I first worked as a school psychologist in my home, Shreveport, LA. Between 1981 and 1985 I served as the primary psychologist for high schools in the area, while also occasionally accessing younger children with special needs. My role involved helping teachers to understand mental disorder in adolescents, conducting thorough assessments of teens who had been referred for learning and/or behavioral problems, and providing psychotherapy for youth who needed it. This experience later helped me to design and set in place school-based interventions in a way that allowed us to use federal grant dollars to help local children who otherwise would not have received services.
During those years, I also maintained a small private practice, conducting psychological evaluations under the supervision of various psychologists in the Shreveport area. These assessments addressed issues such as patient suicidality, diagnostic issues, and treatment recommendations.
After completing my doctorate, I worked for Baptist Hospital in Memphis as a clinical psychologist on medical and rehabilitation units (1990 – 1993). I conducted assessments ranging from simple screenings to full-scale neuropsychological evaluations on patients with injuries/illnesses including spinal cord injury, head trauma, hip fractures, pulmonary diseases, and various neurological disorders. I also provided therapy to these patients in both group and individual settings. During this time I also provided consultation and support for patients preparing for heart/lung transplants. At the same time, I maintained a small private practice to allow me to continue to see outpatients coping with the complications of medical illnesses.
When asked about my clinical orientation, I have to admit I have no ready answer. I believe the single most curative agent in psychotherapy is the relationship between the therapist and the patient. I have used behavioral methods (desensitization, behavioral tracking, exposure therapy, behavioral activation, operant and classical conditioning), cognitive approaches (addressing patient belief systems that are no longer helpful, helping a patient challenge automatic thoughts that limit their lives), and therapy based in existential psychology (meaning making, helping patients deal with the challenge of severe inexplicable losses, working through grief in all forms). I feel blessed to have been part of these patients' lives.