The Colleague Assistance Committee originally started as the Colleague Assistance Task Force. The Colleague Assistance Task Force was proposed to NCPA in 1999 by Betsy Kimrey, Sam Simono, and Missy Simpson. Its focus was on offering assistance to psychologists whose work was impaired by substances. The Task Force maintained a telephone “helpline” and was able to offer assistance to psychologists who were concerned about their substance use or abuse. In 2004, the scope of the work was expanded, with Missy Simpson, Steve Mullinix, Kris Herfkens, and Kristi Webb at the helm.
In July 2007 the Colleague Assistance Task Force became the Colleague Assistance Committee (CAC) upon approval by the NCPA membership. This enhanced standing reflected, in part, a change in the group’s focus since their inception. It also recognized our profession’s increased acknowledgment that ours is a risky business and that our ethical imperative is for great self-care. Following extensive research into what other state associations offered their members we began to conceive of colleague assistance as proactive as well as reactive.
We believe we can be of best service to NCPA members by helping them to establish and enhance their emotional well-being in the face of unavoidable stressors, in hopes of avoiding distress and impairment. A meeting with the NC Psychology Board confirmed our suspicion that for those psychologists who get into trouble, issues had sometimes been apparent as far back as graduate school. How much pain might have been avoided if a resource had been available to these colleagues early in their careers?
CAC’s mission statement reads, in part:
The Colleague Assistance Committee is charged with developing education, peer consultation, and other resources to facilitate the optimal functioning of psychologists in North Carolina. The purpose of this committee includes prevention and amelioration of professional distress and impairment and their consequences among psychologists.
We are proud to be able to continue offering presentations to undergraduate and graduate programs, workshops at conferences, articles in this newsletter, and a Peer Consultation Service to all NCPA members.