5 Crucial Concepts for Working with Sexual Abuse Survivors

5 Crucial Concepts for Working with Sexual Abuse Survivors

The #MeToo movement has exposed powerful men who leverage their positions to abuse and manipulate. The courage these women and men exhibit as they step forward to confront this behavior is inspiring.

May it continue to motivate other survivors to come forward, because as statistics show, roughly 2 out of 3 sexual assaults go unreported [1]. What a jarring reality, especially since nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives [2].

Survivors may have many reasons not to publicize their story. But if and when they do, are we as mental health providers prepared to help? A thorough manual on how therapists can propel them toward recovery is beyond the scope of this article [3], so what follows are 5 concepts to remember when working with survivors of sexual abuse.


Continue Reading
Attention Psychotherapists… You’re Going to Fail.

Attention Psychotherapists… You’re Going to Fail.

And there’s nothing you can do about it! You have to fail. You must fail… If you want to succeed.

To foster a patient who loves himself, warts and all, therapists must accept and own their foibles and follies. To the best of my knowledge, there is no greater strength than the courage to look our demons straight in the eye. This is a question – “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” – you will face at comprehensive exams and internship interviews; my answer always begins, “they are one-and-the-same: my greatest strength is how I have grown from my weaknesses.”


Continue Reading
What I Learned from Failing the EPPP

What I Learned from Failing the EPPP

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is something every psychology graduate student dreads. After spending years in school, hours reading, writing, applying for internship and fellowship, and collecting clinical hours, the day has finally come for that very last step.

Of course, it’s normal to feel anxious about the EPPP. Many have said, “You feel like you’re failing it the whole time you’re taking it, but it will be fine.” Or there’s an optimistic tone of, “You’re going to be fine, you’ll do great! You just need a score of 500 to pass.”

Then there are the aftermath celebrations and Facebook updates: “I passed the EPPP!” Or, “Another step closer to being licensed!”

I found it so rare and uncommon for my peers to speak about the other possibility: What happens if you don’t pass?


Continue Reading
Becoming a Resilient Clinician

Becoming a Resilient Clinician

The concept of resilience has become quite a popular one lately. There are countless articles, workshops, lectures, and even centers that focus on resilience.

But what exactly is it? And from where does it come?

Is it an inherited personality trait predetermined by genetics? Or is it something that can be taught, fostered, and developed? Perhaps more importantly, why do some people seem so much better at it than others?

These are exactly the kinds of questions that have inspired my colleague, Dr. Darlyne Nemeth, and me to probe deeper into the concept of resilience. Our research and experiences eventually transpired into a book, which was recently published.

We described the hallmark of resilient people as being grounded in today, learning how to benefit from yesterday, and imagining themselves in tomorrow. Resilience is not just about surviving, but also about thriving in the midst of challenge.


Continue Reading
The Dual Language Dilemma: Doing Your Best Work With Spanish-Speaking Patients

The Dual Language Dilemma: Doing Your Best Work With Spanish-Speaking Patients

Despite the growing need for Spanish-language mental health services, there is a shortage of bilingual clinicians, as well as inadequate training for them [1,2].

Does this mean you have to brush up on your Spanish to provide Spanish-language services? Not necessarily.

Here are some helpful tips for working with Spanish-speaking patients if you don’t know Spanish. And if you do know Spanish but are hesitant to use it for clinical work, keep reading for tips to help make that transition as smooth as possible.


Continue Reading
Are You Dreading the EPPP? Here’s How to Prepare for It.

Are You Dreading the EPPP? Here’s How to Prepare for It.

The EPPP: 4 letters that will strike fear in the hearts of clinical psychology graduates everywhere!

Developed and administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPBB), the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology is a 225-item test of endurance spanning 4.5 hours (including the 15-minute tutorial).

For many, the EPPP represents one of the last hurdles that must be tackled before they can hang up a shingle outside of their office doors and proudly proclaim themselves to be a licensed clinical psychologist.


Continue Reading
Therapist Burnout & How to Prevent It

Therapist Burnout & How to Prevent It

Ever notice yourself getting a little more irritable than normal? Finding it difficult to interact with colleagues, clients, and even family or friends? Struggling to find empathy and patience for others? This could be the result of therapist burnout. Yes, even therapists get burned out and need to take a step back in order to take care of our own needs.

Therapist burnout happens when an individual’s psychological resources are overpowered by the demands placed on them. It is an extreme kind of exhaustion that can result from working with particularly challenging populations [1].

Not only does burnout cause us to simply feel terrible, but it also contributes to job dissatisfaction and poor job performance. Further, it can lead to frantic job searches, and, at the extreme end, it can result in ethical violations, which may have professional repercussions for the therapist – and may harm the client.


Continue Reading
The Definitive Guide to Financially Preparing for Licensure

The Definitive Guide to Financially Preparing for Licensure

Licensing protects you, the public, and the profession. I appreciate that it exists, now that I have joined the ranks of licensure. However, the pursuit inspired many sighs, groans, and eye rolls between me and my colleagues. Complaints formed for many reasons – cost was (and still is) one of them.

What should you do to prepare – financially, at least – for licensure? Below, I outline seven steps with an estimated time that it will take for each. I will give you concrete suggestions, with real numbers and links included.


Continue Reading
How to Gracefully End a Therapy Session On Time

How to Gracefully End a Therapy Session On Time

Ending a session on time and doing so gracefully can be tricky. There are a plethora of ideas out there of how to end a session on time, such as setting a timer or providing a nonverbal cue, and many of those suggestions may be effective in ending a session on time.

However, very few, if any, address implementation of those techniques fluidly and in a manner that is natural and least disruptive to the client’s process. Why does this matter?


Continue Reading
How to Communicate with Doctors as a Behavioral Health Professional

How to Communicate with Doctors as a Behavioral Health Professional

The first time I worked with a physician was during my training as a suicide risk assessment consultant in a hospital.

My job was simple: give the nice doctor a brief run-through of the patient presentation and make recommendations for treatment. I walked into the doctor’s office, smiled, took a deep breath, and I began to regale them with the tale of my time with the patient and how they made me feel.

After about thirty seconds, my story was cut short.

The doctor shook his head, raised his hand, and said “you’re burning my time buddy, just tell me what I need to do.” Caught off guard and sweating profusely, I managed to stumble through some recommendations before the physician said “sounds great” and turned back to his notes.


Continue Reading