Lauren Cook, PsyD, Masters in Psychology Podcast

61: Lauren Cook, PsyD – Clinical Psychologist, Professional Speaker, Consultant, and Author of Generation Anxiety Shares her Journey and how to Build your Career based on your Passions

Dr. Lauren Cook grew up loving theater, performing arts, and public speaking. She also loves the intimacy of the one-on-one connection and having deeper conversations. As an undergraduate student, Dr. Cook recalls being more interested in journalism, in fact, she had an internship at NBC News and E! and thought that is what she wanted to do because she loved the storytelling component of it. However, when she saw the lifestyle of the journalist (always on the go, always on the road), she reconsidered and thought that she could bring the storytelling component of journalism into psychology by helping people understand their stories and helping them on their journey. This is one of the reasons why she pivoted into psychology along with knowing that “one of the most rewarding aspects of our job is really feeling like we are making a difference in people’s lives.”

In this podcast, Dr. Lauren Cook shares her academic and professional journey, explains why she earned a PsyD instead of a PhD, and discusses how she has applied her experience, passion, and degrees to create her own personalized career where she could focus on clinical psychology, professional speaking, consulting, and writing. She shares how she created the opportunities to satisfy all of her passions and how to maintain a work-life balance.

Dr. Cook shares “it was always a dream of mine to have a private practice. And I would meet so many clinicians who were so afraid of having a private practice. ‘That seems impossible. How do you do it? I’m interested, but I just don’t even know where to begin.’ You know, it actually, it wasn’t too hard. I feel like if you want to do it, and you’re willing to ask other people who have done it, it’s very much possible.” She discusses how she started her own private practice called Heartship Psychological Services in Pasadena, CA during the pandemic. She always thought she would (or should?) have a brick and mortar, however, she now questions the need for one as most of her clients are virtual and PSYPACT exists now where if you are licensed in one state, you have the ability to provide services for people in other states. She is excited to see how PSYPACT plays out as it may mean that practitioners don’t need to have a traditional office as in the past. Dr. Cook also shares how she finds the majority of her clients (it’s probably not what you’re thinking…find out more around 22 minutes into our conversation).

Dr. Cook is a professional speaker with CAMPUSPEAK and shares how she got started when she went by “The Sunny Girl” and spoke about all of the happiness research. Her very first book, The Sunny Side Up! Celebrating Happiness was published in April 2013. Since then, she has published a couple more books including Name Your Story: How to Talk Openly About Mental Health While Embracing Wellness (2017) and her newest book Generation Anxiety: A Millennial and Gen Z Guide to Staying Afloat in an Uncertain World (2023). Dr. Cook states “I really wanted to tailor it to millennials and Gen Z and also the family members who are supporting millennial and Gen Z person, we are just seeing anxiety go through the roof. I’m very candid about my own lived experience with anxiety and how I’ve been able to work through that in my own life. And so, I really wanted to give people the tools to really figure out how to cope with anxiety and it’s through what I call ‘empowered acceptance.’”

Not only is Dr. Cook available for speaking engagements (keynotes, seminars, courses, etc.), but she also offers consulting services, professional development, and clinical psychology services dealing with anxiety management, life transitions, couples dynamics, effective decision making, and identity development. She also enjoys doing her podcast, The Boardroom Brain, in which she has “insightful conversations with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business leaders as we explore what makes up the psychology of success.” When asked what she loves most about her job, Dr. Cook responded, “That is a tough question. You got me there. You know, it really, I’d say, is a tie between working one-on-one with my therapy clients and my speaking. They’re so different and my soul is a little bit of a Yin-Yang.” She explains that the performing aspect of speaking engagements fills her bucket for theater and the performing arts while the clinical work and therapy fills her bucket for having deeper conversations and passion to help others.

What advice does Dr. Cook have for those interested in the field of psychology? She offers many pieces of practical advice including going to therapy yourself. “The best way to see what this work looks like is to go to therapy and you can watch someone in real time doing the work with you and start to ask yourself, ‘would I be happy doing this work 8 plus hours a day?’” She also suggests jumping straight into the doctoral program if you know that you ultimately want to earn a PsyD or PhD. At the same time, she believes that it is important to be honest about the expectations of getting into a PhD or PsyD program. Depending on the university and program, acceptance rates for clinical psychology programs may range from 3% to 15% while acceptance rates for PhD programs in other subfields of psychology such as developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, or social psychology, can vary between 8% to 25% or more. PsyD programs are more practitioner-focused than PhD programs and typically have slightly higher acceptance rates and may range from 20% to 35% or higher. Dr. Cook states “only 8 people out of 800 get into UCLA’s PhD program, for example, so, obviously, those programs are highly competitive.” Therefore, students may “have to be willing to move to Wisconsin” or some other area of the country as it is highly competitive at the top-ranked, well-known PhD programs.

