Aldrich Chan, PsyD

69: Aldrich Chan, PsyD – Well-Known Neuropsychologist, Award-Winning Author of Reassembling Models of Reality, and Founder of the Center for Neuropsychology and Consciousness (CNC) Shares his Experiences and Advice for Building a Successful Career

Dr. Aldrich Chan was born in Canada, moved to Hong Kong for five years, moved to Seattle for two years, then moved to Costa Rica where he lived until he was 17 years old. When he thinks of home, he thinks of Costa Rica although he admits “Costa Ricans wouldn’t say I’m Costa Rican, the Canadians wouldn’t say I’m Canadian.” In this podcast, Dr. Chan shares his academic, professional, and a small part of his personal journey including what inspired him to specialize in neuropsychology and consciousness, how one can decide on which field or branch of psychology to focus, and we learn what it took for him to open his own practice and build a successful career in neuropsychology.

Dr. Chan is a neuropsychologist, author of the award-winning book Reassembling Models of Reality: Theory and Clinical Practice published in the prestigious Interpersonal Neurobiology Series, and Founder of the Center for Neuropsychology and Consciousness (CNC), a practice in Miami, FL that provides neuropsychological and psychological services, education, cognitive remediation, and independent consultation. He always knew that he was interested in psychology and philosophy since high school, but it wasn’t until his second year in college that he specialized in psychology. He states, “by mid second year, I ended up taking abnormal psychology and sensation and perception and these courses really changed the direction of my life because I absolutely fell in love with those courses.” His parents wanted him to get into business and he suggested that he would go the psychology route to get into marketing. He wanted to get into a field where he could “include [himself] in the process of healing and use that knowledge in a way that is practical.” So, he ended up volunteering for many projects.

During his volunteer work in Peru working at some orphanages, Dr. Chan realized a couple of things. First, he realized that he enjoyed working with people and was good at it. Second, his curiosity in sensation, perception, and psychology led him to decide to specialize in neuropsychology. He recalls, “I realized there’s so much information from neuroscience and psychology when put together could be so valuable to so many people and could really help direct treatment.” He then shares his experiences and research while attending Carleton University in Ottawa, ON Canada then at The Chicago School in Los Angeles, CA then at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA where he received his PsyD in Clinical Psychology.

In addition to his practice, Dr. Chan was sought out to teach as an Adjunct Professor for the doctoral program (ranked #5 Best PsyD program) and the master’s program (ranked #1, Best Online Master’s program) at Pepperdine University. He acts as the Course Lead for the master’s program and lectures on such topics as neuropsychology, consciousness, psychotherapy, interpersonal neurobiology, affective neuroscience, and cognitive psychology.

During our discussion, Dr. Chan shares the significant experiences and people that helped shape his journey and career. For example, while working on his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy at The Chicago School, he read a book that really inspired him called The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy by Louis Cozolino. Dr. Chan read other books on interpersonal neurobiology and realized that Pepperdine was well connected and was one of the top schools (if not the top school). He remembers thinking “this is the person I need to work with.” So, working with Louis was the main drive for him selecting Pepperdine for his doctorate. When reflecting on his experiences at Pepperdine, Dr. Chan states “all the faculty there were just absolutely stellar and honestly my experience there was, is heartwarming. It’s an amazing experience and definitely grueling at times.” He continues to share that they put you through the ringer, but it was in a safe environment, and you get so much supervision and amazing mentors, all of whom are “well-seasoned psychologists.”

For those at the fork in the road deciding on whether to earn a PhD or PsyD, Dr. Chan shares his thoughts and experiences regarding this question and why he elected to earn his PsyD in Clinical Psychology. He also shares some of the biggest challenges associated with starting your own private practice. His top three suggestions? First, “make sure you have enough savings to open up a neuropsychology practice because in order to put together the lab, ultimately there are lots of materials and tools that you need to purchase and get all the licensing and all that sort of stuff.” He said it took him about $25,000 to put everything together when starting his practice. Second, be sure that you have a referral stream to help build up your clientele and then decide if you want to accept insurance. If you do, be aware that getting signed up with different insurance panels is difficult as they require a lot of documentation and they don’t pay you very well. Third, be prepared to set up, grow, and maintain your social media accounts as you need to have a good internet presence. Dr. Chan uses his social media platforms as a free education platform to draw in more followers and more people interested in the field. He says you need “to be very proactive, especially if you want to start your own practice…you have to put posts every few days and then you have to see clients and then you’re teaching, and then you’re writing books and all this sort of stuff.”

Dr. Chan discusses his award-winning book Reassembling Models of Reality and says “if you are interested in neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology” then you will like this book because he knitted together these three domains in the book. Interestingly, he originally started drafting the book for the general public but was asked by W.W. Norton & Company to make it more clinical because the Interpersonal Neurobiology series is more of a clinical series, so he went through a bunch of edits and iterations before getting it published. For his efforts, he received the 2023 Nautilus Book Award in the Psychology/Mental & Emotional Well-Being category for this book. Dr. Chan then gives us a glimpse into his new book that he is currently working on called Becoming a Force of Nature which is building off the previous book exploring science, nature, Daoism and how these may intersect with one another as he and others argue “there is a meaning crisis in our society.”

When asked what is one of the most important things he has learned in his life so far, Dr. Chan discusses the idea of eustress and a Stoic saying from Epictetus. He discusses these around the 47-minute mark of our interview.

