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It Takes a Village: The Immediate Mental Health Response to the Oak Creek Sikh Temple Shootings

By Announcements

A thoughtful reflection on the Oak Creek Sikh Temple shootings which occurred on August 5, 2012. This story was written by AAPA member Puni Kalra for the organization Counselors Helping (South) Asian/Indians, Inc (CHAI).

By Puni Kalra

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, at approximately 10:30 am, a gunman arrived at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and killed 7 people, including himself. I was sitting in my home in Aurora, Colorado that morning and learned of the event as I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed. I immediately ran to the television and could not believe what I was seeing…swat teams at a Gurdwara and images of Sikh men, women, and children in distress. It was utterly heartbreaking. I went numb for the next 24 hours.

The following night, I called my childhood friend in Chicago to process what had happened. We were both still in shock. Having grown up in the Sikh community and going to youth camps since the age of six, this hit very close to home in every way — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Gurdwara was my second home, and even though I may have grown up in Chicago and this was an hour away, it didn’t matter. This was still my Gurdwara and the people that were affected were my Sikh brothers and sisters.

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Okura Foundation Fellowship awarded

By News

Congratulations to Dr. Cindy H. Liu, Ph.D and Dr. Huijun Li for receiving this year’s AAPA-APF Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation Fellowship. The AAPA-APF Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation Fellowship supports psychology’s efforts to benefit the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community research on issues specific to the AAPI community, training of providers to support the AAPI community, service/practice programs for the AAPI community.

The AAPA-APF Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation Fellowship increases understanding, treatment, services and training to help generate a healthy, robust, and highachieving AAPI population. One $20,000 research grant annually.

The purpose of Dr Liu’s and Dr. Li’s project is to evaluate the mental health knowledge and attitudes of parents of Chinese American youth and to determine the efficacy of psycho-educational workshops on community groups of Chinese American parents. The proposal is concerned with parents of Chinese American youth for the following reasons. First, Asian Americans, including Chinese Americans, tend not to utilize mental health services unless problems escalate and become very severe. In particular, the stigma of mental illness plays a prominent role in how parents may recognize and obtain help for their children. Second, the onset of severe mental illnesses such as psychosis and depression largely occurs during adolescence, a period during which parents may attribute changes in mental health status to typical developmental changes such as transitions with social or school functioning.

Given that Chinese American parents are often receptive to parent education programs aimed toward improving their children’s functioning (especially their academic functioning), the propose to design and conduct psycho-educational workshops that increase mental health knowledge and improve mental health attitudes. Dr. Liu and Dr. Li are particularly interested in evaluating the design of a culturally based workshop (e.g., a workshop that targets culturally based concerns (e.g., stigma) and goals (e.g. academic achievement). Through such a workshop, the hope is to promote mental health knowledge in Chinese American parents of youth that could be applied across different cultural communities.

Dr. Liu is the Director of Multicultural Research, Commonwealth Research Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Assistant Research Professor, Department of Psychology at University of Massachusetts Boston.

Dr. Huijun Li, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology at Florida A&M University and Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

2013 Convention Call for Proposals

By Convention, News

As research, practice, and community work evolve to address the unique needs of the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) population, the 2013 Asian American Psychological Convention theme, “Social Justice and Prevention: Strengthening Our Community,” will reflect such efforts.  This year’s convention will invite programs addressing advocacy, equity, and fairness in the health care system, intergroup and community relations, and preventative efforts in reducing disparities between AAPIs and other social groups.

We are seeking submissions that highlight achievements in the field of AAPI psychology, innovative approaches in working with AAPI individuals, and collaborative partnerships with allied professions such as Asian American Studies, Education, History, Law, Nursing, Psychiatry, Public Health, Social Work, and Sociology.

Proposals may address, but are not limited to, the following topics within AAPI psychology:

  • Practice, policy, and research efforts to address or prevent health disparities in AAPI communities and understand the diversity of experiences within the AAPI community
  • Collaborative, interdisciplinary research assessing the physical and mental health needs of AAPIs, including topics such as critical race theory and Asian American studies
  • Interventions (clinical, educational, community-based) that address the unique needs of AAPIs
  • Mentoring/leadership and community-based programs engaged in fostering the development of AAPI youth, families, and scholars

Who May Submit

AAPA members at all levels of training (professional, graduate level, and undergraduate level), including non-psychologists interested in psychological issues affecting AAPIs are encouraged to submit proposals. Non-AAPA members at all levels may also submit proposals. We particularly encourage submissions from those interested in AAPI psychology who have not previously participated in AAPA conventions, and practitioners, scholars, and researchers from the Hawaii region.  Because strengthening the diversity of our colleagues in other organizations is of particular importance for psychologists of color, we strongly encourage submissions from members of the Association of Black Psychologists, Society of Indian Psychologists, and the National Latina/o Psychological Association.