When asked what essential skills or qualities she believes all psychology students should cultivate during their education and training, Dr. Cook stated “I’d say two key things. One is really having that empathy, that compassion for others. At the end of the day, I really do feel like this is a career about helping and serving other people. And so really having a passion to, you know, connect with other human beings, we were talking about that at the very beginning of the show. And see where you feel called and where you feel drawn.”

Dr. Cook shares that she lives and breathes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She states, “I’m a big Steven Hayes fan and love all things ACT.” Near the end of our conversation, Dr. Cook re-emphasizes her love for the field of psychology by stating “I will say it’s rare that I find a provider who doesn’t love what they do. It’s rare that someone tells me they regret entering this field. So, if you feel like you have the passion and you want to do it, it is the best thing to be a part of, and so I hope everybody listening finds their right fit.”

Connect with Dr. Lauren Cook: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tiktok | Youtube
Connect with the Show: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Interests and Specializations

Dr. Cook specializes in anxiety by helping individuals and couples work through generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobias, OCD, and more. She takes a multiculturally-informed approach that examines the intersectional identities of a person in the context of their own environment and applies third-wave tenets (e.g., CBT, ACT, DBT) to help teams apply mindfulness, cognitive flexibility, and values-identification for intentional living.


Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology & Communications (2013); University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.
Master of Science (MS), Marriage & Family Therapy (2016); University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Clinical Psychology (2020); Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA.

Other Sources and Links of Interest

Dr. Lauren Cook: Psychology Today
Dr. Lauren Cook: Generation Anxiety book at Amazon

Podcast Transcript

00:12 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. Lauren Cook to the show. Dr. Cook is a clinical psychologist, professional speaker, consultant, and author. She began her training at UCLA, where she majored in psychology and communication studies. She earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California. Dr. Cook then completed her doctorate in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. She is the founder of Heartship Psychological Services in Pasadena, CA, and she is also a professional speaker with CAMPUSPEAK. Today, we will learn more about her academic and professional journey, more about Heartship Psychological Services, and hear more about her forthcoming book, Generation Anxiety: A Millennial and Gen Z Guide to Staying Afloat in an Uncertain World. Dr. Cook, welcome to our podcast.

01:19 Lauren
Brad, thanks so much for having me on. Glad we’re doing this.

01:22 Bradley
I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I’m excited to go through your journey. I noticed, first off, that you received your bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication studies. I also received my communication study undergraduate as well, interpersonal grad as well. So, I can relate to you, but I see you received that from UCLA. You know, overall, can you tell us about your journey to become a psychologist and what motivated you to pursue this career path?

01:51 Lauren
Absolutely. Yeah. You know, it’s it’s interesting. When I got started in undergrad, I I was more interested in journalism actually. I had an internship at NBC Network News and e-news. And I thought maybe that’s what I wanted to do. But as I got into those spaces and just seeing the lifestyle of a journalist, you’re always on the go, on the road. I realized you know what I love the storytelling component of it. I love finding out information, but I really could bring that into psychology, helping people understand their stories and that added element of really feeling like you’re getting to help people on their journey too. So that’s why I pivoted into psychology. The communication studies is that kind of journalism piece tying in and you know very much at the end of the day and I I think most providers will tell you this, one of the most rewarding aspects of our job is really feeling like we are making a difference in people’s lives. That may sound a little cliche to say, but that’s really what pulled me in and and what keeps me in, it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the work.

02:52 Bradley
And the other thing that I’d add to that is not only that you’re making difference in people’s lives, but you’re connecting with them as well.

02:59 Lauren
Absolutely. When so many of us feel so lonely right now, especially millennials and Gen. Z, it is such a a close, intimate relationship that many people feel like is missing in their lives in other ways.

03:11 Bradley
Definitely, definitely. I’m going to share my screen and I know that you attended the University of Southern California for your Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. There are many other schools in California graduate psychology schools, so why did you select USC?

03:28 Lauren
Well, you know, my husband will never let me live this down because we met at UCLA. So, we’re we’re kind of diehard bruins fans. I actually did a little experiment when I was at USC of how people would react when I wore UCLA shirt on campus. That was interesting to see how that played out.

03:44 Bradley
Oh, oh, no.

