Dr. Ginnetty, who coordinates clinical internships at SJC Long Island, served on SCPA’s executive board and ethics committee. For the past seven years, he’s also been the chair of their continuing education committee, which grants American Psychology Association (APA)-approved continuing education credits to psychologists and social workers.
“I truly felt taken off guard and humbled,” Dr. Ginnetty said of receiving the award. “I initially turned the honor down, suggesting to the leadership of SCPA that they bestow it upon one of the many other local psychologists who could have as easily — or even more plausibly — been chosen. But the board had already posted the announcement of my having been selected on a list-serv that goes out to more than two hundred members.”
The recipient is chosen after the board receives nominations for the award from the general members. The board then meets to select that year’s honoree.
Serving at SCPA
“Becoming more involved in (SCPA) has also allowed me to exchange ideas with a number of other practitioners in the area, which is a welcome opportunity in a field where one spends many hours in the somewhat isolating environment of solo private practice,” Dr. Ginnetty said.
He noted he would not have become involved in SCPA if it weren’t for Diane Sherlip, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at SJC Long Island. Dr. Sherlip likewise served as a board member, and is an accomplished past president for SCPA.
Dr. Ginnetty said that in his role as chair of the continuing education committee, he oversees the content, pedagogical design and external advertising of the association’s monthly continuing education offerings, ensuring they are in full conformity with the requirements of both the APA and the State Department of Education.
When Dr. Ginnetty first became chair of the committee, SCPA was not yet accredited to offer continuing education for state-licensed social workers. After putting together and submitting an application to the state Department of Education, SCPA became accredited to offer continuing education to social workers.
“I am probably most proud of those accomplishments in the area of continuing education,” Dr. Ginnetty said. “Our getting approval to offer continuing education credits to members of the related discipline of social work has been very helpful to social workers in the area and has also expanded the potential audience for our monthly continuing education offerings.”
Teaching at SJC Long Island
Dr. Ginnetty learned of a teaching position at St. Joseph’s through an ad in the New York Times 31 years ago — “back when professional ‘Help Wanted’ pages were the main place to look for career opportunities,” he said.
“I love everything about the classroom experience, and I value the opportunity to work in a department that has always justifiably prided itself on working closely with students and getting to know them, their goals and the breadth of their outside lives,” he said.
Roughly 15 years ago, SJC Long Island’s psychology department began contacting local agencies to develop relationships and determine if St. Joseph’s students could gain entry-level clinical experience through internships, expanding Dr. Ginnetty’s responsibilities at the College.
It is no exaggeration to say that I feel very strongly each time that my students and I have shared a special, memorable time together and have stood together — however briefly — on sacred ground.” – Paul Ginnetty, Ph.D.
“At the time, I was the person in the department with the most clinical experience, having worked in a number of inpatient and outpatient settings,” Dr. Ginnetty, whose doctoral degree is in clinical psychology, said.
Dr. Ginnetty has served as director of a Catholic Charities mental health clinic in the city, as a staff member of a chemical dependency counseling agency in Nassau County and as a staff psychologist in the student mental health clinic on the campus of Stony Brook University.
“Over the years, with the help of colleagues and students and the cooperation of wonderful professionals in the community, we have been able to expand the internship program so that it offers placement opportunities in over a dozen types of settings,” Dr. Ginnetty said. “Students intern at public schools, developmental centers, court-supervised family visitation programs, domestic violence programs, an emergency hotline, a residential treatment center for female adolescents and a mental health clinic, to name only some of the sites.”
His Favorite Memories at SJC
It occurs each December and May.
“There comes a moment on final exam day when I’ve collected the last of the blue books and I’m finally sitting alone in the classroom that has been a temporary home for me and my students for the past three and half months,” Dr. Ginnetty shared. “I sit there for a while and am invariably flooded with memories of all of the special moments that have taken place in that space — the exciting concepts discussed, the poignant life stories shared, the funny things that have been said (intentionally or sometimes non-intentionally), the skills that have been proudly mastered and relationships that have been formed or strengthened over the weeks.”
It’s clear that Dr. Ginnetty’s passion for his career and for his students runs deep.
“It is no exaggeration to say that I feel very strongly each time that my students and I have shared a special, memorable time together and have stood together — however briefly — on sacred ground,” said Dr. Ginnetty, who studied to be a Roman Catholic priest but postponed his ordination because, he said, he felt called to the lifestyle of marriage and family.
“I like to savor that feeling for a while before I eventually, ambivalently exit that space and wonder what challenges and opportunities the next semester will bring. Life seems to go by quickly when you live it in repetitive cycles of 14 weeks each. Before you know it, you’ve lived through sixty or more semesters, which would be scary were it not for the way that working with young adults somehow perpetually regenerates whatever is still young inside one.”
Advice to Aspiring Psychologists
“Be open to new experiences in your education and training,” Dr. Ginnetty said when asked what advice he’d offer aspiring psychologists. “Try out different things to see which ones seem to offer the best fit for your particular personality style and interests. Keep evolving, even as you strive to find your niche, which is to say become the kind of psychologist that offers you the best opportunities to use your unique and distinctive gifts as a person, be that in the research lab, in private practice, in a state psychiatric facility or in a corporate consulting role.
“There’s the proverbial ’embarrassment of riches’ available to you in our field. Keep your eyes open and be attuned to the one or ones that suit you best.”