Points of Pride

Making My Mark on an Emerging Field

Posted on Wed, Apr 15, 2009
Jon Cabiria 024

By Jon Cabiria, PhD (Media Psychology ’08)

My professional life encompasses four domains: consulting, research, public speaking, and teaching. My focus is on identity redevelopment using various mediated environments. I utilize online social networks to help individuals and corporations reinvent themselves. My research is considered groundbreaking because it shows how positive virtual experiences can transfer to the real world. Thanks to my experience at Fielding, I also speak internationally and have taught at UCLA, Baker College, Walden University, and Pennsylvania Institute of Technology.

While at Fielding, I focused my doctoral research on the online world of Second Life. This virtual world is an online meeting place where members create representations of their idealized selves and socialize, conduct business, engage in research, and hold classes, all in real time. One of my studies focused on marginalized people as they found communities of similar others in virtual environments. The resulting positive effects carried over into their real lives, suggesting that the virtual world can be useful in redevelopmental processes.    


I decided to pursue a doctoral degree because I had come to realize that the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I was accepted into three programs but chose Fielding because it was flexible, had a great reputation, was accredited by the American Psychological Association, and the media psychology program allowed me to make my mark on an emerging field. Fielding provided the space and support for exploration and discovery.


Fielding was one giant “aha” experience spread out over time. Learning should be a transformative process. I can say, unequivocally, that I was transformed. I came to Fielding seeking to fill gaps in knowledge, and came out with more knowledge, more skills, and more opportunities than I ever imagined before entering the program. Since graduating, the opportunities to achieve my goals have only increased, and the timeline to achieve them has been remarkably shorter. I now face the enviable dilemma of how to choose from so many excellent opportunities.


Tags: Media psychology, Second Life, APA Division 48, APA, Transformational learning

'Being A Psychologist Means Being A Healer'

Posted on Mon, Apr 06, 2009

By James G. Schiller, PhD (Clinical Psychology ’08)

I began serving the New York City HIV community at St. Clare’s Hospital in 1990, I was one of the early hospital-based case managers, counseling people suffering from the stigma of Karposi Sarcoma, an HIV-related cancer that left visible marks. In 1993, I co-founded an intensive HIV case management program at Argus Community, Inc., a not-for-profit in the Bronx serving people who are HIV-positive and their loved ones. I now oversee all outpatient HIV and substance abuse mental health services for 1,000 people each year. I am a recipient of the New York Statedescribe the image Department of Health’s Dr. Nicholas Rango Award for Development of Quality Case Management Services and former co-chair of the New York State AIDS Institute Department of Health Technical Assistant Group. I have lectured at Hunter College and continue to provide local and state patient care training.

I have a bachelor’s degree from St. Anselm College and a master’s degree from Hunter College. I served as Fielding’s student body president from 1998-1999.


When I applied to doctoral programs, I was accepted to both Fielding and another school. I chose the more traditional route but, a year later, was unhappy with the large anonymous classes, extreme competition, and minimal student or faculty interaction. I reapplied to Fielding and was accepted. My initial instinct that Fielding faculty members are scholarly, supportive, available, and genuine was correct and kept me focused until I obtained my doctorate. 


To me, being a psychologist means being a healer. Fielding helped me to expand and clarify how I can use my day-to-day assessment and treatment skills for healing. My dissertation attachment research continues to impact my perspective on the bilateral interpersonal dynamics that exist between patients and providers in our field, informing my current research and professional mental health staff training. Fielding provided the venue to both enhance my clinical skills and acquire professional credentials, inspiring me to make more significant contributions in the fields of both mental and HIV health. 

Tags: HIV, psychology, AIDs, adult learning, clinical psychology, healthcare, graduate education

Psychology Program Director Specializes in Addiction Issues

Posted on Mon, Apr 06, 2009

By Marilyn Freimuth, PhD, Program Director, School of Psychology

After many years in private practice, I discovered that I had been overlooking addiction issues in my psychotherapy patients. Subsequent research revealed I was not alone. I have since published two books. Hidden Addictions: Assessment Practices for PsychotherapisMarilyn Freimuthts, Counselors, and Health Care Providers helps health care providers become more adept at recognizing substance and behavioral addictions. Addicted? Recognizing Destructive Behavior Before It’s Too Late is written for professional and lay audiences and explores addiction as a continuum rather than a disease you either have or you do not. I also provide trainings to psychologists and other health care professionals and maintain a private practice.

At Fielding, I chair the School of Psychology and run the Addiction Study Group for students doing research on this topic. Six members of this group co-authored an article on co-addictions, while other members are studying the effect of client characteristics on psychotherapists’ ability to recognize substance use disorders.


After receiving my doctorate, I taught undergraduates at a school that valued individual mentoring, self development, and their relationship. The work was rewarding but difficult because undergraduates had so little background or life experience. Fielding follows a similar educational model, but students have experience and knowledge, so interactions are more collegial and rewarding. I also like Fielding’s openness to the full range of perspectives, compared to other programs that adhere to a specific theoretical orientation.


Prospective students are excited to be in an adult learner environment, but nearly all underestimate the self-discipline needed to balance the demands of life and school in a program that does not require them to show up weekly in a classroom. Yet when students endure, Fielding supports them in becoming scholars and practitioners who think from different approaches. Our students learn that there are no right answers, only great questions and explorations.

Tags: mental health services APA, psychology, clinical psychology