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Rivier University Hires Dean of Counseling and Psychology to Lead New Division

Rivier University addresses the critical need for behavioral health practitioners with a new division and dean appointment.

Dr. Ralph Sperry - Rivier University Dean of Counseling and Psychology

Dr. Ralph Sperry, Dean of Counseling and Psychology

In response to the critical need for behavioral health practitioners, Rivier University has established a new Division of Counseling and Psychology and appointed Dr. Ralph Sperry as Dean. Dr. Sperry will also serve as the Director of the Doctor of Psychology in Counseling and School Psychology program and oversee the University’s psychology, human services, clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and school psychology programs.

“National research indicates that more than 21% of Americans experience a mental health condition annually, yet there are only enough therapists to support 7% of the population,” shares Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, Rivier’s President. “Millions suffering from mental illness are challenged with long wait times or left without treatment completely. The trend is increasing, and the need for new practitioners is great. Rivier University and Dr. Sperry will play a crucial role in educating and building the behavioral health workforce.”

Dr. Sperry is a licensed clinical psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist, and one of only 51 psychologists who has achieved the American Board of Professional Psychology’s Board Certification in Organizational and Business Psychology. He is licensed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and maintains a private practice providing individual therapy and consultation services as well as holding key leadership roles in organizations supporting mental health services.

Before joining Rivier, Dr. Sperry held CEO positions at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Massachusetts, at Elmcest Psychiatric Institute in Connecticut, and at Pinion Hills Hospital in New Mexico. He has also been the Chief Operating Officer at the May Institute and National Autism Center in Randolph, Massachusetts, and served as Corporate Director of Behavioral Services at Healthbridge Management in Concord, Massachusetts. Most recently, he was the Executive Director of Elliot Hospital’s and Southern New Hampshire Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services, where he led efforts to establish a new 144-bed behavioral health hospital to reduce the extended wait times in their Emergency Departments.

Among his many accomplishments, he has led initiatives that pioneered research in behavior analysis as the standard of treatment for autism and disseminated this research globally. Dr. Sperry has opened special education schools and established special education programs for major school districts, including Boston Public Schools. He was appointed a global expert speaker and consultant to the U.S. State Department and has advised countries around the world in the development of training programs for clinicians and national systems of care.

“In New Hampshire and throughout the U.S., there is a critical need for mental health counselors for children and adults,” Dr. Sperry notes. “Waiting lists for counseling are often 6 months or more. The dramatic incidence of fentanyl and methamphetamine use, and related deaths, demonstrate the need for more addiction counselors. Our goal at Rivier is to train increasing numbers of professionals in state-of-the-art therapeutic approaches to meet these growing needs.”

Dr. Sperry earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from Saybrook University in California, with renowned clinical psychologist Rollo May as his doctoral advisor and dissertation chair. He maintains a lifelong mission to increase access to mental health and addiction services and to promote the highest standards of education and training of behavioral health clinicians to meet the overwhelming need for services.

Rivier’s Division of Counseling and Psychology offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels in human services, psychology, counseling, and school psychology. Degree program applications are accepted throughout the year for upcoming terms. Questions should be directed to the Office of Admissions at (603) 897-8507 or