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Definition: APA from Dictionary of Psychological Testing, Assessment and Treatment

(1) American Psychiatric Association. (2) American Psychological Association.


Summary Article: American Psychiatric Association
From Cultural Sociology of Mental Illness: An A-to-Z Guide

The American Psychiatric Association (APA), founded in 1844, is today the world's largest psychiatric organization. It is a medically focused organization representing more than 36,000 psychiatric physicians from the United States and around the world. Its members include medical doctors and physicians who work together with the goal to ensure the best care and the most effective treatment for patients with mental disorders, including intellectual disabilities and substance use disorders.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and is qualified to diagnose and assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological disturbances. A psychiatrist has completed medical school and has earned a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) degree, as well as completed an additional four years of residency training in psychiatry. Many psychiatrists are in training far beyond four years, especially in such specialty areas as addiction, geriatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry and/or forensic psychiatry. Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or carry out a full range of medical assessments in addition to psychological tests. Using these assessments used in combination with clinical interviews and discussions with patients can help provide a clear analysis of a patient's physical and mental functioning. Psychiatrists engage in a variety of actions to assist patients in treatment, including psychotherapy and psychopharmacological methods. Psychiatrists work in multiple settings in both private and public facilities such as hospitals, community mental health centers, college campuses, schools, universities, correctional facilities, and even in corporate and business settings.

The APA provides a recognized platform for the promotion of topics of interest to its professionals. It also discharges ongoing peer-review responsibilities associated with member activities, including research and publications. It has 74 district branches and/or state associations, publishes five professional journals, and supports the APA. The main goals of the APA are to make available the highest quality of care and treatment for those with mental disorders, including but not limited to intellectual disabilities and substance-abuse disorders affecting the patient and his/her family. The APA also promotes psychiatric education and research and advances and represents the profession of psychiatry as a whole. The association also serves the professional needs of all of its membership of medical doctors.

The APA publishes various journals and pamphlets as well as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM, which released its fifth edition in spring 2013, identifies psychiatric conditions and is used worldwide as a key guide for diagnosing disorders. The APA has its headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia. It holds an annual meeting as well as numerous conferences throughout the year in various U.S. states.

See Also: American Psychological Association DSM-5 Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Further Readings
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA). Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders Compendium 2002. APA Washington, DC, 2002.
  • Hutchinson, G.American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines.” International Review of Psychiatry, v. 11/1 (1999).
  • Munoz, R. A.American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: Compendium 2000.” American Journal of Psychiatry, v. 159/6 (2002). doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.159.6.1066.
  • Alyssa Gilston
    University of the Rockies
    © 2014 SAGE Publications, Inc

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