Interview with Donors

Dr. Karen Schmaling, PhD, ABPP, board certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology and Dr. Victor Molinari, PhD, ABPP board certified in Clinical Psychology and Geropsychology, were the recipients of two drawings held by the ABPP Foundation Board during their fundraising activities at the APA Annual Convention.

Each of these generous donors was interviewed about their use of a $250 dining certificate as well as their reasons for becoming patrons of the ABPP Foundation, and their hopes for its future. Their responses to our interview questions provide a glimpse into their passion for ABPP and the value of becoming an ABPP Foundation contributor.

Thank you Dr. Karen Schmaling and Dr. Victor Molinari

Q:  Where did you choose to dine with the proceeds from the Foundation drawing?

Schmaling: After a bit of research, my husband Art, clinical psychologist, and I had a wonderful dinner at Jose Garces’ (the Iron Chef, if you watch the Food Network) new D.C. restaurant Rural Society – the restaurant theme is that of an Argentinian steak house, which might seem like an odd choice given that we don’t eat red meat! But the ambiance, service, food (we loved the tamale in particular), and wine (an Argentinian Malbec) were fabulous.

Molinari: I dined at a restaurant in Dunedin, Florida (near Clearwater) called the Living Room. The food is always very good there, but tasted especially fine due to the bonus of a free meal.

Q. What are the reasons for your choice to support the ABPP Foundation as part of your charitable giving?

Schmaling: There are several reasons! Earning the ABPP designation was an important professional accomplishment for me, and it’s been my pleasure to serve on the ABPP Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology Board since 2008. As part of being on the board, as with other leadership positions, I think it’s important to model our commitment by giving to the organization, especially if we’d like others to give.  Having a strong commitment to diversity in higher education as an administrator, I was particularly inspired to support the Nezu Diversity Award

Molinari: As part of the ‘emerging’ ABPP specialty of Geropsychology, I have recognized the important need for assessment of competencies in the varied specialties. Given that there are many generalist psychologists who don’t want to be restricted in their practice due to realistic (yet short-sighted) revenue considerations, it is incumbent upon psychology leadership to educate psychologists about the changing health care system and how specialization is required to progress the field and to help assure higher quality psychological services which will benefit all.

Q.  In what ways do you view ABPP Board Certification as increasing the public’s access to competent and high quality psychological services?

Schmaling: The ABPP examination process focuses uniquely on competence in a specialty area; the state licensing process focuses broadly and at the entry-to-practice level.  The more advanced focus of the ABPP credential is in the best interests of the public, and increasing the public’s awareness of the differences in mental health providers’ credentials (and training) will help them find appropriate and responsive service providers.

Molinari: I believe that this is a very important issue. In the field of aging, there are too few graduate programs with an emphasis in Geropsychology. Consequently many psychologists have not become aware of the specialized evidence-base that has developed over the last 20 years regarding the delivery of psychological services. Some years ago, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report scathingly vilified such poor psychological practices as billing for doing group therapy and conducting lengthy psychological assessments with nursing home residents who had severe dementia. Although some of this practice may have been fraudulent, I think for the most part poor education in gerontology produced some psychologists who did not know some basic standards of practice in long term care settings. My hope is that the American Board of Geropsychology (ABGERO) specialization will highlight the core competencies that all psychologists working with older adults should aspire.

Q.  What initiatives would you like to see in the future, that would encourage your continued contributions and support for the Foundation

Schmaling: I’d love to see more events like the Inaugural Foundation event in D.C., An Evening with the ABPP Foundation, which was elegant and enjoyable. People support their passions; identifying initiatives that reflect the ‘passions’ of current ABPPs will be important to do. A few examples include early career ABPPs, those from diverse backgrounds, or those serving our country.

Molinari: The main thing would be to publicize that there is currently a ‘culture of competency’ not only in psychology but also within the health care system. I think that there are some psychologists who still believe that ABPP specialization is either an elitist operation or a vanity affectation, rather than understanding how ABPP is now in the forefront of developments in applied psychology. Such psychologists can be disabused by launching an educational campaign that publicly identifies those specialists in a variety of areas who have met education/training/experiential requirements and who have exhibited competence in designated core domains by defending their professional aspirations and work products.