Professor Feldman Helps Students Connect the Dots
What do you teach at Simmons?
I teach courses on personality and clinical psychology in the Psychology Department
, which means I work with students majoring in psychology
as well as neuroscience and behavior
, our joint program with biology
. I also get to work with students who double major or minor in psychology to complement their majors in fields like education
and exercise science
What's your favorite class to teach?
I enjoy them all for different reasons. Research in Personality Psychology (PSY 304) holds a special place in my heart. In this class, I collaborate with seniors to conduct original research studies. Some students find research methods and statistics a little intimidating at first. It’s my personal mission to help students discover that the technical side of research can become more accessible and meaningful when they have questions they are passionate about answering.
What's the best thing about the Psychology Department?
We aim to help students customize their educational experience to best match their unique interests and career goals. This means advising students on selecting courses as well as using class projects to explore specific areas of interest. We also offer students opportunities to gain hands-on experience in psychology research in labs on campus and to gain professional experience in clinical and research settings all over Boston through our fieldwork program.
What's one thing you wish people knew about Psychology?
Some people are surprised to learn that not all psychologists are therapists. Across our courses, we focus on the basic research that psychologists conduct on the brain, cognition, emotions and behavior — how each develops across the lifespan and is shaped by our environments, relationships, and experiences. We also emphasize how these research findings have important applications not only for mental health treatment but healthcare more broadly, as well as for fields like education, public policy and business.
Fill in the blank: When I was in college I
was a double major with English and psychology — after a brief and ill-advised stint as a pre-pharmacy major! I did an interdisciplinary senior year project examining how different authors used creative writing as a process for making sense of difficult life experiences. That grew more broadly into an interest in researching how people cope with stress which lead me to my graduate work in clinical psychology.
Fill in the blank: When I'm not teaching I'm
conducting research on how people regulate their emotions and make progress on goals in daily life. I also work one day a week as a therapist in a private practice. Beginning this year, I’ve also been serving as the Chair of the Psychology Department which involves working with faculty, students and colleagues across Simmons on various projects. When I am not at work, I am lucky to get to hang out with my wife and our two incredible sons.
What's your favorite book?
I love books that are funny and also inspire a bit of reflection on life’s big questions like High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby, Where Did You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple, Straight Man
by Richard Russo and A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bryson.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I’ve always enjoyed playing music with friends and family. Most recently, I’ve been having a blast playing bass with a group of Simmons colleagues in a jazz quartet. At the moment, “hidden” is a perfect word for this activity because we haven’t played for an audience yet. Perhaps we’ll find some gigs around campus this year.
What's your favorite quote?
I have two. The first appears in a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn: “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn how to surf.” The other is from John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” I think about these quotes when life is feeling hectic and I'm craving a level of order and predictability that may not be realistic or even all that satisfying in the long term.
What inspired you to make the move to teach at Simmons?
I was struck by the size of Simmons and its commitment to teaching. I sensed it was the kind of place where I could really get to know the students in my classes and do the kind of work I valued as an instructor and researcher. As someone who is also a clinician, I appreciate how Simmons blends liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. I’ve been here for eleven years now and it has proven to be a good professional home.
What's your Simmons moment?
These moments happen whenever I see a student taking something they’ve learned at Simmons and making it their own. There are the big moments like when I get to watch students confidently presenting their research at a conference or when a former students emails to share news about getting into graduate school or landing a job. But then there are the small moments in teaching when you see students connecting the dots between ideas and building towards those bigger moments when it all comes together.