Connect with Aldrich Chan : LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram
Connect with the Show: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Interests and Specializations

Aldrich Chan assesses and treats psychological and neurological illnesses through neuropsychological evaluations and treatment through cognitive remediation and/or psychotherapeutic services. He has conducted research and has publications on Alzheimer’s, PTSD, Default Mode Network (DMN), memory, imagination, psychotherapy, mindfulness, play and creativity as well as the interplay between, and among, these topics.


Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology (2009); Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Master of Arts (MA), Clinical Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy (2011); The Chicago School, Los Angeles, CA.
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Clinical Psychology (2016); Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA.

Other Sources and Links of Interest

Dr. Aldrich Chan introduces his new book, Reassembling Models of Reality (Youtube)
Dr. Aldrich Chan @ Psychology Today

Podcast Transcript

00:14 Bradley
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology Podcast, where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Aldrich Chan to the show. Dr. Chan is a neuropsychologist, CEO and founder of the Center for Neuropsychology and Consciousness, otherwise known as CNC, and an Adjunct Professor for the doctoral program and master’s program at Pepperdine University. He is also the award-winning author of a book called Reassembling Models of Reality: Theory and Clinical Practice. Today, we will learn more about his academic and professional journey, what inspired him to specialize in neuropsychology and consciousness, and hear his advice for those interested in building a successful career in neuropsychology. Dr. Chan, welcome to our podcast.

01:13 Aldrich
Thank you so much for having me.

01:16 Bradley
Well, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to walk through your journey. I always find myself telling my guests that part of the fun for me is actually learning about your journey and doing all of the research associated with your academic and then eventually your professional journey. So, first off, we usually talk about your academic journey, and I noticed that your bachelor’s degree in psychology, you received that at Carleton University in Ottawa, in Canada. So, tell me a little bit more about your undergraduate experiences and how did you end up at Carlton?

01:51 Aldrich
So, I have a diverse background to say the least, and I’m actually Canadian, and so that’s one of the major reasons because the tuition was much cheaper. And I actually applied also to Ottawa U and a few other schools. And given the nature of Costa Rican mailing service, I actually didn’t receive the acceptance from Ottawa U until much later, and I got Carlton first. So, that was sort of by chance that I ended up going to Carlton and I didn’t end up specializing in psychology until about second year university. The first year I took a smatter of different courses. My parents wanted me to get into business and I suggested maybe I’ll get into marketing. So, I always knew I was interested in psychology and philosophy, actually, after I took an elective in high school. And so, I took a few of those courses and I decided, or at least I told them, that I would take the psychology route to get into marketing. But at that point, you know probably by mid second year, I ended up taking abnormal psychology and sensation and perception and these courses really changed the direction of my life because I absolutely fell in love with those courses. And I also wanted to get into a field where I can basically, uhm, include myself in the process of healing, and use that knowledge in a way that is practical. And so basically from that point on I ended up doing a few volunteer, I did some volunteer work in Peru and worked at some orphanages, and I realized, ohh, I’m actually relatively decent working with people. And so, I decided to move forward in that direction. When I decided to specialize in, in, in neuropsychology, or at least when I the inkling of curiosity came into my mind, really came when sensation and perception as well as the work at the orphanages sort of converged that I realized there’s so much information from neuroscience and psychology when put together could be so valuable to so many people and could really help direct treatment. And basically, after I graduated from university, I mean Carlton, I should also add I did some research with Dr. Amadeo de Anjuli, who’s an Italian researcher looking at mental imagery, the vividness of mental imagery, as well as other we could say cognitive neuroscience topics. And when I worked in his lab, I also fell in love with the idea of incorporating research as well. Ultimately though, I decided to move forward and try out for the master’s and then move into the doctoral program. But I guess before moving forward into those domains, did you have any other questions for the undergraduate experience?

04:58 Bradley
No, I mean that’s a good summary I did. That’s actually a good transition because after you were finished at Carlton, you then attended The Chicago School and I believe at the Los Angeles campus for your master’s in psychology and marriage and family therapy. So, you know, a lot of our listeners ask our guests, well, how did you decide to go to ex school for your master’s or y school for your PhD or your doctorate, or your PsyD or EDD. So, kind of give us a little background how what was the process related to how did you decide to go to The Chicago School versus some other schools and in particular for your master’s in clinical psychology and marriage and family therapy?

05:42 Aldrich
Yeah. So, I’ll be very honest, especially since I know there will be students listening and you know, I had multiple interests as I was growing up because I’m also a musician on the side. And so, part of my childhood dream was always to join with my bassist and it we would move to Los Angeles and play music. And I decided to try both. And being Canadian, I also needed a way to stay in the United States. And so, I did apply to a few schools and then the Chicago School of Professional Psychology was the one that that drew me in, partially because of the fact that it was built and sort of created for lots of working professionals which afforded them time to also do other things on the side. And so basically that’s how I got into it. What threw me off guard really was how much I was drawn to the clinical work. And the other part was the fact that Chicago School, the LA Satellite campus, was just developing at that time. And so, I’ll put it this way. There were some amazing professors, and there were also some, I’ll say, suboptimal professors, at least professors that weren’t my taste specifically, but the ones that were amazing really helped inspire me towards seeking out different opportunities and also really helping out with my clinical skills. And you know, when I started my first externship there, it was a place called Positive Alternatives for Youth. It no longer exists now. But you know, I worked with a lot of, you know, court mandate cases and other cases that came from the community with severe mental illnesses. And I also got to work with many different couples. And I just fell in love with the profession. And I realized at that moment I could do, I could be playing music and regardless if I made it or not, which I didn’t. I was, you know, I was like, you know. This this work is something I can definitely see myself doing for life and so I really dedicated my, my heart and my spirit and all the above towards the profession at that point and although my grades weren’t the greatest in undergrad, I was a straight A student when it came to grad school and as well as my doctoral program.

