My first course in the mental health field was An Introduction to Psychology. It was taught by the professor who told us that every day he went to the movies—his psychotherapy sessions. I took every undergraduate psychology course he taught and eventually became his teaching assistant.
After graduating from college with a Bachelors degree with a dual major in Psychology and Speech Arts & Sciences, I was accepted into a Doctoral Program in Clinical & School Psychology. My dissertation focused on identifying desirable characteristics of psychotherapists. In two and a half years I completed a Masters degree and Ph.D.
Months later, I began my first job as a school psychologist and additionally started teaching as an adjunct instructor at a local university. I taught An Introduction to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Understanding Human Behavior, and Counseling Psychology. I was told that teaching was a great way to prepare for the state licensing exam—and it was.
I also began working at a community counseling center, where I gained invaluable clinical experience and accrued the requisite number of supervised hours that I needed.
After becoming a licensed psychologist, I opened a clinical practice. By day I was evaluating and counseling with high school students as a school psychologist, and after school hours I began shifting my focus from teaching to seeing private clients as a clinical psychologist.
My passion for psychology continued to flourish. And I cultivated a unique interest in helping people during times of crisis ... in contrast to traditional crisis intervention that focussed on the aftermath of a crisis.
I was intent on understanding ways of reaching people during the earliest phase of traumatic exposure—potentially preventing acute stress reactions from becoming chronic and debilitating stress disorders.
I invested a year wearing body armor and "riding shotgun" during the night tour with police officers, supervisors, and paramedics in police ambulances. I ultimately developed a protocol aimed at empowering first responders to address the "hidden trauma"—traumatic stress. This led to the creation of Acute Traumatic Stress Management (ATSM).
Eventually I left the schools, enabling me to realize the potential of the many hats I could wear as a psychologist. I became an author, speaker, and traumatic stress consultant for schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and healthcare providers, law enforcement and fire/rescue agencies, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies, and diverse public and private entities around the world.
Recognizing the potential of organizations in addressing emergent psychological needs, I founded several organizations; the most recent being The National Center for Emotional Wellness.
I vividly remember the inception of CuriosityStream, launched by the founder of the Discovery Channel, and thought that a website offering practical information during a crisis would be beneficial—so I created CRISISstream.
I became increasingly engaged working in collaboration with the legal system as a forensic psychologist. I continue to enjoy conducting mental health document reviews, performing evaluations, and serving as an expert witness in court. I also work in education matters—ensuring that schools are providing children with a free and appropriate public education.
For years, I have enjoyed evaluating law enforcement candidates—providing another set of eyes and ears for law enforcement agencies. I also conduct evaluations to determine if an individual is psychologically suitable to be issued a firearm.
My interest in the theatre prompted me to create and mount a theatrical production. The theatre provides a unique opportunity for real people to share real stories of overcoming and becoming. Today, SESSIONS is positioned for the theatre and video on demand (VOD) executives.
As a psychologist, I have been fortunate to wear so many fascinating hats. And with all that I have done, I continue to enjoy "going to the movies"—every day.
Today, I am working to inspire and enlighten a new generation of mental health professionals, through dynamic interactive workshops and presentations.