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One of Powell's students says that she is an example of both the type of clinician she would like to be as well as of the person she would like to be: kind, strong and inspiring. Another student insists, "Her hard work and dedication to the field are awe-inspiring." Powell guides her students during the process of getting to know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, their comforts and discomforts, their biases, prejudices and privileges. "I try to be non-defensive, patient and non-judgmental," she says. "Students need to ask themselves, 'Who am I?' and 'How do people react to me?' It's very hard for some students to hear their own voice and very rewarding to help them learn to speak up," she says. "While we hear diversity and think 'marginalized,' we all occupy a position on that continuum. Diversity isn't just about people of color. We must learn to appreciate and to validate the range of experiences of others."
At MSPP, teachers focus on their students' growth, both personal and professional. "I value being part of that process," says Powell. "My students feel known and respected by me." Powell admires her colleagues, especially in the Counseling Program, describing them as supportive, collaborative and non-competitive. "They are the most cohesive group of faculty I've ever taught with. I absolutely love teaching and feel very privileged to be able to do this work."
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June '13 Graduate Assumes Challenges as a School Psychologist
any MSPP alums express high praise for the graduate school's faculty, and Erika Johnson, MA/CAGS, is no exception. What seems to distinguish her enthusiasm for the women and men who taught her to become a valued school psychologist is that she's only been at the job a month and already feels superbly prepared for its complex challenges.
In an elementary school not far from New Haven, Connecticut, Johnson shares responsibility for 435 young people with a team of school personnel.
"I love being here," she says, " and people in the district tell me I'm doing a great job. I have my teachers at MSPP to thank for that." She talks about Dr. Bruce Ecker and Dr. Bob Lichtenstein in particular for having taught her so much "critical stuff" like psycho-educational assessment, children's life-span development, theories of counseling and psychopathology. "From day one," she insists, "everyone was very welcoming and made you feel at ease. We were immediately working in the field and could come into the classroom and get support for what we were doing." She credits her teachers also being clinicians as a reason her education felt so realistic and relevant. "It wasn't just academic or theoretical," she explains. "It's a concrete hands-on approach. I still feel I could call any faculty member for advice."
Johnson's experiential learning added immeasurably to her confidence and her skills. "The field supervisors were passionate about their work and really great at helping us learn," she says. Johnson, like all of her School Psychology classmates, secured a job soon after graduation. She enjoys the variety of skills her job demands. "I have a counseling case load, do testing, facilitate meetings and write plans for kids. I wear many hats, but I love it. MSPP prepared me well."
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Two Classrooms Bear Names of Beloved Teachers
Alumna's Gift Recognizes Extraordinary Teacher, Phil Aranow
Many educators help you to learn volumes of content; extraordinary ones profoundly and permanently influence your personal and professional growth. Ellen Beth Siegel, PsyD, loved her years as a doctoral student at MSPP and continues to feel that way about the graduate school she attended after deciding to stop practicing law. "MSPP is distinguished by its commitment to learning and practice and a powerful commitment to people," she says. "The program asks you to be aware of who you are and how you got that way." Beyond the emphasis on self-examination, Siegel says the faculty at MSPP is so willing to engage, to really connect with students. "Teachers make MSPP what it is."
Ellen and her husband Donald Siegel, an attorney with Posternak, Blankstein & Lund, and an MSPP trustee, have expressed their admiration for the school, and especially the faculty, with a generous gift made to honor the memory of one of her most beloved teachers, Dr. Philip Aranow. Killed in an automobile accident in 2002, Aranow was "an extraordinary person," she says. In 1995, as his student, Siegel wrote in her journal, "…he strikes me as someone deeply, securely centered…he seems to have found a point of balance, from which he continues to ask questions and explore himself. He connects theory to clinical cases with a sure hand." Siegel remembers well the day in 1996 that she and others attended a classmate's husband's funeral. Upon their return to class, Aranow dispensed with the day's designated subject so that he could spend three hours processing grief, pain and mourning with the class. "I found him wonderfully, approachably human, willing to share his uncertainties…I want the school to value him," she wrote 17 years ago.
