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Winter 2008

Presidents Letter

Dr. Maureen O’Hara

Well, what about that election!!!! It is almost forty years since I taught the first class at Oberlin College on white racism and black-white relations. It was part of a program in humanistic studies--the Human Development Program that I created and was team taught by several faculty committed to social change. Our unofficial theme music was the Beatles, "Revolution" --"you say you want to change the world..." The great American sprinter, Tommy Smith, whose raised fist in the Mexico City Olympics put a nation on warning that things were to change, led a section of the class and I remember conversations about how long it would be before a black President or a woman was elected in the USA.  The consensus among students and teachers was that if it happened in our life-time all the hope-filled work and the outrage and protest that had come before us,  and our intensive encounters with our own prejudices in that class would be vindicated and perhaps even sanctified.  It is important to recall that the psychology department tried to stop our humanistic program, with its classes in human sexuality, death and dying, religious experience, sex roles and consciousness, and racism, calling them, "anti- intellectual" not "science based" and "something that should go on in the dorms but not the classroom". 
I have never taken such opposition seriously and I have never believed that positivist science based psychology would solve the problems of the heart. I am a member of this division because I am a humanistic activist.  As I gaze on the full page picture of our first black president, who ran on hope not fear, my heart is full of gratitude for all those co-creators who didn't wait for empirical evidence to make their case for justice, but who know from lived experience that it is faith and actions that change the world. 

President’s Welcome   

As I take over the helm of the Society for this year I am grateful to the outstanding job Frank Farley did as president last year and he has set the bar high for my follow on.  I want to thank Frank for his leadership and vision.  His Boston convention symposium, Humanizing an Inhumane World drew big names and big crowds.  He was a dominant factor in putting us on the map and getting Division 32 desired exposure. We thank Frank for his services and aim to continue his efforts this year, in Toronto.    

Hospitality Suite Boston

In Boston we held an important gathering in the Hospitality Suite; a gathering to remember our beloved Mike (Myron) Arons.  The Society honored him by telling stories, sharing memories, and generally celebrating a life well lived and one whose legacy includes the community we all enjoy.  Mike was a strong advocate of using the Hospitality suite to offer those “off-convention” events that were more experiential, less formal and offer us ways of engaging our discipline as whole (and not always buttoned down) persons.  Despite some concerns that the suite may be a luxury we may not be able to afford, Treasurer Sara Bridges and the Board have affirmed the continuation of the Suite in future years. In Toronto the Suite program chair is Christine Farber. Thank you Chris.  More on that later.  
Welcome New Members

I would like to welcome the new members to our board team. Fred Wertz, re-elected as Secretary; Kathleen Wall, and Brent Robbins elected as Members at Large; President Elect Sara Bridges, David Elkins, Treasurer. Scott Churchill will serve as 2009 Convention Program Chair; Christine Farber will assist him as Chair of the Hospitality Suite; and Susan Gordon is the new Awards Chair.  I can thank new Newsletter Editor Shawn Rubin for making this letter accessible to you electronically.  We have just begun and it has already been a pleasure to work with these individuals. 

Financial Status

Thanks to the two Society conferences, fundraising, and good stewardship by the executive board over the past few years, we are in good shape financially.  The proceeds from last year’s Humanistic Psychotherapy Conference chaired by President David Cain have been extremely helpful in providing us with reserves. The Society’s Conference this year was also a success.  Turnout has been impressive and the quality of sessions, discussions and engagement has been very high.   

Membership News

Membership has shown a slight drop (8-9%), but steps are being taken to make membership application a more efficient process.  One new initiative will allow individuals to join divisions easily on-line, all automated.  In addition, it will continue to be possible to join the Society without joining APA, and to do so on-line.  This will help our Society’s membership.  We need your help to keep new members coming in and to make sure current members stay engaged. Brent has attempted to target potential members from the International Human Science Conference.  The board discussed the strategy of offering free membership automatically with pre-convention registration.  Also, we need to continue to recruit and retain students.  The Society loses about 150 students every year which is commonly due to students graduating or not being able to afford APA membership. Students are short term members, but it is important to find ways for them to continue as regular members. We rely on our members to help us recruit new members and student members.  Let me ask you to talk just one colleague or student to join the society this year.  


