23 Jun 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with NIH Technology and Innovation Executive Dr. Matthew McMahon

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. As the Director of the Office of Translational Alliances and Coordination at the NIH’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Dr. Matthew McMahon uses his psychology background to help academic researchers convert their laboratory discoveries into therapies and cures through entrepreneurship and product development training, seed funding for projects, and mentoring by business and industry experts. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Matthew McMahonSpeaker:

Matthew McMahon, PhD, leads the Office of Translational Alliances and Coordination to enable the development and commercialization of research discoveries funded by the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. McMahon previously created and led the National Eye Institute’s Office of Translational Research to advance ophthalmic technologies through public-private partnerships with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. His previous experience includes service as the principal scientist for the bionic eye company Second Sight Medical Products and as a staff member on the Senate and House of Representatives committees responsible for science, technology, and innovation policy.

Garth FowlerHost:

Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

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20 Jun 2017

Psychology Offers Many Options When It’s Time to Take a Different Direction

Psychology Offers Many Options When It’s Time to Take a Different Direction
Patricia Arredondo, EdD, had been working as an assistant professor for three years at Boston University when she realized she had to re-route her career plans. Even though she had a strong track record of publications and was leading a three-year federally funded grant, a professor told her she was not going to get tenure.

The news rattled her confidence, but also fueled her motivation to seek out alternatives. So, she attended career planning workshops and evaluated her interests and skills. At a guided meditation at one of the workshops, Arredondo imagined what she wanted to be doing in 10 years, and envisioned a job that would allow more creativity and interaction with the public.

That reflection led her to launch Empowerment Workshops Inc., a consulting business focused on helping companies create and implement a diversity strategy in the workplace, often working to increase the presence of women and ethnic minorities. "Each time it was like working with a new client in therapy because every organization had a different narrative to tell, and the variety gave me an opportunity to be creative and adaptable," she says.

Arredondo later returned to academia when she was ready for another transition, and eventually moved into administrative roles at several universities. Her latest position was president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago campus.

Arredondo's story is just one example of a psychologist who for one reason or another decided to make a career change.

"We all experience some type of work transition whether we choose it or not," says Patrick Rottinghaus, PhD, an associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. "The occupational landscape is different now than in the past. Most people shift careers multiple times."

Some are forced to make changes involuntarily when there are layoffs, an organization closes or senior workers are asked to retire, says Nadya Fouad, PhD, chair of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Some make subtle changes by, for example, moving from one practice specialty area to another. Others retire and take on psychology-related volunteer work. Others voluntarily opt to revamp their careers when they start feeling restless or want to gain new expertise.

"Most people who choose to make a change voluntarily have been thinking about it for a long time," says Sue Motulsky, EdD, associate professor of counseling and psychology at Lesley University in Massachusetts. "They may start noticing signs of burnout, such as loss of interest in what they're doing, mistakes and lack of judgment or increased impatience."

Whatever the reasons may be for contemplating a new direction, the prospect of making a career shift can be daunting. Here's some advice from experts in vocational psychology and psychologists who have successfully navigated a transition.

See a career counselor

The process of career transition is not easy, and it is especially difficult to do in isolation, says Motulsky, who maintains a private practice in career counseling in addition to her work as a professor. "This is almost impossible to do by yourself, and a counselor will help you start the journey of exploring your options."

A counselor can provide self-assessment inventories that will tease out vocational interests, skills, values and life roles, which all come into play when making a career change, explains Rottinghaus. Motulsky also encourages psychologists to consider seeing a career counselor who has a doctorate because he or she will understand what is involved in earning this degree and how that investment of time and money can influence career decisions.

Listening to your frustration can be good

Sherry Benton, PhDSherry Benton, PhD, felt overwhelmed by the demands of directing a university counseling center, but her frustration took her in a different direction.

"I really liked doing therapy and working with students, but I found it intolerable that we didn't have the capacity to treat everyone who needed help," says Benton, who directed the Counseling & Wellness Center at the University of Florida. "If we made students wait a month for an appointment, that could have a significant impact on their well-being."

