Donald Bersoff Elected APA President
November 03, 2011
Drexel University professor Dr. Donald N. Bersoff, a national expert on legal and ethical issues in mental health, has been elected 2013 president of the American Psychological Association.
Bersoff serves on the faculties of the psychology department in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences and in the Earle Mack School of Law, where he directs the JD/PhD program in law and psychology. He edited the landmark book Ethical Conflicts in Psychology, now in its fourth edition, and has written more than 100 publications and papers on the interaction of law, psychology and public policy.
“As APA president, my top initiatives will be to have psychologists take the lead in serving the mental health needs of military personnel, veterans and their families; ensure that we train clinicians to work with increasingly diverse clientele; and do whatever is necessary to attract and retain academicians and scientists,” Bersoff said.
Bersoff was the APA’s first general counsel, from 1979 to 1989, during which he authored 50 briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal and state courts. His work provided social science evidence relevant to issues such as sex stereotyping, women’s and adolescents’ reproductive rights, hospital privileges for psychologists, admissibility of psychological expertise, jury decision making, privacy rights of the LGBT community, children’s testimony and rights of the severely mentally disabled.
A native of New York, Bersoff received his doctoral degree in 1965 from New York University and his juris doctor degree in 1976 from Yale Law School. He served as an Air Force clinical psychologist from 1965 to 1968, with two years in Southeast Asia.
His other academic positions included developing the nation’s second joint law and psychology program, offered by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland School of Law, as well as faculty posts at the University of Georgia’s College of Education and Ohio State University.
Elected to three terms on the APA Council of Representatives, he served as president of the American Psychology-Law Society (APA Division 41) and chairman of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Mental Disability Law.
He received the Presidential Citation for Distinguished Service to APA in 2000. His other awards include Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Science and Profession and the Ethics Educator of the Year from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association; the Arthur Furst Ethics Award from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology; and the Lifetime Contribution Award from the American Psychology-Law Society.
About the American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., 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 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 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.