Although she works with many different kinds of patients, she is frequently sought out for her expertise in eating disorders.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Favorite Professors: Hilary Lee, George Stricker, Pat Ross, and Gordon Derner
Most Memorable Derner experience: “Class trip to Nyac, New York State Hospital, a residential mental health facility. It was our first opportunity to interview patients in an actual clinical setting. It was very valuable hands-on experience.”
A Diverse Career, A Singular Vocation
Dr. Marie Oppedisano’s advice to today’s Derner students stems directly from her own experience.
“Gather different experiences. Getting a Ph.D. allows you to sample different areas, such as teaching, research, and clinical work, and really find where your interests lie. Never forget to enjoy life, it goes very fast.”
After completing her degrees, she spent several years splitting her talents in many different places.
Dr. Oppedisano taught psychology as an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College, served as a researcher for the Long Island Jewish – Hillside Medical Center, and worked for the Nassau County Department of Senior Citizen Affairs. In her various roles, she gained invaluable experience in programming, planning, counseling, and research.
“After seven years in the field, I really felt like I knew the different paths my career could take,” she says.
In 1980, Dr. Oppedisano began a second post-doctoral certification in psychoanalysis (her first postdoctoral certification was in gerontological practice). Shortly thereafter, she founded her private practice. Although she works with many different kinds of patients, she is frequently sought out for her expertise in eating disorders. She has even appeared on News 12 Long Island.
“I think it has really grown into a specialization of mine because it is sadly so common,” she says. “It’s a difficult topic for parents to handle, and problems can begin with young children, even below the age of two. More importantly, treatment really centers on the parents and what they are doing to cause the problem.”
“There certainly is a growing awareness among medical and mental health professionals and there have been some efforts in the media as well – like ad campaigns with larger models, but the overall effort is weak.”
Despite increasing national awareness of conditions like anorexia nervosa, people from all populations and backgrounds are affected.
“Although we are more aware of it today, anorexia has existed since ancient times and the concept of what is beautiful among young people is still perfection. And until that concept changes young people will continue to struggle with it. The message that needs to be sent is that it is what is inside that counts and appearance is not a factor. And until we, as a society, can really deliver that message – anorexia will continue to occur.”
“There is no cure;” she says, “the best course of treatment is a good therapeutic relationship with a professional therapist.” For recovery, individuals have to be aware of warning signs and need to address them before they relapse. For patients, it is a lifelong battle, to which Dr. Oppedisano has dedicated her expertise.
Dr. Oppedisano lives in Old Westbury, New York. She devotes her spare time to her family and to her antique collection.
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