I started to think about a career in psychology as an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University. I took my first psychology class to fulfill a GE requirement, but mostly because I thought a girl I liked would be in the class (she dropped before the end of the first week). The class ended up being one of my favorites for that semester, and I decided to follow it up with some more courses in psychology. I began to develop a keen interest in human behavior and started to consider a career in academia, in order to learn more about why people do the things they do.
As I continued my academic pursuits in psychology, I realized that I had a passion for mental health. While learning about people was interesting and satisfied my curiosities, I also felt a drive to apply my knowledge to benefit the lives of others. I think that I probably had grand aspirations of changing the world for the better, and it felt like focusing on mental health and counseling would give me tools to do that. I decided to apply for graduate programs and enrolled in the University of Denver’s doctoral program in Counseling Psychology in 2008.
For the next several years, I tried to balance full-time school, part-time work, and family life, with varying degrees of success. Thanks to a supportive spouse and frequent guidance from my graduate advisor, Jesse Valdez, I gained valuable training and experience as a graduate student. My training helped me better understand the intersections between mental health and identity, personal development, and social relationships, and instilled a strong multicultural orientation, which affects everything I do today.
Among the clinical training experiences I had in graduate school, I completed a one-year, half-time practicum in psychological assessment at the University of Denver’s Health and Counseling Center. During this time, I received specialized training in assessment for learning disabilities and AD/HD. I loved helping people make sense of why they were struggling academically, with work, or in other areas of their lives. As a result of this experience, while completing a full-time, one-year internship at Purdue University, I elected to complete a rotation in clinical assessment, where I further honed my skills with cognitive, achievement, and personality testing.
After I completed my internship and received my degree, I was offered a position as a faculty member at Brigham Young University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), in August 2013. I accepted this position because of its unique blend of academic and clinical work, satisfying both my interests in teaching and research, as well as my interests in applied psychology. During my tenure at BYU, I developed a workshop for teaching life skills, based on a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) model, and was actively involved in training Student Life personnel about multicultural and diversity issues. I also taught on-campus resident assistants about identifying and intervening effectively when a student shows signs of mental health concerns. I gained a lot of compassion and love for the young people I worked with during my time at BYU.
While I worked at BYU, I also sought opportunities for outside contract work. I worked for a couple of years doing parental fitness and psychosexual assessments for court-ordered clients as part of a contract with the Division of Child and Family Services. I also did some assessment work for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, assessing PTSD and other mental health concerns among US military veterans. I found this work to be incredibly rewarding, and met some people with unique and sometimes heartbreaking stories through these contracts.
I eventually decided that I wanted to build a small private practice, and I did so starting in late 2016. My practice grew quickly, and it became difficult to manage the demands of a thriving practice with my full-time work at BYU. So, in March 2021, I elected to leave my tenured faculty position at BYU to focus on building my private practice. At the same time, I joined Dr. Aaron Allred at UT Excel Psychology and Bristol Health Associates, to resume my work in psychological assessment, and am thrilled to be immersed back in this work, helping people find answers to the complex problems they face.
I don’t have grand aspirations to change the world anymore; I’ve come to find great value in the small ways I’m able to help an individual person with the problems they’re experiencing. I feel very fortunate to be where I am now professionally, and look forward to working with and investing in many more people throughout my career.