Basic Applied Tension

The formally stated goal of the American Psychological Association (APA) gives testimony to the tension and growth that applied research has brought to the discipline. The APA's goal is "to advance psychology as a science, a profession, and as a means of promoting human welfare."

No members of the profession felt this implication more prominently than did clinical psychologists. Unable to meet their applied-research and psychotherapy-orientation needs within the APA, they formed state and national splinter groups (e.g., the American Association of Applied Psychology, Psychologists Interested in the Advancement of Psychotherapy) where their applied research interests and activities could be effectively and meaningfully shared. The fact that splinter groups and their members now live under the APA roof is prominent evidence of the professional growth that has occurred within the APA. It is also a tribute to the efforts of pioneers such as Carl Rogers who devoted extensive time and personal energy to the task of unifying. The threefold goal—science, profession, human welfare—has now attained a visible balance within the professional activity and commitments of the APA.

Concurrently, basic researchers within colleges, universities, and research centers created a mirror image of the earlier splintering. Convinced that the APA had now become a predominantly applied professional organization, they founded the American Psychological Society (APS). The organization's stated purpose, resonant of the APA's, sets the goal "To promote, protect, and advance the interests of scientifically oriented psychology in research, application, and the improvement of human welfare." Many psychologists hold membership in both organizations, and only the future can determine whether the APA and APS will continue as separate identities.

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