  • There is no limit to the number of submitted proposals per individual.
  • Individuals, however, can only be the first author of one proposal submission. In the event that multiple first author submissions are received by an individual, the committee will review only the first proposal received.  Exempted from this rule are presenters who are invited speakers.
  • Deadline for all submissions is March 23, 2013 at 11:00 p.m. PST
  • Please submit presentations at:
  • All presenters are required to officially register for the convention

Types of Submissions

  • Interactive Sessions: In a typical 60-minute session, a facilitator introduces the topic and sets up a context for subsequent discussions and interactions among participants.  For questions about submitting an interactive session proposal, please contact Sessions Co-Chair Nicole Rider.
  • Symposia: In a typical 60-minute symposium, three or four presentations are given around a common theme.  An expert discussant may provide feedback.  The symposium proposal submission must include one program summary that integrates the multiple presentations within the session.  It must also clearly indicate the titles and contents of each presentation within the symposium.  A chair for the symposium must be named on the application portal.  No individual paper proposals for symposium presentations are accepted.  For questions, please contact Sessions Co-Chair Nicole Rider.
  • Posters: Throughout the day, posters are displayed to disseminate information on various conceptual and/or empirical reports.  During the designated 60-minute poster session, participants are invited to interact with poster presenters.  Single research papers should be submitted as posters. For questions, please contact Poster Session Co-Chair Seung Yu at

Guidelines for Proposals

All online proposals should include:

  1. Contact information for the presenters
  2. Abstract (50 to 100 words) with no author names
  3. Program Summary (500 to 700 words) with no author names
  4. 3-4 Learning Objectives (not required for poster submissions)

Proposals will be sent for anonymous reviews.  As such, the Abstract and Program Summary should not include identifying information of the author(s) and/or presenter(s).

Submitters will be notified by email upon receipt of their proposal.

For submissions highlighted as being potential programs which can award Continuing Education units (CEUs), individual authors will be contacted to provide additional information.

Submission outcomes will be sent via email by the end of April 2013.

Additional Information

Presenters should bring their own laptops (those with Mac laptops should bring the appropriate adaptor to connect to the LCD projector).  LCD projectors for power point presentations will be provided.  Requests for additional AV equipment will be addressed after the final selection of presenters has been decided.

For all other questions regarding the 2013 AAPA Convention, please email one of this year’s co-chairs, Matthew Lee or Anjuli Amin.

Asian American Stereotypes

By News

Two instances of stereotypes of Asian Americans have recently surfaced in the media. One involved media coverage of the book, Battle hymn of the tiger mother by Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua. The media coverage of Chua’s book focused on Chinese American parents who are strict, critical, and emphasize their children’s academic success. A Wall Street Journal essay by Chua on the book is entitled, “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”.

The second stereotype involved the exclusion of Asian Americans by the National Research Council (NRC) in their rankings of the diversity of doctoral programs. Non-Asian ethnic minority students, women, and international faculty and students were included in the rankings. The implication is that the achievements and characteristics of Asian Americans are on par with those of European Americans and for this reason, Asian Americans do not bring diversity to doctoral programs.

These instances that highlight academic success are stereotypic because not all Asian Americans fit these stereotypes. However, it could be argued in both cases that the stereotypes are positive and not harmful. Academic success, whether it be among children or among students and faculty in doctoral programs, is laudable. Nevertheless, harsh parenting is not uniformly effective, and may create undue pressure and have harmful psychological consequences. A harmful effect of the apparent success of Asian Americans in higher education is invisibility in the NRC data. However, many Asian Americans have unique cultures and experiences that enhance the diversity of institutions as much as the cultures and experiences of any other minority group.

Seemingly positive stereotypes of Asian Americans as academically successful also have not resulted in acceptance into mainstream American society. Research by psychologists Thierry Devos and Mahzarin Banaji suggests that Asian Americans are viewed as less American than members of other ethnic groups in the U.S. Academic success does not immunize Asian Americans from the discrimination that targets all ethnic minority groups in the U.S. Discrimination toward Asian Americans ranges from microaggressions such as the question “where are you from?” to institutional discrimination, such as systematic exclusion from leadership positions based on perceptions of culturally-based personality characteristics of inscrutability and passivity. Moreover, Asian American academic success may be perceived as threatening and some would contend that Asian Americans should not receive special attention because this would constitute an unfair advantage.