She searched for models to increase access and capacity, and discovered a tool in Australia that used brief phone contact with a therapist and online educational modules to teach cognitive behavioral strategies. She created her own version of the program, which included interactive online education and a dashboard that enabled therapists to track a patient's progress. For example, therapists could see details of patient entries in the interactive exercises and how patients were rating their behavioral health at different points in time. She tried the new model at the wellness center, and it was so successful that she started a business to market the product.

Benton hired four employees, and TAO (Therapist Assisted Online) officially launched in July 2015. TAO offers online tools for client education, interaction, accountability and progress assessment. For example, the modules include animation and real actors portraying situations that clients can relate to as well as interactive exercises.

"It's really scary and completely worth it," Benton says. "It's satisfying to pursue your dream and make it happen, but it's not easy. I would describe it as a mix of elation and terror."

Be honest with yourself

Robert Youmans, PhD and familyRobert Youmans, PhD, started his career as an assistant professor specializing in applied cognition, but he slowly discovered that the world of academia what not what he had envisioned. Although he enjoyed teaching—first at California State University, Northridge, then at George Mason University in Virginia—it was difficult to find funding in his area of interest, design thinking and processes.

Living on a faculty salary was also trying, and he started consulting on the side to supplement his income. He founded Human Factors Design Consulting and worked with companies that needed his expertise in user experience research. The work was lucrative, and he enjoyed building new products. "It was an odd experience," he says. "On one hand, I had more work offers coming in from companies than I had time to accept, but at the same time I had trouble getting funding to study those areas within academia."

He made numerous contacts through his business, and they would often suggest that he apply for full-time positions at their companies, but he wasn't ready to leave academia. Finally, in 2013 he was open to a career change. He and his wife were expecting their first child, which elevated his sense of financial responsibility. In 2014, he accepted a position as a user-experience researcher in a product area called Streams, Photos and Sharing at Google.

"When I was younger I had these romantic notions of what it meant to be a professor, but the day-to-day of being a professor wasn't always what I had hoped it would be," Youmans says. He knew he would miss teaching, and was nervous about leaving his colleagues and job security, but he hasn't looked back. "Now I'm doing interesting and rigorous science research—and I earn many times what I earned in academia," he says.

Be open to change

Andrew Adler, EdD, had worked as a school psychologist in Nashville, Tennessee, for 28 years when he started considering retirement. He was surprised when a recruiter called to see if he was interested in a job as a mental health clinical director contracted to the Tennessee Department of Correction. He had experience working with students whose parents were incarcerated, and had previously consulted as a psychologist in the Tennessee prison system. So, recognizing he had the right background, he accepted the job in 2012.

"School psychology set me up well for working in a prison," Adler says. "Prisons, like schools, serve all of society and have people with a range of social problems and diagnoses. Inmates are ripe for remedial and rehabilitative support."

Like Adler, Joyce Jadwin, PsyD, started working in the prison system a few years ago. Unlike him, it was her first full-time job as a psychologist. She managed a program for female sex offenders in Ohio, but after a year in the role she realized the work was not a match with her interests.

"I wanted to use skills beyond being an individual provider," says Jadwin, who had worked as a college administrator before she earned her doctorate in psychology. "I was used to making independent decisions and influencing policy and procedure."

Jadwin applied for a role as assistant director of faculty development in the medical school at Ohio University, and got the job. "My psychology training allows me to bring a clinical perspective to my role, which gives me credibility with physicians because I understand what they are going through in the medical world."

Start now

Although it's natural to implement many of these strategies when a job transition is imminent, Rottinghaus urges psychologists to take time to nurture career development each year. He often uses Jane Goodman's "Dental Model," which advises people to conduct a career check-up annually, like a regular visit to the dentist. Taking time regularly to evaluate job satisfaction and reiterate long-term goals can reduce the chances of frustration later, he says.

"Strategically engage with mentors over time, even when times are good," Rottinghaus says. "Once you get out into the workforce, nurture those mentoring relationships so you can articulate your professional objectives. Mentors are there to provide support, and they may have connections if you need to transition into another role or setting."

Without such strategies and an overall plan to guide them, people are at risk of letting others define their career trajectories and reacting to events rather than defining their own future, he says. In fact, most people who make a career transition wish they had done it sooner, says Motulsky.

"If you let yourself explore different options that you are drawn to, you may discover something that will make life more satisfying and meaningful," she says. "I've seen many people go through the career process and find a job that makes them far happier, which is important because most people spend a lot of time at work."

