The Past and The Present: Keeping SoAP Going and Growing
Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction – Past to Present
In 2013, Dr. Sara Jo Nixon, then President of SoAP, asked me to be her APA Convention program chair. This was a great opportunity for my career – adding to my CV, curating addiction programming at the convention, working closely with Dr. Nixon, and, I cannot lie, being the chair when the convention was in Hawaii. It also opened unexpected doors: Dr. Nixon’s presidential initiative was to start a midyear conference dedicated to how psychological science and practice influence the field of substance use and addiction, and I was to become the co-chair of the inaugural Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction (CPA) conference. Next month, SoAP will be holding the seventh annual CPA conference. I have been every year and have watched it grow. I am proud to have been part of an event that is now embraced by our division, particularly by the student and early career members of SoAP.
Those first years of CPA often involved some breath holding – Would members submit their high quality symposia? Would members register? Would we fill the room block? They did, and CPA became an annual event. Now, just seven years later, we find ourselves in an unexpected situation: We had to close registration to non-presenters, even before the early-bird registration period ended. [If you are a presenter and have not registered, hurry!] This was necessitated by the overwhelming number of registrants for the 2019 CPA conference. Based on CPA’s six prior years, we expected registration to be approximately 200. Maybe, we thought, the numbers would be a bit higher because there are so many universities with strong addiction programs in the Northeast United States, but registration soared past 235 by the first week of February (with many presenters still not having registered). The Rhode Island conference venue simply cannot accommodate an audience greater than 275. In other words, we have, for the first time, hit capacity! Lesson learned. Soon you will be hearing all about CPA 2020, in San Diego at a larger, but still boutique venue. Our division will continue in our efforts to balance the event’s popularity with its intimate, networking atmosphere. We also will continue to strive to move the conference to different locations to ensure that all SoAP members have the opportunity to attend.
Update on the Addiction Newsletter and the SoAP Box
Each year, the president of the division chooses an initiative on which to focus during their presidential year. My initiative has been to bring The Addiction Newsletter online and try new strategies to increase its readership. I chose this initiative in an attempt to raise the profile of the newsletter and reduce its costs. The newsletter is a long-standing and key benefit of membership in SoAP. It is important that we maintain it as a forum to promote the unique knowledge base and expertise of addiction psychologists. However, culturally, we Americans have moved more and more to online information sources and ‘sound-bite’ content. Our goal is to find a format and content that bridges online and paper as well as depth and brevity.
As I noted in my last column, the winter issue of The Addiction Newsletter was our “transitional” issue. It was available, as usual, as a PDF in our standard newsletter format and, for the first time, as the re-envisioned online newsletter with individual links to each article. The standard PDF can be found on addictionpsychology.org under the “Publications” header. The online newsletter can be found on the same site under the “News” header. Both offer the same great content. The online newsletter has been named “The SoAP Box” (the brainchild of past president Katie Witkiewitz. Thanks Katie!). My hope is that you have come across this column via the SoAP Box link. If, however, you are reading this column in the PDF newsletter, you likely notice that the format is different - perhaps more rudimentary. A ‘no frills’ PDF of the newsletter will continue to be an option for readers, but we hope that most readers will find their way to the SoAP Box, which will soon be ‘backfilled’ with old columns from prior newsletter issues.
This change in formatting is the result of my goal to reduce the costs of the newsletter. The design and formatting costs for each of the three yearly newsletters has often been in excess of $1000. I believe that this money would be better spent on activities and opportunities for individuals starting out in the field of addiction psychology.
Supporting our Student and Early Career Members
Both CPA and the newsletter support the careers of individuals interested in addiction psychology. CPA offers valuable networking opportunities. The re-envisioned newsletter hopes to increase the contributions, engagement, and readership of early career SoAP members. We as a division, however, must continue to find new ways to support the career pipeline in our field. Established researchers and clinicians can do this by encouraging their trainees to become active participants in the division through membership on our committees, the board, and attendance at our many social events. They can also support their trainees by attending our events themselves; being present to provide those initial introductions that allow students to show-off their intellect and passion. These moments to shine can often spark new collaborations, bolster confidence, and sometimes even lead to internship, postdoc, clinical or faculty positions.
I encourage all of our members to attend the division’s networking events, held at both the CPA and APA conferences. Even those labeled as early career or student events are open to all and are enthusiastic about more established members stopping in. These social/networking events have become a hallmark of CPA thanks to the division’s outstanding group of student representatives and social committee members. They have been highly successful, friendly, and fun. Newcomers are always warmly welcomed.