to bring public scrutiny and pressure on the enterprise to take action to reverse previous policy positions.
vii. An examination of the historical records of the organization to determine whether the efforts undertaken to influence and work with DoD during the PENS process were different in kind or scope from those undertaken by the organization routinely to engage the various branches of the U.S. government on other matters of importance to APA and is members.
viii. A close study of the supervision processes of APA staff members by APA governance to determine whether those processes exercised during the PENS study and associated activities afterwards were different in kind and substance from those used routinely.
ix. Finally, an examination of the work of APA staff with members of DoD and the security services during the PENS process and related actions afterwards to determine whether those activities were different in kind and scope from those undertaken by all staff and with other members and constituencies on matters of dire importance to them in the past.
2. Divisions 12, 16, 17, 29, 38, 39, 42, and other clinically oriented units of APA to examine the literature on the quality, effectiveness, and safety of psychotherapy and other health care interventions used by psychologists to provide clarity on APA ethical principles and standards on Beneficence, Doing No Harm. Competence, and effectiveness of services.
3. Divisions 13, 14, 18, 19, 27, and other General Applied Practice in Psychology to examine the literature on quality, effectiveness, and safety of non psychotherapeutic, general applied interventions used by those practitioners – see 2 above.
4. Divisions of Social Psychology, General, Experimental, Industrial/Organizational, and Consulting Psychology and others interested to examine the political, interpersonal, organizational, and leadership processes, structures, and procedures involved by APA’s Boards of Directors and Council of Representatives from 2002 through 2015 dealing with these issues to derive lessons that can be used by APA governance and staff going forward to avoid similar explosions of conflict.
5. Division of Forensic Psychology to create a task force to examine the Hoffman Report closely for its lines of argument, methods of data collection, analysis, and conclusions drawn, and lines of argument and conclusions drawn related to data inclusion and exclusion processes. In short, we need a team of professionals who are trained in law and psychology to study the Hoffman document and documentation to determine whether the levels of professionalism and competence displayed by the Sidley team met the expectations of both the professions of law and psychology and the science of psychology. Although this may be a very high bar for any group of practitioners to get over, the impact of the Hoffman Report, the decision of the Board’s Special Committee to contract with them and charge them the way in which it did, and the actions and activities of the Sidley team subsequent to agreeing to conduct the investigation, all make such a thorough, multi-disciplinary examination necessary. For the Sidley team had to have known that it was working for an Association with the best psychological science and practice expertise, experience, and knowledge in the world. And if it did not make sufficient use of those areas of expertise in the conduct of the investigation and in so doing produced a document of limited value, then the members of the Association should be educated about what mistakes were made, the potential impacts those oversights may have produced, and the lessons that must be drawn about using such methods to assist the organization in addressing such matters of significant internal conflict and external interest to the American public now and in the future.
6. Others may well have additional suggestions to make about how APA and its members may need to study and learn from what has transpired. I know I am not the only member of the organization to have expressed such concerns and have such perspectives. I can only hope that APA governance, especially the Board of Directors and the Council of Representatives, can free itself from any and all defensive postures, including those recommended by law firms contracted to help them with what undoubtedly are going to be substantive and painful matters of litigation, to see the need for moving forward in the most productive and scientific fashion possible. Without the rigor of such examinations, the entire membership will be left to take sides based solely on the language and rhetoric of the Hoffman Report itself and the various ways in which those materials can and have been interpreted.
7. I am sure it will be argued that the costs and time involved with the conduct of such validation work would prohibit the Association from making such a commitment. But without such studies, I believe the Hoffman Report will stick to all of the members of the Association and the organization to come in ways that will make our collective work and mutual activities extremely difficult to undertake. It seems clear that the past thirteen years have produced a significant rupture in the social and psychological contracts that bind us together as such a diverse community of scholars and practitioners. Despite the size and direction of the vote on the Council of Representatives, these matters are not settled among us and will not be unless we take additional energetic action to do so. Calls for reconciliation, letters of apology, and actions taken to punish those thought to be responsible are not substitutes for serious and sustained efforts to look thoroughly and completely at what has transpired.
8. Psychologists are routinely trained and educated to demand and expect more from each other in all arenas of science, education, and practice. We learn very early in our studies in psychology to take no research report at face value and to dig into it with imagination, intensity, critical thinking, and all of the tools our science and profession have developed. So, let us try to cease the natural, human inclination to point fingers, take sides, demand political, personal, and organizational action, and instead get down to the business at hand. We must study what has transpired in the greatest detail possible in order to learn from what everyone involved on the staff and APA governance over the past 13 years have produced. Our Association is well over a century old. The science of psychology started in Germany in 1879. The practice of psychology started in the 1890’s at the University of Pennsylvania. Let us all agree to honor our collective heritage and preserve our mutual respect and dignity by using what we know how to do better than any other group of human beings on the planet. Let us really try to learn everything we can from what has happened before we try to do anything else.
From: Dick Kilburg
Date: Thursday, August 27, 2015
Subject: [SCPDiscussion] The Hoffman Report: A Call for Scientific Validation
Since Friday, July 10th, I have been seriously engaged in trying to analyze the Hoffman Report and subsequent actions taken in and outside of APA governance. Like many others, I have had strong reactions to the document and to the reactions of others to it. Throughout my own considerations, I have struggled to retain a sense of objectivity and sufficient detachment to see both the Report itself and everything that has happened around it with and through a variety of lenses. I confess to having my own views and in my Essay on the Report, published some of them. Collectively, we are witnessing a variety of additional actions being taken in and outside of APA as a result of the Report and the adoption of the associated Resolution by the Council of Representatives. The latest came yesterday when we learned that counter to what I was reassured would be the case, on the recommendation of Counsel, the Board of Directors is denying access to the content of the 167 interviews conducted by the Hoffman team. I can only imagine that the Board has begun to prepare itself for litigation that it will undoubtedly need to manage. I believe this to be a mistake of the highest order if it comes to this. If tort actions are filed, I believe that APA should negotiate with those involved in good faith and discharge its responsibilities to them and the rest of us without the extended agony and expense of litigation. In other words, I believe that any and all such claims should be taken to a mutually agreed upon mediator as soon as possible and that reasonable settlements must be reached, as I believe a tort action will ultimately yield settlements, but with much greater expense and organizational consternation and chaos. These are important and relevant matters.
However, the most important and relevant matter that faces all of us is what are we to learn collectively from what has transpired over the past 13 years? To that end, I am issuing a call for scientific validation of the Hoffman Report and associated processes. That call is attached for your information. I've debated seriously about what additional action to take personally and professionally and believe that this is the first and best step that I can make. If you support the spirit and substance of the call, if not all of its explicit components, then you may want to undertake some consultations with colleagues in other divisions and subunits of APA to solicit views and perhaps support. I'm not a member of APA governance, nor do I hold any elected office in American or Global Psychology. I cannot make a motion on the floor of a Council of Representatives meeting. I'm only one person with one set of ideas, but I believe I may be speaking for many others in writing this call. I am going to post this on the list serves that I routinely interact on. You can all feel free to use this in any ways you see fit and post the call wherever you think there may be interest or perhaps do some good. Of course, I would be interested in any and all types of feedback you may have to the attached document.