Who’s Who: Jack Tsai, PhD

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Jack Tsai, PhD

1) What is your current occupation?

I’m a licensed clinical psychologist for the Veterans Health Administration and associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine where I also direct the Division of Mental Health Services Research. For APA Division 56, I am excited to have been elected to serve as your Member-at-Large.

2) Where were you educated?  

I received my B.A. from a small liberal arts college in Claremont, California called Pitzer College which is part of the consortium of Claremont Colleges. I then moved to Indiana for my graduate studies and received my MS and PhD from Purdue University and was located at the Indianapolis campus.

3) Why did you choose this field?  

There’s nothing more intriguing and fascinating than the human mind, both when it is working well and when it is working poorly. I also believe many of society’s problems and barriers to human flourishing are psychological in nature. Psychology has great potential to address problems at micro and macro-levels.

4) What is most rewarding about this work for you?

I enjoy being involved in three major facets of being a psychologist based at an academic medical center- research, teaching, and clinical work. I find what is challenging is also what is rewarding. I’m drawn to difficult patients, tasks, and topics and have been rewarded by the resilience I have built over the years by taking on challenges.

5) What is most frustrating about your work?  

There are daily hassles at work that we all have to contend with. For me, administrative processes and obstacles often frustrate me and the advice I would give to others is to be nice to your administrative staff to overcome these obstacles together. When I do get frustrated, I’m reminded of Einstein’s quote that “every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other [people], living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

6) How do you keep your life in balance (i.e., what are your hobbies)?  

I love physical activities and believe one of the most important things you can do to maintain good mental health is to have good physical health. I regularly play basketball and train Brazilian jiu jitsu. I have an aspirational goal of climbing the Seven Summits, I’ve done two so far.

7) What are your future plans?

Since my research is focused on problems like trauma, homelessness, and incarceration, I hope to develop solid interventions that help people deal with these problems but also to build resilience so they can live as independent, productive members of society. In my clinical work, I plan to continue listening to my clients and to increase my understanding of the human condition. There is so much that we still do not understand about ourselves and those around us.

For Division 56, I plan to continue working to build up the Division and feel invested in its community. I wish to also be involved in APA broadly because I believe it’s such an important organization for psychologists and our work needs to be made known to our fellow non-members and the public at-large.