Bellevue University Alumna Pursues Successful Path in Clinical Psychology
When Faigy Mandelbaum considered her options for college, she knew she wanted to study in an environment that would provide her with a secular education while being supportive of her Jewish faith.
“It was important to me that I join a college that was welcoming to me and my religious values,” she said. “Bellevue University maintains a strong collaboration with the Jewish community, which we are very grateful for.”
That collaboration is showcased through Bellevue University’s partnership with Yeshiva Initiatives Educational Programs (YIEP). The customized programs, administered through the University, allow Orthodox Jews to continue their education in an environment that is respectful of their lifestyle and cultural customs.
Mandelbaum’s choice to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science and Human Services at Bellevue University was inspired by her experiences working in a shelter for homeless and runaway youth in the Jewish community.
“I was amazed at the resilience of these teenagers who had gone through tremendous childhood trauma and, with the right therapeutic supports, were able to move toward healing,” she said. “I was curious about the recovery process in trauma, which led me to discover my interests in therapy, applied clinical research, and teaching undergraduate students— the combination of which led me to continue my education for my doctoral degree in clinical psychology.”
Mandelbaum graduated from Bellevue University with a 4.0 GPA in December 2014. She then completed a post baccalaureate in psychology at Brooklyn College before continuing on to earn a master’s degree in clinical psychology at Hofstra University, where she’s a current sixth-year Ph.D. student.
In 2022, Mandelbaum was selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Research Award. The Fulbright Israel open-study award is granted to three individuals each year based on academic excellence, the leadership promise of the applicant, and their potential to both advance knowledge and enhance mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and Israel.
During her ten-month Fulbright fellowship, Mandelbaum studied the impact of childhood trauma on the development of complex-PTSD in Israeli lone soldiers.
It was important to me that I join a college that was welcoming to me and my religious values. Bellevue University maintains a strong collaboration with the Jewish community, which we are very grateful for.
“My Fulbright experience was incredibly meaningful because I was able to collaborate for an entire year with Dr. Rachel Dekel, Ph.D., a fabulous professor at the Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, whose work I really appreciate,” Mandelbaum said. “Dr. Dekel studies how PTSD impacts not only the person who has it, but the family members and spouse of the individual. It has been a tremendously rewarding opportunity to learn from her this past year, and I am hopeful that I will have future opportunities to collaborate with her and her lab.”
Another effort that Mandelbaum is proud of is having the opportunity to represent the Orthodox Jewish community, and more specifically, the Bais Yaakov school system across a wide spectrum of audiences from around the globe, including as a representative of Israel at a Middle Eastern North African Conference hosted by Jordan, where she presented her research on Israeli lone soldiers.
Mandelbaum’s research in general focuses on the impact of childhood trauma on mental health struggles in adulthood.
“Many people who have experienced abuse in their early years find that as adults, they struggle with complex-PTSD, trust difficulties, relationship difficulties, depression and high levels of anxiety,” she explained. “My research aims to improve evidence-based and culturally sensitive therapies to help people find healing.”
This year, Mandelbaum moved to Boston to complete a dialectical behavior therapy-focused internship at McLean Hospital-Harvard Medical School.
Looking further into the future, Mandelbaum hopes to be a researcher, professor and clinician in the area of complex trauma, virtual reality treatment for phobias and trauma, as well as continue her work supporting lone soldiers and lone soldier veterans.
“I am particularly interested in the overlap between neuroscience, technology and psychology,” she said. “I think that over the next few years, the world of neuroscience and technology will increasingly influence trauma treatments. I have had some access to this overlap in my work as a therapist in the Phobia and Trauma Clinic at Hofstra University where I used virtual reality exposure therapy to treat phobias and PTSD symptoms.”
Mandelbaum added, “I would not have reached this point of my education without the foundations that I received during my undergraduate education. I will always be grateful to Bellevue University for starting me on this journey.”