Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
December 17, 2009
Melba J. T. Vasquez, a Texas State University-San Marcos alumna, has been elected president of the American Psychological Association for 2011.
Vasquez is a native of San Marcos and maintains a private practice in Austin. She graduated from Texas State in 1972 with a double major in English and political science. She earned her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Texas. Before becoming a psychologist, Vasquez taught middle school English and political science.
As a leader in her field, Vasquez has focused on raising the visibility and participation of women and ethnic minorities in psychology, developing feminist and culturally competent services for women and minorities and advancing scholarship and ethics within the field.
“I am incredibly honored to have been chosen to serve in the role of APA president,” said Vasquez. “Our association plays a central role in presenting psychology as the science of behavior. I will promote the benefits of psychological science to daily living and to helping with some of society’s challenges.”
In her psychotherapy practice, Vasquez treats clients from different cultures, consults and trains for organizations and provides forensic expertise. Among scholarly achievements, Vasquez is author or co-author of several book chapters and journal articles on ethics, multiculturalism, psychotherapy and the psychology of women.
Throughout her career, Vasquez has been integral in implementing ethical responsibility standards for psychologists. As a member of APA’s Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychologists (later re-named the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest), she helped spur APA to cancel its investments in South Africa during apartheid and raised awareness about HIV/AIDS.
As APA’s first Latina president, Vasquez plans to make inroads with minority groups that are traditionally underserved by psychology. “Strategies to promote coping and resilience for members of those groups are important to communicate to the public,” she said.
She also hopes to promote opportunities for students and early career professionals by implementing many of the recommendations from APA’s 2009 Practice Summit, and through dissemination of the APA Workforce Analysis findings.
Vasquez, who is currently on APA’s Board of Directors, has served as consulting editor to Professional Psychology: Research and Practice and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, both published by APA. She has been a member or chair of seven APA task forces and the president of two divisions, the Society of Counseling Psychology and the Society for the Psychology of Women. She is also an APA fellow, a diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology and a distinguished member of the National Academies of Practice. She is a past president of the Texas Psychological Association.