Member since: 1988. Affiliate since 1984.
Occupation: Private practitioner in New York City, clinical consultant to the United Federation of Teachers and adjunct professor at New York University.
Helping teachers: Feder spent the first two decades of her professional career teaching high school English in New York City public schools. Now, she works as a clinical consultant to the city’s teachers’ union. The first program she helped spearhead stemmed from her dissertation, and it provides counseling and dedicated advocates for teachers who have been victims of school violence. Now she’s helping to develop a program that provides free, short-term counseling and referrals to teachers with more common personal and professional concerns, such as troubled marriages and classroom burnout. “Teachers are caretakers, just as psychologists are caretakers, and it’s very easy to fall into a pattern of giving so much you forget about yourself and put your own needs on a back burner,” she says.
Building bridges: As legislative co-chair of the New York State Psychological Association, Feder finds it challenging to get psychology’s concerns heard above Albany’s usual din. So, in 2000, she forged a unique alliance with the New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers — both of which have enormous political clout. The groups now lobby for New York state psychologists as well as teachers. “We have many common issues, as we both have a commitment to the community, to families, children and parents,” she says. As a result of that alliance, a bill that NYSPA spent years advocating for is finally sitting on the governor’s desk, Feder says. The bill (known as A1729 Gottfried) would require hospitals that deny psychologists’ applications for staff membership to state their reasons for each rejection. “It’s a step in the right direction toward hospital privileges for psychologists,” she says.
Favorite reads: As an English teacher, Feder enjoyed engaging her students in discussions about characters’ motivations — especially when the class was studying “The Great Gatsby.” “Students loved talking about the psychology of Gatsby — how he was on a road to self-destruction and how he deluded himself into making decisions that helped him feel powerful but were not in his best interest.” Now, she’s tearing through Steig Larsson’s works, including “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” another book full of characters with rich inner lives.
Outdoor fun: Feder loves being on her feet. She recently spent three days hiking with a friend in Olympia National Forest, near Seattle. “It’s just endlessly beautiful, mountains and lakes and Indian reservations,” she says. “And it was cold! A lot of people back east were scorching in 100-plus degree temperatures while I was sitting by the fire.”
Each month, “Random Sample” profiles an APA member. You may be next.