Dr. Ralph De Palo has dedicated his career of more than 30 years to his core passions – health and mental health. As an Adjunct Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work, where he joined the part-time faculty in 2008, Dr. De Palo conveys that dedication to MSW students whose Clinical Practice education and knowledge base are enriched not only by his experiences but also by his care for the whole learning process.
Dr. De Palo currently serves as the Director of Congregate Care for Archcare Senior Care in the Bronx, managing the organization’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). With responsibility for understanding older adults’ needs and keeping them in their homes, this role builds upon his career-long clinical focus on the developmental lifespan with special attention to older adults.
At Silberman, Dr. De Palo primarily teaches Clinical Social Work Practice as well as courses in Ways of Knowing. His work at Archcare enables him to convey complex, diverse clinical perspectives to his students and shed light on regulatory and practice dynamics that will shape their careers. He centralizes such diversity and complexity in the classroom by teaching students to be “eclectic” with their clinical modalities – which he defines not to mean unusual but adroit, drawing from multiple skill sets and tailoring these to best serve the case at hand. Dr. De Palo also devotes particular care to students’ intellectual and individual growth. He strives to make his classroom an environment in which it is okay to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn from challenges – and one in which humor and good conversation bring learners together.
The opportunity to bring his agency-based professional experience to Silberman students – and Silberman student ideas back to his agency – has forged for Dr. De Palo a sweet spot where he “thrives.” “It is the best of both worlds,” he says, “and I am so grateful to be here. I love the community – the warmth and caring. The people here make me feel so welcome; and I am happiest in the classroom…When students have that ‘Ah ha!’ moment, I don’t get tired of that. I have them too.”