Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.
Featured this month: Dr. Andrew Berry
Education: UI&U Ph.D. 1998
Profession: Psychologist and psychoanalyst
You might say that Dr. Berry took the long road to his chosen profession as a psychologist and psychoanalyst.
“I barely got by academically in high school,” said Dr. Berry. “I didn’t think I was smart.”
He credits a professor he met through luck as the motivator for his career. “I found my way to Harvard through the back door. Harvard was offering an open admission for a summer extension program and I met Dr. George W. Goethals II. “I got an A-. He convinced me I wasn’t dumb, but I was different. He recognized my passion for psychoanalysis. He influenced me so greatly that I named my son after him.”
When looking for an advanced degree, Union opened a door for him to pursue his academic journey that led to his career.
“Union offered the flexibility of scheduling and gave me the permission to refuse to adhere to conventional thinking. I also remember my fellow students and my committee members; they were wonderful.” After Union, Dr. Berry attended the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology where he earned a second master’s degree and a Psy.D. and later a certificate in psychoanalysis from the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry.
Now a part of a successful practice, Dr. Berry specializes in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder issues in adults, adolescent males, GLBT and veterans. He has advanced training in psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis. He has been licensed since 2002 and has practiced in Kansas and New York.
Dr. Berry was elected to the National Academies of Practice as a Distinguished Practitioner and Fellow. He works on mental health and national health care policy issues.
Recently, Dr. Berry was elected to the position of Regional Vice President of North America of the World Federation for Mental Health, where he continues to advocate for mental health issues suffered by veterans and first responders and to learn from his colleagues around the world to promote the advancement of mental health awareness, prevention of mental disorders, advocacy, and best practice recovery-focused interventions worldwide.
Learn more about Dr. Berry in the Q&A below.
Q. What is it about the human psyche that you find fascinating?
A. The infiniteness of the human psyche is fascinating. When you stop listening to what people are saying, and focus more on how they are saying it, that’s the moment you realize that the human psyche truly is infinite and constantly changing.
Q. Union’s mission is to engage, enlighten, and empower. You engage, enlighten, and empower veterans and first responders. Where does that interest stem from?
A. My father served stateside right after World War II, and my maternal grandfather served in combat. I was fascinated with their stories and I started reading about veterans and what they have gone through.
Q. You did something rarely seen in academic or research conferences. What was it?
A. Normally in a psychoanalytic presentation, another analyst is the discussant. Instead I chose a veteran, which makes the presentation much more experiential than academic, Captain Nate Emery, USMC (Ret’d). We presented “The Interpersonal Psychoanalytic Approach to Working with Veterans” that was published a year ago in Division Review. We have delivered the presentation13 times across the country at analytic institutes and both national and international conferences.
Q. What do you wish people understood about mental health?
A. “I wish everybody could understand that mental health issues are the rule not the exception. Everybody fights with some form or level of anxiety and/or depression throughout their lives. What people need to understand about mental health issues is that the stigma needs to be removed.”
Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?
A. My advice to students is to stick with it. Follow your bliss. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do.
Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
A. Because I barely made it out of high school in 1982 and then getting my first master’s degree from Harvard ten years later, and my second master’s degree and two doctorates after that, these are my greatest accomplishments.
Q. What is your passion away from work?
A. My passions are music, and serving as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. And, I am a proud Freemason.
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