An Advocacy Guide for Psychologists




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Why Advocacy?

Advocacy is the process of informing and assisting decision makers. Only with good information can good decisions be made. Psychology has excellent information to add to the public policy debates in Canada. It is the responsibility of each psychologist and organizations such as the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programmes (CCPPP), the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (CRHSPP), the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS), the Council of Canadian Departments of Psychology (CCDP), the Canadian Association of School Psychologists (CASP), and the Council of Provincial Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), and provincial/territorial psychology associations to become an active and assertive part of the advocacy enterprise.

Grassroots lobbying is essential. It makes the issues relevant to each politician in their home constituency. Parliamentarians carry the message back to the caucus. If many Members are hearing the same message, this influences the inner circle of decision makers and the Cabinet.

Powerful interest groups have long had the ear of governments. They regularly deliver their messages personally in the constituencies and in the legislatures of the nation.

Psychology’s voice and influence is growing. It needs to be stronger. That is why Psychology needs your help. It is essential that we continue to improve the discipline’s participation in public policy development for the benefit of society and the advancement of the discipline.

The purposes of advocacy include:

  • Influencing health, science, and social policy funding and decision making concerning the science and the practice of psychology;
  • Informing politicians, their staff and the bureaucracy about psychological research and practice and their relevance to government policy and Canadian society;
  • Establishing liaison with other organizations of researchers and practitioners within psychology and other disciplines and professions; and
  • Informing psychologists and supporting them as science and practice advocates.

Your Participation is Critical

The number of psychologists in Canada has reached a significant critical threshold. If each psychologist contacted his or her Member of Parliament and provincial legislator twice a year by letter, telephone, fax, e-mail, or in person, the impact would be dramatic. This would result in over 40,000 contacts per year for an individual commitment of between thirty minutes and three hours.

Politicians and governments need our information. They work for us. They will respond and the cumulative effect over time will be significant.

Together We Stand – Divided We Are Less Effective

The science and practice of psychology fit together like a hand in a glove. One is much diminished without the other. Advocacy means promoting the discipline: promoting science, promoting practice and using science to promote practice and practice to promote science.

Science and practice are affected by federal, provincial and regional/municipal levels of government. Effective advocacy means combining resources to address regional, provincial and federal issues as well as using federal policy debates to affect provincial decisions and vice-versa.

The Time Is Always Now

It is always time for advocacy. Without effective dialogue, policy decisions are taken without psychology’s input. This hurts society and the discipline.

Canadian research, university funding, health, employment, education, welfare, student debt, environmental policy, foreign policy and safe communities are just a few of the important issues of the day.

Getting Involved

Lobbying is often perceived as intimidating but it doesn’t need to be. The purpose of Psychology and Public Policy: An Advocacy Guide for Psychologists is to make the process as simple and painless as possible. Remember that social science research demonstrates that the quality of the interaction and the simplicity of the message are critical factors.

Ensure psychology is on the political agenda in your riding, and ultimately on the national stage, by taking an active role in election and nomination campaigns. During election campaigns, you can raise psychology related issues at public debates, work for a candidate who shares your views or run for office and give psychology a strong voice.

Advocacy is not an all or nothing experience. As is true of most relationships, it benefits from the number, frequency, quality and longevity of the contacts.

You will find this manual to be self-explanatory. More information is available from the CPA Head Office and from each provincial psychological association.

CPA Advocacy on Behalf of Psychology
Table of contents

Canadian Psychological Association