08:04 Bradley
And we’ll talk about your doctoral program in a second, but I do have to do a follow up question. Are you still playing any instruments, having fun on the side?

08:10 Aldrich
Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely, I’m still creating new songs. The band lasted until I was matched at an internship site and had to move out of Los Angeles, but I was. I was a psychology extern slash intern by day and a musician by night. I still play. I still play music and with lots of different people and so that’s definitely something that that I enjoy quite a bit.

08:36 Bradley
What instruments do you play?

08:38 Aldrich
I play guitar and I sing.

08:40 Bradley
OK, alright acoustic I imagine.

08:43 Aldrich
Both actually.

08:44 Bradley
Oh, OK. All right, my daughter.

08:46 Aldrich
There were a lot of transitions. We were a rock band. It turned into an alternative rock band. I did a lot of acoustic and a lot of acoustic shows in in in actually in Canada with a bunch of other musician friends. And then when I went to Los Angeles, we played the main areas. Areas like Whiskey a Go or The Viper Room and all these famous places I was so excited about and realized that we had to evolve a little more as a band to play festivals and so we turned into like an electronic rock band and. And now I’m sort of going back to the to the roots of acoustic and getting more into jazz and classical.

09:21 Bradley
Well, that’s cool. I know a lot of the musicians. My daughter plays acoustic and a little bit of electric as well, and they’re different. So, you have to, you have to plan for that. I mentioned Pepperdine. So, you attended Pepperdine University for your doctorate. You earned, actually, a PsyD in clinical psychology. There are many schools. I’m going to share my screen now, but there are many schools in California. It’s one of the top states in the country that actually highlights psychology. And so, I was going to say there are many schools in the state of California. So, what specifically drew you to Pepperdine?

09:59 Aldrich
So, one of the books that I read in my master’s program that really inspired me was a book called The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, and that was by Louis Cozolino, and he works at Pepperdine University. And that was the first sort of straw we could say. The second was the fact that I started also getting into after reading his book into other books from the Interpersonal Neurobiology realm, we could say. And more and more, I realized that Pepperdine was well connected and also the fact that it was one of the top schools and when I basically finished the neuroscience of psychotherapy, I’m like this is the person I need to work with. This is someone you know and. You know, honestly that was the main drive for me was working with Louis, at first. And then I realized when I got there that all the faculty there were just absolutely stellar and honestly my experience there was, is heartwarming. It’s an amazing experience and definitely grueling at times. And they put you through the ringer. But in such a great way in a in a in a safe. And it’s a safe environment. You get so much supervision, amazing mentors and all of them are just, you know, well-seasoned psychologists that that really know everything that there is to know about, like recent research as well as all the, you know, clinical techniques that that you may not have heard of and it’s just wonderful with the diversity of faculty that they have there.

11:40 Bradley
The other question that I have to ask is that you know, we typically think of people who go into the clinical psychology route, especially receive their PhD. Now I noticed that you received your PsyD. At what point did you kind of have to figure out, hey, should I go the PhD route or the PsyD route and give us your thoughts on why you went the PsyD route.

12:00 Aldrich
Yeah. So, you know, as I mentioned before, I worked at a research lab at Carlton and although I enjoyed the experience, I also kind of realized that research wasn’t entirely for me. Quantitative research especially there’s a lot of, we’ll say, homogeneity in in work and lots of repetition and numbers. And I was really more about the interpersonal experience. And so, I always knew that I wanted to be clinically oriented. And that’s basically what led me towards the PsyD.

12:36 Bradley
OK. And any advice that you’d have, we’re going to talk about your teaching as well. I mentioned that you are working, you returned back to Pepperdine and actually you’re teaching as an adjunct professor, but any other advice that you’d have for students who are interested in pursuing this career and whether or not they should go the PhD or PsyD route?

12:58 Aldrich
Yeah. So, you know, the first thing I would say is to be very proactive. By that I mean reach out to people and the similar the way that I read reached out to Louis Cozolino or Dan Siegel and all these people and then I and I then I became part of the group, which was amazing. Most, most professors. Like if you’re reading a paper that you find very interesting, or a topic that you find interesting. You know, people are usually shy to e-mail the researchers and so forth, but lots of times they will respond. And in fact, they’re flattered by people reaching out to them. And so, I would say, you know, be very proactive, be very patient. It’s a process. It’s not necessarily the shortest process. There are lots of ups and downs. It can be very challenging, but there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. I would also say be very or try to harbor an exploratory attitude because psychology is becoming more and more interdisciplinary, and so to be open minded and explore your interests and whatever makes you feel more lively, look deeper into that into those topics and again reach out to reach out to people that may be involved. Remember also, if you are once you get into a doctoral program or master’s program, that school is a place to make mistakes and to seek assistance. You know, lots of I think graduate students come in with an, with a know-it-all attitude. And I’ll admit, I was like that in the very beginning also. But I then realize that you’re missing out on lots of the benefits and supervision that you won’t get once you finish and once you graduate. So yeah, I mean, I think those would be important pieces of advice that I would I would give to students.