Ready for a change?

  1. Talk to a career counselor to guide you through self-assessment.
  2. Listen to your frustrations since they can lead you to new paths.
  3. Do a gut check. Is this really what you want in your life?
  4. Don't wait. Most people who make a switch wish they had done it sooner.

By Heather Stringer


This article was originally published in the September 2016 Monitor on Psychology

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20 Jun 2017

What Do Superheroes and Psychologists Have in Common? monitorLIVE Event Explores the Intersection of Passion and Profession

Much like superheroes, psychologists often have origin stories—impactful events that have shaped their professional identity and defined their mission. This was a major theme of the June 1st monitorLIVE event in Los Angeles, during which clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast Andrea Letamendi, PhD, shared her origin story that began as a graduate student.

As Dr. Letamendi explained, her origin story was marked by an experience of, “psychic disequilibrium," which occurs when individuals do not see their own identities reflected in their environment. As a graduate student, Dr. Letamendi rarely saw herself represented in her chosen field of psychology—she met few psychologists who shared her cultural background, history of immigration and discrimination, or passions and hobbies, including comics.  This struggle activated her personal supervillain, “Imposter Syndrome.” The villain resurfaced during stressful times such as during comps and dissertation research, making her feel like she did not belong in graduate school or in the field.

She was finally able to defeat the Imposter Syndrome villain with the antidote of being her true professional and personal self. She had been ignoring her love of comic books, which was a large part of her authentic identity. She did not know that the field of psychology offers a variety of career options and many ways to incorporate hobbies and interests into professional careers. She became a true superhero when she combined her passion for comics with her background in psychology to create her side hustle, an extra income stream that allows people to pursue an interest while keeping their full-time job.

Dr. Letamendi shared that side hustles can restore the professional identities of practitioners, helping them remember why they were initially drawn to the psychology field. Side hustles also help with daily burnout and compassion fatigue. She now connects her identity with her psychology background through her podcast, “The Arkham Sessions,” where she analyzes every episode of “Batman: the Animated Series” through the lens of a clinical psychologist. She examines characters and analyzes their behaviors and personalities. Dr. Letamendi’s childhood dream came full circle when DC Comics made her Batgirl’s psychologist in one of its published stories.

The point to a side hustle is not only to make money, but also to fulfill one’s creative passion. This is why Dr. Letamendi’s podcasts are free, in the spirit of “Giving Psychology Away.”

Dr. Letamendi’s mission, shaped by her origin story, is to increase public knowledge of mental health and to encourage help-seeking among people who would not otherwise seek treatment. Although she accomplishes this mission through her daily work, her side hustle gives her the opportunity to live and work authentically.

monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. Keep an eye out for future monitorLIVE events coming to a city near you.

Review photos from monitorLIVE: Los Angeles. This networking event from APA brings together psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline. The featured speaker in Los Angeles was clinical psychologist and superhero enthusiast, Andrea Letamendi, PhD. Dr. Letamendi offered her perspective on fusing a psychology background with a passion to open career opportunities one may never have considered.

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01 Jun 2017

How to Put Yourself Out There

How to Put Yourself Out There

Web-savvy psychologists share the strategies they use to strengthen their Web presence and help patients get the services they need.

A growing number of consumers are finding their health information and checking out their health-care professionals online — and this will only increase as technology and people's comfort in using it increases.

"For most of my younger clients especially, knowing they can learn something about me before they come in is reassuring to them," says Ann Becker-Schutte, PhD, a private practitioner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Even when clients find out about you through a referral, one of the first things they do is check out your website, says Dan Hinmon, community director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. "It's important for providers to make sure their site looks professional, that all information is current and that it includes the information clients are looking for," Hinmon says. "Put yourself in the place of your client and ask, ‘What would I really want to know about this psychologist before I make an appointment?' and make sure that question is answered on your home page."

So how do you develop your professional identity online so clients can find you? Here's advice from psychology's experts:

Observe and follow others. First, identify the websites, blogs and social media you admire, says Keely Kolmes, PsyD, a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist who has maintained an active professional website and blog since 2008. Figure out whom you want to emulate, be it other psychologists or psychological or mental health organizations such as APA. Watch out for the "bad examples," including those who may post possible diagnoses for celebrities, quote their clients or otherwise compromise client confidentiality, she notes.

