Jameca Woody-Cooper has not only taught, but inspired students. Now, she is a member of the America Psychological Association.
In December 2020, Jameca Woody-Cooper, an adjunct faculty member and program director at Webster University’s St. Louis campus, was appointed to serve in the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA is a national organization that includes over 121,000 members. Woody-Cooper will be working on the committee of aging, and was appointed to this committee based on her expertise on aging, health disparities and her focus on diversity.
“My interest in older adults began around 15 years ago when my physician colleagues encouraged me to see a few of their patients. It was then that I realized that older adults are a population that had significant mental health needs and yet few providers focus on this population,” Woody-Cooper said.
Woody-Cooper plans to work on programming, advocacy and policy regarding older adults. She also will ensure the APA examines and highlights the unique needs of older adults and marginalized communities. Her background as a civic leader and activist will allow her to do this.
“I am familiar with how to connect with community partners to achieve a goal. I’m also not afraid to get out of the office and go and work within the communities that I serve. My background and approach gives me a unique perspective,” Woody-Cooper said.
Before being appointed to the APA, Woody-Cooper has had years of experience as a clinician working with the mental health needs of older adults. She dedicated her career to the specific health needs of minorities, women and other underserved communities. Woody-Cooper also has years of work in education and activism.
Woody-Cooper’s focus on diversity presents itself in the classroom here at Webster, according to student Tierra Metcalfe. Discussion on different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities has been built into the curriculum so students understand the importance of being culturally aware of differences in clients.
Metcalfe is an educational psychology major, and described Woody-Cooper as being adamant in helping her understand what will be expected out of her as a school counselor. She has been challenged to think outside the box and has been pushed outside of her comfort zone to prepare for her career by Woody Cooper.
“I have developed so much confidence and direction in my future as a result of having Dr. Woody-Cooper as an advisor and educator. She truly pushes each student to do better,” Metcalfe said.
Another student, Courtney LeCompte, explained how Woody-Cooper does not shy away from diversity and encourages students to examine their biases. Once examined, students reflect on how these biases could be important in interaction with a client. LeCompte said this is not an easy thing to do, but it is effective.
“In terms of race and culture, our country is becoming more and more diverse, while there is also a growing awareness in the collective consciousness of our country of diversity in gender, sexuality and ability,” LeCompte said. “Diversity as a topic is heavily intertwined with the practice of any sub-discipline in psychology, so it should go without saying that this is something APA committees should be focusing on.”
Woody-Cooper is currently the public education coordinator for the Missouri Psychological Association and the past president of the St. Louis Chapter of Association of Black Psychologists. As for the APA, she hopes to work on research regarding COVID-19’s impact on older and healthy aging adults.