14:42 Bradley
I’d also piggyback off of your comment of you’re kind of in a safe environment to make mistakes once you graduate, and especially once you get. A fellowship, or you, you know, find your first job. If you’re staying within the academic field or even outside now, you are the person who is saying stuff who has to take responsibility for what you’re saying. And of course, you’re gonna make mistakes as well. But I have one guest on that was talking about the biggest change for her was when she got her professorship. Now she had to realize that. Oh, my gosh, I can’t say whatever. I’m thinking all the time because now I represent myself, the department and the school. And you know it. It. Kind of on the one hand, it’s kind of too bad that you can’t, you know, talk and freely talk and think about what you want to say and then share that versus on the other hand, you do have that responsibility because you now represent your department and that university as well, so.

15:48 Aldrich

15:49 Bradley
Among other experiences. And of course, we’re going to share all of these when we go live here. I’m going to share my screen again, and among all of your experiences. You worked at Mindsight and you already mentioned one doctor that you worked with Dr. Siegel and you’ll see some other work experiences here. You did your post-doctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the University of Miami in the Miller School of Medicine. Then you were a research associate at the University of Miami and did research on PTSD. And the Default Mode Network. So, I’m leading up to my question. Tell us a little bit more about the Default Mode Network.

16:28 Aldrich
Yeah. So, you know my dissertation with Cozolino actually ended up being on the Default Mode Network. And it was really great that I was able to continue with some quantitative research actually expanding upon the dissertation, the DMN, or the Default Mode Network is a neural network. So basically multiple areas in your brain that are simultaneously active when you are engaged in what we call internally directed cognition. We could also think of the word introspection that would be associated. So, when you’re not engaged on a particular task, let’s say. And you’re in your mind and you’re, you know, thinking about a memory or you’re thinking about an interaction that’s occurred. Your default mode network would be active. Yeah. If it has also to do with your sense of self and social cognition or your ability to interpret and understand other people. And so, what I was interested in was how PTSD might impact this resting state network and I say that in quotations because your brain is never actually resting and so that’s what. That’s what that was all about. And we’re actually still working on publishing that paper and we’re almost completed but there have been some changes that happened throughout. And did you want me to go deeper into that?

17:51 Bradley
No, that’s a good high high-level view. As you saw, I was sharing my screen and there’s multiple resources out on the Internet on DMN as well. I just shared one that pulled up right away and it was a good summary and how you apply DMN to different areas and you said you’re applying it to PTSD as well. So, I mentioned that you were an adjunct professor at Pepperdine, so you became an adjunct professor in an interesting kind of way. I believe you’re actually sought out by Pepperdine to teach as an adjunct professor. So, tell us a little bit more about that.

18:27 Aldrich
Yeah. So, the online program is the one that I teach for because I live in Miami and basically, you know, Louis was, was and was acting also as a online professor alongside Dr. Burke, Dr. Harold Burke, who was actually my professor, back in the doctorate program and I actually ended up becoming his TA. And basically, there was a slot available and so Louis recommended I joined the team and Dr. Burke was very happy to have me on board as well since we’ve worked together in the past. And you know, after that the rest is history. Dr. Burke was on for, I think, about a year, maybe two with me as working under him. And then he eventually as a stepped aside and I ended up taking over and became course lead for the physiological psychology classes. And at this point I’m teaching two classes and there are 4 professors that are that are working with me. Louis actually being one of them. So, it’s funny because he was my boss, so to speak. But now. I’m his boss.

19:41 Bradley
Well, the other thing that I wanted to kind of touch on is. When you become a professor and not only a professor, but now a course lead so that’s something new that I’ve had on my guests when they’ve mentioned that I’ve talked to directors of, you know, programs and directors of different institutions as well, but define for us or kind of explain to us what does a course lead person do.

20:08 Aldrich
Yeah. So, there are other professors who are teaching the course and there are of course new hires from time to time. And so, the course lead is about managing those relationships as well as designing the course, assigning the textbook. I’m talking about putting together the topics that will be lectured on, as well as putting together all of the exams.

20:33 Bradley

20:33 Aldrich
That’s basically what the course lead does.

20:35 Bradley
OK, well it sounds good. I know that you opened your own practice about the same time as I recall when I looked at your history about the same time as when you actually started working as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine, so. Look back and think about some of what were some of the biggest challenges associated with opening your own practice and the practice again, I mentioned in the intro is the Center for Neuropsychology and Consciousness, otherwise known as CNC. So, tell us a little bit more about some of the biggest challenges associated with opening your own practice while I share the screen.

21:13 Aldrich
Yeah. So the first thing to note is you have to make sure that you have enough savings to open up a neuropsychological practice because in order to put together the lab, ultimately there are lots of materials and tools that you need to purchase and get all the licensing and all that sort of stuff. And I know numbers are always of interest. Although I started my practice about, I think 3 and a half years now. It was about $25,000 for me to put everything together and so that’s number one. Number two is making sure that you have a referral stream. And one of the things that I was nervous about was the fact that I wasn’t sure I would have a big referral stream. I knew, of course, like I’m in good relation with my peers and colleagues and old supervisors at Jackson Memorial Hospital at University of Miami. But I’m at the same time there’s only so many people they can refer and so. I started off actually bringing on insurance, and so I signed up with four different insurance panels and that was probably somewhat difficult to accept because number one, they don’t, I’ll be honest, they don’t pay you very well. But #2, there’s a lot of documentation that comes along when you submit to get paid or compensated in the first place. So, I so that’s how I started off and. But the good thing is you do get lots and lots of referrals of course from insurance as well as other professionals that are out there. As long as if it’s also important to have a very relatively good Internet presence because there are lots of professionals out there and not so many neuropsychologists out there that it’s saturated and so it’s likely that if you have a good Internet presence, they will find you and they will just put you on a referral list and send you patients. And that’s also another way that I gained traction. A third way was is really social media. I started an Instagram account at Aldrich at Dr. Aldrich Chan and basically it actually ended up being very I would say successful for the amount of effort that I put into it and it garnered up to I think it’s like 19,000 followers now or something, and basically it’s a free education platform that I provide to others. And so again, you know I’m kind of emphasized the necessity to be very proactive, especially if you want to start your own practice. And the other thing that I’ve done to assist because you might be thinking, Oh my God, that’s so much that’s so much work, right? Yeah, you have to put posts every few days and then you have to see clients and then you’re teaching, and then you’re writing books and all this sort of stuff. But you know, the other thing that you can do, or at least that I’ve been doing is, you know. Actually, there are two students in my first or second class at Pepperdine that reached out for volunteer experience. And basically, I was of course I was open to it, and they also help out with that education platform. So, I want to of course, thank my students for assisting with that. It’s very important. So, you know, I helped mentor them, assist them with writing skills and we meet monthly, and we discussed different topics that would be of interest, and you know we talk about what it is like to be in private practice if they’re interested in it and so forth. So, it’s very much mutually beneficial, and so they’re a team of very smart individuals that are very helpful to helping me out there.

