Nadine Kaslow, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and chief psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital, recently received the Presidential Citation award from the American Psychological Association (APA) for her work in reaching out to psychology trainees, postdoctoral fellows and training sites in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
After Hurricane Katrina struck, many young psychologists were confronted with the loss of training sites where they had expected to complete internships or postdoctoral fellowships. At least five training programs were either destroyed or disrupted, resulting in terrible hardships for the patients, faculty and trainees at those sites.
In her role as emerita board member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), Dr. Kaslow personally called dozens of psychology training program directors across the United States and Canada to find training programs and fellowships for displaced interns and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Kaslow received the award on February 18 during the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives Meeting in Washington, D.C. She was presented the award by the associationÕs president and by her mother, renowned psychologist Florence Kaslow, PhD.
Dr. Kaslow said the citation came as a complete surprise.
"I thought the council just wanted to take a picture of me and my mother," says Dr. Kaslow, who counseled and worked with at least 17 predoctoral interns and five postdoctoral fellows at 14 different sites throughout the United States and Canada to help rescue their training. "I donÕt think it dawned on me until the president of the American Psychological Association started reading the plaque. It was such an emotional experience for me. These awards are very rare, and when your colleagues recognize you for something you did not do for an award, but because you simply wanted to help others in a time of tragedy, it is really special and meaningful."
Dr. Kaslow said she felt so moved, yet so helpless, by Hurricane Katrina's tragedy that she wanted to do something that would make a difference in a small number of people's lives.
"I felt like I was in a unique position to help psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows," Dr. Kaslow explains. "I basically made it my mission to find every student in the country who had been displaced. I used every method to track them down, find training directors, and reach out to them anywhere I could find them in the country. I felt that in this sea of helpfulness and sadness and despair that I did a good deed for a great group of people."
Richard Weinberg, PhD, internship training director at the Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida in Tampa, nominated Dr. Kaslow for the citation. He applauded her efforts and praised her for helping place a student in his program.
"If not for your efforts in connecting this student with us, we would not have come to know a young woman whose psychological skills are matched only by her reflexive kindness and effortless abilities to tenderly connect with everyone she encounters," Dr. Weinberg wrote to Dr. Kaslow in an email message. "So multiply this times about 20 and you'll catch a glimpse of what your efforts have allowed. You are most deserving of the APA award as well as the gratitude of many."