03:46 Lauren
But there were there, there were a few key components of USC that really pulled me in, I mean, obviously, USC has a great reputation. Their alumni network is outstanding and that is all true. But two key aspects, their program was really focused on mindfulness, and I really believe in the evidence of mindfulness. I wanted to get more training in that so I really liked that. And then USC also really takes a systems approach. They’re very much not just about the individual, they’re about the family, the community at large. And really working with communities of color, different communities that have had different challenges as well. So I really like that emphasis, that focus, they are very much training practitioners and providers to go out and do the work and help people who are having a harder time, who may not have as much privilege. And I thought that was really important and it was an outstanding program. I can’t say enough good things about USC.

04:42 Bradley
Well, thank you for that overview. I did notice that you went on to Pepperdine University for your doctorate. Now, at what point did you know that you wanted to continue your education and go on for your doctorate?

04:55 Lauren
Honestly, the first week of of my master’s program. I will be fully transparent in sharing. I probably did not do as much homework as I should have done in in figuring out the different paths of master’s level, doctoral level and that’s why I’m so passionate about speaking about that with students because I didn’t get that information. And I remember the first week of of my MFT program asking a teacher, you know, well, I’d I’d like to maybe do assessments. I’d like to be able to work with these certain populations. And she said, well, you really should probably be in a doctoral program for that. So, week one I was like, OK, this is gonna be more than a two-year journey for me. And you know soon after in that first year was applying to, you know, PhD and PsyD programs and ultimately really knew I wanted to go more the PsyD route than the PhD route personally.

05:46 Bradley
And actually that was we didn’t plan this audience, but that was my next question is how do you decide or how did you decide personally whether or not you’re going to go the PhD route or PsyD route? A lot of our listeners are thinking, OK, I know PsyD is for typically this type of people and depending on what you want to use that to agree for. And PhD is usually those who want to continue and stay in the academic field and become a teacher, professor. But your personal journey, how did you decide between the PsyD and a PhD?

06:18 Lauren
Yeah. The main thing, at the end of the day, was just really that clinical focus of a PsyD program. I love and appreciate research, but it is not where I I find my most fulfilling joy. It’s really in working with people and you know, with PhD programs you’re still working with people too. But it is just a different route and I I hope that something will start to see shift is that you know, I do find that a lot of people aren’t familiar with PsyD programs. You know, there’s still very much a reputation that PhD is the end all be all that’s the best way to go and a lot of people don’t give PsyD programs a chance. And so that’s something I’m often providing education on. PsyD programs are amazing. You get outstanding clinical training and you know, I had just like I said at USC, I had an outstanding experience at Pepperdine, it was what I call brain boot camp. It was really intense. It was a very a solid program for those years that I was in it. But I really came out feeling like a very solid prepared clinician.

07:22 Bradley
The other thing that I’d add based on other responses from my other guests on the show is you know there it used to be very distinct, PsyD you have to go this route. PhD you go this route. Now I’m seeing that they are overlapping a little bit. In other words, for example, I’m seeing some people with PsyDs that are becoming, staying in the academic field, and becoming professors. The the caveat there is that it isn’t quite the the ideal doctorate to earn if you wanted to stay at a top, level 1, institution, research institution, because they are typically looking for more of a PhD candidate instead of a PsyD. But other than that, I’m seeing some intermixing. And I like that actually because a doctorate is a doctorate, but depending on what your goal is, what you want to do with that afterwords, then one might be more appropriate than the other.

08:15 Lauren
Yes, 100% agree and I have been able to do some teaching as an adjunct professor, even while I was in my doctoral program. So yeah, it’s absolutely possible to teach with a PsyD but, you’re right, it can depend on the institutions sometimes and that’s probably something we’ll see continue to evolve as well.

08:33 Bradley
Definitely, definitely. So, you you mentioned that you, you’re you’re passionate about sharing and speaking about this because back when you were applying to different graduate schools, you probably didn’t do as much research as you might have liked to. So, in hindsight. In hindsight, would you do anything different in terms of that process related to searching for graduate schools and programs, and if so, please let us know or explain.