24:55 Bradley
Was that the team that was listed on your about page that I was sharing on the screen?

24:59 Aldrich
Yeah, yeah.

25:00 Bradley
All right. So let me kind of give you a summary. Your practice CNC provides neuropsychological and psychological services, education, cognitive remediation, and independent consultation. For those who may not know the difference between neuropsychological and psychological services, tell us a little bit more about the differences between the two.

25:24 Aldrich
So neuropsychological services involve an assessment, and we are assessing different cognitive faculties. So, what I mean by that, for example, someone might go to a neurologist because they’re having, let’s say, memory difficulties. And let’s say the neurologist finds an area of their brain that may be impacted. And so, then they would come to us to help them determine what type of memory has been impacted and how severe it’s been impacted. And then on top of that, what would be the best recommendations for them moving forward? And so basically you look very closely at how your mind is functioning ultimately and how your brain is functioning and that’s exactly what we do. And so, you know a typical person might come in at 10:00 AM here and they’d stay with me all the way until 5:00 PM. And there’s an interview in the beginning that’s like, an hour to an hour and a half long. And then we move in for the rest of the day for, for testing. Then two weeks later, they come back. I provide them a feedback session. And as well as a comprehensive report that basically is pointing out their strengths and their weaknesses and of course what they can do to improve their current condition. The psychological side is really it’s it goes to psychotherapy and that really the way I define it is the development of a relationship in conjunction with the skilled use of psychotherapeutic techniques in a safe environment to promote changes in brain functioning. So.

26:55 Bradley
OK. Well, thank you for that. I know a lot of people as soon as they hear neuro in front of any word, they think the brain. But how do you assess the brain? And so, you gave a good summary there. Of course, we’ll add these websites when we go live as well. Your work tends to, you know, bridge the gap between academia and practical applications in neuropsychology. So how do you see this balance benefiting students? Because you’re teaching students, and it sounds like you’re mentoring students as well in their educational and professional journeys.

27:29 Aldrich
So, as important as subjective experiences, our internal experiences, are for the people that you’re working with, we also have to understand the objective that exists out there. And it’s always going to be, especially in our field, a balance of the two, you can’t neglect one over the other. And so it’s very important for me and I’m saying this because to emphasize that even if it may sound obvious that both of them need to be integrated in order for the most efficacious treatment. And so, if someone is struggling with anxiety, for example, and they’re in the clinic with me and their sympathetic system, their flight system is highly active. You know, one thing that I might do, and I might use to guide my treatment would be to activate their parasympathetic system. And then this is where different techniques might come in. Something like diaphragmatic breathing. Or what not to mimic what they might experience in safe states of being. And so that’s one way very simple example, of course, of how to use neuropsychology to guide treatment and practice.

28:36 Bradley
Here’s a good transition to talk about your book, and you have multiple publications out there, but the one that I’m focused on because I did more research on this and I have, I saw some videos when you introduced the book and as well as some other videos where you kind of gave an update on the book. And of course, I’m referring to your award-winning book Reassembling Models of Reality: Theory and Clinical Practice. It actually is published in one of the prestigious interpersonal neurobiology series. It received the 2023 Nautilus Book Awards winner in the category of Psychology/Mental & Emotional Well-Being category. So, tell us a little bit more about this book and how it felt to receive that award and recognition.

29:22 Aldrich
Hmm yeah. Well, it felt very nice. I can’t complain. The book itself is really a culmination of existential questions that I actually had given the intersection of neuroscience and psychology and the questions and mysteries that still that that still exist there. And so to put it simply, we can say that the book is about the mental traps that we tend to fall into and how those traps may come from your biology, your psychology, your social experiences, as well as your cultural and what I call your existential experiences, which was my really my attempt to knit together those who are atheists as well as those who are religious, because we all have meaning, systems that drive our behaviors. It goes deeper into consciousness, however, also because at the end of the day there are many different ways of interpreting scientific information. And one of the dominant views has been materialism, meaning that the mind is simply matter, and eventually the mind can be reduced to matter. That, however, lo and behold, and I didn’t know this until well, probably a couple of years ago, they’re not this. They’re that materialism and science are not the same thing, in fact materialism is just it’s a worldview. It’s a way of interpreting that information. And what’s really exciting about our field right now is that number one, it’s becoming more interdisciplinary, but number two there are now other theories that are being taken there that are being considered seriously as being a replacement for materialism. And this moves into areas like panpsychism and idealism, and I don’t want to go too deep into those things. But it’s really considering consciousness as being more fundamental to our experiences and to reality in and of itself. And so, underneath it all, all of us are operating from a meaning system, whether we are aware of it or not. And so, part of my desire for this book was to bring out the different types of models that actually exist in the world that are still compatible with science.

