1976 Thomas MacSpeiden, Ph.D.
During the 1976 installation banquet, Dr. Emami summarized the Society's accomplishments during his tenure. John Grabel, Ph.D. and Don Miller, Ph.D. had organized a convention for nonpsychologists. The convention was attended by approximately 700 laypersons. There was an increase in Society membership from 91 to 139. A revision of the Society's constitution by Alan Davidson, Ph.D. was approved by the membership. Thomas MacSpeiden, Ph.D. chaired the establishment of an ethics committee. A series of eleven Sunday morning brunches for the membership was held, each with a guest speaker. Meetings with Assemblyman Kapiloff and Supervisors Walsh and Bates occurred.Finally, there was the completion of a San Diego fee survey, which found that for a 50-minute hour psychologists were billing an average of $44.25 and psychiatrists $46.28.
In succeeding years Dr. Emami remained active in the development of professional psychology, and again served as President of the local Association in 1980. Eight years later, he would die unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 51.
The 1976 Society installation banquet occurred on 10 January at the Atlantis Restaurant. Invited guests were Bonnie Haines of TV Channel 10 and Robert Corbett of the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune. Both were awarded plaques by the Society.
The 1976 Board consisted of Thomas MacSpeiden, President; John Grabel, President Elect; Javad Emami, Past President; Alan Davidson, Secretary; Steve Padgitt, Treasurer; and two ex officio members: Don Miller, Chairperson of the Psychology Information and Referral Service; and Charles Moore, Newsletter Editor.
From the onset there were strong feelings on the new Board that because of the relative inactivity of the San Diego County Psychological Association Board there should be a merger of the Association and the Society into a single organization. Among other benefits, a merger would present a clearer image of organized psychology in the county and obviate the need for psychologists to pay dues to the Association in order to pay additional dues to the Society.
In February 1976 the Society mailed a straw ballot to all Association and Society members to determine the number in favor of merger. The ballots were to be returned by March 20. Ninety-seven ballots, or 51% of the 190 straw ballots mailed, were completed and returned. Of these, 82 approved the merger and 15 disapproved. The results were shared with the Association Board, and a three-person study committee was appointed.
The study committee was to review the constitutions of the Association and the Society, to consult with the CSPA Board, and to make recommendations to the two local Boards. Committee members were Robert Kaplan, President Elect of the Association, John Grabel, and Alan Davidson. The Society hoped by early June at the latest to mail ballots for an actual merger.
However, there were major problems to resolve prior to merger. A particular concern was what to do with the two executive Boards elected for 1977, especially the two Presidents Elect. There was the question of whether to require state licensure for membership in the merged organization. Licensure was a requirement for Society membership but not for Association membership. To require licensure would disenfranchise some current members of the Association. Dr. Kenneth Greene, President of the Association, proposed a slow and cautious approach to merger to avoid fractionation.
The study committee recommended that a merged organization use the membership requirement standards of the California State Psychological Association and proposed that for the first year there be either Co-Presidents to include the 1977 Presidents Elect of both organizations, or alternatively that there be an election for all new officers in November 1976.
By July 1976 Dr. Kaplan had grown increasingly uncomfortable with the prospective merger and what it entailed. Dr. Davidson, who a few years earlier had shared offices with Dr. Kaplan, agreed to meet with him and Dr. Greene. During that meeting, it was proposed that the Association Board would meet with the Society Board on September 13. In the August 1976 Society Board meeting it was agreed that the Society would no longer be responsible for collecting dues for any other professional group, including the Association.
At the September joint session of the two Boards and after considerable discussion, it was agreed that both memberships would be asked to vote for one of three possible alternatives: 1) maintain the status quo; 2) accomplish a complete separation between the Society and the Association; and 3) merge into a single unit with a new Board of directors. Pro and con statements were to accompany each of the alternatives.
The ballots were to be mailed in late October, but in fact, they were not mailed until November 8 with the instruction that they must be completed and returned by November 15th. The urgency occurred in part because the Society and the Association normally held elections in November. As it happened, on November 7. Robert Kaplan died from the resurgence of cancer long thought to be eradicated.
With Dr. Kaplan's death, the Association Board's opposition to the merger disappeared. Of the ballots sent to Society and Association members, 70 were completed and returned. Of these, 62 were for the merger, 5 were for the status quo and 3 were for creation of two separate groups.
Both Boards decided that the new organization would use the name San Diego Society of Clinical Psychologists until the logo listing in the Yellow Pages expired and a recently published referral directory was replaced, both to occur in the fall of 1977. Dr. Grabel as President Elect of the Society would be President of the new organization in 1977. Elections were hastily called to replace other members of the two Boards at the expiration of their 1976 terms.
Entrusted to the new Board were the issues of constitutional revision, a variable dues structure and an eventual choosing of a new name for the organization. The name ultimately chosen was Academy of San Diego Psychologists.
