Who’s Who: Amy Ellis

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1) What is your current occupation?

Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Undergraduate Psychology Department at Albizu University. I am also the Co-Director of, and Statistical Design and Research Consultant for, the Trauma Resolution and Integration Program (TRIP) at Nova Southeastern University. In addition, I am the past Associate Editor and the incoming 2017-2020 Internet Editor for the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (APA Division 29) and I also have a small private practice.

2) Where were you educated?

I am a native New Yorker and I received my B.A. in Psychology with an English minor from Hofstra University; from there, I went on to complete my M.A. in General Psychology with a Preclinical Concentration at Adelphi University. I then moved to South Florida and completed my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University. My predoctoral internship was at Massachusetts Mental Health Center, an affiliate of Harvard University, and my postdoctoral residency was at the Renfrew Center of Coconut Creek, Florida. My training and education has focused on complex trauma, survivors of sexual abuse, and attachment theory.

3) Why did you choose this field?

I didn’t; it chose me! When I was younger (much, much younger) I wanted to be an archaeologist. I was determined to move to Egypt and explore ruins, statues, and tombs. In high school we needed to take a vocational inventory to determine our futures, I suppose, and mine came out with undeniable certainty that I was meant to be in the social services. I cringed at the thought – a psychologist?! Don’t they know that I’m supposed to be an archaeologist?! But upon taking an AP Psychology class, I fell in love with the field and I soon realized that digging in the dirt and peering at ancient artifacts is not so different from sitting in the comfort of an office exploring with someone their thoughts, emotions, and life story.

4) What is most rewarding about this work for you?

I can do so many different and unique things to further my mission of helping people. I love working on a micro level (e.g., clinical practice) and helping individuals reach their fullest potential, overcome and work through incredible adversities, and then return to a rewarding and fulfilling life. I love working at more macro levels too though, which is where research, writing and publication, and advocacy efforts come into play.

5) What is most frustrating about your work?

The lack of advocacy work that therapists do. I am disheartened that most of us are not explicitly taught about why we should, and how to actually, advocate.  I find it frustrating that as therapists we are often taught something else – to be quiet, observe, and take in, but not to speak up. I believe that a large part of our job is to speak up for those who are disenfranchised. It can be as simple as speaking up when we hear a word that is not politically correct or stigmatizing, and it can be as large as marching on Capitol Hill demanding policy and action. Though we are taught tolerance of others, we are also taught intolerance: Intolerance of the status quo, intolerance for the inhumane treatment of any person, and intolerance for those thwarting necessary change. I become frustrated when we lose sight of that and fail to advocate for the underserved and those who have been silenced.

6) How do you keep your life in balance (i.e., what are your hobbies)?

I’d be remiss if I made it sound like I knew the secret formula. I think self-care is an art that we are all striving to achieve. I love to spend time with my husband and two dogs. I read once that doing new and exciting activities increases your perception of a longer life span, so I try to do as many nuanced things as possible!

7) What are your future plans?

Keep doing what I’m doing. I hope to continue my development as an ECP and individual. I hope to continue fostering my passion for working in this field and…to even take a stab at going beyond helping this species and opening up a farm sanctuary.