I realize that in reading “About Me,” individuals are not only interested in my professional experience, but also in truly knowing the person with whom they are considering sharing personal, intimate details and who will be challenging them to alter their current course in life. In essence, you want to know, genuinely, “about me.” First and foremost, I am a wife to my husband of 21 years and mother to my two boys, ages 17 and 13. I am a “go-getter” by nature, completing my doctoral degree far below the average length of time because I had no qualms pounding the pavement and looking in abandoned buildings of Hartford, CT to find high school dropouts to complete my data required for my master’s thesis and then spending hours upon hours in the Hartford jail to continue my data collection for my doctoral dissertation about the effects of childhood trauma on personal outcomes. Identifying the effects of histories of child maltreatment on these two disenfranchised populations was incredibly motivating to me and I wanted to be with them in person, looking them in the eye, to let them know that their stories were meaningful and relevant to their current life path.
And thus, as a graduate student over 20 years ago, the foundation of my clinical approach was laid. We are products of our environment and yet, we are not defined by them. While we carry our experiences with us, we remain in control of our own thoughts, feelings, and, ultimately, decisions. Therapy is often necessary to help us regain that control. My research was important to me as a graduate student and using empirically, or research-based interventions, to guide treatment is critical to success. Mental health treatment is not as “hard” of a science as traditional medicine may be; however, for many diagnoses such as OCD and other types of anxiety (for example), we actually do know what is effective and what is not using scientific methods. Psychology is not “talk therapy.” Psychology, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the science of mind and behavior.” Without the knowledge of the science behind behavior, treatment is significantly less effective.
Marcia M. Laviage, PhD