Alden Cass, Psy.D.
Doctoral Graduate, Center for Psychological Studies
A Helping Hand in a Hurting Economy
Alden Cass’s career choice is as unique as the methodology he applies to other life choices. Cass, Psy.D., is a doctoral graduate of NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies. His decision to attend NSU really came down to South Florida’s uniquely warm weather. Cass had several universities to choose from but, in the end, he wanted a climate that was vastly different from his college town of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Cass truly enjoyed his four years at NSU. He not only worked hard, he also got a chance to hang out at the beach. He studied with Jose Canseco on Fort Lauderdale beach for a psycho-pharmacology exam. Where else can things like that happen to you in graduate school?
Cass is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York City and president and CEO of Competitive Streak Consulting, Inc. He specializes in working with individuals and groups of senior executives, including high-profile CEOs, traders, financial advisers, planners, athletes, musicians, and bankers, helping them to achieve their corporate, career, and personal goals.
Cass decided to focus his career on those who work on Wall Street while sitting poolside one bright sunny South Florida day. Thinking about a topic for his Directed Study Research his thoughts drifted to a friend, who had just started working for a Wall Street brokerage firm, and how his personality had begun to change. In a matter of months, he went from fun-loving to short-tempered, and he was not focused. It did not make sense; Cass knew something was not right. It was then that he decided to do his research on whether clinical levels of depression, burnout, and anxiety were present in Wall Street stockbrokers.
Cass conducted his study using 26 stockbrokers (men ages 22 to 32) from seven of the largest firms on Wall Street. Cass met the stockbrokers after hours in local public places so that their work environment would not affect their responses. His results indicated that 23 percent of them showed clinical levels of major depression and 0 percent of them had ever sought help. 38 percent of Cass’s sample showed sub-clinical levels of depression—not impairing so much that they needed immediate help.
Cass’s study also found recreational use of drugs and a lack of healthy coping skills. Ironically, those who showed the greatest signs of major depression were also very successful financially. However, in a follow up eight months later, 25 percent of those making the most money at the time of the study were no longer in their jobs.
After receiving his doctorate, Cass was able to turn his dissertation into a productive private practice in New York. He found that the brokerage firms were not so willing to have someone come in and begin to analyze their brokers, so Cass decided to call himself an executive coach as opposed to a therapist.
He gets a lot of referrals from wives. They begin to see the changes in their husbands, and they see the husbands becoming more involved in things that are not family-oriented and/or destructive, like drug use and alcohol abuse.
Cass says it’s not necessary to have a background in financial markets in order to understand his clients’ issues; although, he speaks in terminology that they understand. In his practice, Cass uses the phrase “think bullish thoughts, not bearish thoughts” to help his clients. Bullish thoughts are rational and positive, whereas bearish thoughts are irrational predictions, expectations, and beliefs about ourselves, others, and our future. One can positively impact his emotions and consequently, his behaviors, when he can take control over his thought processes and keep them bullish.
Cass’s goal for most clients is to improve their job performance, quality of life, effectiveness, and productivity.
Considered an expert on the use of psychology in the brokerage industry, Cass has appeared on or in the Today show, Fox News Live, New York magazine, Business Week, CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN’s Moneyline, CNN’s money.com, CNBC London, Financial Times, London Financial Weekly, Washington Post Radio, NY Newsday, On Wall Street magazine, E-Trade “On Air,” BBC Radio, Reuter’s Business Newswire, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Absolute Return magazine.