08:59 Lauren
Yeah, that’s a generous way to put it, Brad. So, thank you for that, but yeah, you know, looking back at the end of the day, it did end up working out because Pepperdine and this may be changing. I don’t want to speak out of turn with them. But I remember when I was there and I graduated in 2020. There was potential conversation about the Master’s degree no longer being something that you had to have to go to their PsyD program. So, in my particular case, at the time that worked out well because you did have to have a master’s to get into their PsyD, it shaved off a year. So I was able to psychologically reckon. OK, that two years and $100,000 plus at USC wasn’t for nothing but, you know, going back to the start, and I often do recommend this to students, if you know you ultimately want to do a PsyD or a PhD program, it’s probably best just to jump in straight to that from undergrad. Obviously my two years at USC was an amazing experience and I have no regrets personally about it, but looking back, I think it does make sense. Now the hard thing is, to me, Pepperdine was the best fit for me. I I wouldn’t have done anything different, but there are so many outstanding schools, even in California, that and all throughout the country, you know, Azusa has a great program. Some of the best clinicians that I’ve encountered went to Fuller. So, there’s a lot of great Palo Alto, Stanford consortium. So, there’s a lot of great options if people want to go straight through. And that is something I think it’s good to know when you’re in undergrad, or getting ready to apply to a program, you know, if you’re going to be satisfied with the master’s level or if you ultimately want to get that doctorate.

10:40 Bradley
The other thing I’d add too, Dr. Cook, is if you’re looking for funding, you typically will find or you have a better chance of finding some funding if you apply directly to the doctoral program instead of just a masters, because in the master’s program, in the master’s program, they typically don’t fund it as much as they do a doctoral program. So that’s one thing to keep in mind. Now that I’m saying that a couple interviews ago, we talked with another guest of mine, and she pointed out that, hey, more and more schools actually value when you take a break between your master’s and your PhD and then you get this real-life experience and then you can bring it too. And it almost proves to them, hey, they’ve been out in the real world. They’ve figured out what they wanna do. That way they it’s a better chance that they’re going to stick with the PhD program. So, you can talk about some advantages and disadvantages on going either route.

11:36 Lauren
Ohh 100% and you know this, this is just what I was told in my own experience. Maybe this has changed and and I kind of really hope it’s changed, but I remember when I was applying to PhD programs after having done the master’s program, people would tell me kind of off the cuff. Ohh, it’s actually going to be a little bit of a ding against you that you did that clinical program at USC when you’re applying to a PhD because that’s telling them you have a clinical focus instead of a research focus. So, I thought that was really interesting information that I was given. And, you know, sure enough, I did not get into any PhD programs, but only eight people out of 800 get into UCLA’s PhD program, for example, so, obviously, those programs are highly competitive and and I think that’s important for people to know too, because I meet a lot of students who have really, you know, exciting hopes and dreams about getting into a PhD program in Los Angeles when they live in Los Angeles. And those spots are so tough to get, you know, a lot of PhD programs, you have to be willing to move to Wisconsin, you know, or something like that. And I think it’s just important to be honest about those expectations because they are so highly competitive and PsyD is competitive too, but not to that same extent I would say.

12:54 Bradley
Yes, definitely. Do you recall how many different programs or school’s doctoral programs you applied to?

13:02 Lauren
I want to say it was about 3 PhD programs USC, UCLA and I really liked UCSB’s program. And then mainly PsyD programs. That was really where my heart was and I I looked pretty closely at Azusa Pacific. I looked a bit at Biola. But Pepperdine was really my my number one choice, and it ended up being a really great fit.

13:27 Bradley
Good, good. What advice would you give to any aspiring psychology students who are just starting their academic journey?

13:36 Lauren
Talk to as many different providers as you can. Find out from the people who are living these careers what their paths were, and if they’re enjoying the work that they’re doing and and one thing I often really recommend to students too is go to therapy yourself. The best way to see what this work looks like is to go to therapy and you can watch someone in real time doing the work with you and start to ask yourself, would I be happy doing this work 8 plus hours a day? You know, what would that look like for me? You know, one of the things I love most about this field is that every day can be a little bit different. Or every day could be very similar, right? If you wanna do session, session, session or if maybe you wanna pack more like mine where maybe some days you do speaking or like tomorrow I’m going to go into NBC and do a segment in the studio. Maybe you want to write a book, right? Like there’s a lot of different things you could do with our field so that every day can feel a little bit different. And I personally really love that aspect about it.

14:35 Bradley
And there’s another thing that you could do is if you’re not sure what you want to do with your career, then to your point, don’t be afraid to ask. Find a mentor, shadow somebody, participate in a lab, or volunteer in a lab, and that will show you some of the research as well. Help, help somebody behind the scenes with some of the research analytics that have to, you know, go on the scientific procedure, all of that stuff that you can just volunteer. Many people love the volunteer work that comes to them because they need that help. So, are there any other experiences or or opportunities that you can think of that undergraduate or graduate students should pursue?

