A Tale of Two Task Forces: Evidence of a Growing Diversity Problem within Psychology?
In this brief historical analysis, I compare and contrast two different American Psychological Association task forces, both of which were charged with reviewing the scientific literature regarding different but equally controversial clinical practices. Convened just over a decade apart, the first of these investigations involved recovered (repressed) memory therapy (RMT), and the subsequent review examined sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). I observe that the SOCE task force, unlike the RMT working group, was devoid of ideological diversity and strongly dissuaded clinicians from engaging in the practice under review, in spite of indications that far greater and more certain harms were occurring through RMT than through SOCE. These differences may be another symptom of organized psychology’s increasing lack of sociopolitical diversity, with accompanying risks for conservative clinicians and the public perception of psychology’s credibility when addressing contested social issues. I close with a brief discussion of this concern and note some recommendations that can begin to address it.