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The Family as Educator

In Focus

The Family as Educator

Blood prevails as mother and daughter now share the same alma mater

Family history can sneak up on you. Case in point: the photo on this page, in which Arielle Farber Shanok(Ph.D., 2007) posed in May with her mother, Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok (Ph.D., 1987), now both graduates of TC's doctoral program in clinical psychology.

It's a photo that once seemed unlikely to ever happen. Though Arielle has long been interested in psychology, she had vowed to seek her own career path. After college, she worked as a full-time teacher and even as a forest ranger in upstate New York. And when she did finally decide to pursue a clinical psych degree, "the last place I thought I'd go was my mom's school. Fordham was my first choice."

Her doubts certainly were not because Mom had been unhappy at TC-'"far from it. Rebecca still gets excited when she talks about her classes with Barry Farber, Rosalea Schonbar, Lois Bloom and Hope Leichter, who spoke briefly at Arielle's convocation.

"Hope always talked about -'the family as educator'"-'"the phrase was the title of one Leichter book-'""and that made a huge impression on me," says Rebecca, who went on to found not one, but three family-centered New York City institutions-'"the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, where she was president during the decade Arielle went to school there, the New York Zero-to-Three Network, and the Institute for Infants, Children & Families, at the Jewish Board for Family and Children's Services, which she still directs.

Yet while growing up, Arielle recalls, "My brother and I used to make fun of Mom's psychobabble." Ah, the cruelty of the young. But somewhere before writing a check to Fordham, Arielle met TC Clinical Psychology Professor Lisa Miller. "I found her interest in spirituality and her open-minded way of viewing research really inspiring. TC also offered me generous support."

At TC, Arielle worked on a study at a school for pregnant and parenting teens, evaluating treatment of their depression with a particular type of psychotherapy. Afterward, she transcribed the interviews for her dissertation, which she wrote with Miller as her advisor.

As of May, Arielle was completing an internship at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and had been hired as Visiting Assistant Professor at the City University of New York's Psychological Counseling and Adult Development Center. The baby Rebecca nursed during her early days at TC is now her esteemed colleague. Hope Leichter's theory holds.

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