15:18 Lauren
I totally agree with you to get in a lab. Even if you were thinking you want to do a PsyD program, learn about SPSS and all those fun things. You know, spend time in the lab, that’s a really important thing. Go to your own therapy, volunteer in a clinic if you can. I always recommend to volunteer for a crisis line. See how you feel when you are in the presence, even if it’s just over the phone, with someone who may be in crisis. Is that a situation that you find very stressful, but is you really don’t enjoy that? Or do you feel like you know what I was able to handle that and hold that and all that to say, even if someone does feel really triggered or feel like that’s too overwhelming, that’s what the training is there for too. So, you get better with that over time. And I would also say to get involved with different organizations. Active Minds is something that’s present on most college campuses. If it’s not, you could start your own chapter. NAMI, I absolutely love National Alliance on Mental Illness. They’re an incredible organization to be a part of. The Out of Darkness Walk, they do a lot of great suicide prevention work. Jed Foundation. We could go on and on. So, find different organizations to be a part of and volunteer with. Not only is that going to give you a really much stronger application as you’re applying to these schools, it’s also just going to give you data. Do you enjoy this work, is it fulfilling for you?

16:37 Bradley
It also increases your network or it gives you the opportunity to increase your network and get your name out there. Don’t be afraid to a lot of people don’t want to go to the national conventions because they’re too big. I don’t know and my my head’s spinning, there are regional, you know, local chapters as well. So, get involved there, go to some panel discussions. Be in the panel discussion, present a paper. Do something like that to just expose yourself and and that way you’ll know, is this for me? And I, I should add one thing. You know some people, when they do their first paper, they’re so nervous and they present at a National Convention. Ohh, I hate it. I don’t ever want to do it again. Give yourself a second time because once you go through it once, then you’re gonna feel more comfortable. So that’s just my personal advice is give yourself more than just one opportunity because that first one you might be so nervous, you’re not going to really enjoy it.

17:29 Lauren
Ohh 100%! And, know too, you’re you’re amongst therapists who are hopefully going to be very empathetic and, you know, rooting for you. We’re usually not too much of a tough crowd. You know, we want to encourage each other. And and I find too, we want to help, you know, emerging therapists in this field. We need more providers and we want to support people who are interested in this.

17:53 Bradley
Definitely. You are the founder of Heartship Psychological Services, and I actually remember seeing that it was in San Marino, CA, but that’s the Pasadena area, I believe. Is that right?

18:08 Lauren
It is, it is. Yep.

18:09 Bradley
OK. All right. And and so tell us a little bit more about Heartship Psychological Services and I think I’ll, I’ll, I’ll stop there because I do have a follow up question. I almost went into that. So, tell us a little bit more about your private practice.

18:24 Lauren
Sounds good. Yeah. You know, it was always a dream of mine to have a private practice. And I would meet so many clinicians who were so afraid of having a private practice. That seems impossible. How do you do it? I’m interested, but I just don’t even know where to begin. You know, it actually, it really wasn’t too hard. I feel like if you want to do it and you’re willing to ask other people who have done it, it’s very much possible. At the same time, I would say one of my my strengths is I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not good at. So you know, part of my work is finding the people who can help me with the things I’m not good at. So you know, for example, web design, this website you’re looking at right now, I did not design any of this right. I provided all what we call the copy, the text you’re seeing on the page and then I gave it to my web designer which highly recommend the website Upwork to find people that you want to work with to help you with the things that you might not know how to do yourself. And I also hired an attorney to help me with all the paperwork, things like that because, once again, I I didn’t know how to do that. And so, you know, find people in your team who can help you. What I really love about my practice is that it allows me to really pull in the masters training that I have and the doctoral training that I have. So, I love working with couples, and that’s where marriage and family therapy really served me there. And I love working with individuals mainly in that college young adult space. And all my doctoral training was at USC, the Claremont Colleges. That’s where I did my postdoc, and I did my internship at University of San Diego. So, I really get to, to work in that space. Now what’s interesting is I had always envisioned a brick and mortar office. And you know, I got licensed during the pandemic. Around 2020, at the end of that time, season or actually no 2021, excuse me, graduated in 2020. And so, you know, at the time, it really didn’t make sense to get an office location. And so many of my clients still to this day, you know, we’re talking in July 2023, still meet with me via Zoom and, you know, being licensed in the state of California, that allows me to work with clients in San Francisco all the way to San Diego. And so, a lot of those folks would never actually even see me in person if I had a office. And that’s something that I’m really trying to toggle with as a provider now myself. Is it financially smart for me to get a brick and mortar when most of my clients are virtual, couldn’t come in person? Maybe I even look into something like PSYPACT right where we’re starting to see if you’re licensed in one state, you have the ability to provide services for people in other states. I’m personally kind of excited to see how that evolves and plays out because providers like myself, I think we’re kind of trying to figure out, do we get that traditional office location or do we provide services via Zoom? Because that seems to be working pretty well too for a lot of folks.

