Recently, Dr. Armand Cerbone was nominated as one of the five finalists on the ballot to become president of the American Psychological Association ( APA ). If elected this fall, he will become the first out gay president of the APA. His campaign slogan is "advancing all of psychology to advance all people."
Currently, the candidates are campaigning, with the balloting period set to run Sept. 15-Oct. 31. The winner will be announced in early November.
During the APA's annual convention ( Aug. 9-12 ) in San Francisco, Cerbone will be doing his major campaign push to the members.
"Though the APA has approximately 67,000 eligible voters, only 8-10,000 vote in any given year," he said. "If I can secure at least 4,000 in the first round, I would likely carry the election. The APA uses preferential balloting that has five rounds until the winner is chosen."
Cerbone's journey toward psychology was circuitous because he originally wanted to be a priest and work in a Boston parish where he grew up during the '40s and '50s. He is a first generation Italian American. Cerbone studied to be a Catholic priest, but was counseled out of being a priest when he reported a sexual encounter with another man to his seminary confessor.
At first, they sent him to the faculty psychologist who in turn sent him to a psychiatrist. Since the seminary and his parents would not pay for the therapy the psychiatrist recommended, Cerbine opted out of it and instead finished his BA in philosophy. The degree was unaccredited.
After leaving the seminary, Cerbone applied to teach at Catholic high schools that would take his seminary degree. Cathedral High School in Boston's South End hired him and he became the first man to join their faculty of nuns.
"I ran the school dances on Friday nights, bingo on Wednesday nights and formed an oratory club for the students, to augment my income," said Cerbone. "By the time I left the school in 1968 to begin graduate studies in counseling psychology at Notre Dame, I had formed a teachers union with three other male teachers. That union still represents many Catholic schools in Boston.
"I loved teaching those kids and I am sure I learned more than they did. I could not see myself teaching in a high school classroom for the rest of my life, which is why I went back to school to become a psychologist."
Cerbone said that, while he was teaching, he intended to return to the seminary, but when five years of "conversion therapy" did not work, he abandoned those plans. He applied to Catholic graduate schools who would accept his seminary degree and eventually received his doctorate from Notre Dame.
Since 1978, Cerbone has been in a solo practice. He is among the first psychologists to offer affirmative psychotherapy to the LGBT community. Over time, Cerbone began to see gay patients when he became more well known in the LGBT community and started coming out at work.
"I organized a sexual orientation section ( now the Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity ) at the Illinois Psychological Association ( IPA ) to get a voting seat on the governing council," said Cerbone. "From there, I could review agenda to prevent any antigay measures from being introduced or passed unwittingly and add or introduce pro gay measures to the agenda. I also organized a Midwest Association of Lesbian and Gay Psychologists to provide support to lesbian and gay psychologists in the field and to foster affirmative psychotherapy in the mid-1980s."
Cerbone explained that the AIDS crisis during the 1980s and '90s, took a toll on him because he provided care for many positive men. He said it was devastating to him when he would find out that a patient was hospitalized or had died of AIDS.
"On more than one occasion, when that patient did not show up for an appointment, I would learn that he was found dead at home," said Cerbone. "There was no time to grieve; another patient was arriving for his appointment."
Cerbone has done workshops and consultations on ethics, marriage and relationships and human sexuality. He was instrumental in getting a mandatory continuing education law passed so psychologists stay current with research and best practices.
"I got IPA to establish prescriptive authority for psychologists with appropriate training as their number one legislative priority," said Cerbone. "This was a major expansion of our scope of practice that was signed into law by then Gov. Pat Quinn.
"I co-authored the APA's Professional Practice Guidelines on Psychotherapy with LGB Clients and chaired the working group that developed the APA's Policy on Same-Sex Families and Relationships. The guidelines have been translated into many languages and stimulated the passage of similar guidelines in countries across the globe, while the policy was cited by the California Supreme Court, the appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage."
Cerbone chaired the first APA LGB international conference in 2001 that formed an international network of psychological associations, the iPsyNet. This international network promotes pro-LGBT health policies. For iPsyNet's first eight years, Cerbone served as the chair and APA representative.
"Last April, I was invited to provide a keynote address and a three-day workshop on LGBT psychology and psychotherapy to Oriental Insight, a Chinese psychology organization, in Wuhan, China," said Cerbone. "Wuhan is in central China and is often referred to as the Chicago of China, since it is an industrial, communications and educational center in the middle of the country. Attendees came from as far away as Beijing and Shanghai. As much as I taught, I learned so much about China and the growing visibility of LGBTs in those two major cities."
Cerbone has been a longtime IPA member and was its first out gay president from 2004-2005. He held leadership positions at the APA including as chair of the board of directors, ethics committee, the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest and the Committee on LGB Concerns ( now the Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity ). Cerbone has also served a term on the APA Board of Directors.
Additionally, Cerbone served as president of the APA's Division 44 ( Society for the Psychological Study of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity ) and Division 29 ( the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy ). He currently serves as a the diversity representative to the APA Council of Representatives, the organization's highest policy making body, from Division 42 ( Independent Practice ).
Recently, Cerbone has had his work published in medical journals including as a guest editor for the section on the intersection of science and LGBT sexuality in The Journal of Clinical Psychology: In session. In 1998, he appeared on the Bill O'Reilly show opposite an ex-gay psychotherapist.
From the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, Cerbone had academic appointments at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Nova University and the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.
"I would be teaching today if they paid adjuncts enough to make the work worthwile, " said Cerbone. "I miss teaching."
Among the many accolades Cerbone has received over the years include being inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2003, two awards from the APAThe Ray Fowler Award and The Heiser Award, an APA presidential citation and an outstanding achievement award from the Committee on LGB Concerns.
"I have tried to bring the benefits of psychology to our LGBT community in Chicago over the years in ways that were not limited to professional services," said Cerbone. "I served on the board of IMPACT, Illinois' first gay PAC. I served as Vice-chair of the board and sang bass with the Windy City Gay Chorus because it was breaking down barriers to gays in the arts. I was one of three chorus members interviewed on the Studs Terkel Show. Those experiences and others like it taught me much about leadership and activism. I have also consulted with state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and state Sen. Daniel Biss in their successful efforts to outlaw conversion therapy for minors."
When Cerbone is not working, he enjoys spending time with his partner, Mike Zartman, playing with their two Lab/Sheperds on Doggie Beach, using their Movie Pass and dining outdoors as much as possible when the weather permits. July 15 marked their 24th anniversary. Zartman will be campaigning for Cerbone at the APA convention.
See www.armandcerbone.com/ and armandcerbone2020.com/ for more information.