Media Advisory/Press Release
Lowell Resident, Dr. Arnold Kerzner Receives Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Devotion to Children and Families from MSPP
May 7, 2012–Boston (West Roxbury), MA–—“I haven't worked a day in my life,” says Dr. Arnold Kerzner, a Lowell resident and child psychiatrist. “When you love what you do as much as I do, it isn’t work.” Kerzner, who has spent the past four decades helping children and families, received the 2012 Mental Health Humanitarian Award from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) in recognition of his long time commitment to and professional achievements in the field of children’s mental health. The award was presented at the May 4th MSPP Gala, which also raised funds for training programs for providers of children’s mental health services.
Though retired as Chief of Clinical Services at Human Relations Service, Inc. (HRS), a community mental health center serving children and families in Wellesley, Weston and Wayland, and as psychiatric consultant to Perkins School for the Blind, he is not leaving the work he loves. True to his word, he recently became Clinical Director of Youth Behavioral Services at Lowell Community Health Center and consults to the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative. He also plans to be available for future MSPP programs.
“I would say that my approach is somewhat more relational, collaborative and holistic than most psychiatrists,” says Kerzner, who describes his method of helping children and parents as “down to earth” and a combination of listening, conversation and play therapy.
Kerzner believes two causes of emotional problems in children and families today are “play deprivation” and “time deprivation.” “Children work out their dreams and nightmares, hurts, confusion and conflicts through play, but the demand on kids for structured activity deprives them of this essential element of emotional health,” he says. "Play is a form of self therapy for children. It makes them more resilient.”
And, he says, “Parents often neglect to take time for themselves. They are overworked and over-scheduled. It is hard for them to feel centered if they have no time. Sometimes just giving them permission to take a few hours a week for themselves can make a huge difference in the dynamics of the family. Even one conversation with an empathic listener can decrease stress, and that can change their children’s symptoms as well.”
Kerzner began his medical career as a pediatrician, but quickly transitioned into child and family psychiatry. He is board certified by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Psychiatry and Neurology, and has served as President of the New England Council of Child Psychiatry.
One of his most cherished accomplishments is the 1973 creation of the Boston Institute for the Development of Infants and Parents (BIDIP). After serving 17 years as its president, and continuing to serve as its President Emeritus, Kerzner helped, recently, to transfer BIDIP to MSPP’s Freedman Center on Child and Family Development, where it continues to explore the interactional world of the infant and parent.
“I’ve always loved babies and continue to be fascinated by what goes into creating the healthy bond between infants and their parents,” he says. In 1986, Kerzner received the BIDIP Achievement Award for Excellence in the Field of Infant-Parent Care.”
His interest in parents and infants led to his consultation and on-screen participation in the award-winning video, “Baby Basics,” presently used by childbirth programs and hospitals across the United States.
Kerzner was honored by HRS with its establishment of the Arnold M. Kerzner, MD Annual Community Service Award in 2005, and the Kerzner Chair in Community Psychiatry in 2011. He also received the first President’s Award from Perkins School for the Blind in 2007 and an Alumni Award for Service to Medicine and the Community from his alma mater – University of Vermont College of Medicine - in 2001.
A passionate volunteer, Kerzner and his wife, Joan, have traveled with Global Volunteers to work in Romania, Costa Rica, and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, among others, and he worked to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
After many years in Belmont, the Kerzners, who have two grown children, relocated to Lowell in 2007, and are enamored with their new community. Kerzner currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Merrimack Repertory Theatre.
About MSPP—Founded in 1974 as an independent graduate school of psychology, MSPP provides unique training programs for mental health professionals at the doctoral, master's and certificate level, each designed to immerse students in both academic study and real-life clinical experience. Constantly assessing and evolving to meet the needs of the needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse society, MSPP currently offers programs to train highly skilled professionals to care for Latinos, veterans, children and adolescents and families in a variety of settings, including the schools, the courts, the community and the workplace, among others.