- A Professor in the field of Psychology at Parkland College in US
- A former Drug and Alcohol Counselor
My curiosity about people and interest in several areas of research keep me eager to learn more…
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY ABOUT?
In general, psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental process. This means that psychologists design studies and conduct research to lean more about human behavior and how people take in information and problem solve.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO STUDY PSYCHOLOGY?
I have always been interested in watching and talking with people. When I was an undergraduate I studied dance and movement therapy. When I was pulling together the materials to petition for graduation, I learned that I was only two classes away from a degree in Psychology as well. I took the classes which prepared me for graduate work in Psychology.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BEFORE AND AFTER STUDYING PSYCHOLOGY?
Before I began studying Psychology I was a high school student, unsure about what I should focus on in college. Currently I’m a Psychology professor. I don’t think there will ever be an “after” studying psychology in my lifetime. My curiosity about people and interest in several areas of research keep me eager to learn more.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL THINGS TO BE A PSYCHOLOGIST?
There are several different theoretical approaches and practices for working with people that provide a framework for your question. There are also some differences based on the population a person works with. That being said however, any person in the field of psychology needs an ability to see people authentically, an open mind, compassion and clear, strong boundaries.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT MAKE BEING A PSYCHOLOGIST CHALLENGING?
This answer will be different for each person in the field. For me, as a counselor, I could only work with one or a few people at a time and the work was slow. I wanted to feel as though I was making a larger impact so I became a person who teaches others how to work in the fields of education, and psychology.
HAVE YOU EVER GONE TO A PSYCHOLOGIST AND BEEN HELPED BY THE EXPERIENCE?
Several programs require as part of the training that the student be in therapy themselves. This is a vital part of the training process and provides invaluable information about the student and the work that they hope to do. There have been a few times on my own that I have sought counseling and in each case the experience has been positive and helpful.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT BECOMING OVERWHELMED AND BURNOUT BY THE STORIES YOU HEAR?
As an instructor I hear countless stories about the struggles and life traumas of my students. It’s overwhelming at times and I’m limited in how and how much I can help. What I do in those situations is take time to connect with other faculty to see how they’re handling the stress, focus on the things that I can do to help. I also take time for myself to read, meditate or create, and spend time with my family and friends.
ARE THERE ANY COMMON FACTORS TO MENTAL ILLNESS?
Depending on the type of mental illness and the severity of the illness, there are different factors. Life changes and stress can contribute to illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Addictions are a blend of life circumstances and biological variables. They aren’t a choice or a human weakness. Cognitive processing problems can be linked to genetics, life events or injury. Problems with social skills can also be linked to both genetics and environment.
Across our lifespan so much happens. We’re exposed to a wide variety of environments, relationships and life events. Mental illness is not uncommon, however it is under diagnosed due to the stigma of having a mental illness.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL WAYS TO PROTECT PATIENTS’ RIGHTS IN US?
The mental health services that are offered in the US are changing with the new political administration. Some care is connected to persons health plan with their jobs, some is mandated by the school systems or other government agencies. Access to mental health care is connected to where you live, proximity to treatment is important.
ANY BOOKS TO RECOMMEND TO UNDERSTAND PSYCHOLOGY BETTER? (From the Beginner to Upper level)
Many of questions about psychology can be addressed in part by TED Talks. I am including links and titles following my answers. There are also a lot of government and medical resources that contain answers to several of your questions, I am providing links to those as well.
Here are some Ted Talks that I use in my classes to open discussions about the ways that mental health issues might be triggered. Some of the talks give information on current research.
HOW CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AFFECTS HEALTH ACROSS A LIFETIME
THE MYSTERIOUS WORKINGS OF THE ADOLESCENT BRAIN
WHAT DO BABIES THINK?
HOW TO MAKE STRESS YOUR FRIEND
Two websites to check out for more information about the field of psychology.
American Psychological Association (APA)
National Institution of Mental Health
The Scientist in the Crib: What early learning tells us about the mind
What’s going on in there? :How the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life.
The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (By Carol Dweck)
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (By Kay Redfield Jamison)
The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults (By Frances Jensen)
Love’s Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy. (By Irvin D. Yalom)
Anything (By Oliver Sacks, A neuropsychologist)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (A collection of case studies of some of his most unique patients)