Presidential Column

January 2021

You Asked: We Listened

By Carilyn Ellis, PsyD, MSCP, 
President, OPA


I would like to personally thank everyone who attended the live and digital presidential town halls offered in the last couple of months. Your feedback is immensely important to the future of OPA and its ability to provide relevant and practical benefits to its members.

Here’s what you asked for:

  1. Increased transparency
  2. More communication
  3. More accessible and free continuing education

Our Immediate Actions:

  • In addition to our board meeting minutes, we are now offering our committee reports and associated board meeting materials on the website for members (Sign into your account at opa.org, click on the Members Tab, and then click on Members Only). This will give all members access to our legislative, DPA and committee reports in detail.
  • As you are reading now, our digital bi-monthly newsletter is aimed at providing the information you want in a clickable format, to read now or later as you have time and interest.
  • We are offering a series of FREE, one-hour CEUs to OPA members in addition to our multi-hour and annual conference CEU offerings. Information on these offerings is available at https://www.opa.org/ce-offerings. We have recorded the one-hour CEUs and will make them available in a library to members to obtain CEU credits at their leisure

In the works:

  • Increase board member representation and board access through membership participation on the board of directors and committees.
  • Increase and expand our library of free and for-purchase CEUs accessible to the membership.
  • Enhance the communication and accessibility of our committees to the membership, with specific focus on social issues.

Want to see what we have already done? Go to the opa.org website to see our updated Mission, Values and Diversity Statements, Public Issues StatementsCommittees and more. Need legal, ethical consult, collegiate support, and/or diversity consultation? OPA offers these services for free to members.

Have more recommendations on how OPA can improve its offerings to you as a member? Please email me directly at [email protected].

November 2020

Once More, With Feeling

By Carilyn Ellis, PsyD, MSCP, 
President, OPA

I think a lot about motivational interviewing these days. “People are always more ambivalent than they seem,” I hear repeated in my mind. It’s interesting how I have now applied this level of hesitation to every aspect of daily life. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” I say to what I hear on the news, the election results, returning to practice, COVID numbers changing. I have lost a lot of faith in the predictability of life.
The newest order issued by Governor Brown, in effect from November 18 until, at a minimum, December 2, is yet another example of the ever-changing landscape we, our families, friends, patients, and colleagues are trying to navigate.
My heart strings tug at the sadness in patients who were just returning to in-person appointments, promising to maintain distance, show confirmed negative tests -- anything to maintain that in-person contact everyone is craving -- only to be told that I am fully digital at this time.
I have said many times that, yes, COVID is deadly, especially for those of our population who are older or immunocompromised. Having had it myself at the beginning of the pandemic, I can attest as a healthy person with no pre-existing conditions that the experience was brutal. But isolation and helplessness are also dangerous, and we are very much in this for the foreseeable future.
As we enter the winter months and the holidays, a time of great complexity for many people, I encourage everyone to remember to reach out. Make the call, join the Zoom, send the text. Consider something you want to accomplish and do it. Even the smallest tasks, like organizing the catch-all drawer in the kitchen, or committing to 5 minutes of stretching a day, can give us a sense of purpose, meaning, and control. The burden of productivity our society places on us is the subject for a much longer article, but I also see the value of a sense of self-efficacy and self-agency in difficult times. We need to believe that we can interact with our world in a way that produces an outcome, and that is especially important now.
Please feel free to share your goals, thoughts, humor, grief, and experiences with your OPA colleagues. I have loved the comics, quotes, and articles that members have shared on the listserv and that resonate with all of our experiences. As the author Anna Quindlen said, “Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on and on and on. It is about muddling through the middle.”
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays!

September 2020

Pandemics and Telehealth and Politics, Oh My!

By Carilyn Ellis, PsyD, MSCP, 
President, OPA

Perhaps there is no greater testament to living in the era of coronavirus than my drafting this article while currently seated in an uncomfortable ER chair awaiting a CT scan for a loved one as their “only allowed visitor” and emergency contact. What a world we are currently living in, where the everyday unexpected events and stressors are superimposed on a global pandemic, economic upheaval, political division, and a collective movement against systemic racism.

Like many of you, I have ridden the waves of personal and patient-experienced strife, including fear of loss of life, isolation, job insecurity, political uncertainty, and loss of childcare. We have all been robbed of a future where we can anchor in something. We don’t know when the pandemic is going to end. We don’t know what the outcome of the election will be. We don’t know.

And truth be told - we never have. That is the great and profound psychological crux of which we as clinicians have always been aware. There are many things we cannot control and few that we can.

As a psychological community, we are navigating practice and living amidst the perfect storm of personal, community, and national stress, alongside variable and often dubious information - having to question the integrity of so much that is brought before us.

I have relied on OPA in the 10 years I have served on its committees, the board, or in other supportive capacities, as a source of direction, insight, and practice leadership. It is my hope as president to cast you a line that you can grasp with assurance that you are not alone and that we will weather the coronavirus era together as a professional community.

Information is important, but we are saturated with it. The OPA is introducing a new newsletter “blast” format to give you quick updates with additional links to more information you can review at your convenience.

OPA In The Know

We have teams of people working day and night to protect practice, reimbursement, access, and to expand and hopefully make permanent telehealth service delivery. We have committees dedicated to bringing you CEUs, both free and fee-based, and keeping you up to date on real world issues affecting psychologists and Oregon communities.

We are in the process of reformatting and expanding our website to be more public and member friendly and allow access to the information you need. We have updated our mission, values and diversity statements, and are including new links to OPA in Action and formal statements from the Board.

We are offering digital meetings, webinars and live, synchronous opportunities to continue to be connected to CEs, the board, and each other via Zoom.

We have developed a new listserv, (email [email protected] to opt in), to allow for more depth of political discussion between members without compromising OPA’s non-profit status or violating the APA-sponsored listserv rules on political discussion.

I encourage you to lean into and on the OPA at this time to aid in providing you a supportive community that will hold fast whatever the future holds.