November 21 | 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM ET | Virtual

Translating Psychological Science for Public Action: Lessons, Assumptions and Moving Forward

Lynn F. Bufka, Ph.D., Senior Director, Practice Transformation and Quality, American Psychological Association

Lynn BufkaLynn F. Bufka, Ph.D., is Senior Director, Practice Transformation and Quality, at the American Psychological Association. The Practice Transformation and Quality Department focuses on the development and implementation of programs and policies related to supporting and expanding opportunities for professional psychology. Current areas of emphasis are evidence-based practice, clinical practice guideline development and defining the direction of the future of psychology education and practice. Dr. Bufka is an advocate for science to support practice and practice-based evidence to inform research and policy. Dr. Bufka frequently serves as a media spokesperson for APA on these topics as well as clinical topics, stress, telepsychology and other policy matters relevant to professional practice. Prior to coming to APA, she was affiliated with Boston University and the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD) (1996-2002), serving as Associate Director of the doctoral clinical training program and Director of Practica Training at CARD. Additionally, Dr. Bufka is a Maryland licensed psychologist and continues to provide treatment and clinical consultation on a limited basis. Dr. Bufka received her PhD in psychology from Boston University. She is a Fellow of APA’s Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) and a Fellow of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Categories: Improved Use of Research Evidence, Health Care System/ Public Policy, Dissemination and Implementation Science
Keywords: Dissemination, Public Policy, Evidence Based Practice

Participants earn 1 CE credit

Moderate Level of Familiarity

Many of us started graduate school with a desire to ‘do good’ and a fascination for our discipline and the science. Upon graduation, we often follow one of two paths- we deliver great services or we develop an area of research.  Both paths are important- society needs talented providers of behavioral health services and at the same time, many pressing questions can be addressed by psychological science. Yet, too often, our science is used primarily within psychology and never makes it out of our circles. Societal challenges could be significantly informed by psychological science yet a disconnect exists between what the science can tell us and the decisions that are made. We need to find and create opportunities to engage and educate the public and decision makers. To be successful in this domain, several key communication lessons need to be applied. Additionally, assumptions need to be questioned in order to identify missing knowledge and appropriately address pressing societal problems. Finally, clear priorities can help us to focus our message and effectively address significant societal challenges.

At the end of this session, the learner will be able to:

Summarize several strategies to effectively communicate science to the public.

  • Describe two assumptions that interfere with science effectively being used to address societal challenges.
  • Explain how knowledge of psychological science can advance quality, equity, and access in behavioral health services.

Long Term Goals:

  • Attendees will understand the critical need to clearly communicate and present the science undergirding their practice and research in order to advance quality, equity, and access.
  • Attendees will take up the mantle of speaking to public audiences from a scientific base regarding their areas of expertise.


  1. Importance of owning our expertise and effectively communicating it.
    1. Little ‘e’ expert relative to big ‘E’ Expert
    2. Caution and nuance pitted against pressing needs
  2. Outline several significant societal issues whose solutions will benefit from psychological knowledge.
    1. Primary anchor: Behavioral health problems and population health
  3. Present several communication lessons and relevance to this audience.
    1. Language use
    2. Audience needs and expectations
    3. Policy makers in politicized discourse
  4. Describe gaps in research and assumptions that need to be questioned to truly address matters of quality, equity, and access.
    1. Needs regarding different populations
    2. Transparency and rigor in research
    3. Challenges in fitting current research into current healthcare system problems
      1. Little research on length of treatment session, for instance

Recommended Readings:

Evans, A.C. & Bufka, L. F. (2020). The critical need for a population health approach: Addressing the nation’s behavioral health during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Preventing Chronic Disease Journal, 17(200261).

Halfond, R. W., Wright, C. V., & Bufka, L. F. (2020). The role of harms and burdens in clinical practice guidelines: Lessons learned from the American Psychological Association’s guideline development. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, e12343. Advance online publication.

Purtle, J., Marzalik, J. S., Halfond, R. W., Bufka, L. F., Teachman, B. A., & Aarons, G. A. (2020). Toward the data-driven dissemination of findings from psychological science. American Psychologist, 75(8), 1052–1066.

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