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» Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D. Elected American Psychological Association President for 2006

WASHINGTON — Psychologist Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D., Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons College in Boston and lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School and Boston College, has been elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA) for 2006.

Dr. Koocher has a combination of research, teaching and clinical experience that focus on the professional and ethical aspects of psychology practice and scientific research. He also works with children and adults coping with chronic or life-threatening illnesses (especially cancer, cystic fibrosis and diabetes). Other areas of expertise include coping with bereavement and loss, psychological assessment and mental health malpractice.

He has over 25 years of experience in APA governance that include service on APA's Ethics Committee and two five-year terms as APA treasurer, an office that includes membership on APA's Board of Directors.

As president, Dr. Koocher plans to "focus on family." His goal is to not only highlight how psychologists can contribute to the many aspects of family wellness, but also how they can strengthen the profession's family of researchers, practitioners, educators and advocates.

"I would like APA to continue to raise the public's awareness of how psychological services can be more a part of peoples' lives in maintaining their health. Psychologists can help people create better work/family balances, strengthen their intimate relationships and raise their children in less stressful circumstances."

Dr. Koocher also wants to continue the momentum that APA has started on increasing diversity in psychology so the association can truly reflect what America looks like today.

"Our society is becoming diverse in ways that couldn't have been imagined 20 years ago," says Koocher, noting that not only are minority populations growing, but so are transracial marriages and international adoptions. "Psychology has to be prepared to move in that direction."

Dr. Koocher is a strong supporter of APA's effort to help the field's newest members jumpstart their careers. As an undergraduate at Boston University, Koocher admired how two of his professors, child psychologist Freda Rebelsky, Ph.D., and the late psychologist Robert Chin, Ph.D., cultivated relationships with their students, even in a large university like Boston University. From this early experience, Koocher wanted to follow their example.

New professionals face challenges such as student loan debt, barriers to starting a new practice or joining managed care panels, political restrictions on federal research funding and upheaval when relocating for a job, said Koocher. Increasing educational funding, developing better loan-forgiveness programs and creating a national licensing system would be a start to helping our newcomers into the profession, said Koocher.

Currently, Dr. Koocher lectures and supervises interns and postdocs at Harvard Medical School, while holding other appointments at Boston College, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Boston's Children's Hospital, where he was the chief pediatric psychologist for 13 years before moving to Simmons College. At Simmons, he also teaches an undergraduate course in child development and public policy. He still donates his time one day a week at the Children's Hospital, managing two or three children's cases and supervising psychology interns.

Besides his university and hospital responsibilities, Dr. Koocher is also active in community and professional affairs. He is a representative in the Brookline, Mass., Town Meeting and president of the Brookline Community Mental Health Center. He has been president of the Massachusetts and New England psychological associations as well as the following APA Divisions: Society of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Child, Youth and Family Services, as well as the Society of Pediatric Psychology and the Society of Clinical Child Psychology.

He is a fellow of 12 APA divisions and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Koocher founded and is the editor of the journal Ethics & Behavior and has served as the editor of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and The Clinical Psychologist. He was the first psychologist to earn five specialty diplomas from the American Board of Professional Psychology (clinical, clinical child/adolescent, family, forensic and health psychology). He has published more than 150 articles and book chapters and authored or edited eight books. He recently co-authored with J. C. Norcross, Ph.D., and S. S. Hill, Ph.D., PsyDR: Psychologists' Desk Reference, 2nd Edition, New York, published by Oxford University Press in October 2004.

He was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He completed his BA degree in psychology at Boston University (1968), and his MA (1970) and PhD (1972) in clinical psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. From 1971 through 2001, he served successively as an intern, postdoctoral fellow and ultimately as chief of psychology at Boston's Children's Hospital and Judge Baker Children's Center. During this period, he also served as a full-time faculty member (associate professor) at Harvard Medical School. In June 2001, Koocher became professor and dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons College (Boston).

Licensed in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Koocher has conducted a part-time independent practice in clinical and forensic psychology for more than 30 years. He has also served as principal investigator on competitively funded research grants from several private foundations and four federal agencies.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.

Date: December 10, 2004
Contact: Pam Willenz
Public Affairs Office
(202) 336-5707

© 2004 American Psychological Association
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