21:24 Bradley
Mm-hmm. Definitely. The other thing that I wanted to follow up on, I know that your recommendation is know your limits. Know what you’re good at, what you want to focus on. So what were some of the biggest now you did mention I should mention this before I asked the question. You did mention that it was relatively simple for you to get up and running as long as you handed off some of these responsibilities to somebody but, to your point, a lot of people think that’s going to be challenging. So what were some of the biggest challenges that were associated with creating and starting your own private practice? And then how did you overcome them?

21:59 Lauren
Yeah. I mean, I think the the biggest fear for people and and I myself too, how are you going to get clients? How are people going to find you? You know? Yes, there’s Psychology Today. There’s Therapy Den, things like that. I actually don’t get that many clients from those platforms to be, you’ll see I’m very candid about what works and what doesn’t for me personally. You’re probably gonna laugh when you hear me tell you this, Brad, but the majority of my clients come from TikTok.

22:27 Bradley
Oh wow. OK.

22:28 Lauren
I know TikTok and Instagram or people who heard me speak, you know, a few years ago and who have kind of followed social media. It’s really interesting, this dialogue that is happening in the field about, you know, psychologist, therapists, and social media that intersection. And I am on social media. I’m on TikTok and you know, that’s been a big way that people find me. But it’s really interesting because, you know, while I was in school and I think this was very much the conversation all throughout, we don’t share anything about ourselves and, you know, no self-disclosure and these different things and so. Now to you know, be providing education on on social media platforms. It’s opening up a whole new dimension in our field. So that’s, you know, been a big way that I have found clients and that’s really helped. But, you know, as somebody who’s been in private practice, you know, going on two years now, you’re always kind of in the back of your mind, are those clients gonna keep coming, you know? And so that’s something that that I personally struggle with is just trying to have that security as a, as a fairly new clinician getting started. And and I will say too, like there really is an element of privilege in it in that you know I was able to afford an attorney, for example, to be able to help me, you know, start up my business and things like that. I’m able to practice out of my home and and have a good location to do that. When not everybody has that access. So, you know those are different things that I’m very much aware of that could really, you know, be a challenge as people figure out how they want to to navigate that.

24:11 Bradley
Since you brought up social media, I’m going to go ahead and share my screen. And here’s your TikTok website, Dr. Lauren Cook. And then you have 241,000 followers over a million almost 2 million likes. I like all the little short videos down below as well, but you also have YouTube and then you also have. You get into Instagram and your LinkedIn. If you wanted to learn a little bit more about her experience and about her, you can go to LinkedIn. Of course, we’ll share all of these links as well, and then you have a Twitter account so you’re all over the place. Even Facebook, a lot of people aren’t doing aren’t doing Facebook because they think, oh, that’s on its way out. You got to do other things now, but actually there are still a lot of people on Facebook and so, you know, getting to your point, how do I find more clients? Go ahead and put your feelers out there and all of the social media.

24:56 Lauren
Ohh yeah.

25:04 Bradley
And you may get a few from each of them, but to your point, you’re finding a lot through TikTok. And Psychology Today, you also have a nice website there. Let me hide my meeting controls up here so I can actually reach it. There it is. And so, if you want to find out a little bit more about Dr. Cook and her private practice, we will include all of the links once we go live. I should, since I’m sharing the screen, go to your personal website as well. And you have a lot of information up here. You have running videos up top which I liked, and then a little more information about, you know who you are, what you do and then even more information about your podcast. Before we started recording, we talked about all of the, you know, things you have to check before starting and recording, you know, your podcast. So, we went through those steps as well. So, tell us a little bit more about your podcast and.

25:54 Lauren

25:59 Bradley
And kind of what’s your goal of your podcast? You already know what the goal of our podcast is so tell us what the goal of your podcast is.

26:06 Lauren
Yeah. So, The Boardroom Brain is really fun. We talk all about as you see, the psychology behind success mainly in the workplace. I’m really fascinated by the intersection of the workplace and mental health. You know, we spend so many hours of our day at our jobs and a lot of us really report that we feel like our mental health is struggling, especially at work. So, I love coming in and doing keynote programs for different companies and teams. A lot of times I’ll do work with employee resource groups and things like that, and it’s just a great way to provide psychoeducation to folks who may not have access to therapy or time for therapy. And yet they’re getting some information at work and talking about something other than their jobs for a little bit, which is really nice. And I really use LinkedIn to help me find podcast guests and things like that, but, that’s mainly what that podcast is about, and yeah, that’s something that I really love doing as well with the speaking as speaking to different universities, companies, things like that, that really also helped me fund my way through Graduate School, honestly. And I was able to speak on the road while going to class and things like that and and that’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. And and hope to keep doing too.

