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2019 President-Elect Candidate Dr. Daniel Kaplin

Personal Statement

Hi, my name is Dr. Daniel Kaplin and I wanted to take a few moments to introduce myself and my vision for the association as your candidate for 2019 NYSPA President-Elect.    

Unity: One of my core values is to ensure that NYSPA reflects all psychologists throughout the state regardless of theoretical orientation, geographic region, phase of career, and so forth. In recent times, it seems like we have become fractured as a nation and this has been mirrored in our organization. So, one of my primary goals is to develop a more cohesive organization.  

This can be actualized when we create strong, collegial relationships between the divisions and regional affiliates.  As president, I will enhance greater collaboration through co-sponsoring events, developing programing throughout the state, and ensuring appropriate representation throughout the association. I will also be reaching out to each regional affiliate to better assess its needs.

We can also increase unity by ensuring full representation from the membership on all committees and taskforces. I believe that diversity of ideas will result in better outcomes. We might have differences of opinion at times, but we share the same passion and concern about the field of psychology and psychologists as a whole.

Protecting Practice:As your president, I would like to continue to find ways to protect practice. We are the most skilled clinicians, yet services have been farmed out to master’s level mental health providers.  Moreover, we continue to be underpaid by insurance companies.  I will fight diligently, in conjunction with our lobbyists, to turn this around by highlighting the unique and indispensable skillset that we bring to the table.  

Building Bridges with Academic Psychologists:Moreover, I will utilize my role as president to create more of a home for members of academia. I intend to reach out to every doctoral-granting program in the state to explore ways that NYSPA can be a resource for their faculty and students. This will be achieved by putting a focus on research and practice. Lastly, I hope to continue to draw more interest from students in training programs. In doing so, this will strengthen relationships between scholar-practitioners, academic institutions, and NYSPA. 

Students and ECPs:As a clinician and academician, I acquired a core value of “paying it forward. Part of my passion has been to involve students in research and bring them into NYSPA. This allows them to appreciate NYSPA’s role in representing all members of the psychology community. With this in mind, students and ECPs are our future and have ideas that could strengthen the organization.  We need to do more to facilitate student and ECP growth in the field. As president, I will facilitate the creation of a NYSPA-sponsored searchable database where agencies, training directors, and independent practitioners can post an opening.  This database would not be limited to APA and APPIC accredited sites. Thus, if a clinician wanted to take on a trainee, they could create a listing and be matched with a postdoc. This is meant to augment, not replace, the existing match system.

Diversity:As president, I will also retain a focus on diversity as your president. My involvement with NYSPA has been reflective of my commitment to diversity. I believe that diversity is “the golden thread” that binds us as scholars, practitioners, and people in general.  Creating an environment where views can be respectfully shared through conferences, talks, and in leadership can only serve to optimize our understanding of our clients. Diversity has been and will continue to be a passion of mine that I bring with me into a presidency.

Developing New Leaders/Supporting the Leadership Institute: As an alumnus of the Leadership Institute, I recognize the importance of identification, training, and mentorship of new officers. This program results in fellows becoming officers throughout the organization. As your president, I would be the first fellow to assume this office.  I will continue to invest in this program, as I believe it to be vital to the organization. 

Membership Development:I believe that the aforementioned initiatives will increase membership. My hope is that we not only increase membership by 10%, but we increase representation so that all divisions and regional affiliates have full slates.

NYSPA’s current organizational structure promotes remarkable exchange of ideas and fosters democracy. Like any organization, there is room for growth and development. I have had the opportunity to watch the amazing dedication of past presidents and leaders and the role they have played in the advancement of our profession. With your guidance, as well as my experiences working within the organization, I have created a number of objectives that I whole-heartedly believe to be representative of the desires of our members and that will continue their efforts to strengthen, unify, and empower the New York State Psychological Association.

With this in mind, I ask you for your vote.

Sincerely,

Dan

 

Biographical Sketch

I was born and raised in Atlantic City, N.J. I am the youngest of four children in a secular Jewish family. My father was the ultimate Renaissance man.  He seemed to have knowledge in virtually any area and instilled me with a love for learning that continues to fuel me.  What is most remarkable is that he was self-taught. He was an avid reader and collector of books. My mother made it her commitment to raise us. She was responsible for shaping my character into what it is today. She taught me what it means to give to another person. She gave everything she had to the family and those around us. 

