Ever since I took my first psychology class in high school, I’ve known I wanted to be a psychologist. What I didn’t know was how many twists and turns I was going to take.
Of course, all the ups and downs and ins and outs helped to shape me into the professional that I am. I am super grateful to my mentors for gently (and often not so gently) leading me on this path to where I am today.
I’ve always worked with kids and families. Starting in the mid- to late-eighties, during my Ph.D. studies in Salt Lake City I worked with children on an inpatient psychiatry unit first as an attendant and then later as a psychology intern. What a place to learn! I’m still a firm believer that when you work with the toughest of the toughest you learn the most. Primary Childrens Medical Center in Salt Lake was the vortex for pediatric psychiatry for the InterMountain West so we saw just about anything you can imagine in terms of medical issues and psychiatric trauma. Very, very enlightening. It was here also that I first worked in a classroom with several kids who had learning issues.
From there my wife and I moved on to Philadelphia. Again, I was lucky enough to work in inpatient psychiatry for what was then one of the most well-regarded family therapy clinics in the world (The Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center). People literally flew in from every corner of the earth seeking treatment from our clinical teams. I was only there for 3 and a half years but it was the most intensive work I’ve ever done and I learned more in those few years than any other professional experience I’ve had in psychology.
During my next phase of life, in the early to late nineties, I had the great fortune to work with learning differences experts at The Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. It was here, during the next several years, that I really had the opportunity to learn about the state of the art research in brain disorders and “learning disabilities.” It was another invaluable professional experience and deeply informs my work today.
I would bet that some of you were saying to yourself, “Finally, this guy got to the part where he got his education, training and experience with learning issues.” Well, yes, but had a point in telling you my story this way.
The point is that ALL of my education, training and experience informs how I work with children, families and adults with learning issues. You really get an educational consultant PLUS with me. I really don’t like tooting my own horn too much but the depth and breadth of my professional experience really helps me see the whole person and treat the whole person…And I like to think I do it with compassion and kindness. I’ve been so steeped in the diagnostic, medical, pathologically-based model that I really feel like I can 1) break free of that in my own work and 2) give kids, families and others the language and knowledge to do the same. That is truly what I’m all about.
Once again, here’s my credo: You are not a diagnostic code. And you are not a fraud. Or broken. You may very well have an interesting set of chemicals floating around inside you but you’ve got to learn how to re-tell your story… and play to your strengths. I can help you do that.