Although the 1976 merger was a major effort of the Society's executive Board, during that year many other tasks were also addressed by that energetic body:
Because of the small membership, the Society's treasury was limited. At the April 1976 meeting, the Treasurer reported, "the Society is without funds and currently being kept solvent by loans from members of the Executive Board." The Board discussed several alternatives for reducing costs, but "nothing firm [was] adopted." Exacerbating the problem was that many members were delinquent in their 1976 dues.
By July, the treasurer reported that the Society was $200 in debt, and this was all money owed to Board members. There had been only limited success in coercing members to pay their dues. At the August meeting, the Society was $270 in debt. The list of delinquent members was divided among the Board members, who were to telephone each individual.
By September, finances had not improved, and the organization was $300 in debt. Nonetheless, the Board passed a motion to contribute $500 to cover the start-up expenses for a 1976 convention for nonpsychologists. In the following month, the Association made a gift of $500 to the Society, thereby placing the Society in the black for the first time in 1976, by an amount of $100. The condition was short-lived because by November the Society was $50 in the red.
The Society was able to do as much as it did and not go further into debt thanks to Charles Manucia, who agreed to come out of retirement to function as Society membership chairman. Helpful in membership recruitment was a decision by CSPA to amend its bylaws in June 1976 to eliminate the requirement that psychologists must hold membership in both the state and the chapter organization if they belong to either. Consequently, a psychologist could become a member of the Society without having to join CSPA. By September, Dr. Manucia reported 13 new members, six full members, three associate members and four students.
Further to enhance membership growth the Society obtained its own telephone number in January 1976, the first time organized psychology was listed in the San Diego Yellow Pages. That number was 291-5661. The Society's files were maintained at the office of Dr. Emami.
It was agreed the Society would purchase time for the use of Dr. Emami's secretary, Joyce. By mid-year, the Society workload imposed on Joyce was becoming excessive. After Dr. Emami expressed his concerns, the Board agreed that in January 1977 the Society would hire a part time secretary. The Board advised the membership of the plan and asked any psychologist with office space and a secretary who wished to work more hours to notify Dr. MacSpeiden.
At the December 1976 meeting it was agreed that Society membership dues would be increased for the following year from $40 to $50 for full members but would remain at $20 for associate members and $10 for student members. At that time with 1440 members, CSPA charged $90 yearly for full members.
The average 1976 yearly income for psychologists was low compared to that in decades to come. During 1976, a vacant position at the UCLA Counseling Center for a newly graduated Ph.D. had a yearly salary of $15,000 to $18,800. Two vacant positions in San Bernardino for Ph.D. psychologists with three years of experience offered a salary range of $19,620 to $23,832.
To assist in the membership drive the executive Board devised incentives that would be available only to full members of the Society. These included being able to list under the Society logo in the Yellow Pages, to participate as a member in the Psychology Information and Referral Service, and to be listed in the referral directory distributed in large numbers to agencies in San Diego County.
The Yellow Pages at that time were a bane to organized psychologists because in spite of state law unlicensed persons continued to list themselves as psychologists. Gerald Sperrazzo agreed to survey the Yellow Pages published in October 1975, and found that of the 94 listings there were 45 violations of some kind. Four of the persons listed were unlicensed, eleven listings were of fictitious names without indication of a psychologist, 15 had omitted their degree, 25 were listings by professional persons other than psychologists, and twelve had violated the guidelines of the PEC and CSPA, i.e. by using large type or boxed ads.
The Society attempted to work with the telephone company to remedy these violations. In August 1976, the Society paid the expenses of psychology intern Jeffrey Warren, Ph.D., to travel to Los Angeles and review the Yellow Page galleys for the upcoming directory, which the telephone company had agreed to make available. In the galleys, he found three persons who were not licensed psychologists. One was an M.D.
When Dr. Warren telephoned the M.D. from Los Angeles and told him of the listing, the physician was thankful for the information and asked that his name be removed. Another person who had been warned by the Society's ethics committee in 1975 refused to allow removal of his name. Unless the person agreed, the telephone company would not remove a name at the request of the Society.
These Yellow Page difficulties contributed to the Society's decision to offer a Society logo listing to the membership, thereby assuring the public that any psychologist included under the logo was a licensed psychologist. Very quickly 31 individual psychologists and six psychology groups indicated a desire to list under the logo. Nonmember psychologists were notified of the logo and informed they could list if they were to become Society members.
The telephone company then informed the Society that the Society rather than the individual persons listed under the logo would be billed for the listings and that payment must be made on a quarterly basis. It fell to the Society to collect these monies in advance. It was necessary to collect for a full year at a time to avoid the specter of one or more psychologists defaulting part way through the year and leaving the Society treasury to cover the remaining costs. At the June meeting of the Board a motion was made and seconded to discontinue efforts to establish a logo listing for that year and to table the plan until the following year. The motion failed.