31:40 Bradley
I looked at some of the videos as I mentioned, and you actually have one video that refers to your YouTube video where you introduce your book and then another video that talks a little bit more in depth about it. And as I recall from listening and viewing some of those videos. Originally it was designed more for the clinical, you know, receiver or the clinical person, but the reviewers were saying that this is a very good book for even the general population to learn more about themselves and how to apply some of the teachings in the book as well. So. Talk to me about that a little bit now that it’s been out for a while. Tell me how you have seen it used by other people and how you’re going to extend it. I know that you’re working on something that is extending it as well, so.

32:33 Aldrich
Yeah. So, if you are interested in neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology, because that really is the, the, the three domains that I’ve sort of knit together in the book, if you’re interested in those fields, you will probably enjoy the book. If you’re not, you’re probably not going to enjoy it because you might find it too wordy or there are too many theories in there. Interestingly, I actually started writing it for the public and then when I talked to Norton and I submitted the book, they said we should make it more clinical because the interpersonal neurobiology is a clinical series. And so, then I then I basically went through a bunch of edits and iterations and eventually made it more, more a little more clinical. Nonetheless, as a general reader, you can always skip the clinical parts and still gain I think a lot from the theoretical and practical parts that that still exist inside the book. And the way it’s put together really is again it takes the biopsychosocial and existential approach, and it looks at all of these domains of functioning and looks at the different filtration systems that exist there or the different veils that that may occlude our ability to view reality more objectively and that’s what it’s all about.

33:55 Bradley
You’re mentor and an educator and a researcher and a writer. What strategies or resources would you recommend to your current and future students to stay updated with the latest developments in neuropsychology and consciousness research?

34:15 Aldrich
For me, there’s no shortcut to this. You know, I could, I could say, go to my Instagram account. And stay tuned because we’re always doing research to see what the newest articles are on different topics and to make sure that we’re not, you know, putting it, putting something out there that’s outdated, but it really has to do with consuming information that you’re interested in and following the researchers that you’re interested in looking up articles and papers and making sure the filters allow you to look at papers that are no older than 10 years. That being said, there are still some amazing papers that are older than 10 years, but many of those foundational papers you can probably ask your professors for or others, because those papers are usually still being taught about in in different courses. So, I know right now podcasts are of course are of course, very popular and so there are different science podcasts that are quite reliable. I’ll throw out Huberman podcast. I mean that I think is so popular at this point, but he is a very reliable researcher and he does bring to bring to light a lot of the most recent research. And so that’s also a shortcut way to do it. But really, if you were serious about this, it’s important for you to go to the source itself and look up the actual articles and read them and one good way is to go to the references of these papers. And whenever they, you know, reference or cite a particular fact that you find interesting to look at that paper and so forth and sort of go down a rabbit hole doing that. But there’s no way you can consume all the information that’s out there, but you can consume bits and pieces and then the ones that really interest you, dig, dig deep into them.

36:03 Bradley
Very good advice. So, let’s look at what you’re doing. You’re a mentor, you’re a coach, you’re a teacher. You’re a professor. You’re a writer, a researcher and you’re running this business, CNC. What are what are some of the biggest challenges that you experience either on a daily or weekly basis and how do you kind of overcome them because you’re so busy with your, you know you have your toes in, in a lot of different pools here. You even mentioned it yourself, you brought it up and you say you’re, you’re doing a lot of these things. So, tell us how you manage your life and what are some of the biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?

36:43 Aldrich
I would say actually number one that. That one of the benefits of having my own practice is that I can always pursue what interests me. That is. That’s amazing. That’s something that I absolutely love, and one of the reasons why I got into private practice in the first place. So that being said, of course, there’s the necessity for time management and making sure that there’s time for, for myself and my family and so forth. And so really developing a good work life balance that works for you is going to be important. My mind naturally careens towards multiple different interests and things, and so, you know, at one point when I’m wearing the therapist out or the neuropsych hat and so forth, for me it’s really fun and I’m very blessed to have found an occupation that provides both intellectual stimulation as well as emotional satisfaction so I really don’t burn out. But, if the audience would be interested in hearing, there are some self-care things that I do engage in and that’s that, I recommend to everyone anyways and that is, you know, making sure I’m getting adequate sleep every night making sure that I’m exercising. I have a personal trainer we do HIT exercises, High Intensity Interval training. I also do Tai chi. I’m big into meditation, so that’s something that I do. I try to do daily but I do it at least five times a week or so. I also run meditation groups and so that also keeps me accountable. And I like doing using the cold plunge. That’s another thing that I always do. So, those are all the and the sauna, those so those are all different things that I that I that I make sure to fit in because I know that if my mind is, is, is, is feeling refreshed and renewed that that I’ll be a 100% there for whatever it is that that I’ll be, you know, confronting throughout the day.

38:46 Bradley
Sounds like you want to be present in whatever you’re doing, and so in order to do that, take care of yourself. I did read some place that you speak multiple languages. You speak native English and Spanish, and then a little less so Cantonese, and then a little bit of French that you keep up with. So, do you find that you have to use multiple languages either in at CNC or while you’re teaching?