Stereotypes of any group are inherently inaccurate because they try to shoehorn all members of the group being stereotyped into a single conception while ignoring the wide diversity within the group.  Moreover, some stereotypes are simply wrong and are perpetuated by the majority group in order to bias perception of the targeted group. Asians in the U.S. are from at least 30 different national and cultural backgrounds and there also is much individual diversity within any Asian American group. There certainly are unique, positive characteristics of Asian American cultures that may enhance well-being, including academic achievement. However, an exclusive focus on the academic achievements of Asian Americans has rendered them invisible at times, threatening at other times, and overlooks their needs as a minority group. Indeed, there are many Asian Americans that fit the exact opposite of the academic success stereotype, with many struggling academically and living in poverty. The Asian American Psychological Association encourages a balanced consideration of both the strengths and needs of the over 15 million diverse people of Asian ancestry in the U.S.

Shooting at The Sikh Temple in Wisconsin

By News, Press Release

Minneapolis – The Asian American Psychological Association joins with the rest of the nation in mourning the tragic loss of the members at the Sikh Temple, Oak Creek, Wisconsin. In particular, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims, families and friends of those who have suffered a personal loss. As psychologists and counselors, we understand the complexities of this incident and the manifold needs and emotions that are now pulling at us as individuals, as a community, and as a nation.

First and foremost among these, are the needs of those individuals who have been directly affected by this tragedy. The Division on South Asian Americans (DoSAA), part of the AAPA strives to be a driving force in a community action among South Asian mental health providers and those interested in South Asian mental health. If you are experiencing distress in reaction to this event or have questions about mental health and wellness in response to trauma and crisis, please do not hesitate to call us at either or for information, support, and referral for services.

DoSAA has compiled a list of mental health resources in the Wisconsin community:

Other national resources include Counselors Helping (South) Asian/Indians (CHAI.) CHAI is dedicated to providing outreach, referral and educational services to the South Asian community on issues related to mental health and wellness, for more assistance contact 443-615-1355. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) also has a National Helpline available at 1-800-950-NAMI.

Please feel free to contact either the AAPA or DoSAA team for more assistance and support.

As we learn more facts about this incident, we also wish to acknowledge at this time that the Sikh community in the US has had to endure a unique vulnerability in the years since 9/11, as anti-Muslim sentiments have often been directed against members of a community who have often been mistaken for Muslim.  As an association dedicated to the psychological well-being of Asian Americans, we take a special interest in how such sentiments affect Sikh Americans as we care about the enormous psychological burden that all groups, both non-Muslims and Muslims, must bear when prejudice is directed at them.

Statement by President Obama on the Shooting in Wisconsin:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family”

The  Asian American Psychological Association is the primary, national organization dedicated to the advancement of the psychological well-being of Asian Americans

For PDF version click here.

Member Spotlight: Dr. Meifen Wei, PhD

By Member Spotlight

meifen-wei-pictureDr. Meifen Wei, PhD is the co-recipient of the 2009 AAPA Early Career Award. Dr. Wei is an Associate Professor at Iowa State University. Dr. Wei is the most frequently published author in Journal of Counseling Psychology in a decade and 4th in two decades. In addition, such a publication record would have been exceptional even for veteran professors, but Dr. Wei just began her academic position in 2002. Dr. Wei contributes to the welfare of Asian Americans on two fronts: focusing on acculturative stress and minority stress among Asian Americans and elucidating the process of coping with discrimination on Asian Americans. Dr. Wei has been a distinguished exemplar of a Scientist-Practitioner. Her practice spans 8 years of counseling Taiwanese students in Taiwan and 3 years of specialty service to Asian Americans in USA. She has served as a member in the Editorial Board of Journal of Counseling Psychology, The Counseling Psychologist, and Chinese Journal of Guidance and Counseling (an Asian international journal). -Dr. Ruth Chao, Nominator

2012 AAPA Awards Announcement

By News

It is with great please to announce that the AAPA Awards Committee has selected the following members for our annual awards:

  • Wei-Chin Hwang, PhD (Claremont McKenna College) as AAPA Fellow
  • Y Joel Wong, PhD (Indiana University) as recipient of the Early Career Award

We received a number of outstanding nominations for each award and it was a difficult decision for the Awards Committee. I want to personally thank the Awards Committee (Arpana Inman, John Moritsugu, and Donna Nagata), chaired by Past President, Gordon Nagayama Hall. Please congratulate Drs. Hwang and Wong, both will be honored the AAPA Convention in Orlando.