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NPA May, 2024 Member Spotlight

Rick McNeese – Sustaining Member/Emeritus

Rick McNeese, PhD

I became a member of NPA in 1985 for several reasons. I had moved back to Nebraska after being outstate for fifteen years and wanted to connect with professional colleagues, to be a part of something bigger, to continue to learn, and help others learn and develop. It was an important time in Nebraska to establish and integrate our profession into full membership into the healthcare community while also maintaining the important educational and research functions of psychology in academia. 

I participated on the NPA Board and on various committees working on adapting to managed care concepts and companies. I also worked on the development and implementation of the Nebraska Internship Consortium in Professional Psychology.  

After receiving a B.S. in Biopsychology at Nebraska Wesleyan University (1971), I went to TCU where I obtained a M.S. and PhD in a joint program between the psychology and chemistry departments.

What has been your biggest professional achievement?
Having the advantage of long history in our profession and having a number of experiences in different roles, my biggest achievement has perhaps been the consistent work in multidisciplinary settings which success depends upon professionals working together. Whether on a college campus, medical residency program, public health, or private practice, I’ve enjoyed the opportunities, challenges, and partnerships in which different perspectives and skills work together to achieve common goals. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and encompasses the complexity of humanity.
What’s a project you’re working on right now? Why is it meaningful to you?
I’m working on me and retirement. It isn’t easy leaving what you enjoy and a large part of your identity. This internal curiosity and drive to contribute hasn’t been easily calmed or shifted. I’m 75 years old, feel 55 and am a work in progress.

What advice would you give to an individual new to their role in psychology/behavioral health?

  1.  Give 100%, knowing 70% of the time you do good work, 20% not so much, and only 10% of the time are you amazing.
  2. A third of the time, there is a solvable problem in front of you. You’ll spend two thirds of the time working with dilemma’s, complex problems which have no solution, but can be managed.
  3. My lifetime has seen unbelievable changes in the family structure and a resulting negative impact on personal mental health. Life was simpler the “middle of last century” when I was born, and we grew up with stable family structure and support systems. It was easier to learn attachment and trust. You who are fresh to this world, are living in a new normal where childhood attachments are less certain, taking this deep uncertainty into adult life. With fewer solid early attachments, we more distrust, loneliness, isolation, personal uncertainty, and search for meaning. Attachment process and disorders, when you look, underlie the issues clients increasingly bring us. Know the context as best you can.
  4. Hank Balters, PhD, a past NPA leader and mentor, once told me what he was going to do as his career winded down. To quote him, “Someday I’m going to send postcards to all my former clients and say, “Sorry, I just didn’t know!”. You will look back someday and see all the advances made and understand. You just didn’t know, but you helped so many!
  5. Cope with relative isolation by developing peer relationships. Ask questions and seek advice whenever you are uncertain. Not knowing is your cue to reach out. And if you think you know, you’re most likely missing something. Stay curious and humble.
What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to, or what’s on your travel bucket list?
My wife is Dutch and we just returned from eight amazing days in Amsterdam and Brussels, had daily walking tours, caught the tulips in full bloom, visited a WWII battle site at Arnhem (A Bridge too Far), day trip to Bruge (capitol of old Europe with amazing cathedrals), took two boat trips on the canals of Amsterdam, one of them on King’s Day with everyone wearing orange! (see pictures below)

Are you currently binge-watching any shows or what is a recent movie you watched that blew you away?

I’m enjoying American Idol, Loudermilk, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Download Member Spotlight PDF: McNeese, Rick


Past NPA Member Spotlights

Mar. 2024 - Gina May

Feb. 2024 - Jody Trejo

Jan. 2024 - Pamela May-Weeks

June, 2016 - Dennis McNeilly

May, 2016 - Pamela Richardson

April, 2016 - Jerry VanWinkle

February, 2016 - Dave Hansen

January, 2016 - Debra Hope

December, 2015 - Mary Fran Flood

November, 2015 – Shannon Black

October, 2015 – John "Jay" Curran

September, 2015 – Nancy Bradford

July, 2015 – Alayna Schreier

June, 2015 – Joe Swoboda

May, 2015 – Mikel Merritt

January, 2015 — Lyndia Madison

December, 2014 — Mark Hald

October, 2014 — Sarah Schaffer

August, 2014 — Brenda Rohren

July, 2014 — Heath Hodges

June, 2014 — April Davis


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