Aranow was not the only teacher whose influence has been indelible. Says Siegel, "Phil Aranow was a wonderful teacher—and so are so many others who are part of MSPP. I regarded the school as a 'candy store,' because everyone there offered so much…was so supportive, personally and professionally. I wish to see many other teachers honored this way."
Alumna Honors the Loving Memory of her Special Teacher, Harriet Berman
Yonina D. Goorno, PsyD, was a student in Dr. Harriet Berman's first year clinical seminar, a class where doctoral students are introduced to psychology and psychotherapy as they begin their four years of study and clinical work toward earning a PsyD at MSPP. Today, Goorno recalls, "I fell in love with her. She was so easy to relate to and learn from. She was such a genuine, authentic person, filled with humility. "
Harriet Berman died in May 2012, leaving a lasting legacy for her family, friends, students, colleagues and countless members of Boston's therapeutic community. In 1998, while she was Director of Training and Clinical Vice President at the Wellness Community of Greater Boston, Berman was diagnosed with breast cancer. When the Wellness Community had to close their doors in 2008, she and five colleagues founded Facing Cancer Together: A Community of Hope. Dr. Berman continued to be a teacher, friend, colleague and mentor at MSPP until she was too ill to continue in her multiple roles.
Goorno remembers well the many life lessons learned from having known Harriet Berman. "She had no pretenses, was so whole, so thoughtful, so smart in real ways," says Goorno. She vividly recalls Berman's love of life, and her ability to find avenues for expressing what mattered to her.
As one of the discussants for Goorno's doctoral dissertation, Berman displayed her special skill for what Goorno calls, "pulling out the essentials, the golden nuggets of an issue. She was never mired in a lot of philosophical jargon. She had a knack for approaching a case presentation with a holistic perspective, one that focused on what was critical."
Goorno labels her MSPP education "amazing" and thinks it is because the teachers are also practitioners who are in the field everyday and bring a true-to-life dynamic to their teaching. "What they have to offer is relevant and useful," she says. "They confront challenges every day in their clinical work and can then reflect on what they've observed with students in the classroom. They are more than teachers, they are mentors, dedicated to teaching and to their students' learning and growth."
Happy to have made a gift to MSPP to honor Berman's memory, Goorno repeats the words expressed often by the many students and colleagues who knew and loved Harriet Berman, "It's a huge loss."
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MSPP Trustee Dowd Supervises Organizational Psychology Students
Learning happens in different ways. Sometimes it's theoretical and sometimes it's actual experience. At MSPP, it's the smooth, relevant intertwining of both. Shani Dowd, LCSW, an MSPP trustee, an Organizational Psychology supervisor for MSPP MA candidates and director of Culture InSight, an operating program of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, insists that her students learn to "swim upstream."
cross New England, Dowd and her team at Culture InSight partner with health care communities and help them recognize and work to resolve disparities in underserved communities by addressing cultural competence, staff diversity, inclusion and equity issues. Her interns from MSPP are part of the planning, facilitation, interaction and evaluation of these real-life situations. Students in the Organizational Psychology program provide 80 hours of time for their field project and provide invaluable work as they learn. "I teach them and get important contributions in return," says Dowd. "They give me great feedback and provide robust reports on what they've seen and heard and experienced…they are very much part of the process of this work and offer new, fresh perspectives. I'm grateful for their involvement."
Working on one project, Dowd and her interns help mental health providers learn to serve their clients' diverse communities. MSPP intern Yarimee Gutierrez, who graduated in June 2013, worked with a focus group of mental health clinicians and assisted on structured interviews. She also served as a Spanish-language translator. She helped get people to focus on their own biases and prejudices and how to examine their preparedness to care for people from diverse backgrounds.