Build your content. Start educating your public by adding a blog to your website, advises Becker-Schutte. Spend a half hour a week writing a post about new research related to your specialty or about a typical problem you help clients work through in your practice. "If you can blog about what you're already saying 50 times a week in session, it establishes your expertise and gives you content to share on social media," she says. To stay in compliance with APA's Ethics Code, however, it's important that you never put client information out there in any way, she adds.

Don't be intimidated by blog platforms, she says. Many are user-friendly, even for psychologists without Web experience. "If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress," she says.

If blogging feels overwhelming, simply share the posts of like-minded groups, such as APA or the Mayo Clinic, Becker-Schutte says. "Spend 10 minutes a day checking out what's coming through your screen and share those things that are relevant to your practice," she says. "I probably share five to 10 times more from other people than I share of my own because it keeps me active and engaged without having to develop my own content all the time."

Film yourself. Video can be a great way to help potential clients identify with you and ease any anxiety they may feel about coming in for a session, Kolmes says. "It gives a face and voice to a psychologist's website and can help people begin to sense whether they will connect with you," she says.

Nicole Lipkin, PsyD, MBA, owner and executive director of Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services in Philadelphia, has every clinician who joins her practice film a video that explains his or her therapeutic style. "I really wanted to help clients find the right fit," says Lipkin, who is also CEO and founder of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. "Clients love getting a little taste of each clinician's style and it really helps them feel some ownership in the choice they're making about who they want to get help from."

Create boundaries. Be sure to have a social media policy that spells out potential interactions with clients on the Internet. The policy could point out that you won't follow them on social media to maintain confidentiality, and remind them that if they choose to follow you, that may be visible and public information.

"Review the policy with every new client during their first session, and have them sign it to ensure you are all on the same page," Becker-Schutte says.

For examples of social media policies, visit www.drannbeckerschutte.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Ann-Becker-Schutte-Privacy-Social-Media-Policy.pdf and www.drkkolmes.com/docs/socmed.pdf.

Take charge on ratings sites. While you can't erase a bad review on a website such as Yelp or Healthgrades, you can go to these sites and describe your practice in your own words, says Pauline Wallin, PhD, a Pennsylvania clinical psychologist and one of the founders of The Practice Institute, which provides business and marketing resources for psychologists in private practice. "You can also explain in your profile the ethics code you follow as a psychologist — and the reason you will not respond to any reviews," she says.

Kolmes offers another solution. She has developed a feedback survey to enable clinicians to collect satisfaction data from past clients, which then allows them to post the aggregate results of the survey on their website. This can go a long way toward countering bad reviews, Kolmes says.

Improve your SEO. Search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to the strategies you use to get your website or blog noticed by search engines. One way to make sure your practice pops up during searches is to include key search terms in your website description and page titles. For example, if you want to attract people who type "marriage counseling" into the search box, include that phrase in the description of your website and in page titles, even if you consider yourself a marital therapist rather than a marriage counselor, Wallin says. And be sure to include your town or geographic region in your website description since that allows Google to rank your site as a good match when people search for mental health services in your area. 

Also, getting inquiries from other high-ranking sites such as APA's Psychologist Locator or Psychology Today's Therapist Directory helps move you higher in search engine rankings, says Wallin, whose SEO blog provides additional tips on improving your rankings. "The more links there are back to your website, the more that Google thinks you're important."

Get help when you need it. Finally, keep in mind that you don't have go it alone when developing a professional presence online. Decide what you want to do and outsource the rest. Kolmes recommends asking colleagues for referrals for who worked on their sites.

"Knowing when to get consultation on the parts you don't understand can really help you get the most out of your website," she says.

By Amy Novotney


This article was originally published in the February 2016 Monitor on Psychology

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24 May 2017

New APA Data Show Where Practitioners Work

New APA Data Show Where Practitioners Work

Most are in private practice and work with the white, heterosexual and adult population, finds the APA Center for Workforce Studies

Almost three-quarters of respondents to APA's 2015 Survey of Psychology Health Service Providers reported that they collaborated in clinical care with other professionals, most commonly psychiatrists, social workers, physicians and surgeons.

