After 12 years of leadership, groundbreaking research and numerous academic publications and awards, the dean of the Adelphi Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology is stepping down. Please join us in celebrating his extraordinary accomplishments.
A lot more than a name change has taken place in Adelphi’s psychology program since Jacques Barber, PhD, arrived on campus in 2011 to serve as a professor and dean of what is now known as the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology.
Dr. Barber, who has been honored for his distinguished career in psychoanalytic and psychotherapy research by the American Psychological Association, has led Derner in a variety of new directions over the past dozen years, bringing a stronger emphasis on undergraduate education, launching new programs, including a PsyD, and placing new emphasis on diversity.
Now, as he looks to retiring from teaching and leaving his position at the end of the 2022–2023 academic year, he sees an institution—which U.S. News & World Report ranks as a 2023 Best Psychology School and as having a Best Clinical Psychology Doctorate Program—poised to prepare students for a quickly changing profession.
“Things change over time,” Dr. Barber said, reflecting on what was then called the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies as he found it more than a decade ago. “The school is bigger, there are more programs than when I came. I think the school is in better shape overall. I think we’ve created a sense of community over time. Things work pretty well. There’s a good spirit of people working together. The pandemic may have impacted our sense of community and we are going to rebuild it.”
A Renowned Career
Dr. Barber’s impact on the field of psychology extends far beyond Adelphi’s campus. He is internationally known for his research on the efficacy of psychotherapy in treating depression, panic disorders, personality disorders, cocaine dependence and interpersonal problems.
He has published more than 290 papers, chapters and books, including Psychodynamic Therapy: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice, which he coauthored with Richard F. Summers, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and Practicing Psychodynamic Therapy: A Casebook, co-edited with Dr. Summers. He and his Adelphi colleague J. Christopher Muran, PhD, professor and interim dean while Dr. Barber was on sabbatical, collaborated on a revised psychodynamic therapy research chapter in Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change (7th Edition, Wiley 2021), considered “the bible of psychotherapy.”
Dr. Barber has won numerous awards for his scholarship. In addition to the Distinguished Career Research Award from the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, Division 39 of the American Psychological Association (APA), he has received two honors from the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy, Division 29 of the APA: the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Mentorship Award as well as the Distinguished Psychologist Award for Contributions to Psychology and Psychotherapy. He is past president of the international Society for Psychotherapy Research and was a recipient of its early career award in 1996 and its Distinguished Research Career Award in 2014.
Bringing New Programs and Perspectives to Derner
The name change in 2017 helped “to really make it very clear that Derner is both about undergraduate and graduate students,” he added.
Psychology undergraduates now go into a number of fields for postgraduate studies, from business to law and medicine. “It’s a very versatile first degree,” he said. He pointed to the recently introduced, multidisciplinary BS in Neuroscience as an example of the school’s sharp focus on an ever-changing field.
“That is the way of the future,” he said. “Psychology is going to move more into neuroscience.” It’s about how the brain impacts behaviors and how behaviors impact the brain.
At the same time, the job market for professional psychologists is growing and expanding. The introduction of new technologies in delivering treatment—from online therapy to the use of virtual reality—will also change the profession in the coming years, Dr. Barber predicted.
“Instead of just asking a patient to imagine a situation, you are able to put glasses on and see a different reality,” he said. “How we prepare students for that is part of the challenge of the future. How we integrate AI into our teaching and our clinical work remains to be seen. Each of the programs that we have is going to change.”
Meanwhile, increasing demand for trained professionals will keep Adelphi’s new graduates competitive. The need for school psychologists, for instance, has grown significantly in the past few years. Derner is meeting that demand by developing its PsyD in School Psychology program. Launched in Fall 2018, it was built upon, and now complements, Derner’s master’s program in the subject.
The job market is “so much better than it was a few years ago,” he said. “There is a huge demand for psychologists at different levels, especially school and child psychologists. Five years ago, I would not have thought that would happen, especially for clinical psychology.”
Promoting Diversity, Serving Communities
Dr. Barber has also worked to bring greater diversity to the field of psychology. Derner’s Mentoring Future Psychologists (MFP) Program offers culturally responsive mentoring for undergraduate psychology students who identify as members of traditionally underrepresented groups. The program, which includes a look at disparities in education and behavioral health among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, prepares students for careers, matching them with graduate programs, providing help with graduate school applications and teaching self-care skills to manage graduate school challenges. The school’s Patrick L. Ross Fellowship Fund he created is a complement of the MFP Program, providing financial assistance to approximately 50 first-year doctoral students in need.
Derner training programs are geared to providing services for communities in need. Creating the Derner internship consortium for the PhD clinical psychology program was the first step in increasing our community involvement. The Derner Hempstead Child Clinic, launched in 2015, provides low-cost mental healthcare services to local children, teens and families in Hempstead, New York. The program is expanding its impact by helping the Hempstead Union Free School District create a learning center for students that will provide educational enrichment opportunities along with a focus on social and emotional learning.
Building on a Storied Past
Derner’s growth under Dr. Barber is built on a foundation set by founding dean Gordon F. Derner, PhD, who started Adelphi’s clinical training program in 1951. Initially known as the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, the School functioned as a graduate department in the School of Arts and Sciences at Adelphi until 1972, when it became the nation’s first university-based professional school of psychology.
Asked about his own future, Dr. Barber replied that he foresees traveling and writing books, spending time with his family, but has no fixed plans as yet. “I’ve decided I’m going to see how it goes,” he said.
He said he will miss his interactions with colleagues and with trainees. He is thankful for the opportunity he was given to lead the school for such a long time, to learn from faculty and fellow deans, and to work with brilliant students and postdocs.