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The University of Alabama

APA President to Speak at UA’s Annual Dinoff Lecture

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Donald Bersoff, president of the American Psychological Association, will be the guest speaker for the annual Michael Dinoff Memorial Lecture on The University of Alabama campus Friday, April 19.

The topic will be “Protecting Victims of Violent Patients While Protecting Confidentiality.” The public lecture will be at 6 p.m. in 1093 Shelby Hall.

APA President Dr. Donald Bersoff is the featured speaker at the Dinoff Memorial Lecture on Friday.

APA President Dr. Donald Bersoff is the featured speaker at the Dinoff Memorial Lecture on Friday.

Bersoff is professor emeritus at the Earle Mack School of Law and adjunct professor of psychology at Drexel University. He received his doctorate in 1965 from New York University and his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1976.

Among other positions, he has directed three JD/Ph.D. programs in law and psychology. He served as a clinical psychologist in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and as first general counsel of the American Psychological Association. He is the author of “Ethical Conflicts in Psychology,” now in its 4th edition, published by the American Psychological Association.

In his lecture, Bersoff will explore alternatives to breaching confidentiality but that protect the potential victims of violent patients.

“In 1976, the California Supreme Court held that psychotherapists have a duty to protect intended victims if their patients’ threats present a serious danger of violence; this is now the law in 33 jurisdictions,” Bersoff said. “With the proliferation of mass shootings in the recent past, the ongoing push for legislation to control access to firearms, and the alleged connection between mental illness and violence, it may be particularly timely to revisit this case. I argue that the case is bad law, bad social science and bad social policy.”

The Dinoff Memorial Lecture is given in memory of Dr. Michael Dinoff who was a professor and director of the University’s Psychological Clinic from 1963 until his death in 1982. He achieved rapid promotions through the professorial ranks based on a high level of research productivity, outstanding teaching, administrative skills, and contributions to the University and to his profession.

Dinoff was a licensed psychologist, a diplomat of the American Board of Professional Psychology, and a fellow of several divisions of the American Psychological Association. As a mentor and colleague, he vigorously upheld the highest standards for ethical and competent psychological practice.

The Dinoff Lecture is possible through a memorial fund established by the Dinoff family and friends. For the lecture, which typically occurs in the spring near Dinoff’s birthday, the psychology department invites an outstanding psychologist whose work reflects the standards of Dinoff.

The psychology department is a part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.