The Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) was founded in December 1972 by a group of Asian American psychologists and other mental health professionals in the San Fancisco Bay Area. With the leadership of Dr. Derald Sue (AAPA’s first President) and Dr. Stanley Sue, the first core group was formed and included educators, social workers, master’s level psychologists and other mental health professionals. The group was vitally interested in Asian American psychology and mental health issues, in the training and education of Asian American mental health professionals, and in collaborating and networking with their peers. Psychologists in this early group included Roger Lum, Marion Tinloy, Tina Tong Yee, and Reiko True. From these beginnings in the 1970’s, the AAPA struggled in its growth from a handful of active members located in California to a national organization with nearly 400 members in 1995.
Since its inception, the Association advocated on behalf of Asian Americans as well as advancing Asian American psychology. In the 1980’s, for example, the AAPA pressed the U.S. Bureau of the Census to include Asian American subgroups in its census data, and fought against the English-only language movement in California. The development of Asian American psychological theory, research and practice was shaped by members such as Derald Sue, Stanley Sue, Harry Kitano, Richard Suinn, Frederick Leong and others. Throughout its history, AAPA has published journals and newsletters focused on the education and training of Asian American psychologists, Asian-American psychological topics, and methods of improving mental health services for Asian Americans. The Association leads and guides other professional organizations on Asian American psychology and is in the forefront of the multicultural psychology movement.
A highly visible and influential organization, AAPA has many distinguished members who hold key positions of national importance:
- Dr. Stanley Sue served on the NIMH Advisory Board for the Asian American Mental Health Research Center in Chicago, IL and nurtured the AAMHRC in its growth. He was Director of the National Asian American Center on Mental Health (NRCAAMH) which functioned from 1988-2003.Among his many awards are the Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest, Distinguished Contribution Award for Research in Public Policy, and the Distinguished Contributions to Applied Research Award, all from the American Psychological Association. He is so well-known for his contributions that an American Psychological Association Division 12 Distinguished Contributions to Diversity award and a mental health center in Houston have been named in his honor
- Dr. Richard Suinn was one of the early chairpersons of the American Psychological Association’s Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs (BEMA) and served as the first Asian American elected member of the APA Board of Directors. In 1995, Dr. Suinn was appointed chairperson of APA’s Committee for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training (CEMRRAT). In 1999, Dr. Suinn was also the first Asian American psychologist in the 103 year history of the APA to serve as President of APA.
- Dr. Alice F. Chang served on APA’s BEMA, the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA), the Committee of Structure and Function, and other APA governance groups. She is also the first ethnic minority woman member of the American Psychological Association Board of Directors and recently is a nominee for APA President-elect.
- Dr. Reiko F. True is the former Director of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Forensic Services for the city of San Francisco, CA. Dr. True served on APA’s Minority Fellowship Committee, worked on the planning and creation of BEMA as well as the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, and served as AAPA President from 1997-1999.
Explore advances in research and science of Asian American psychology and mental health with new theories and frameworks for understanding the Asian American experience and cutting-edge research using qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Be part of this cutting edge work by connecting with other researchers in this field and exchanging ideas.
Visit this section to read the latest empirical studies in our peer-reviewed journal, Asian American Journal of Psychology.
Learn prevention and treatment strategies and engage in conversations on how to best work with Asian American communities. Our goal is to promote culturally competent, evidence-based and practionners experience in mental health services that meet the needs our diverse Asian American populations.
This section is designed for AAPA members to exchange current and new practices in mental health in working with Asian American communities that can be used in community mental health agencies, hospitals, college centers, schools, government agencies, private practice and more.
Advocate for the welfare and well being of Asian Americans at all levels of government through community-engaged scholarship and practice and and partnerships with other organizations to ensure the visibility and rights of Asian Americans.
Visit this section to learn what issues AAPA and members are currently advocating on, and new policies and legislations that effect Asian American psychology as well as general psychology and mental health advocacy.