The American Psychiatric Association: Definition, Guidelines & Publications

Instructor: Gina Mitchell
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is a professional organization of psychiatrists that promotes psychiatry and educates people about the field. In this lesson you will learn more about what the APA is and how they function.

What Is the American Psychiatric Association?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is a professional organization of psychiatrists. Members might include individuals working or studying in the field of psychiatry. For example, this might include individuals working on developing new antidepressant drugs, as well as individuals who practice psychiatry. (Recall that a psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in treating individuals with mental illness.) Members of the APA might also include students who are studying psychiatry and looking to network or learn more about the field.

The APA is made up of a diverse group of individuals that include practitioners and researchers.

The purpose of the APA is to advance the field of psychiatry through many different activities. For example, they may provide funding for research or students, or arrange for professional development and educational opportunities for professionals in psychiatry. This might include workshops or classes that introduce individuals to new concepts or the latest research in psychiatry. The APA also hosts an annual meeting where individuals come together to present research in psychiatry and to learn about hot topics in the field. These might include things like looking at diagnostic changes to autism spectrum disorders or learning about new disorders that are developing.

The APA also provides educational opportunities for patients and families, as well individuals like you and me. They offer information on what the symptoms of disorders look like and help individuals to understand the myths and realities of mental illness.

Finally, the APA can provide assistance that is specific to individuals who run psychiatric clinics. They offer information on how to manage a practice, how to start a practice or how to close a practice.

What Are APA Guidelines?

A guideline is a rule or principle that provides information on how something should be carried out. Because part of the mission of the APA is to educate and advise practitioners, researchers, and students, the APA provides guidelines for areas of practice, research, and education in psychiatry.

For example, to help practitioners better serve their patients, the APA has created a document entitled The Principles of Medical Ethics to help guide practitioners in difficult situations. For example, a psychiatrist might have a patient with a rare case that they could exploit to help boost their career, learn more about disease, or attempt experimental treatments. However, the guidelines set forth by the APA would suggest that a psychiatrist should not exploit a patient for their benefit.

Does the APA Publish Anything?

The APA publishes many resources for psychiatrists as well as regular individuals. Their publications include textbooks, journals, other educational resources and even blogs. Many of their resources and publications are designed to be educational tools.

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