This organization began in 1974 as the Society of St. Louis Psychologists. At the time, the current name was in use by another group of area psychologists. However, that group eventually dissolved.
Samuel A. Oliveri, Ed.D. was the first president of the Society, serving in 1974. The second president, John M. Matheus, Ph.D., held office from 1974 to 1975. For close to two decades, Dr. Matheus hosted the organization's annual holiday party at his Kirkwood home and the summer parties were hosted in Eureka at the home of Patricia Boever, Ph.D., president from 1980 to 1981.
The third (1975-1976) president of the organization was Allan Zacher, Ph.D. He shared this recollection: “In the beginning the members of the association were close. We met in members’ homes and came to know each other well. Our group was clinically oriented. The first group (that disbanded) largely represented academic psychology. After [this organization] was established, clinical psychologists began to have more input on the state level and clinical concerns were better represented.”
In 1984, members of the Society were interested in starting a referral service. Research for this project led to the discovery that the name "Saint Louis Psychological Association" was now available. The Society members were eager to obtain this name because it conformed to the names of other psychological associations. On September 14, 1984, members voted to change the name of the Society to the Saint Louis Psychological Association. The name change became legal in December 1984.
Helen R. Friedman, Ph.D. was president during the 1984-1985 membership year. She was instrumental in the efforts to change the name of the Society to the Saint Louis Psychological Association and in starting the referral service. She stated, "Those were fun years, the heyday of private practice. During that period in SLPA's history, members met monthly for dinner and a talk given by a member or a guest. These were lively times with lots of humor, as well as intellectual discussion.”
Throughout the years, SLPA’s programs and meetings have changed to accommodate members’ needs and to address issues important to the profession of psychology. For example, since December 1999, continuing education is required for licensure renewal. SLPA has responded by offering numerous continuing education opportunities each year. Topics range from managed care, marketing, professional wills, and legislation affecting Missouri psychologists; to diversity, gender identity, and masculinity; to couples therapy, bipolar disorder, sexual addiction, social anxiety, and other clinical issues. Not only do these programs help psychologists stay abreast of developments in the field, but also they provide opportunities for professional networking.
In addition to educational programs, SLPA continues the tradition of sponsoring two parties each year, one in the summer and a holiday party in December. These bring St. Louis psychologists together, facilitating professional camaraderie and socializing in informal settings, and have resulted in members forging invaluable and enduring friendships.
Currently, SLPA has approximately 130 members, including psychologists, psychology graduate and undergraduate students, and affiliated mental health professionals.
SLPA is committed to its growth, not only by increasing its membership but also by promoting the ethical practice of the profession of psychology and by serving the St. Louis community. You are invited to join SLPA and help us make our world a better place to live.