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Bylaw Amendment Letter by Elizabeth Lennihan, LCSW

Dear Colleagues:

You will soon be receiving voting materials from APSA that will include a ballot for a member petitioned bylaw amendment. Your vote on this is important. To help with your decision, I have summarized here the amendment itself, background, and some of the reasons in support and in opposition to the amendment.

The proposed bylaw amendment would do the following:

1) Add two Executive Councilors, elected by the Executive Council, to the Executive Committee.
They would have voting rights on the Executive Committee. The Executive Council is the Board of Directors of the Association and the Executive Committee carries out the business of the Association between the Council’s twice yearly meetings. At present, the Executive Council does not have any direct representation on the Executive Committee as the Executive Committee representatives are member elected.

2) Restore the vote on the Executive Council and the Executive Committee to the Board of Professional Standards (BOPS) Chair and Secretary. At present, the BOPS Chair and Secretary are non-voting members of the Executive Council and the Executive Committee.

3) Restore the vote on BOPS and the Coordinating Committee to the Officers of the Association. At present, the Officers of the Association sit on these committees but do not have voting rights.

Controversy around this bylaw amendment focuses on voting rights being restored to the BOPS Chair and Secretary on the Executive Council and the Executive Committee. It raises issues of governance, representation and the role of BOPS, the committee responsible for education and training, and its place in the overall mission and decision making of APSA.

Supporters of this amendment frame it as a “compromise” as it offers the Executive Council the representation it seeks on the Executive Committee while restoring the BOPS’ position, until recent years, of having voting representation on the Council and the Executive Committee. While it raises governance concerns as BOPS is one among many committees under the Executive Council, this change recognizes the importance of education and training in APSA. In addition, some of those who have served on these committees point to the frustration of being non-voting committee members while restoring the vote would facilitate a more active and better working process. In short, supporters see this amendment as balancing representation, recognizing education and training as a priority within APSA, and facilitating a collaborative committee environment.

Opponents view this bylaw as “regressive” with the governance issues it raises. For many years, the Association functioned as a bicameral organization with BOPS and the Executive Council as coequals representing Institutes and Societies respectively under the direction of the Executive Committee. In recent years, it was established that the Executive Council is the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee carries out the day to day operations of the Association under the direction of the Executive Council, and the BOPS is one of many Association committees. Opponents see this bylaw as a step back to a bicameral organization. It elevates the position of the BOPS rather than keeping it on par with other committees. This has implications for both governance and the mission of the Association which includes but is not limited to education and training.

Opponents also see this bylaw as an issue around representation. Members of the Association elect Officers of the Association and Councilors at Large who serve on the Executive Committee. Members also elect Councilors to the Executive Council through their local Societies. BOPS representatives, or Fellows, are limited to Training Analysts selected through their local Institutes. Allowing the BOPS Chairman and Secretary a vote on the Executive Council and Executive Committee is seen as giving a disproportionate voting power to Training Analysts as a subgroup of APSA members.

The Executive Council discussed these issues at APSA’s June meeting. In the time available, it was unable to come to a resolution of these opposing issues. As a result, the Council recommended members “vote your conscience.”

The issues I have outlined here were discussed on the Executive Council and the APSA listserves. I am sure there are more considerations. This letter will be posted on the Society website Discussion Forum at chicagopsychoanalyticsociety.org and you may post any comments there. You may also contact me directly at llennihan@yahoo.com.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth (Lisa) Lennihan, LCSW

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