27:25 Bradley
Well, I wanted to share one other thing. A lot of our guests and a lot of students are interested in pursuing a career in psychology, but may feel uncertain about what branch or area to specialize in. So how did you decide to focus on clinical psychology and your area of specialization?

27:44 Lauren
Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, for me, I felt like clinical psychology was just a really nice grounding where I would hopefully and and I feel like this is true, graduate and feel like I could work with just about any presentation. Now, of course, there’s caveats to that. Right. And and I list that on my website, eating disorders, for example, substance use, you know where there’s addiction present, things like that. That was where for me, you know, I kind of drew the line in my clinical work. But pretty much, you know, felt solid working with whatever presentation I was able to to meet. And so that was really what pulled me in. But that’s what’s great about our field is that we can, let’s hope, continue learning throughout our whole career trajectory. So let’s say you become interested in IO, industrial organizational psychology, you know or you want to learn more about couple and family therapy. You can pull all that in as you go, you know, let’s say you want to get EMDR certified after you graduate. The field is always evolving and there’s always new things that we can learn about. So I really like that that we don’t have to put ourselves in a box necessarily with it.

28:54 Bradley
Well, I’m glad that you brought that up because one of my questions was in the field of psychology, ongoing professional development is crucial. Keeping up to date with everything and expanding your repertoire of skills and knowledge. Then you can treat more people and so you can see more people. How do you stay up to date with the latest research and advancements in your area?

29:15 Lauren
Yeah. Yeah. So I read all the magazines that come through right Psychology Today magazine, the magazine from APA. I’m a member of APA. And so, and obviously we have our CEUs. You know, you gotta get your 36 hours. I try to attend trainings in person if I can because I think you just you get more out of it than when you’re reading something online. I I have my brain health book club where every month I choose a new book relating to psychology, personal development and we almost always have the authors join our book club calls, which are really fun. Because we get to talk to the author in real time. So that’s a great way that I get to keep learning. So there’s lots of ways that I really try and stay abreast of the information and the last thing you might find is kind of a little funny, but I go into Google and I set all these keywords of things that I want a daily report on, even something as simple phrase as study finds. And that will tell me if there’s anything happening. College mental health is another one that I have, for example. And then I post those articles on my new threads account for example so that other people can learn about the latest research and I share that on TikTok too. So I’m trying to consume this content and I’m also trying to help otherepople consume the content too.

30:34 Bradley
What? Let’s talk about students for another second here. What are some other essential skills or qualities that you believe all psychology students should cultivate during their education and training?

30:48 Lauren
I’d say two key things. One is really having that empathy, that compassion for others. At the end of the day, I really do feel like this is a career about helping and serving other people. And so really having a passion to, you know, connect with other human beings, we were talking about that at the very beginning of the show. And see where you feel called and where you feel drawn. You know, I think that’s what’s harder sometimes when students are starting out, it’s like I want to work with everybody and do everything, you know, and try all the things, but also be honest with yourself about where you really feel that draw. On the flip side of that, though, is also really learning how to self-regulate how to self-set boundaries, how to not people please you know, because the best clinicians I would say are the ones who don’t just people please their clients necessarily who aren’t you know rah rah rah all the time. You know, it’s so easy to just validate everything the client is saying and that can be good, but we also really want to help our clients look at all sides of a situation you know and help them maybe have empathy for the people in their lives, people who they may be having challenge with. And so really starting to hold that nuance of, yes, having compassion for others, but also still boundaries and really practicing that self-care because we do hear a lot, we’ve taken a lot and I think a lot of client or a lot of students wonder how am I going to be able to hear all these things and self-regulate? You know, doesn’t that depress you to be a therapist, that kind of thing. And really teaching ourselves you’re not a bad person. You’re not unempathetic if you’re able to take in that information and still at the end of the day, let it go. And and I think that’s a skill that we learn over time. But I think, you know, I wish I had heard that message starting out and so hopefully that’s something helpful.

32:41 Bradley
And also don’t be afraid to reach out to some other colleagues when you first start out in that type of environment, check yourself with them. Hey, I’m. I’m feeling really down and depressed about this last client. How can I get rid of that and be ready for my next one? Or more importantly and or more importantly, not bring it home to my family. And so don’t be afraid to talk to others who’ve been doing it for a while. So.

