Advocacy 101 for OPA Members

In 2019, OPA President Natalie Kollross, PsyD, introduced her presidential initiative to support Oregon psychologists in their advocacy efforts at the beginning of her term.  It can be confusing to know where to start with advocacy.  It is painful to feel a lack of control over  problems in our community, country or world. It is disheartening to think that there is nothing you can do. OPA board members have helped to compile some tips for advocating for any type of social justice issue for which you are passionate.  This serves as a rough guideline to help you get started. Our hope is that this framework that will apply to various types of causes, rather than creating several templates for each specific cause. One template seems much more pragmatic and can apply to most advocacy efforts.  As psychologists we advocate for our clients. Let us now feel empowered to advocate for them, ourselves and others.

Basics of Advocacy

1. Educate Yourself
To ensure you gain a broad perspective on the issues, read and review various reports, news articles, podcasts, websites, etc. before you make a decision about your stance and how you would like to advocate. Its important to try to garner multiple perspectives. Gathering information and research will also arm you with knowledge when trying to persuade others.

2. Volunteer
G to to search by cause, topic or location.

3. Protest/Rally
Global Citizen is a website that can keep you informed and connect you with protests, rallies and education regarding different social justice issues.  There is now a Town Hall feature of Facebook and social media, including Twitter, can keep you up-to-date about issues, news, and events affecting the nation and world.

4. Donate to a Charity or Organization
Charity Navigator may be able to help you find a reputable charity for your donation. There are also certain standbys that do great work such as the Red Cross, NAACP, ACLU, and Doctors Without Borders.

5. Call Your Local and State Politicians
Research America has a great resource page that includes Porter’s Principles for setting up a meeting with an elected official, sample letters to the editor, and political advocacy how-tos.

6. Get the word out/share on social media
Many of the above websites have apps. There are also ways to connect on social media to find and pursue a cause, connect with like-minded individuals, and discover what is happening where you live. Social media can also serve as a way to launch your own project.

7. Be a role model
Just by modeling behavior that matches your beliefs you can influence others and make a difference. Our daily habits and interactions with others creates a ripple effect that can effect change. What you do and what you say is important. You matter. “Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change” - Barbara Mikulski