39:14 Aldrich
So Spanish, yes, definitely. Living in Miami and even in when I was in Los Angeles when I was at Children’s Hospital, I was I was both an extern as well as a bit of a translator, which made things quite interesting because my supervisor at the time, she’s Latina, but she doesn’t speak Spanish, which was really funny. And so here comes this Asian guy speaking Spanish and translate to the parents. It was a really funny dynamic, but yeah, I definitely still use Spanish in my practice, and I see patients in Spanish. French not, not so much. There were a couple times in the when I worked at Jackson that French came up and my French is nowhere near good enough to work with anyone clinically, so I’d steer clear from that. And as for the Cantonese, I unfortunately I’m illiterate, but I do speak Cantonese and I have been working on improving it. Especially with actually the next project that I’m working on, which is another, another book that it’s in the midst of being reviewed right now. Fingers crossed, everything goes well, umm. But other than that. That, I mean, that would be what I would say about that.

40:20 Bradley
OK, I should mention, and I forgot to mention this, and we were talking about Pepperdine. You’re an adjunct professor for the doctoral program, which is actually ranked or was ranked #5 for the best PsyD program. And for the master’s program at Pepperdine, ranked number one for the best online master’s program as well. So. I’ll include those links when we go live with this podcast episode. The other thing that I wanted to follow up on is, you know, one of my last questions before we get into kind of the fun questions at the end here that I usually have is you mentioned that you’re working on another project, another book that’s being reviewed right now. Are you able to give us a teaser on what that is?

41:02 Aldrich
Sure. So, this one is definitely written more for the public than the previous one. The title right now is Becoming a Force of Nature. So catchy title and it’s an exploration and it really is sort of building off of the previous book actually. But it’s an exploration of science which seeks to measure and measure nature basically and processes in nature as well as Daoism, which is an ancient Chinese philosophy. Which I would call a living philosophy that seeks to embody the principles of nature. And so, what I was curious about was how these two may intersect with one another. And right now I would be in agreement with some other people out there that say that there is a meaning crisis in our society. And you know, yes, there are religions and spiritual practices, but there is a bit of a decline that’s occurring with the with science coming up and so my goal is, well, is there anything similar here between within Daoism and science, given that they’re both all about nature and so I’m putting these two together and consulted with a bunch of Daoist experts and scholars of, of, of different kinds, and then basically integrating findings in neuropsychology and the philosophy of Daoism and see what resonates and see what can come from these two different ways of thinking so. So that’s, that’s what it’s that’s what it’s about and I think that’s yeah.

42:36 Bradley
Well, thank you for the summary. We’ll look for that book. Good luck on that as well. Any other projects or events or opportunities that you’d like to discuss or share?

42:45 Aldrich
I think the last part is I recently started the what I’m calling the SAGE program. And it’s a program for young adults, really, because I think one of the things our education systems are lacking is education on things like emotional regulation or, you know, life philosophies and ways and knowledge that might guide people towards living a life that is more meaningful as well as acquiring the skills and techniques and experiences to regulate themselves emotionally, especially with this age of technology, I’m quite certain, but I don’t have all the research on this, that that, let’s say the Internet or different specific types of technology are changing the ways that our brains are organizing information. And so, I think now more than ever, it’s going to be important for young adults to gain those skills as they develop through time.

43:43 Bradley
OK. If you’ve seen some of our podcasts, we usually end the podcast with a few fun questions, and I usually ask this one first off, tell us something unique about yourself.

43:55 Aldrich
Well, I grew up in Costa Rica, so I think that’s relatively unique. I already shared that I’m a musician as well. Well, I mean. I is that is that unique enough?

44:11 Bradley
That that is when you combine everything everybody. I’ve had other guests say, well, I don’t know if this is unique, but when you combine multiple things were you born in Canada or did you?

44:23 Aldrich
So yeah, so I was born in Canada and then I moved to Hong Kong for five years, moved to Seattle for two, and then I moved to Costa Rica and seven years old then. And then I lived there until 17. My family still lives there. So, I, you know, try to visit every year I, when I think of home, it’s I do think about Costa Rica. Even though Costa Ricans wouldn’t say I’m Costa Rican, the Canadians wouldn’t say I’m Canadian and say I’m not really American, so I, you know, I’m really this sort of what are they? It’s a salad bowl now or melting pot. I don’t know. I think they have new terms that that. Keep coming out that I’m. Inundated by at this point. But you know it’s a mix of different cultures. So, I’m quite unique in that respect.

45:07 Bradley
I think when I was going through school, it was a melting pot and then it became a salad bowl and I think they have a new one now. So, I think you’re right. They came out with a new one. But nevertheless, I think more and more people are a mix of cultures, history, experiences and it helps us as a nation to have those types of people. This is kind of a fun one. Now think back of some of the terms and principles or theories that you like. So, I ask, what is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?

45:43 Aldrich
So, one of my favorite theories actually comes from someone I very much admire is a philosopher named Alfred North Whitehead. And basically, he came up with something called the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, and which is basically a simpler way to say it is that we confuse abstraction with concrete physical reality. And so, you know, there’s nothing that’s physical that lasts forever, like even atoms, when reduced to subatomic particles, down to energy, we find there’s no substance, just relationships among relationships undergoing process. And so, the reason why I like it so much is because it emphasizes the point that we are all processes through and through, and what we see is stable substances is but an illusion of activity. And so, substances are really processes in relationship with one another, as opposed to substances undergoing activity. And what this does is, I believe, instill hope for change and it’s it provides us with a different, I think, philosophy of life that can that can help us move beyond some of the obstacles that we feel are recurring and rigid and difficult to change.