I would be disingenuous if I didn’t recognize that growing up in Atlantic City forced me to be exposed to some of the harshest realities of life. I observed how poverty, drugs, homelessness and prostitution are epidemics that plague communities. That experience has resulted in me taking on an advocacy role early on in my life, and I continue to carry this burden and responsibility with me.

My life would be forever altered in my senior year of high school.  I began to question my purpose in life.  This began my personal search for meaning.  I started to ponder the nature of existence. However, I had no mechanism for exploration.  This changed when I was as Stockton State College (now Stockton University). During this time, I met a Rabbi who would serve as a religious sparring partner.  I challenged him on whether God existed, the veracity of the Torah, and the power of the Rabbis to interpret the text. Throughout this year, I started to become more committed to my faith, but Jewish life in Atlantic City is very limited.

I was encouraged to do a year of study aboard.  I went to Aish HaTorah and continued my spiritual development.  At the end of the first year, I felt that there was still so much to learn.  So, what started as one year became two, three, and four.  This resulted in a Bachelor in Talmudic Law degree.  I also met my future wife and mother of my two children here.  

After marriage, we decided to return stateside.  However, we were expecting and I was still not in a position to financially take care of a child. So, I enrolled at the College of Staten Island and focused on earning a second bachelors degree in psychology.  I had the opportunity to work with Drs. Sarah Berger and Ben Kest.  While working with Ben Kest, he encouraged me to graduate studies in neuropsychology at Queens College. 

Ben Kest played and continues to play an important role in my life. He was influential in getting me a graduate teaching assistantship at the College of Staten Island.  At that time, I had no idea how much I would love teaching.  I thought that I would just be a clinical neuropsychologist. I have been teaching 12.5 years and haven’t looked back. 

However, working in his research lab would prove valuable in teaching me about myself and knowing my limitations.  We were doing research exploring the effects of morphine on pain sensitivity to genetically mutated mice. While this research is valuable, I personally struggled with data collection due to my concern about inflicting pain on the mice. I told Ben that “I don’t think this research is for me” and decided to finish up a terminal Masters degree. 

Not wanting to lose a year, I decided to enroll in Walden University for a PhD in Clinical Psychology. This has resulted in diverse clinical experiences at inpatient, outpatient, community mental health, nursing homes, and in independent practice. I gained an appreciation for the value of utilizing diverse interventions (e.g., CBT, Psychoanalysis, Family Systems, etc.) in clinical practice.  As someone who recently started an independent practice, I appreciate the growth pains that are needed to be successful.

I became more involved in NYSPA around 2011. I was fortunate enough to be part of the second Leadership Institute class. As part of the application process, we were asked to write a 5 and 10-year plan. This exercise was quite remarkable to revisit. I noticed that in some ways, I met these goals.  Yet, in other areas, some of my goals remain in progress.  However, I am proud to see that my focus has not strayed to far from my original vision. 

For example, I stated that I would like to work in the areas of cultural and ethnic minorities and religious studies. So, I became involved in DCRE during that leadership institute class and I continue to honor this commitment. I also noted that I would like to eventually run for a NYSPA-wide office. As can be seen below, I have been involved in over a dozen different NYSPA entities and several external roles with the American Psychological Association and The Association for Psychological Science. These leadership experiences, along with my background giving me the ability to see from many perspectives, make me well prepared to be your president. 

I have spent the last 8 years in NYSPA involved in a number of divisions with dedication.  Balancing my practice, teaching, research, and my NYSPA responsibilities with parenting a teenage daughter and a son on the autism spectrum has been a challenge that I have appreciated.  With each passing year, I have grown and I look forward to encouraging others to take on leadership and mentorship roles and become more involved in NYSPA, as well as the field itself.  

NYSPA LEADERSHIP POSITIONS:

  • Division Representative to NYSPA Council: Division of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
  •  Associate Editor and Contributor NYS Psychologist

Divisional Leadership Positions

  • President: Division of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
  •  Secretary/Treasurer: Early Career Psychology Division
  •  Member-at-Large: Division of Psychoanalysis

NYSPA-wide Committees:

  • Executive Committee
  •  Legislative Committee
  •  Bylaws Committee
  •  Convention Committee
  •  Division Committee
  •  Psychopharmacology Committee
  •  Continuing Education Committee

Presidential Committees: 

  • Executive Director Search Committee
  •  Diversity Committee 
  •  Internship Crisis Committee
  •  Leadership Institute Fellow

Task Forces:

  • LGBTQ Task Force 

Non-NYSPA Organizations:

  • Diversity Delegate, American Psychological Association
  •  Executive board, Association for Psychological Science Student Caucus