Mary Beth Cresci, PhD, adjunct professor, who served from 2005 to 2018 as director of the postgraduate programs at the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology, received the Founders Award from the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology (SPPP), Division 39 of the American Psychological Association (APA), at its April meeting.
“The award honors a psychoanalyst who has dedicated herself to the advancement of psychoanalysis and has made enduring contributions to psychoanalytic psychology and/or psychoanalysis influencing generations of psychoanalytic psychologists, through research, scholarship, practice, supervision and/or mentoring,” said Amira Simha-Alpern, PhD, the current director of postgraduate programs.
Dr. Simha-Alpern said that beyond Dr. Cresci’s national and international contributions to the profession of psychoanalysis, she has had a long-lasting influence on Adelphi’s training programs. “Due to her vision, innovative thinking and leadership, the psychoanalytic training program became one of only 13 programs nationally recognized and accredited by the prestigious Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education, Inc.”
Among many of her contributions during her leadership, Dr. Cresci opened Adelphi’s psychoanalytic training programs, which until her term were only open to PhD-level psychologists, to all mental health professionals from diverse disciplines. She also opened a new training program for non-mental health professionals who wish to become licensed psychoanalysts. Dr. Simha-Alpern said this program is now recognized by the New York State Education Department as training clinicians toward New York State licensure in psychoanalysis.
“By expanding and diversifying Adelphi’s training opportunities, Dr. Cresci helped disseminate psychoanalytic thinking and practice beyond the narrow boundaries of the discipline of psychology,” she added.
J. Christopher Muran, PhD, interim dean and professor, said, “Dr. Cresci has had such a distinguished career, contributing greatly to our postgrad program and to the field of psychoanalysis at large, and doing so with incredible grace and integrity. She has always done Derner proud and she does so here with this most deserving honor.”
In addition to teaching as an adjunct professor in the postgraduate programs, Dr. Cresci serves on several Derner committees, including the Faculty and Supervisor Selection Committee and the Candidate Development Committee. She also mentors several postgraduate program candidates.
“One of the big advantages in a program like this is that the classes are small and it’s like a seminar. You have readings, but the students get to know each other,” she said. “They have a lot of responsibility to bring in clinical material, to talk about the readings, and at its best, it produces a really, really good dialogue where everybody is quite involved clinically and learning a lot, very focused on their own clinical experience, which people want when they come to our program.”
Dr. Cresci said she was honored to receive the Founders Award, which isn’t given every year, as she has served many roles at SPPP, including president and representative to the APA Council for six years. Further, throughout her nearly 50-year career, she’s maintained a private practice, working primarily with adults in psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
But being a mentor is also important to her. “I also have done a lot of supervision over the years, which has been great fun to work with young people who are in training and help them see other ways to look at things and understand things on a deeper level and think about their impact on their patients, which is very important.”
She added, “I put a lot of time and effort into the postgraduate programs and I’m thrilled that it’s doing so well and that Amira has taken on the mantle and has moved forward so well. My work at Adelphi was very fulfilling and I appreciated the support that I got all along the way. It’s a special community and I’m glad that I’m a part of it.”