Actually, I wanted to be a teacher. I’ve always loved learning and this goal served me well from ages 5 to 15. Then, I suddenly realized that not everyone shared my passion for learning. I knew that to be a good teacher I would have to reach students who were disengaged, and that was just too far from my personal experience for me to be able to bridge the gap to be an effective teacher. Fortunately, soon after this revelation, I discovered psychology. My problem was solved! Who doesn’t want to learn about themselves? While we all know that it is quite a bit more complicated than teaching people about themselves, I have never regretted becoming a psychologist. To me, it is the most fascinating occupation that I can imagine.
NHPA, with its mission of promoting the advancement of psychology, has been a valuable part of my professional experience. I have been on the Board of Directors since 2007, and during the past decade I have seen NHPA go through various organizational changes, experimenting with different staffing models for our all-important administrative office. I am very excited about our current model of a half-time Executive Director (who has a master’s in nonprofit management) and a half-time Assistant Director (who has a master’s in social work). I think it is the right balance of skills at the right time, not only to continue to build on what previous Executive Directors have achieved, but to further promote the growth and development of NHPA.
We have many challenges facing our profession, our communities, our state, our nation, and the world. At times, the complexity of these issues can be overwhelming and disheartening. What gives me both hope and courage is realizing that I am not alone in facing these challenges. Innumerable times, after we have discussed a daunting problem, a fellow NHPA member has said, “You know, what we can do is ______.” Then I realize that there is an effective action that can be taken, and I am energized once more. This is essentially how we established the NH Board of Psychologists and how we are increasingly gaining a presence in state legislative actions, establishing a solid relationship with the insurance commission, and promoting psychology to the general public.
Every small organization has to grapple with where to put their energy and resources. In the year ahead, my goal is to lead the NHPA Board to develop resources in two key areas, as they will have both immediate and long-term influences on psychological practice in NH:
1. Public policy. I believe that by further increasing our presence and offering our expertise, we can increase the visibility of NHPA and have a positive impact on both state and local issues. NH psychologists are in a unique position to understand the challenges of life in NH both from our clients’ perspectives and often as a small business owner as well. It seems to me that we should be a solid resource for the development and implementation of policies that affect delivering and receiving mental health treatment.
2. Technology. Technology is now a part of mental health treatment, whether we like it or not. From social media, to electronic medical records, and telemedicine, the field is changing rapidly, and keeping up with best practices can be a full-time job! I believe that now is the time for NHPA to step up and lead the way to help determine commonsense strategies so NH psychologists can navigate the challenges and ethically utilize the opportunities that technology presents.
In closing, I still love learning. I have also had many opportunities for teaching, both formally as an adjunct faculty member and informally in my interactions with clients and colleagues. My approach to any endeavor is highly collaborative, whether it is in my office, a meeting room, or a classroom. The way I describe it to new clients is: “You are the expert on your life; I have training and experience in psychology. Together, we will figure out what is working, and how to do more of what works. We will also figure out what is not working so well, and how to do less of that.” As NHPA President for 2018-2019, I am looking forward to working, and learning, together as we continue our mission of promoting psychology.
With warm regards to all,
Celia G. Oliver, Ph.D., Psy.D.
2018-2019 NHPA President