As reported above, we had a successful Division Conference prior to the APA convention conference in Boston. Many thanks to Brent Robbins, the conference chair, who did an amazing job. Speakers were outstanding and presentations were diverse: experiential, research-oriented, and theoretical.  Poster sessions were offered for students.  This format brought in many students, who may be more comfortable with poster sessions. Many attendees spoke very highly of the conference.  They particularly enjoyed the intensive 3 hour workshops and the opportunities to network with greater personal connection.  They also reported that continuity over years, as would be afforded by annual conferences, is important to them.  Discussions took place over whether the two conferences should remain together or if they should be decoupled. After looking at the attendance and cost of holding the conference prior to the APA convention in Toronto the board concluded that it would be wiser to decouple the Society’s meeting from the APA convention.  The board agreed to ask Louis Hoffman and the University of the Rockies in Colorado to host the next conference in October, 2009. We anticipate a strong program, lower costs and more student involvement. 


At the Boston Convention, Franz Epting received the Abraham Maslow award and Robert Elliot received the Carl Rogers Award. The Harari (early career) awards went to Brent Dean Robbins and Mark Koltko-Rivera, and the Sydney Jourard student awards went to Miraj U. Desai, MA Fordham University, Crystal M. Famalette, BA Univ of Dallas and Carrie Feuer, MS Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center.  For 2009, the Harari award will go to Alan Pope; the Rollo May award to Larry Leitner; and the Carl Rogers to Peter Schmid from the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna, Austria and the Buhler award  to York University  with David Rennie accepting.   

Looking Ahead

Nominations are being solicited for the positions of President Elect and two Members-at-large of the Executive Board. Nominations should be forwarded to Past President Frank Farley at

Convention Theme 2009

The theme of the Toronto convention continues Frank Farley's focus on the larger picture and reflects my long standing interests in the relationship between the huge societal shifts occurring as we move into the global age and the structure and process of consciousness.  We wish to address the issue of Persons of Tomorrow: Humanizing the Emerging Global Society 
We are looking for presentations with any one of three foci:

1. The inner world of consciousness, existence and identity 
2. The social world of community 
3. Appropriate epistemology and methods of inquiry for a non-Eurocentric science. 

We encourage sessions that are not necessarily presentations.  Think of round tables, dialogues, and workshops as well as qualitative research, including case studies. 
The division is contributing 1 hour to the President James Bray’s “Convention within a Convention,” (see APA website) and 1 to the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues’ (SPSSI) multi-division proposal to the Commission on Division-APA Relations (CODAPAR) for an event that includes a community engagement in Toronto with one of the most challenged neighborhoods. This will begin with a learning journey to the neighborhood hosted by a Toronto SPSSI group followed by some debriefing sessions in the convention.  We have also agreed to donate an hour to the Divisions for Social Justice this year. In all these "donated hours" we get to select the presentations from those submitted to us through Division 32. 

Update from the President:

Call for Nominations for Council Representative

Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32) has, because of the supportive vote of our members, been given a second seat on APA's Council of Representatives. Thank you all for this support.

We now need to elect one of our members to fill this additional seat for a three year term beginning January 1, 2010. Nominations are needed for this position. Nominees must be division 32 members and have informed you that they are willing to be on the ballot and serve if elected. Please list your nominee's name, e-mail address and phone number. Also, please provide your name as well.

Please respond with this information by January 31 to
Frank Farley, Ph.D., Nominations Chair at:

Thank You
Maureen O'Hara, PhD., President
Society for Humanistic Psychology

Please visit the Society for Humanistic Psychology's online newsletter

Please visit for information and registration pertaining to our third annual conference: Humanistic Psychology, Psychotherapy and Action: Transformation in a Time of Change. The conference will be held at the University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, CO October 8-11, 2009.

Pictures from Boston courtesy Susan Gordon, Ph.D.