PsyUSA serves psychologists well

By Richard E. Gill Assistant Editor
November 1, 2007 - Last updated: May 31, 2011

An online network that began in 1995 with eight subscribers designed as a vehicle in which psychologists could exchange information about their profession has grown to about 1,200 members, says Dennis Elias, Ph.D., owner of the PsyUSA network.

The listserv was the creation of John R. Rorabach, Ph.D., who saw how the Internet would benefit psychologists. Rorabach died in 1999 and left the network in the capable hands of Elias, senior litigation consultant and president of Litigation Strategies Inc., with offices in Phoenix, Ariz.

While the service has grown, it’s pretty much the same people passing along messages regarding events that might affect or inform psychologists. “If you look at the people posting messages in 1997 or 1998, they’re the same people posting messages in 2006 and 2007,” said Elias, who earned his Ph.D. in counseling psychology, with emphasis in neuropsychology, from the University of Arizona. “This is a very mature, longstanding and stable membership,” Elias explained.

Elias said he manages three other services associated with PsyUSA: Psychat, a collegial network that is a social exchange network; Psypod, an exchange of opinions program and Psytech, which focuses on computer software and hardware applications to serve the practice of psychology.

The single purpose of these listserv networks is to enlighten and inform psychologists, Elias said. The only requirement to subscribe to any of the four networks is the applicant must be a licensed Ph.D., a clinical or counseling psychologist or a Ph.D. candidate. There is no charge for membership, said Elias who also is editor and listserv administrator of ASTCNet, the official network of the American Society of Trial Consultants. It has about 500 subscribers.

“Once a subscriber understands the rules and knows how to behave they are removed from a review status and what they write is passed on to other members. When this happens I don’t pay any attention to what they write. Oh, I’ll do something if I see a message that’s inappropriate or appears to be less than collegial. Then I’ll back-channel them and say, ‘Hey, can we tone this down. We’re all friends here.’ I haven’t had to wrangle people for years,” Elias said.

About 10 to 20 messages are posted daily by subscribers. Additional items are provided by three volunteers Elias describes as “news hounds, good folks who monitor the news on a rotating basis and pick the best of a dozen or so articles that apply to the practice of psychology and post them to PsyUSA.”

Two of Elias’ regular “news hounds” are Audrey Bricker, Ph.D., and Robert Zozus, Ph.D. “They do all the legwork in terms of news,” Elias said.

Elias admitted that he edits very few messages. “But it’s extremely rare when I refuse to send one out. In the last four or five years it’s been absolutely problem free.”

Messages go into what Elias described as a robot, which disseminates the postings. Elias explained that the robot must identify the writer as a member. The robot says, “is you or ain’t you a subscriber.” If the writer is recognized the message goes out. If he’s not, the writer receives a prompt that explains that he is not allowed to post a message. “This is a closed membership. Not an open one,” Elias said.

He estimates that on a busy day he spends no more than 45 minutes on the sites. So, he said, the cost to him is more in time than in dollars. “I’ve been doing this for a long time so the actual expenditure of time on a busy day is minimal.”

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