1) What is your current occupation?
I am a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Currently, I’m serving as a research therapist for STRONG STAR and the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD (CAP) at Fort Hood. I support two clinical trials of Prolonged Exposure delivered in massed and online formats to active duty service members and veterans. I am also involved in research through the VA and at the National Center for PTSD (NC-PTSD).
2) Where were you educated?
I completed my undergraduate training at the University of Texas at Dallas and my graduate training at Palo Alto University under the mentorship of Dr. Kimberly Balsam. While in graduate school, I completed additional research and clinical training at the NC-PTSD with Drs. Shannon Wiltsey-Stirman and Robyn Walser. I completed my pre-doctoral internship at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX. In my fellowship at UT Health San Antonio, I am honored to work with and receive mentorship from a number of leading trauma researchers and clinicians including Drs. Alan Peterson and Edna Foa.
3) Why did you choose this field?
I started school as a music major, so it only makes sense that I’d become a trauma psychologist, right? Maybe not, but once I made the switch to psychology, I quickly felt most compelled to study the effects of trauma and how to best facilitate healing when trauma led to enduring wounds. I first studied minority stress and interpersonal trauma among minority populations. In graduate school, I then had the opportunity to do research and clinical work at the Palo Alto VA and at the NC-PTSD. This facilitated some shift in my focus to trauma and PTSD among military populations, which allowed me to connect some of my professional and personal values. The most recent shift was from VA service to primarily serving active duty service members. I feel especially rewarded working with active duty service members, as it enables me to potentially intervene most proximally to the stressors.
4) What is most rewarding about this work for you?
I feel very lucky to have found that elusive “balance” between direct clinical care and research. I was always told finding that 50/50 split was impossible and, while it may not be an even split every day, I get to do all I want of both. There is so much going on at STRONG STAR-CAP that’s making a difference in the lives of service members and veterans – by developing and improving treatments available to them and by disseminating these interventions to providers who serve them. I am so pleased to be a part of each of these efforts!
5) What is most frustrating about your work?
I guess the answer to this is the inverse of everything I said in response the last question. There are so many opportunities and so much I want to do but not enough hours in the day (or coffee) to make everything happen right away.
6) How do you keep your life in balance (i.e., what are your hobbies)?
I tryto balance the hours spent in the office with time outdoors. Now that I’m back home in Texas, I visit family as often as I can. The best visits home also include some fishing. I also try to have at least a short trip to visit grad school friends somewhere on the calendar at all times.
7) What are your future plans?
That’s a good question! I’m in the second year of my fellowship now and so am putting an increasing amount of energy into figuring out what comes next. I know that, whatever I do, I will continue to support and provide high quality care to military service members and/or veterans struggling in the aftermath of trauma.