1. What motivated you to choose clinical psychology as your career?
I always wanted to be in a field where I could hopefully impact people's lives in a positive manner. During my grade school years, I distinctly remember taking a psychology course and being fascinated by the material. Along with this interest, there were many personal experiences that led me to realize my true calling as a therapist, and I absolutely love it.
2. In doing your dissertation on substance abuse among college students, what was the most troubling information that you learned, and what was the most encouraging information?
There were quite a few tidbits of troubling information I learned while doing the research, but one of them was that many of the treatment programs developed by our nation's universities to combat alcohol abuse simply aren't working and just serve to waste precious resources (time and money). Many students in America need help, and they need effective help, but it doesn't exist at most of our schools. Students will be punished for alcohol or drug use and, in many cases, this does nothing to extinguish the behavior. Developing and implementing effective and targeted interventions is a crucial part of treating our nation's problem with alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses.
The most encouraging information was that many schools are taking the time and utilizing their resources to study this issue and take it seriously. Many schools want to sweep it under the rug because who wants to admit they have alcohol problems at their school?
3. What is one of the most exciting parts about your job?
Hmmmm... it's hard to choose just one, but one of them would be having the honor of meeting a complete stranger and being invited into his/her life. I'm fortunate to be able to learn the intimate details of someone's life and hopefully offer some assistance and help make their life a little better, happier, or easier. Every issue is important to the individual, and what may seem minor to someone else can be paralyzing to another, so being able to alleviate any symptoms is such a fulfilling part of my work.
4. You've covered a diversity of topics in the books you've published so far. How do you choose your subject matter for the books you write?
Many times I write about a topic that interests me or, believe it or not, something that has come up in therapy with my patients. Sometimes a patient will be talking about a certain issue and it strikes me as something I'd like to research more and write about. Otherwise, I like to write about subjects that can help others in their own lives.
5. What projects are you working on in 2016?
I just moved back to South Bend, Indiana and, since I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2009 before doing my graduate work in New England, I'm excited to be back and hopefully help the community which has given me so much. I'm also working on multiple books and am writing more about the history of psychology. Along with my work as a therapist, I've gotten into executive coaching and have found helping business execs to be quite rewarding as well. The field of psychology has so many applications in today's world, and I like being able to apply my experience, skills, and training to many different areas.