47:05 Bradley
I think you’re very thoughtful and you’ve talked about philosophy and incorporating that. So, I’ll ask this question. What’s one of the most important things you’ve learned so far in your life?

47:19 Aldrich
One of the most important, like through education or.

47:22 Bradley
Anything that you’ve learned so far in your life, what’s one of the more important things that you’ve learned? And it could be something recent as well.

47:34 Aldrich
I think one very important thing and I learned this a while ago, but it’s worth mentioning again and it actually also answers the previous question, but it gives you another one is the idea of eustress. Eustress being the fact that mild to moderate levels of stress can be actually beneficial. I think in the past, you know, we all sort of fall into this trap of pursuing happiness and happiness is a very vague term depending on, you know, the ways that you might define it. But when it comes down to it, sometimes people come into the clinic and they expect that by the end of all the sessions you know, perhaps they will be in this state of complete bliss and peaceful. You know there’s nothing else that they’ll experience again that will be negative, right? And eustress tells us that stress is inherently a part of our lives, and it’s built into our systems. And so pursuing happiness itself might be a bit of an illusion. Rather, it should be more like pursue the ability to prevail in the face of challenges. So for me, that was a psychological finding, a robust one that can be incorporated into one’s life and you know when you do feel stressed, the next time, it’s not necessary to say that you know, oh, my God, I’m so stressed out, something’s wrong with my life, right? As soon as someone says Ohh. You’re too stressed out or whatever the case is. There’s there’s it’s. There’s an implication that something wrong, but it could be that there’s something right that you are moving forward in a direction and forging a meaningful path ahead of you. So, I would say that that that’s an important one. Let me just throw in one short one here, because this one really changed me when I was in the second year of undergraduate, but it’s the Stoic saying from I think it was Epictetus who said that it it it’s not an event that bothers you rather it’s in your interpretation of that event. Which is also sort of the basis of CBT, but that interpretation is entirely up to you, and so whether you choose the negative one or the positive one, that would suggest you choose, of course, the most adaptive one, as long as it’s grounded in in in what’s most realistic as well.

49:51 Bradley
I like both of them. I can relate to the eustress in that when I was in my graduate studies and I was helping people overcome their speaking apprehension and so we would go through some steps whether it’s visualization, whether it’s some other way of overcoming that stress and a lot of times if you’re stressed before an important event, that actually helps you do a little bit better, it helps you focus and it actually tells you that it’s important to you. It matters to you. If you don’t feel any stress under certain environments and in situations then it probably tells you that they’re not really interested or it really doesn’t matter to them, and so I can kind of relate that to a different kind of situation as well. Do you have any other advice for those interested in the field of neuropsychology?

50:44 Aldrich
Umm, so neuropsychology is a very specific discipline and it’s it is very competitive. I will say though that I some of the common questions asked of me like when people are applying to grad school and they want to become a neuropsychologist, some people are saying that they there’s no neuropsychology specialization track, for example, and that because of that they’ve put the school aside and my big suggestion here is don’t do that because what’s more important are the connections that your school has to different hospitals or practices that have neuropsychological training. So, Pepperdine, for example, doesn’t have a specialization neuropsychology, track. There are advanced classes in neuropsychology and so forth, but not like a specific track. And so, you know, when you are looking at different schools, you know one question you might ask would be in relationship to the externships or internships that they are connected to because at the end of the day, most of the training is going to happen at these sites, right. And so. You know, if you go to a good neuro psych training, you will have didactics like there will be lectures weekly and there will be all sorts of opportunities available to you, especially if you go to a hospital like when I was at Cedar Sinai or Children’s Hospital or Ryder Trauma Center, whatever the cases, there were tons of different opportunities and my suggestion would be that, you know, once you get the school and once you’re in these sites to really make sure that you again proactively engage some of these resources, like if it’s a brain cutting seminar, go do that. You know, if it’s something not even entirely related to what you’re interested in, still might be beneficial cause you don’t know the types of connections that you might form as you’re as you’re engaging there. Like I said, it’s becoming more interdisciplinary. People are looking to explore different types of research that bring in psychology or bring in neuropsychology, and so. It’s and. So, it’s important to, you know, really, really just dive in fully into the experiences that are and opportunities are that are available to you.

52:59 Bradley
Very good advice. One last fun question. If you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?

53:16 Aldrich
To complete a project or go on one trip. That’s an interesting one, huh? I mean, there are definitely lots of places I want to travel to and in all honesty, a lot of the projects that I’ve been wanting to complete, I’ve been able to complete on my own time, so I’d have to choose a trip.

53:33 Bradley

53:36 Aldrich
I would probably at this point. Well, right now what I really want to go to is actually is Eastern Europe. That’s one place I have yet to yet to explore and it’s all kind of interesting to uhm, would, I would guess you know, just because I’m a I’m a I’m a fan of Carl Jung and I I’ve been to Switzerland before but at the time I didn’t know that much about his work and so I would also like to visit some of some of the museums there about him and his and his and his home that’s available to the public and maybe dig deeper into their roots of the birth of our field.

54:14 Bradley

54:16 Aldrich
And then venture into Eastern Europe because I love, you know, history and Knights and castles and all that sort of stuff. It’s always been I just always loved that stuff so.

54:27 Bradley
All right. Well, sounds good. Is there anything else that you’d like to discuss or bring up on this podcast?

54:34 Aldrich
I think that’s it. Thank you so much, Bradley, for your for your time and not the opportunity to be here.

54:39 Bradley
I appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule as well. Thanks again for sharing your journey with us and especially your advice. Thanks.

54:48 Aldrich
Thank you.

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