According to the new report from APA's Center for Workforce Studies, the most common form of collaboration was sharing a waiting room with other health professionals, reported by half of respondents. Thirty-nine percent of respondents shared electronic medical records with other professionals. And while only 19 percent saw patients alongside other professionals, 36 percent participated in multidisciplinary team meetings and 33 percent reported integrated treatment plans.

"There's a path toward integration, and a lot of psychologists are taking the first steps down that road," says W. Douglas Tynan, PhD, director of integrated health care at APA.

The increase in team-based care is just one of the findings from the survey, which offers a snapshot of who licensed psychologists in the United States are, how they work and their experience with older clients, cultural competence and team-based care, says report co-author Karen Stamm, PhD, a senior research officer in the center. More than 5,000 licensed psychologists across the country—75 percent of them APA members—responded to the survey. Other major findings include:

Most licensed psychologists are private practitioners. Consistent with past findings, most licensed psychologists are working in private practice: 45 percent of respondents cited private practices as their primary work setting (see chart). Clinical psychology was by far the primary specialty most often cited.

Respondents spent a mean of 36 hours weekly working at their primary positions, with half of that time devoted to providing direct care to clients. Respondents spent seven hours on administrative tasks each week, four hours on teaching and research, two hours on clinical supervision and an hour on other services.

Licensed psychologists are mostly treating white, heterosexual, adult populations. About 96 percent of respondents reported that they provide services frequently or very frequently to white clients. Just 38 percent served African-American clients frequently or very frequently and 34 percent Hispanic clients. The vast majority of respondents—83 percent—reported seeing adult clients ages 19 to 64 frequently or very frequently. In contrast, just 23 percent served children and 34 percent served adolescents frequently or very frequently.

Respondents' own demographic characteristics tended to mirror those of their clients, although the median age of survey respondents was almost 58. Almost 88 percent of respond

ents identified as white, for example, and 90 percent identified as heterosexual.

Few practitioners are serving patients age 80 and older. While 37 percent of survey respondents reported serving older adults frequently or very frequently, just 9 percent served the "oldest old"—those 80 and older.

Respondents spent an average of almost nine hours a week providing services to older adults. They spent more time providing psychotherapy than conducting assessments or offering consultations. They also spent much less time—fewer than two hours weekly—providing services to clients' family members.

About two-thirds of those working with older adults are Medicare providers. Thirteen percent reported that they were previously Medicare providers but no longer participated in the program. Almost 18 percent had never participated. Low reimbursement rates were the most commonly cited reason for not participating. Others said they didn't participate in any insurance programs or had caseloads composed mainly of non-Medicare patients.

Respondents were eager to learn more about geropsychology, calling for education on depression, adjustment to medical illness and disability, and grief and bereavement.

Practitioners believe they are prepared to serve an increasingly diverse nation. Almost 53 percent of respondents felt that their doctoral programs had prepared them well or extremely well to work with culturally diverse groups. Another 44 percent felt they were fairly well prepared or slightly prepared to do so. Just 3 percent felt they weren't at all ready.

Respondents' level of knowledge varied, however. More than half said they were not at all or only slightly knowledgeable about working with transgender clients, for example, compared with the 51 percent who rated themselves quite or extremely knowledgeable about working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.

The most helpful resources for learning about diverse populations were books and peer-reviewed journals, respondents said. The least helpful? Graduate training. That's not a slam against graduate training, Stamm explains. Instead, she says, the finding may simply reflect the demographics of respondents.

"The majority of the sample was in their mid-50s, so they're fairly far removed from their graduate training," she says. "They may have changed their practice patterns or emphases over time, so their graduate training is less relevant."

The survey findings point to the need for further research, adds Stamm. One priority area is to determine whether there are enough psychologists to meet Americans' needs. "This report has a lot of information about the supply side," says Stamm. "Now we'd like to focus on the demand."

To read the full report, visit www.apa.org/workforce/publications/15-health-service-providers/index.aspx.

Little diversity

  • 87.8%
    White/Caucasian
  • 4.4%
    Hispanic
  • 2.6%
    Black/African American
  • 2.5%
    Asian
  • 1.7%
    Multiracial/Multiethnic
  • 0.3%
    American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 0.1%
    Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

By Rebecca A. Clay


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