In terms of my educational background, I did both my undergraduate and graduate work in Tennessee. I attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and had a double minor in Sociology and African-American Studies. After graduating, I went to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where I obtained my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. While at The University of Tennessee, I had the opportunity to provide therapy to adults, teens, children, couples, and families.
After completing my coursework at The University of Tennessee, I completed my pre-doctoral internship through the Yale School of Medicine. My training, which took place at the Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, involved the treatment of adolescents and their families in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I also worked within the Dual Diagnosis Partial Hospitalization Program/Intensive Outpatient Program treating adults struggling with both psychiatric illness and substance abuse problems. My work at Yale involved a combination of individual, family, and group treatment.
Upon completing my pre-doctoral training, I moved to the west coast to begin my post-doctoral training at the U.C. Davis Medical Center. Within the U.C. Davis Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, I worked with adults, adolescents, children, and families, providing psychotherapy and psychological testing services. I also completed a one year research fellowship at the U.C. Davis M.I.N.D. (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute. After completing my postdoctoral training, I served as a member of the volunteer clinical faculty at U.C. Davis Medical Center for a number of years, where I taught a seminar on Methods of Personality Assessment to psychology postdoctoral fellows.
In my years since becoming a licensed clinical psychologist, I have worked in a variety of settings. I’ve spent time working in a private practice setting, the prison system, in an HMO outpatient psychiatry clinic, and in nursing homes. In these settings, I've treated people dealing with a number of concerns, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, psychotic symptoms, trauma and subsequent PTSD symptoms, personality disorders, grief and loss, relationship problems, substance abuse, incarceration, financial problems, aging concerns, health problems, death and dying, psychosocial issues, and many others.
In addition to having a broad range of experience in treating various diagnostic categories, I have also worked with every age group in some way, shape, or form, and I am thankful for the richness of experience I’ve gained over the years. No matter the setting, I have always been passionate about providing care in the private practice sector. In private practice, I have the freedom and flexibility to customize the treatment I offer specifically for each person that I see. In this way, treatment feels much more collaborative, as I am able to meet the person exactly where he or she is emotionally, and we are able to build from there. There are absolutely no cookie cutter approaches around here.
My Own Experience With Therapy
Even with these academic and professional accomplishments, one of the most profoundly meaningful aspects of my training was being a client in therapy myself. I don’t care how well trained a therapist is, you can never know what it feels like to be a patient until you are the one sitting on the couch. I think it’s important that everyone do their “work,” especially therapists. We’re all human, and we all have our own stuff. What’s important is that therapists work through their own stuff, so it doesn’t interfere with their ability to provide good care for their clients. Also, going through the process of therapy has given me a full appreciation for the range of emotions that people experience during this journey toward growth and awareness:
- The anxiety of having to make that first call,
- Mixed emotions when walking through the door to the office for the first time,
- Taking the risk to reveal yourself and your vulnerabilities to a virtual stranger,
- Building a relationship of trust with the therapist, believing that he or she is trying to help you become your best self,
- Walking through the dark corners, hidden curves, and unresolved challenges in your life,
- Making the connections between past experiences and present behaviors (the epiphanies are tremendous!),
- Growing, evolving, letting go of hangups, finding joy, and becoming more genuine, authentic, and more at peace with every part of yourself,
- Developing immense gratitude for all the hard work you did, the work you and your therapist did together, and the powerful changes it has created in your life and your relationships.
So, trust me, I get it. I’ve been there. Therapy isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes work. It takes courage. It also takes the risk to explore your vulnerabilities, as this is often the first step to change. There's no doubt about it, all of this can feel like a daunting task to take on. But, pressing through your struggles will yield some pretty great benefits to your overall sense of well-being. Even if you’re afraid to try it out, the rewards (if you stick it out), can be life changing. Your spirit will thank you once you get to the other side.