By then 56 psychologists had indicated a desire to list under the logo, and less than five changed their minds because of the advance payment requirement. By the end of the summer, approximately $6,000 had been collected. These funds were placed in renewable 90-day certificates of deposit. The interest from these CD's covered the Society's costs for the logo heading.
In the fall of 1976, 51 psychologists listed under the logo and 84 listed outside the logo. Of those 84, 18 were double listings under the logo as well as outside of it -a duplication that represented an error by the telephone company.
In October it was discovered that the telephone company was charging the psychologists listed under the logo who were erroneously also listed outside. Dr. MacSpeiden wrote to the telephone company to complain. At or about the same time he received a telephone call from the President of the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors. She said that her organization had also established a logo listing and that the telephone company had printed the logo but omitted all the MFCC's who were supposed to be listed under it. She invited the Society to join their suit against the telephone company. Dr. MacSpeiden said he would recommend doing so to the Board, but only if the telephone company insisted on charging psychologists for the double listings. The telephone company relented. In the middle 1970, there had long been at best a tenuous relationship between psychologists and MFCC's.
In the meantime, the Psychology Information and Referral Service was continuing to function at a high level. During 1975, approximately 1800 calls had been received, and a fair percentage of these resulted in referrals for service. In 1976, the number of calls almost doubled. Of these, approximately one third resulted in referrals to psychologists for service.
In August, Dr. Anthony Vail chaired the task force for the Society referral directory. It was published and distributed in November 1976.
Other important 1976 activities of the Board included appointment of Dr. Paul Kelly to the Ethics Committee to replace Dr. MacSpeiden, who had served during the preceding year. Drs. June Andrew, Katherine DiFrancesca and Gerald Sperrazzo continued to serve. For the first time a Peer Review Committee was established, this at the request of CSPA to counter insurance companies appointment of physicians to complete peer review of psychologists. On that committee were Drs. David Jacobs, Javad Emami, and Francis McKiernan.
In 1976, the courts in San Diego County seldom recognized psychologists as experts, even though state law had been changed to qualify psychologists as experts. Consequently, the Board established a Forensic Committee to obtain and ensure parit in the courts for psychologists as expert witnesses. Committee members included Drs. Alan Davidson, Katherine DiFrancesca, and Thomas Overbaugh.
In August the Forensic Committee mailed announcements inviting members to submit applications to the Society to qualify as experts in matters related to criminal law, personal injury and/or domestic relations. Applicants for each of the three lists were orally interviewed by the Committee, and in November the three lists were sent to Judge Hamrick, presiding judge of the Superior Court. The Committee organized a seminar to prepare applicants who had not qualified and wished to undergo training before reapplying. The three court lists were to be updated yearly.
Monthly Sunday brunch meetings held for the Society membership continued at the Mission Valley Inn. These meetings, along with the monthly newsletter, were used as forums to keep members abreast of the rapidly changing events within the Society. The meetings also presented speakers, including Ralph Schrock, O.D., Ph.D., Director of Children's Workshops; Gordon Derner, Psy.D., Chair of APA Division of Clinical Psychology; Judge Norbert Ehrenfreund; and Attorney Robert Coates, who later became a judge. Brunch attendance was as high as 75 persons.
The Board attempted to build a liaison with the community, particularly with prominent persons. Board members met with Frank Panarici, Administrator of the Health Care Agency for San Diego County; Leon Williams, City Counsel member; and William Kolender, then Sheriff. There were also frequent letters to and from prominent members of the community.
The Society continued to reach out to lay persons and to clarify the role of psychologists. Dr. Grabel, who had chaired the 1975 task force for the first and very successful Convention for Nonpsychologists, agreed to chair the task force in 1976. With a budget of $500 he organized "The Second Annual Psychology Convention for Nonpsychologists" for November 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel on Mission Bay.
Ten thousand brochures were printed and distributed. News releases were sent to the media. Society members were asked to submit 50- to 100-word proposals for possible presentations at the convention, and the task force selected those that appeared most appropriate.
Guest speakers at the Convention included Judge Ehrenfreund, Sheriff Kolender, and Martin Reiser, Ed.D., Director of Behavior Sciences Services for the Los Angeles Police Department. Twenty-two psychologists made presentations, some simultaneously in different rooms. There were 627 paid lay registrants, and 337 of these attended the luncheon. Forty-five percent of the attendants responded to an evaluation questionnaire. The convention had a net profit of $547.
In August, Drs. Ilona Vail and John Kachorek were hired as psychologists at San Diego County Mental Health Services. Dr. Anthony Vail had been hired some months earlier. All were new members of the Society and were destined to be elected Presidents of what was later called the Academy of San Diego Psychologists.
During 1976, a comparatively small group of dedicated psychologists working harmoniously together with the support of the membership set the course of psychology in San Diego County for years to come. A great deal remained to be done after that year, and fortunately in years to come equally dedicated and patient Board members saw that those things were done.