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2017 President-Elect Candidate Dr. Patricia C. Dowds

 Personal Statement

NYSPA is the psychological association for New York State. Our charge is to speak for all our members, and represent the needs of our patients and organizations. During times of change psychologists have and must continue to lead among mental health professionals. 

NYSPA is rich with regional representation, division diversity, and workhorse committees. Through my years of leadership and organizational management expertise in the Minuchin Center, the Suffolk County Psychological Association, FTI of Suffolk, and NYSPA, I believe the way to move NYSPA forward and create growth can be best accomplished in two ways:

NYSPA Regions, Divisions, and Committees must be strengthened and supported.  Regions are Psychology’s face in the community and legislature. Divisions produce valuable and diverse opportunities for members to learn and grow, and, as recent APA research has shown, Divisions serve as critical anchors for membership. Committees focus the work of NYSPA- our legislative work, insurance work, membership work, Public Education, and much more.  As each serves the organization in its own unique way, I will endeavor to enrich those contributions in collaboration with central leadership.

We can also move NYSPA to increased membership and power by loudly and publically supporting all legislation that will benefit practitioners, from Early Career to Retirement. We must be at many more state and county meetings on Mental Health. Being told for over 30 years that Private Practice is dying, thank God I didn’t listen. We need to support our members on every bill, lead among other mental health professions, and collaborate with other health doctors. NYS Psychologists outside our group need to be educated about our actions to regain their participation.

I am grateful for the opportunities to serve alongside so many wonderful, talented, and dedicated psychologists. I ask that you vote for me for President-Elect of NYSPA.


Biographical Sketch

Professional Experience

As a New York State psychologist, I have committed 35+ years to working with families and agencies, supporting them and encouraging them to identify and achieve their personal and organizational goals.

I began my professional career working in a Community Mental Health Center. As most women were at the time, I was assigned primarily child and adolescent cases (no comment). Fairly quickly, I realized that I was asking the children, who happened to be the family members with the least power and resources to effect positive change in a complex family system. This insight led to a long process of becoming trained in systems thinking that would take me from working with families to increasingly working with organizations and mental health agencies to effect constructive change.

I digress, to a brief personal history. I married my high school sweetheart, I had a daughter, I was divorced from my high school sweetheart. I was a single parent for 6 years. I found and married  the “love of my life,” fellow psychologist and NYSPA member, David Byrom. I then became a stepmother. I became a grandmother. Now over 40 years later….what a trip it has been.  Lessons learned… the importance of the freedom to be yourself AND the importance of  connection and collaboration to be able to live a life in which you be happy and effective. 

Back to the professional…My formal training in systems work began with an externship at the renowned Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. That hospital is where Salvador Minuchin began to develop his ideas on Structural Family Therapy. It was a very exciting time. The work with families was overwhelming at first, particularly in making the paradigm shift to systems thinking. It soon became incredibly rewarding as I began to see useful changes for the children and adolescents and their families.

Sal Minuchin relocated to NYC and created another private training program, I followed him. We expanded our work with families, and began to develop ways for us to change mental health organizations to be more family friendly and more effective in providing services. The next five years of my life I worked on becoming a better family therapist, learning to think systemically in organizations, and to develop family therapy programs in city and county agencies.  Dr. Minuchin then created the Minuchin Center in New York City. At this point I became a faculty member at The Minuchin Center and I developed a private practice in my home community in  Suffolk County.

During my years at The Minuchin Center I progressed from a faculty member, to a Board member, to serving as the Executive Director. I consulted and constructed trainings in City agencies, private mental health and substance abuse agencies, and for a two year period I worked with the City of Baltimore. The training programs in Child Welfare, Substance Abuse Agencies, Hospitals, and Juvenile Justice all included components of structural change for the agencies to increase effectiveness. 

During this time I was also developing the Family Therapy Institute of Suffolk, in Smithtown, with my husband and practice partner,  Dr. David Byrom. We had a group of 3-5 therapists, and an office manager. We maintained a large practice filled with families, couples, and individuals. We also began agency work. We worked with the Bar Association and the Courts with the beginning of the PEACE Program, which was an attempt to limit conflicts between divorcing and divorced parents. We conducted trainings with Child Protective Workers, supporting changes in supervised visitations.  We also worked with Suffolk County to develop a family based program to keep kids out of Court, and at home, rather than being sent to facilities far from home where there was no opportunity for parent and family involvement. The projects were very successful when a collaborative balance was maintained, and when every sub-group had a voice.

