I’m fascinated by studying about why people do what they do, how people make decisions, how your family impacts you as an adult/parent, and most importantly, why some people are so resilient. When life gets hard, what are the strategies that highly resilient people use that help them resolve their problems sooner and with less distress?
My training started with a strong concentration in developmental psychology at the University of Virginia where I earned my undergraduate degree (B.A., High Honors, Phi Beta Kappa). I earned my Masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (minor: Child and Family Development) from the University of Georgia in 1980. My first link with Charleston was in 1978-1979 when I completed an Internship in Clinical Psychology at MUSC Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. My training at UGA and MUSC emphasized the assessment and treatment of a broad range of disorders in children and adults primarily from a cognitive-behavioral framework.
I became really interested in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (which in 1980 was in its infancy) and applied for a post-doctoral fellowship co- sponsored by Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences and the Houston-Galveston Family Therapy Consortium. It was a fantastic learning experience and very much helped to shape my future work. I was able to combine the techniques and strategies I had previously learned with a more comprehensive systems-oriented approach that really attended to the interactions between people. This work made so much sense to me…most of the problems people want to fix occur in their interactions with others so strategies that also help us with improving our relationships are key to living a healthy and satisfying life. I started focusing more on communication skills, ways to promote healthy marriages, parenting issues, and conflict resolution/negotiation skills. Learning about the family life cycle and about the unique challenges facing step-families and families with special needs became another strong interest of mine.
In 1987, I developed an interest in mediation as a tool to help divorcing couples settle their issues in a more empowered and amicable way. I earned over 80 hours of mediation training, and became a founding board member of the Lowcountry Mediation Network. I also served as president of the Charleston Psychological Association. While I continue to be interested in mediation, I currently use this training to help me in teaching negotiation skills and to help me in guiding individuals through high conflict divorce situations.
I achieved my highest academic honor in 1997 when I earned the highest level of certification in my field, the ABPP certification in Clinical Psychology. I am also a Fellow in the Academy of Clinical Psychology. (See abpp.org for more information on this certification.)
I am proud and feel very fortunate that I have been able to blend my professional life with a life focused on family, friends, a healthy lifestyle, and a strong sense of purpose. I have a lot of positive energy and I am willing to share this energy with clients who are motivated to make changes!