About the blog
Welcome to my blog! My mission is to help you succeed and THRIVE in work and life. I started this site to explore those things that make us human and how they affect the way the think and relate in life and work. To accomplish this, I explore current and relevant scientific research on human behavior and psychology and to help you apply it in your life.
My hope is to provide relevant content that speaks to you and can help you in your journey. Take a look and stay awhile. Hopefully, you will find something that empowers, inspires, and guides you towards finding meaning, purpose, and compassion at life and at work. If so, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
I’m a licensed psychologist, program administrator, professor, coach, researcher, writer, speaker, and a recovering attorney. I wear a lot of hats, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe in the healing power of strong coffee, second chances, and a good workout—not necessarily in that order.
Although I have lived in Alabama, Colorado, Oklahoma, Switzerland, and England, I was born and raised in North Carolina. I’m a Carolina Tarheel to the core (unless it’s football season – then War Eagle!). I am fortunate to share my life with Cooper and Milo, the GSD and Tabby cat dynamic duo, my two amazing children, and my incredible husband whom I met through the most fortuitous blind date in the history of the universe.
I have a J.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D in clinical psychology from Auburn University. I completed my predoctoral training at the Center of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the OKC Veteran Affairs Medical Center.
How in the world did I get here?
I love what I do. But that wasn’t always the case. Before that, I worked as an attorney in one of the largest law firms in the country. I worked 70-hour weeks, and made more money than I could have ever spent. I lived near Boulder, Colorado and spent my weekends skiing, climbing, and hiking. Work hard—play even harder. Didn’t matter. Sunday nights were still filled with dread. I hated my job, but didn’t really know it yet.
Of course, I did what any logical person should do—try to “fix it.” I had already tried changing firms, practice areas, and states (North Carolina to Colorado). No dice. So, I moonlighted as a wedding photographer, a consultant, and a researcher. I hired a career coach, psychologist, and even a skiing shaman. You name it. I’ve tried it. I self-medicated with adventure. Scuba diving with bull sharks in Fiji and dolphins in the Caribbean. Skiing double black diamonds and climbing fourteeners in the Rockies. Nothing helped.
One thing that did help was exploring my passion and interest in psychology and human behavior. Even with my crazy schedule, I took online courses, lunched with psychologists, and found some researchers crazy (and awesome) enough to let a corporate attorney work with them. Eventually, I applied and was accepted into PhD programs in clinical psychology three years in a row, but I just couldn’t bite the bullet and leave the money and prestige of law.
And then something happened. While I was on maternity leave in 2009, I was laid off—with most of the rest of my firm, and much of the country. In the wake of a global financial meltdown with a new baby and a house payment—I was terrified. But this also left an opening. I seized it. Several months later, I found myself sipping sweet tea and learning to be a healer of souls and self and do stats like a boss.
Now, I find myself where I had always wanted to be. Looking back on it, I realize that what happened to me was a blessing. Something clicked. I finally knew that it was time to jump off the swing. To quote the ever poignant Mick Jagger, when you look back on life, you don’t always get what you planned or wanted, but you might just find “you get what you need.”
The primary goal of my research is to inform evidence-based practice in psychological assessment and treatment with at-risk youth and to promote advances in law, ethics, and policy in these areas. I am currently a co-principal investigator on a grant studying the implementation of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a juvenile justice setting.
I have a special interest in the impact of child abuse and neglect and other childhood traumatic stress on youth outcomes. But not exactly how you would think. Although risk is an important part of the equation, every day I see at-risk teens who have suffered unimaginable trauma with nothing to lose and nowhere to go — completely turn their lives around. Often, their hard work and just one meaningful connection with a caring adult can be enough. Amazing. I explore those factors that can promote resilience in youth and their families and how treatment — both treatment method and therapist characteristics impact outcomes.