Says Gutierrez, "Shani is awesome. I can't say enough about how much time and attention she gave me. I learned so much from her. When there was something I didn't understand, she readily took time to explain everything and help me learn what to look for, what's important, even things like time management and how to juggle several projects."
When Gutierrez was ready to begin graduate school, she researched her options and was immediately attracted to the Organizational Psychology program at MSPP. "It was the perfect fit for me," she says. "I was interested in the people side of business and MSPP's program allowed me to continue to work full time while pursuing my degree. "It was intense, but the teachers were all so supportive, especially Dr. Kathryn Stanley. I can't say enough about her. There are so many great teachers at MSPP."
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A Teachers' Teacher
Berman began teaching at MSPP 26 years ago. And, although for nearly nine years he was dean of Programs of Advanced Graduate Study, responsible for new program development, he always found time to teach. Even today, he leads two seminars each year: Theoretical Foundations of Clinical Health Psychology and Foundations of Global Mental Health II. "I think it's important for me to get myself in the classroom as much as possible, not only because I love it, but because it helps me understand the challenges that students and faculty face today."
Staying attuned to societal needs and creating programs that can meet those needs with a new generation of mental health professionals is a high priority, he notes, as is supporting faculty and faculty scholarship, continuing to contribute to a culturally diverse and globally focused curriculum and nurturing the personal and professional growth of students.
Another challenge, of course, "is finding your bearings as an educator in a digital age," he says, adding that one of his major goals is "to continue creating new models that incorporate cutting-edge educational technology in the traditional classroom as well as in blended programs that are both onsite and online."
In a recent interview with New England Psychologist, he said: "At the end of the day, if a student graduates saying the programs were of a high caliber and well-integrated and there was rigorous and demanding class work and a caring community with good resources, then I feel like the faculty, staff and I delivered the quality that I hope to deliver each day."
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From left to right: Michelle Harris, Natalie Cort and Gemima St. Louis.
"It is the awakening that I see in my students that makes teaching expressive arts therapy so rewarding for me," says Michelle Harris, a licensed mental health counselor and board certified registered art therapist who came to MSPP this fall. She will be one of two core faculty working on the newly launched MA in Counseling Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapy program.
"Teaching expressive arts therapy and using it as a form of therapy are distinctly different, and yet in a parallel process," she says. The classroom, like the therapy room, must be a place where students can express themselves authentically and feel safe. Safety and building a sense of community are a big part of teaching, and this is also true of expressive arts therapy," she adds.
Harris, who is of Native American descent, describes herself as "a specialist in trauma-sensitive art therapy with a cross-cultural lens." She has used her art and art therapy to explore many aspects of her own life and her connection to the life and culture of her tribes, the Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok of California. An artist herself who works in acrylic and mixed medium, she also collaborates with her Coast Miwok tribe on revitalization of the Coast Miwok language and is a member of the Board of the Latin American Center for Trauma Studies. She has provided training to psychologists, graduate students and other community providers working with trauma survivors in Guatemala.
Harris hopes to work with Dr. Yousef Alajarma, head of the Expressive Arts Therapy program at MSPP, to build an academic program that focuses on training mental health counselors who can specialize in working with people with trauma exposure in multicultural settings across many regions of the globe.
Before MSPP, Harris was the associate director of Field Training for Lesley University's Expressive Therapies Division and a clinician and trainer at the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute. In addition, she was a consultant and clinician for the Boston Public Schools system, collaborating with teachers to find new approaches to improve learning for students with trauma exposure.
She begins her tenure at MSPP teaching Counseling Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapy courses, including the first-year student Practicum Seminar; Professional Issues and Ethics; Trauma: Theory and Treatment, and Advanced Practices in Expressive Arts Therapy.
Harris intends to continue her involvement in a variety of community, social justice and expressive arts projects. A board member of Incest Resources, Inc., she is the founder of the Survivor Quilt Project, which created a traveling exhibit called Incest Survivors Speaking Truth to the Next Generation. The exhibit was designed to stimulate discussion around preventive, proactive approaches to intergenerational trauma.
