The Academy of Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry promotes the application of psychiatric principles and practices in the workplace to improve leadership, group interaction and employee health and performance.

To advance the knowledge and practice of psychiatrists who specialize in organizational and occupational psychiatry through collaboration and education.

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire:
How Individual Problems Reflect Workplace Function

27th Annual AOOP Meeting 
April 15-17, 2016 at University Club, Chicago

This year’s meeting will explore the complex and multifaceted relationship between individual problems and organizational function. Presentations will address:

  • Practical aspects of performing organizational work. Dr. Paul Hammer will discuss alternative approaches with our field’s most skilled and experienced experts. How does a clinician who is accustomed to the evaluating and treatment of individual patient learn to approach problems at the organizational level?
  • Prejudice and its origins.
    Dr. David Morrison will discuss drivers of prejudice and the perception of prejudice. How might the psychiatrist best intervene?
  • Interpretation of workplace complaints.
    How are such complaints reflective of the individual’s struggle to adapt, and when do complaints tell us something useful about the organization? Dr. Joel Oberstar will discuss how complaints can guide the growth of a large health care organization.
  • Assessment of work readiness.
    Doctors Sandra Cohen and David Lukcso will discuss constraints that typically hinder functional assessment and how such problems spawned the creation of a new and innovative approach to evaluating work readiness.
  • Implementation of organizational change. Organizational pressures are sometimes felt by employees at the lowest levels of the organizational hierarchy. Dr. Gerard Cox will discuss how employee experience can be are used to implement systemic change in large organizations.
  • The enduring impact of a leader’s development and character on organizational performance and culture.
    Doctors Josh Gibson and C. Donald Williams will use film and discussion to explore the example of Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • The application of occupational and organizational principles to the psychology of terrorists and terrorist organizations.
    Dr. John Horgan will draw on autobiographical material, interviews, and communications from terrorist and terrorist organizations to discuss the relationship between terrorist organizations and the individuals whom they recruit. 

The full program for this year's meeting can be found here.

The Academy of Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry (AOOP) was founded in 1990 to provide a forum for an exchange of ideas between psychiatry and the world of work. AOOP's annual meeting is an opportunity to:

  • Enhance the knowledge and skills of its members through various training opportunities and professional networking
  • Liaison with other professional groups concerned with workplace health and mental health
  • Encourage and support the practice of organizational and occupational psychiatry

Download the full program from last year's annual meeting here or view programs from other past Meetings.


New from AOOP Members

AOOP member C. Donald Williams has authored a chapter, "Disability and Mental Health," for the recently released second edition of the Encyclopedia of Mental Health.  The chapter examines the relationship between work, illness, injury, and mental health. Psychiatric diagnosis, unlike general medicine, has historically focused on disorders defined by clinical descriptors that cannot be scientifically tested. However, research carried out over the last 20 years has resulted in the development of a scientifically validated ‘five factor model’ of psychological functioning which is objectively measureable, and which is a measure of the mental health of the individual. This measurable description of psychological systems required for mental health is a major breakthrough, emphasizing adaptive capacity and resilience.

Dr. Williams has also written a chapter for the third edition of Psychiatric Care of the Medical Patient, published by Oxford University Press. Feel free to contact Dr. Williams directly for more information about either chapter. From the introduction to the OUPchapter:

Practicing psychiatrists play a complex role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who present with acute or chronic disabilities that prevent them from functioning in the workplace. Disability is a multifaceted, emotionally charged concept that has important public policy implications: financial and emotional costs endured by disabled workers and their families, and economic burdens on employers and responsible tax-funded government agencies. Psychiatrists can easily find themselves entangled in agendas that extend far beyond the routine doctor–patient relationship when the patient requests certification supporting his or her disability claim. Our aim in this chapter is to call attention to the different and sometimes mutually exclusive roles that may arise when we are working with patients with disabilities. The role of caregiver is the most familiar role to the majority of clinicians, but psychiatrists may also be serving as consultants to the referring treating physicians, and such consultation may evolve into providing direct care. In another setting, their role may be as an independent psychiatric evaluator hired by a third party to provide an expert opinion. Advocates or adjudicators may then use this opinion to determine the nature and severity of the psychiatric disorder, if any; its causation; whether it is permanent or temporary; and how much, if any, compensation is due to the individual. We will present our view of how evaluations may be best conducted and guidelines that will enhance consistency and objectivity. We will also address the issue of informed consent and limitations on confidentiality.

How It All Comes Together...

One thing AOOP members love about our work: the complexity inherent in bringing together psychiatry and the workplace. We publish these thoughts in our Bulletin. Past Bulletins can be found on the Publications page, but here's a look at our most recent, which dovetails with our upcoming meeting:

Technology-Induced Workplace Change - Andrew Brown, M.D.

Technology Remakes Work and Worker

By changing the way work is done, technology changes the worker. Workers not infrequently respond catastrophically to the introduction of new technology. Affected workers frequently develop anxiety states, depressive symptoms, and conversion syndromes. Job loss precipitated by technologically induced workplace change can emerge in two ways: as a result of planned replacement of human work with automated work or as a result of the workers psychological response to automation.

Job Elimination: Planned Replacement of Human Work with Automated Machines and Processes

Job elimination, frequently euphemized as “restructuring”, is a common impact of technological innovation and is attributable to conscious planning on the part of employers. When technology is introduced into the workplace employees are not expected to learn how to use new technology but are instead expected to be replaced by it. Technologically-driven unemployment, like unemployment in general, tends to undermine the mental health of those affected by it.

Adverse Reactions to Technologically Induced Workplace Change

Job loss can impact employees who retain their jobs after the introduction of a labor saving device. The key point to bear in mind when contemplating any technologically induced change in the work process is that the introduction of the technology doesn’t just provide a substitute for some isolated component of a job. It not infrequently alters the character of the jobs that are left for the humans to perform, and impacts the roles, attitudes, and skills of the people who take part in it.


In the news...

NPR published an excellent article on March 6 providing a detailed reporting of worker's compensation practices across the United States. The article was written in partnership with ProPublica, an investigative journalism group. Their powerful interactive graphic shows how much the loss of specific body parts is worth in each state: 

Workers’ Comp Benefits:
How Much is a Limb Worth?