James Loving

James Loving

Clinical Psychology, Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, Widener University, 1998

Current Positions

Clinical and forensic psychologist, owner of Loving Psychological Services in Philadelphia, PA. -Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, Widener Universit

How did you become interested in Personality Assessment?

I entered graduate school with a vague picture of my potential career, with a focus on working as a psychotherapist. I was introduced to personality assessment through my early coursework, in particular a series of courses taught by Dr. Cliff DeCato. Those courses piqued my interest, which came into focus during an early practicum experience, where I used personality assessment and other measures with young children. For probably the first time in my doctoral training, I felt competent and deeply invested in the work I was doing with those kids. Afterward, I became engrossed in personality assessment, thanks especially to a hospital-based practicum experience under the supervision of Dr. Alan Schwartz. That clinical experience and Dr. Schwartz's mentoring, set me on the path toward the work I am doing today.

Tell us about your current job. We are interested in hearing about the different things that people do who work in the area of personality assessment.

Currently, my work consists mostly of conducting evaluations in a Family Court context, working with families in situations of alleged child abuse and neglect. Referral situations vary quite a bit, as do the people involved. It is challenging but stimulating work. Court testimony is often involved, which requires a very different skill set than traditional assessment work.

What are the most interesting and/or meaningful aspects of your job?

Through my Family Court work, my evaluations and recommendations can have a direct impact on decisions that are made for children. Those decisions can impact a child's custody arrangements, family visitation, treatment, and sometimes termination of parental rights. I consider it an honor to be in a position to help make positive decisions for children and parents in these situations.

Tell us how you initially learned about and joined SPA.

Nearing the end of my doctoral training, Dr. Virginia Brabender actively encouraged me to submit my dissertation research to SPA, as a candidate for the annual Mary S. Cerney Award. I was honored to receive that award, I presented my research at that midwinter meeting in Boston, and I have returned to the Society's meetings practically every year since.

How has SPA impacted or benefited you or your career?

As a student attending my first SPA meeting, I was amazed to learn first-hand how genuinely student-friendly and approachable the Society's members are. During the years since, I have built professional relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime, and the annual meeting has become my single most anticipated professional event each year. I am always able to bring home new information and techniques that I can apply immediately to my everyday work, and I return home feeling reinvigorated as I return to my practice.

As we look forward to SPA's 100th anniversary in 2038, what do you think is important in order for the field of personality assessment to thrive and to benefit others?

It seems to me the biggest challenge we face is the need to convey to our mental health colleagues the many clinical situations where our personality assessment tools are both valid and valuable. In addition to work being done in terms of published research, we all have the opportunity to influence our colleagues and their perceptions of personality assessment. This can be done at a grass roots level, through our everyday work and interactions: by providing high-quality assessment work, helping to solve complex clinical dilemmas, and helping to understand people in accurate, rich ways that can move them toward overcoming their problems.

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