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Dr. Thomas Beckett Ph.D. ’58

Alumni, Professionals


 

Published:

April 6, 2012
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology, Garden City
 

Dr. Thomas Beckett Ph.D. ’58

Alumni, Professionals


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Psychologist

Favorite Adelphi professor: Professor Gordon F. Derner.

Advice to new Adelphi graduates: “Life is about fear and fearlessness.”

No Other Conclusion Than This: Education and Training Are Their Own Rewards

Human movement analysis, a naval hospital, one-way mirrors, and psychiatric wards: what may sound like elements in an absurd play have actually been the cornerstones of Thomas Beckett’s brilliant career.

Dr. Beckett’s educational and career resume clearly shows the value of diverse training. He was drawn to Adelphi’s recently established graduate psychology program by the opportunity to continue working with its founder, Gordon F. Derner, with whom he had collaborated at Columbia University.

Before receiving his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Adelphi in 1958, Dr. Beckett received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. His time at Yale was interrupted when he enlisted in the United States Navy. After Hospital Corps School, he was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, where he became an operating room scrub nurse.

Dr. Beckett has maintained a private practice for nearly 50 years and continues to see select clients today. He has also held consulting and teaching positions with many organizations in the greater New York community, including The City College of New York, New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, Project Create–Southwest Harlem Community Council, Inc., and The Center for Children and Families.

Dr. Beckett pursued advanced training in psychoanalysis at the William Alanson White Institute, where he earned a certificate in psychoanalysis in 1971. Dr. Beckett continues his involvement with the White Institute as a member of the teaching faculty. His course on literature and psychoanalysis has a strong emphasis on works of memoir.

Dr. Beckett found particular satisfaction in a part-time position he held at the Family Mental Health Clinic at Jewish Family Services in New York City. He remembers feeling privileged to join an elite group of professionals in developing innovative procedures and techniques to help treat troubled families, and breaking new ground in supervisory and learning processes through the use of one-way vision rooms and audio and visual playback to enhance the impact of clinical work. This work helped to change the practice of clinical interventions.

In 1979, Dr. Beckett devoted a year to intensive study at the Laban-Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, which culminated in his certification as a movement analyst. His certification paper on the movement dynamics of child abuse involved the use of video-recorded playroom sessions of known abusive mothers with their children, while in a residential treatment setting. Using a value-free observational language, Dr. Beckett was able to describe the characteristics of an abusive relationship, and to highlight its consequences to the child’s development.

In the following years, Dr. Beckett incorporated his movement work with group therapy, to develop unique “movement groups” with clients who had previously participated in traditional talking group therapy.

Today, Dr. Beckett continues to work with private clients and contributes to the ongoing discussions of current trends and issues in psychoanalysis. He lives in Scarsdale with the other Dr. Beckett, his wife Marie Anne, a dermatologist. Of his many accomplishments, he remains most proud of his family, and enjoys spending time with his four sons. Among his favorite words of wisdom is a quote from the American Buddhist nun Puma Chödrön: “Go to the places that scare you, that is where you grow.”

 
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology, Garden City
 
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