Recap of APA 2019

The annual convention for the American Psychological Association came and went. There were so many wonderful sessions and moving speeches from presenters and guest speakers. I left Chicago feeling energized and with a number of ideas and lessons learned to bring back to my students and fellow colleagues. This convention redefined the impact of togetherness and the impact our work has (and can have) on the most pressing issues of our time.

On day one, keynote speaker Wes Moore asked (and answered), “If there’s a question about whether we can do more, the answer is yes.” Wes Moore is the author of “The Other Wes Moore” and CEO of the anti-poverty organization Robin Hood. He shared his powerful personal story of overcoming poverty, hardship, and early traumas. On day one, we also talked about the importance of a growth mindset - the belief that one can learn and improve rather than that intelligence and abilities are fixed. There are ways we can instill this mindset in our students and support our colleagues as they venture into new, challenging areas.

On day two, there were plenty more continuing education sessions, presentations, and exhibits. On the Main Stage was Kevin Hines, who shared with us challenges he faced as an adolescent, the emotional disconnect between people that we must address, and his story of how he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately for all of us, he survived his suicide attempt - only 1% of those who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge do. We also heard from Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D. who reminded us that “suicide is a global health crisis and the answer is going to come from psychology.”

On day three, we met Nelba Marquez-Greene, licensed family therapist and mother of Ana Grace, who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. Her moving story came with a powerful call for psychologists and behavioral health scientists to boost their work to address gun violence in America. APA is taking a strong stand on gun violence because what we know about the science does not match the public policy on this issue.

I was sad to see APA 2019 come to a close. But I felt inspired and gained additional insight that will propel me forward as I continue my work as a professor of psychology and behavioral scientist.

Consider joining us in Washington, DC August 6-9 for APA 2020!

-Dr. Josh Matacotta