The lawn of Christiansted's fort, St. Croix (Photo: Jewel Owen)

Our Start

“In September 1990, a group of psychologists met on the porch of the Social Science Building of the University of the Virgin Islands. It was a warm muggy evening when eight or nine of us gathered, but the excitement was palpable as we talked about the possibility of establishing an association here in Saint Thomas,” said Ann Barnard, a clinical psychologist on St. Thomas, in a recent interview.

“Some of us were meeting each other for the first time. The possibilities we considered for our new group were ambitious and grand (but never grandiose), considering our only resources were our collective energy and wit. We began meeting monthly at the St. Thomas Hospital. Our early meetings were characterized by zest and oneness of spirit. Within about three minutes we agreed to name ourselves the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists (AVIP)” said Ann Barnard, a clinical psychologist on St. Thomas,” Barnard said.

AVIP was created to regulate and protect the profession of psychology, according to Rita Dudley-Grant, a founding member, and licensed clinical psychologist who resides in St. Croix. These individuals continue to stay committed to educating about psychology and advocating for the mental health needs of our community on our three beautiful islands.

While adopting the ethical principles promulgated by the American Psychological Association, AVIP continues to encourage and welcome all students or professionals in the field of psychology to join the organization as it comes with many benefits including but not limited to; connecting with other students and professionals in the field, learning about and gaining access to different continuing education credits, getting notifications about the workshops, conferences, training and related activities in the USVI.

“Years ago I managed to get the American Psychological Association to approve AVIP to award continuing education credits for their workshops. This gave psychologists in the territory the ability to receive CE credits without leaving the Territory; of course, this was way before Zoom and other online workshops” said Ramona Moss, who is a licensed clinical psychologist on St. Thomas and has been an AVIP member since 1991.  “AVIP is [now] certified by the American Psychological Association to provide (continuing education credits),” said Marilyn Braithwaite-Hall, one of the AVIP education coordinators.

“We were recently certified for another five years. This is even more relevant now as Covid has impacted travel budgets as well as safety concerns. We can bring high-quality professional development programs virtually to our members and colleagues,” she said.  “AVIP has been a resource for current CE for the psychology and allied health professionals. Recent workshops have focused on skill building with Motivational Interviewing and Understanding Neurology and Psychological Impacts of Dementia. Our goal is to offer outstanding professional development programs for our membership and the broader community” said Braithwaite-Hall.

The organization welcomes anyone, including those who are currently not in the psychology field but have an interest in learning more about the field, or would like to connect with others in the field to join AVIP.  “One of the many benefits of joining AVIP include being able to meet different people with similar interests as you,” said Moss.

Also, the Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists is a member of the Caribbean Alliance of National Psychologists Association, or CANPA. “We are sponsoring the Caribbean Regional Conference of Psychology 2020+ on ST. Croix in November 2021, hosting psychologists from around the Caribbean and around the world” said Rita Dudley-Grant, the treasurer of AVIP who currently works as a clinical psychologist on St. Croix.

Membership in this regional organization allows for the ongoing connection to colleagues in the Caribbean region, and from the Caribbean to the world. CANPA provides educational programming for professionals, CANPA Talks, that is specific to their psychology practices within the Caribbean. In November 2021, CANPA held its fifth conference on St. Croix through a virtual hybrid model.

If anyone has questions or comments about AVIP or CANPA they can contact AVIP through email at [email protected] or check out our Facebook Page “Association of Virgin Islands Psychologists- VIP.”

“Our hopes for AVIP is to continue to expand the availability of well-qualified and trained psychologists as well as educate the public about mental health and mental wellness, to be able to collaborate with other colleges in organizations to improve the overall behavioral health of the USVI, while reducing the stigma” said Rita Dudley-Grant.

“AVIP is an amazing organization that is inviting students from a variety of disciplines including but not limited to psychology, nursing, education, and social work, to sign up under the student membership, as it is a great way to get acquainted with the industry as well as professionals within the field. AVIP provides a gateway of serving your community while connecting with other professionals whether it be locally, regionally and/or globally. There are great opportunities that can arise when being a member of AVIP” said Past President Sheena Walker.

Editor’s Note: Nour Z. Suid was born and raised in the Virgin Islands. She graduated with a doctorate in clinical psychology and a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. Nour Suid is also the Secretary of the Association of the Virgin Islands Psychologists. This is an excerpt of Dr. Suid’s original article published in The St. Thomas Source, May 12, 2021.



Mission Statement

To promote culturally sensitive social policy that would enhance the mental, emotional, and social well-being of the community

  • To promote ethical and responsible professional practice
  • To demand high standards of professional conduct
  • To conduct professional education programs
  • To promote research
  • To support legislation that meets these goals
  • The AVIP shall adopt the ethical principles promulgated by the American Psychological Association.