Alison Carper, Ph.D. ‘03, rewrote her life story when she left journalism for a career in psychotherapy.

by Bonnie Eissner

After years of working a journalist, writing for leading newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Newsday, Alison Carper, Ph.D. ‘03, realized that, in her words, “I wanted to do something in my life that would use more of me.” Her search led her to a stint studying history at Columbia University and then, after a positive experience in therapy, to embark on her own career as a psychotherapist.

“That whole experience,” she said of her work with a psychotherapist, “led me to feel very positive and hopeful about how people can change in adulthood in the context of relationships and change in quite profound ways.”

Today, as a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, she has found her calling and fulfilled her quest to find challenging and meaningful work. “I feel enormously privileged to be doing this work,” she said. Dr. Carper works with adults on a range of issues and said that, as she helps her clients change, she is also gaining a deeper understanding of her field and how best to assist her clients.

Pursuing a Ph.D. at the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies gave Dr. Carper the foundation she was seeking. “I think the curriculum at Derner was really very strong,” she said, noting that it gave her a “solid understanding of the complexities and varieties of thinking within psychoanalysis.” She especially appreciated the support and feedback from her research group, which was led by professors Karen Lombardi, Ph.D., and Joseph Newirth, Ph.D. “They were very engaged conversationalists in this group,” she said. “They listened well; they worked hard to understand our questions and to help us keep clarity.”

Prior to starting her private practice, Dr. Carper worked at Bellevue Hospital Center, where, among other positions, she was the director of the general psychology externship program, which, at the time, was the hospital’s largest general externship program. She enjoyed the experience and left, after seven years, to launch her private practice.

“I was hoping for a career where I use more of myself and that’s certainly what I’ve found,” she said.

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