Doctoral psychology student Laura Shapiro, M.A. interviews Dean Jacques Barber, Ph.D.

By Laura Shapiro, M.A.

Doctoral candidate Laura Shapiro, interviews Jacques P. Barber, Dean of Adelphi University’s Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies.

LS: You started your position as dean during a time of transition at Derner: numerous curriculum changes, preparing for APA’s visit in the fall, Pat’s getting ready to retire…how has all of this impacted your first year?

JB: I think the transition began before I came. I think it began when Chris [Muran] became Associate Dean and really began to implement some of those changes. I came in the middle, benefited in part from what he did, and really began to think about what it was that I wanted to see happening here and how to move Derner forward. And by Derner I mean not only the Ph.D. program, but also the master’s program and the undergraduate and postgraduate programs…so I feel it’s my responsibility to try to move all these programs forward. I am lucky that Pat is still around so I can benefit from his knowledge and experience, and I’ve been speaking with him and Chris quite often to learn all about what has been going on. So, again, I think it began before my time. There is a new dean, of course, and people are trying to find out what this new dean is going to be like, what kind of person he is, but I think the world is changing so rapidly, and I think that is what’s happening. It’s not really only here, there are so many things happening everywhere in psychology and in politics. Part of our challenge is how to help you—your generation of psychologists—adapt to these changes.

LS: Are there areas of improvement you’d like to see in doctoral program in the upcoming year?

JB: Yes. I think the changes in the curriculum are already a big step in the right direction, but what I would like to create is more of a dialogue between the students and faculty, and me, about what we think students need to know 5 years from now, 10 years from now. The field is changing rapidly. What kind of demand exists? What interests do students have? What does the faculty think students should know? We need to create this dialogue and it’s something I think will be very interesting.

LS: I think that is crucial, since, like you said, the field is changing and it seems more difficult to get jobs nowadays, especially with changes in health care policies and the rising number of degrees one can attain to be a clinician. I think students would really appreciate an ongoing dialogue about these things within Derner, especially regarding where we should be seeking jobs, like VAs.

JB: Oh yes, the VAs are looking for you guys. I used to work part time at the VA; it is expanding dramatically and will continue to do so for the next few years. The VA requires two things: an APA approved PhD or PsyD, and an APA approved internship. They care about that…maybe it’s not justified, but they do. The VA is also moving to evidenced-based practices; they’re pushing toward the PTSD field, so they’re pushing for prolonged exposure, and CBT: cognitive processing therapy. So that’s something we have to grapple with— what will the world of psychology look like in the future?

LS: Right, especially keeping in mind the CBT push because that can motivate current students to look for externships and other experiences that involve evidence-based techniques. While we have a required CBT course and some related electives, we are still, of course, a psychodynamically oriented program.

JB: Right, so that’s where the struggle will be for us— how do we keep a dynamic perspective while integrating more evidence-based practices, whether it’s CBT or gestalt, from my perspective, and family therapy. Experiential therapy has a lot of evidence in its favor, but the VA doesn’t recognize it because in the field of PTSD, there is no evidence for anything except CBT— prolonged exposure. So that’s also bringing me to another point that there is a lack of research on the dynamic part, which is something I care about and would support here too.

LS: And you’ve recently conducted research in this area.

JB: Right, I just published a big RCT on the dynamic psychotherapy vs. medication vs. placebo for depression, and I presented that as part of the Lindemann lecture.

LS: There does seem to be an increasing number of students interested in similar research, so hopefully this topic can be included in the dialogue you’re looking to instill. Last question: What surprised you most about becoming dean at Derner?

JB: Well, I’ll answer that in a very personal way. I’m used to being in charge of my time…I’ve lost that. At night, I think of all the things I have to do—work on my research, books, papers I am writing—and then I arrive to my office in the morning, and there is no time. So that’s been the biggest change…plus life in New York has taken getting used to. But, everyone here has been very nice and supportive, which has helped with the transition and made me feel welcome.

Published 2012 in Day Residue the Derner Institute Doctoral Student Newsletter

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