Throughout my professional career, I have dedicated time to train and mentor interns, externs, residents, and other professionals in systems work in medical centers, residential programs and outpatient clinic settings.

Professional Organization and Advocacy Leadership

My early psychology advocacy work was with the National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers. Some of you may remember this group…we raised awareness and attempted to undermine the growth of Managed Care. While we did not stop its growth, we did educate many, including elected officials, through conferences, demonstrations and briefings about what a just system could look like…and learned how difficult it was to get complex ideas into the news cycle. I served as a Board Member, and then as Vice-President.  This work brought me to the Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN). This organization is a national network fighting for health care justice  -  affordable, comprehensive health care for all. I became a Board member to be a voice for Mental Health Professionals.

Also in 1999, I joined the Board of the Suffolk County Psychological Association (SCPA). I served seven years in several positions. I was SCPA’s representative to the NYSPA Legislative Committee.  During that time a group of us collaborated on developing many projects, conferences, and workshops. I developed the “Psychology and Law” Committee, that continues to this day. I learned the power of regions to interface with the community. Through collegial collaboration, we accomplished many outstanding projects, raising the profile of psychologists, and psychology for ourselves and our patients. 

More recently, I became President of the Clinical Division of NYSPA. It was a very active two year Presidency.  During the two years we ran five successful workshops, rewrote our by-laws, started a Conference Committee, and grew our membership by 17.5%. Our workshops focused on clinical issues and practice models. We had a day-long training on forming an Independent Practice Association (IPA). I am planning a Forum on “Practice Models: Pros and Cons”, for 2017 with the support of several divisions. 

While President,  I became concerned by some of the problems the Clinical Division was facing. I found out that other Divisions were having similar challenges. So, I organized and chaired the Division Caucus so that we could help each other find constructive solutions.  One of the problems was officer training. We held a Division Officer Training program to orient new division officers and Council Representatives to the structure and processes of NYSPA; it was very successful, and good for NYSPA. With the support of our current NYSPA President, Dr. Roy Aranda, this caucus led to the formation of the Division Committee. This collaboration has supported many smaller divisions being able to develop their own publicity materials, to grow their membership, and raise awareness of their contributions. I have also worked on Divisions participating in and supporting Lobby Day, NYSPA membership drives, and the NYSPA Convention through the Division Committee.

Another collaboration I have worked on is the Road Shows. Road Shows pair a Division and a Region, to create a presentation to outreach in the Community, and have served to increase collegiality, visibility and membership for both the Region and the Division. I believe these collaborative actions serve to enrich NYSPA. As President-Elect, I would be committed to continuing to develop and support meaningful collaborations.

I am currently on the Board of the Independent Practice Division. This role allows me to continue to  actively support other Divisions with their Conferences. We are supporting the Queens Psychological Association by working on one of their presentations; we are also actively working with the Division of Culture, Race and Ethnicity on their Fall Conference. I  work with Dr. Amanda Spray, Chair of  the NYSPA Membership Committee, personally calling a share of those Psychologists who have not yet renewed their NYSPA membership. 
I believe in collaborative systems, ones in which everyone’s voice is valued, where differences are not only tolerated, but invited as opportunities for growth. I believe relationships, families, and organizations, are enhanced by all being strong, and collaborative….my experiences have shown this to be true.


List of Supporters

We, the undersigned, strongly recommend that you give your vote to Patricia C. Dowds,, PhD as President-Elect of the New York State Psychological Association.

Delrita Abercrombie
Deborah Barbiere
William Bennison

Barry Blank
Peggy Brady-Amoon
Sharon Brennan
David Byrom
Lisa Cane
Frank J. Corigliano
James Dean
Leah DeSole
Adriana DiMatteo
Wendi Fischer
Neil Grossman
Rafael Javier
Deborah Lazarus
Julie Lehane
Bonnee Price Linden
Brian Mahon
Andreas Michaelides
Stephen Migden
Connie Peretz
Suzanne Phillips
Dianne Polowczyk
Evelyn Rappoport
Robert Raymond
Edward Schechtman
Vernon Smith
Amanda Spray
Carolyn Springer
Michael Zentman
Executive Board of the Clinical Division
Executive Board of the Independent Practice Division
Executive Board of the Division of Psychoanalysis
Executive Board of the Division of Women’s Issues
Executive Board of the Brooklyn Psychological Association
Executive Board of the Queens Psychological Association