As a Psychologist, and an educator, I cherish any opportunity to talk about mental health and well-being. My travel blogging friends know me as a tech geek, but I’m a Psych geek at heart. I’m dedicating this post to the American Psychological Association’s efforts to raise awareness about mental health. Here’s a “blog party roundup” of blog posts related to Mental Health!
Did you know May is “Mental Health” month?
My degree is in Counseling Psychology, which basically has similar training to Clinical Psychology (with some differences in history and philosophy, but that’s a thesis in itself, so…let’s move on), one the most lay people (that’s you, no offense) are familiar with. I had 3 years of doctoral level clinical training, one in a University counseling center, then 2 years in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital (VA) system-which included a one-year Internship in a Southern California VA hospital (from 98-99). (Side note from A: Loved traveling through California and up to Baja while J was interning in LA. He hardly came back to Texas, I always went to see him. 🙂 I took everyone’s on-call duties at my fancy job at the fancy hospital that I had many long weekends and frequent flyer miles. Sweet eh?)
Right! Back to Mental Health Month! Normally, one with a Counseling Psychology Ph.D. would either become a clinician in a clinic or hospital, providing assessment (that’s testing) and treatment (therapy) of clients/patients, or become an academic in a four-year University, doing research, publishing scholarly articles in journals, and teach a few classes on the side. I know I didn’t want the pressure of having to publish a certain number of articles in order to gain tenure; I saw the stress levels in my dissertation committee faculty, and it just didn’t appeal to me. So, on my path to become a clinician, I caught the teaching bug. The 2 year, community college environment’s focus on teaching appealed to me, and I ended up a community college professor, for 10+ years.
I do miss the joy and challenge of working as a therapist though (oh, my friends are probably giggling at the visual of me as a therapist). I did individual, couples, and group therapy, and worked with clients with various types of disorders. I also conducted psychological testing. You’ve heard of the Rorschach ink blot test? Yup, did that. The MMPI, consisting of hundreds of seemingly odd questions? Yup. The Myers’ Briggs Personality Test, where you end up with a four letter personality type, like ENTJ? Yes, that, too. I was pretty well-trained, so to speak. (Side Note from A: I think we should both retake that test and see what letters we come up with . Should be fun! Let’s have all our friends in Chiang Mai take it too!) Who said that?
I miss working with people in the VA’s pain management clinic, where we utilized psychological techniques (e.g., “biofeedback” and relaxation techniques) to help relieve people with unending migraines or pain from arthritis, or symptoms due to exposure to toxins like Agent Orange. I miss working with military veterans, especially, who sacrificed so much to serve our country, and did not deserve to return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or schizophrenia, which can be a worse curse than losing a limb.
How can I say that? Well, if you lost your leg in battle, you can adjust (eventually) with crutches, prosthetics, and you also have a visible sign that you were injured, which made it easier for others to empathize with your condition. The license plate with the tag, “Disabled Veteran” makes sense when you see the person exiting his/her car. When you have a mental disorder, like PTSD, there are no visible signs to an observer. You look “normal” and healthy, but you are far from it. You can say the same about most mental disorders, like addictions, eating disorders, etc., but it’s severe suffering, nonetheless. Well, enough about my clinical background, here’s what I want to do with it…
My renewed focus on mental health: “It’s not you, it’s me.”
As of today, inspired by Mental Health month, I am returning to writing about topics regarding health, wellness and self-improvement. You will find the posts under the category “Will Teach” on our blog. I am also doing this for me, as a way to revisit one of my core passions, which is Psychology. I feel it’s good timing, as our family travel blog also encompass areas regarding service and volunteerism.
What types of issues and topics would you like to see me write about, regarding mental health & wellness? Comment and let me know!
Here are some of my rough ideas for upcoming posts:
- How to maintain balance when times are tough.
- Psychology of Change
- Psychology of Food.
- The Psychology of spending. Oh yeah…$$
- Debunking the myths of psychotherapy, or “Don’t be afraid of the couch.”
- Can you escape your problems by traveling?
- You lost your full-time job. What now?
- Self fulfilling prophecy. Is it real?
- Men, it’s okay to watch “Dancing with the Stars.” (Err, not sure where that came from)
Here are posts that I’ve already written:
We Say NO to Status Quo.
Live Green. Live Small. Give Large. Take Little.
Take Notice. Take Action.