She enjoys the challenge of sharing research and psychology-related news in Twitter's short form.

Derner Psychology Professor Deborah Serani

by Erin Donohue

Deborah Serani, Psy.D., an adjunct professor at the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, was named one of the Top 50 Psychology Professors to follow on Twitter (@DeborahSerani) by In her view, her passion for the social media outlet and the platform as a whole makes her a better clinician and professor.

“I love, love, love social media,” she said. “It’s exponentially faster, broader and more personal than traditional media in its ability to share information.”

Although she enjoys the feel of a newspaper or academic journal, she is drawn to the quickness and real-time power of Twitter. The 140-character limitation is a test she revels in. “I like the challenge of finding an interesting or humorous way to share research and psychology-related things in that short form,” Dr. Serani said.

Dr. Serani’s recent book, Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers, has made her a go-to expert on youth with mental illness. So how does she marry her love of social media with its potential negative effects? “I counsel adolescents—as well as adults—to question what they are looking for when they use social media,” she said.  “Is it to feel connected?…To gossip?…To stroke your ego? Once they learn if and why it is valuable, I encourage them to establish a time frame for online use.” Managing the amount of time you spend socially online is just as important as balancing your social life offline Dr. Serani advises. She often suggests a limit of one hour a day on social media.

Outside of writing books (she is finishing her third), having an active private practice and teaching the graduate course Psychodynamic Principles in Children and Adolescents at Adelphi’s Hauppauge Education and Conference Center, Dr. Serani is a technical advisor on mental health issues for television’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. The show writers present her with a script, and she lets them know if the idea is viable and believable and, most importantly, not stigmatizing for those who live with mental illness. Two of the episodes she consulted on were awarded Golden Psi Awards by the American Psychological Association. Fans of the show would recognize Dr. Serani as the Hon. D. Serani—a judge on the program. Recently, though, producers have recast the character with a male actor. “It’s still a kick for me to see my name on the bench though,” Dr. Serani said.

Follow Dr. Serani on Twitter @DeborahSerani. Her blog is, and you can find her on Facebook at Living with Depression By Deborah Serani.

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