In recognition of the role he has played in helping the school to both grow and thrive during his tenure, the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology has named Stanley Berman, Ph.D. as vice president for academic affairs.
Berman has been a faculty member of the school since 1987 and served for the past eight years as the dean of programs of advanced graduate study. He was integral in creating and supporting the development of a number of programs including a master’s degree in global mental health, a clinical health psychology concentration in the Department of Clinical Psychology as well as programs in expressive arts therapy and couples and family therapy.
A graduate of Temple University where he earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Berman had previously been on the staff of Children’s Hospital and the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Berman took the time to speak with New England Psychologist’s Catherine Robertson Souter about how his past experiences have molded him into the professional he is today and about the direction he hopes to help the school in the future.
Q: Can you tell us about this new position?
A: I serve as the leader and quality assurance manager of our four academic departments. 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 I delivered the quality that I hope to deliver each day.
Q: What would you say is the biggest challenge in psychology education today?
A: Psychology is changing. While psychology is still a clinical service offered in the consulting room, interventions are now happening in wrap-around programs, client’s living rooms, in organizational development meetings in the workplace. Schools are increasingly a venue for mental health assessments and intervention. So, in training the psychologist who will be entering the workforce in the next two to six years, we have to help people be talented in assessment and in different modalities of intervention but also recognize that the delivery models are rapidly shifting as well.
We also have to help people prepare for what it means to offer health care in a digital world, whether that means learning electronic medical records or questions of whether it is ethical and useful to offer services in non-traditional ways.
Like every field, we can’t train people for what practice was like 10 years ago. We have to train them for what we anticipate practice will be like 10 years from today.
Q: You have been instrumental in bringing or helping to bring new programs on board during your time there. Of which programs are you most proud?
A: First is our program in global mental health. We recognized that mental health professionals are increasingly working with people that come from war torn nations. If you work in Lynn or Lawrence or Fall River, Massachusetts, the chance is high that you will work with a refugee from a civil war or from ethnic cleansing. One needs to deliver services in community health which are both sophisticated trauma-informed interventions but also which are sophisticated cross-cultural interventions. So the Global Mental Health Program trains clinicians who can comfortably work with immigrants and refugees and can work in international settings.
In terms of our program in clinical health psychology, we are training the next generation of professionals to know how to work on interdisciplinary teams. With the passage of the health care reform bill and the promotion of integrated healthcare, this is an area of employment demand and workforce development that is needed.
Although I was not the main developer, we are also very proud of two programs that demonstrate our proactive approach to mental health education. The first is our Lucero Latino Mental Health program, which trains students to be both culturally and language competent to work with the Hispanic community in the United States. Students in all of our academic programs can be Lucero students. They spend a summer in Ecuador and Costa Rica; they have some of their course work in Spanish and are placed in settings where they need to use Spanish as clinicians.
The Latino community is the fastest growing community in the United States and with only 2 percent of practitioners equipped to work in Spanish and with cultural knowledge and attunement, we feel this really meets a need.
Another program that we are very proud of is our MVP program, “Miltiary Veterans Program,” also referred to as “Train a Vet to Treat a Vet.” We are training veterans who want to have a mental health career dedicated to working with veterans.
Q: What would you say are your goals in this new position?
A: I am interested in having well-trained students who learn through our experiential education model blending clinical practice with rigorous academic experience in the classroom. I am interested in continuing to do my best to be
forward thinking about what appears to be growing needs in the mental health field. I’m interested in how to appropriately integrate educational technology in training graduate school mental health professionals. And I am very interested in how we prepare students to function effectively in a multicultural world.
A lot of my efforts are going to be how to continue to create programs that will prepare students to work in the global and multicultural world. How can we build a center of excellence to include global mental health and multicultural studies that would cut across the curriculum so that they would be available as part of every course in every department.
Q: You seem to be very excited about this new role.
A: Well, it allows me an opportunity for broader personal and professional growth and to be involved in decision-making and problem-solving beyond the previous focus that I had as a professor or dean. I’m involved in working on something a psychologist might not be thinking about, things outside my normal arena. It is inspirational to be in a position to recognize the next need, to be able to say we have the flexibility and we are in the position to address those needs.
I can finish a week where I can feel I made a contribution.
By Catherine Robertson Souter