Professor of Psychology
Rafael Art. Javier, Ph.D., ABPP, has been reelected to sit on
the New York State Board of Psychology’s Division of Licensing
Service. Dr. Javier, a 15-year member and former Vice Chair of the
State Board, has served the Division of Licensing Service for five
The State Board is responsible for overseeing the practice of
psychology in New York and for reviewing credentials of individuals
applying for state license to practice psychology. It also handles
consumer complaints against individual psychologists and conducts
disciplinary hearings to determine whether a psychologist has acted
contrary to practice regulations for psychology in the state.
During his tenure with the licensing division, Javier
co-developed a “practice alert,” which later was legislated into a
set of official guidelines for licensed psychologists in New York.
These general guidelines cover issues such as record-keeping,
divorce and child-custody evaluation, explains Javier.
During his 15-year tenure, “Rafael has been involved in every
aspect of State Board work and has inspired everyone with his
enthusiasm, interest in students … and dedication,” says the
board’s Executive Secretary, Kathleen Doyle, Ph.D. ’79, who made
the original recommendation that Javier be elected to the Division
of Licensing Service. Javier’s contributions include “his
guidance for professional practice, fair and just disciplinary
findings, and establishing high, but achievable, standards for
licensure,” adds Doyle, who received her St. John’s doctorate in
professional child psychology and is currently serving her 17th
year as Executive Secretary of the board.
A specialist in psycholinguistics and an expert in bilingualism,
Javier has spent much of his career focusing on ways in which
non-native Americans mentally process and organize their life
experiences. He has found that there are major differences between
the cognitive processes of monolingual and bilingual
“What we have discovered,” says Javier, “is that the brain is
the same across the board — meaning that a brain is a brain — but
that there are different parts of the brain that are more involved
in a bilingual mind when compared with a monolingual mind.”
These discoveries have led to significant changes in the way in
which therapists counsel bilingual individuals, specifically
immigrants, whose major life experiences were cognitively organized
within the context of a foreign culture and language. Thanks in
part to Javier’s research, therapists have learned that bilingual
patients aren’t always able to use English to describe experiences
that they originally processed using another language.
“Memories are often coded in a language-specific way,” explains
In certain instances, he adds, it’s more effective for a
bilingual patient to orally “relive” his experience using his
native language, even if his English-speaking therapist cannot
Javier’s research also focuses on adolescent suicide, moral
development and ethnic and cultural issues in psychoanalytic
theories and practice. He is currently analyzing data that
investigate the effects of community violence on children from
This year, Javier has published his sixth book, The
Bilingual Mind: Thinking, Feeling and Speaking in Two
Languages (Springer), which serves as an amalgamation of his
research and previous writings on this subject to date.
Javier, who runs a private practice and has amassed numerous awards
within his field, says that he was initially attracted to St.
John’s Vincentian mission to serve the poor and disenfranchised
when he arrived in 1986.
“It’s very important to make sure that psychology, as a
discipline, provides answers to questions about treating
individuals from all facets of our society,” he says, This includes
“the poor, the immigrant, the linguistically diverse, the
underrepresented and the disenfranchised” populations, he says.
“By allowing these different individuals to become part of our
personal and psychological discourse, we become much enriched,” he
continues. “Teaching our students the importance of becoming
sensitive to the various and complex issues affecting these
individuals is one of the most rewarding part of being a professor
Referring to the University’s urban location, he adds: “Queens
is so rich in terms cultural representation that it really provides
us wonderful opportunities to understand larger psychological
processes in a more comprehensive manner.”
A Man for All Seasons
Javier serves as Associate Editor of both the Journal of
Psycholinguistic Research and the Journal of Social Distress and
the Homeless. He also serves on the editorial board of the
Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.
He is “a man for all seasons, whose integrity … is a pattern in
his career,” says Robert Rieber, a psychologist and Professor
Emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who
for more than 10 years has served as Javier’s co-editor with the
Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless.
Beginning in 1986 and until recently, Javier served as founding
Director of the University’s Center for Psychological
Services, which provides psychological services to community
residents and training opportunities for graduate psychology
students within the University’s clinical- and school-psychology
programs. He says his goal in developing the Center was to ensure
that psychological services were accessible to those most in need
in our community.
Currently, he is a supervisor at both the Object Relations Institute and
the New York University Medical
Center Department of Psychiatry. He also directs the Office
of Postgraduate Development Programs in St. John’s College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences.
In addition, he directs an international initiative that
explores the psychological implications of adoption — a
“psychological” topic that hasn’t received enough attention from
the psychology community, he says.
“Depending on when you were adopted, it might have serious
implications in terms of how you define yourself and the way you
look at the world,” he says. “We need to discuss these things in
order to ensure that every adopted child is OK.”
The initiative, which he spearheaded 10 years ago, has spawned a
University-sponsored biannual conference, several journal
publications and an official textbook, which Javier calls “the
first-ever comprehensive book on adoption.”