Back to Faculty Directory

Office Hours

M 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
T 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
R 08:00 AM-09:00 AM

Fr. Daniel C. Nelson, O.F.M., a native of Oneida, N.Y., entered the Franciscan Order in 1972 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 7, 1977. A Siena graduate with a Masters in Psychological Counseling from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, he is a licensed clinical psychologist who teaches in the Psychology Department.

Dan is a teaching member of the International Society of Sandplay Therapy and the Sandplay Therapists of America (STA). He currently serves on the Board of Trustees and was past chair. His areas of professional research include the therapeutic use of Sandplay with middle aged and late adolescent males. He is very much in demand for psychological counseling by clients on and off campus.

Degree Program University
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology California School of Professional Psychology
M.A. Psychological Counseling University of Notre Dame

My Siena Experience

My Teaching Philosophy

      Teaching must be characterized by engagement, accompaniment and reverence, qualities descriptive of the teaching act as reciprocal and relational. And frequently, as Henri Nouwen comments: “Teachers and students…give each other the chance to play each other’s roles.” In emphasizing this reciprocal nature of the educational enterprise, the necessary empathy required for appreciating the dual experience of human suffering and deepening awareness of the motivating “numinous” is developed.

                As the majority of my teaching responsibilities focus on clinically based courses, I attempt to provide students the critical opportunity to reflect on and share their own personal experience and development in light of the major paradigms of personality evolution, both past and current. Activities such as reflective journals and shared group exercises in class frequently supplement and expand on classroom lecture and exploration. Digital video recordings of lectures and interviews of major psychological figures and theorists help today’s students connect with the “personality” of the theorist and give them insight into how one’s life experience significantly impacts what one understands and theorizes about human growth. Frequently final papers give students the opportunities to “connect the dots” in their own experiences as they articulate their own theories of personality development and functioning.

What I Love About Siena

My participation in the mission of Siena College, my alma mater, is inextricably linked to my identity as a member of the Order of Friars Minor, the founding community of this academic institution. For me being a college educator is more than a job certainly, even more than a career or profession. It has been quite simply the unfolding, external expression of an internal reality, that of a life-long call to fraternity and service in the Catholic community and world after the manner of Francis of Assisi.

My Favorite Courses to Teach

Given my own training as a clinician, those courses which address the profession of psychology as a helping profession are especially dear to my heart. Engaging students in courses such as Counseling Theories and Techniques, Abnormal Psychology, Theories of Personality as well as the upper level seminars are particularly rewarding.

My Professional Experience

Current Research

My research interests include Jungian theory, Kalffian sandplay theory and practice, the psychology of religion and psychotherapy outcome research.