In response to the incredulity she expressed after witnessing a client's repeated traumas, Dr. Natalie Cort's former mentor once asked her: "Don't you know that trauma discriminates?" Says Cort, a new core faculty member in MSPP's Clinical PsyD program, "I kept thinking that things have got to get better for this woman, but my mentor reminded me that a person without resources or access to care is always more susceptible to another trauma."
Increasing access for the underserved is one reason Cort, an expert in treating adults with interpersonal trauma histories, chose to become a psychologist and why she decided to come to MSPP to teach these skills. "Helping someone to recognize that the trauma is not what defines her or him, that there is something on the other side of the fear and the brokenness is my goal," she says.
"The fit here is so right for me that I am almost convinced that my deceased grandmother had something to do with it," says Cort, who discovered MSPP online. "After devouring the website, I realized that this is a place with the same mission as mine."
As an expert in an evidence-based treatment known as Interpersonal Psychotherapy or IPT, Cort explores the relationships in a person's life that contribute to current depression or other disorders. At MSPP, she will teach courses in IPT, cultural psychology and psychopathology as well as the clinical seminar she teaches now. Born and raised in South America, Cort is committed to correcting mental health disparities and is also eager to play a part in MSPP's planned Center for Global Mental Health and Multicultural Studies. A nationally certified IPT trainer, Cort will continue training psychologists employed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct IPT and to enhance their responses to traumas experienced by many of their military clients.
A dedicated researcher, Cort has developed and studied interventions for trauma-exposed women. She has been a co-investigator, consultant, and therapist on 10 clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She is also a research-grade diagnostician with expertise in the administration of structured diagnostic interviews.
Cort received her PhD from the University of Rochester in 2008, followed by three fellowships funded by the National Institute of Mental Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
"I am on fire," says Gemima St. Louis, PhD, about her excitement for the work she is doing at MSPP. The former Director of Clinical Training and Research at Boston Medical Center and Assistant Professor at BU School of Medicine, St. Louis is now core faculty in the Clinical PsyD program and feels that the teaching and leadership roles she has taken on at MSPP are an extension of her lifetime commitment to advocating for children's mental health.
In addition to her work at Boston Medical Center, St. Louis has spent the last 15 years providing direct care to ethnic minority children and adolescents. At the same time, she has been researching youth and families with histories of trauma, chronic diseases and behavioral and emotional challenges. She also has devoted herself to global mental health issues and, as president of the Haitian Mental Health Network, has been involved in mental health capacity building initiatives in Haiti.
"I remember the exact moment," she says about the day she switched her major to psychology and decided to devote her life to working with children. It was during her first college psychology course. "The professor started to talk about identity development, and, for the first time, I had a context and a language for understanding the confusion that I was personally experiencing as an immigrant youth living in this country," she says.
Helping children cope with life's adversities and other mental health issues became her mission that day. "Today, I am more and more convinced that this is what I was born to do," she says.
St. Louis feels that being at MSPP brings her commitment to another level. "It is so important to nurture this new generation of clinicians and researchers, to mentor and help them explore who they are and where they fit, to provide them with a global lens through which to view their roles as psychologists, and to equip them with the necessary skills to care for an increasingly diverse society," she says.
At MSPP, St. Louis teaches Clinical Seminar II for students in the Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience (CFAR) program and Research Methods. She also heads the PATHWAYS Program, a school-based mental health initiative at West Roxbury Education Complex where she oversees suspension and truancy reduction programs designed to help teens stay in school and graduate. Long dedicated to global mental health, she currently serves on the committee charged with creating a Center for Global Mental Health and Multicultural Studies at MSPP.
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The following are highlights from the FY2013 audited Financial Statements.
Our FY2013 Audit had no adjustments for the third consecutive year. The Change in Net Assets from the audited statements totaled $627,000
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