33:06 Lauren
Yep, exactly.

33:08 Bradley
You are the author of two books and you have another book coming out in September of this year called Generation Anxiety: A Millennial and Gen Z Guide to Staying Afloat in an Uncertain World, and that’s coming out September 19th. So, here’s the screen on Amazon with all three books, and then you could look at each of these books separately, but tell us a little bit more about Generation Anxiety and why you wrote it.

33:38 Lauren
Yeah. So it’s been interesting. I’ve had the the experience of self-publishing and now Generation Anxiety is what we’d call traditionally published. So, it’s been really fascinating to have those two different experiences. Both have been great in different ways, but Generation Anxiety is I really wanted to tailor it to millennials and Gen Z and also the family members who are supporting millennial and Gen Z person, we are just seeing anxiety go through the roof. I’m very candid about my own lived experience with anxiety and how I’ve been able to work through that in my own life. And so, I really wanted to give people the tools to really figure out how to cope with anxiety and it’s through what I call “empowered acceptance.” We need to accept the challenges that we’re facing. We can’t run away so much of the time with anxiety, we want to avoid and put our head in the sand. You know, even as we look at this major heat wave that we’re in right now. I’m here in Los Angeles. It is so hot out. Right. As we look at things like climate change and the anxiety that brings for folks, for example, we can’t just ignore that, we have to accept and acknowledge this is the situation we’re in. But we also have to add in the second piece this empowered acceptance kind of this supercharged acceptance, if you will, of really still taking action and not being apathetic when we feel overwhelmed. But really, coming together collectively and saying, OK, we need to do something about this, whether it’s the gun violence that we’re seeing in this country, climate change like I mentioned, or really this loneliness epidemic, we need to come together collectively and be empowered. So that’s very much what the book is about. A holistic approach to healing our anxiety.

35:19 Bradley
And as you saw when I was sharing the screen, you can pre-order or you can actually use you know your some of your some of us have credits for Kindle or audio books and stuff. So you can use those credits to get those as well. So, I want to mention you mentioned one other thing. You have another speaking engagement tomorrow, but I you and I had talked about this before we started about CAMPUSPEAK. So tell us a little bit more about CAMPUSPEAK. You’re a professional speaker associated with CAMPUSPEAK. So, tell us a little bit more about CAMPUSPEAK.

35:53 Lauren
Yeah. So and and you might have seen it there when we were looking on Amazon. So my very first book, my first brand I was I went by The Sunny Girl and I spoke about all about happiness and the research behind that. That’s how I got started with CAMPUSPEAK. Now, what’s really interesting about CAMPUSPEAK is you can apply directly yourself, and that’s what I did. I applied three times before I was accepted to CAMPUSPEAK, and then a few years ago, out of the 50 plus speakers as voted by my peers as Speaker of the Year. So, it’s just a reminder there are going to be a lot of rejections that come your way. I have had so many rejections, especially with speaking and you know, writing a book, there’s a lot of people who tell you no. And so much of the time we get really discouraged when we hear that no, we feel like it’s that sign from the universe. I’m not meant to do this. And really, you know, it’s fostering that heartiness that resilience of, hey, if you really are passionate about something, don’t give up. Keep going and you know, I’m so glad I did that because CAMPUSPEAK has been an outstanding agency to work with. They have sent me all throughout the country to speak about mental health. On different universities and college campuses, I love that work and you know, I’ve been with them for five plus years now. It’s been an amazing partnership. And like I said, it’s funded my way through Graduate School. So, if if anybody listening is interested in speaking, it’s a great, great thing to do to add to your repertoire of skills because people need and want this information. I think we forget when you’re in the field of psychology because we live and breathe it all the time, that everybody knows, you know this information. But you get out there and you know, information about suicide prevention, working through anxiety and depression, how to support someone who’s struggling. A lot of people don’t have that so if we can provide that through speaking. I think it’s great.

37:48 Bradley
I agree this is going to be a tough question for you, you’re so busy, you’re doing all these different things, and I think we touched on almost every aspect of what you’re doing for your job. And so, what do you love most about your job?

38:03 Lauren
That is a tough question. You got me there. You know. It really, I’d say, is a tie between working one-on-one with my therapy clients and my speaking. They’re so different and my soul is a little bit of a Yin-Yang, you know, I grew up as a little bit of a theater kid, I I love that like performing aspect and speaking really fills my bucket there. But there’s also that side of me that loves that, like intimacy of the one-on-one connection, those deeper conversations and therapy really fills that bucket for me. And you know, I’m on maternity leave right now and I’m not really getting either right now. And so, it’s been really fascinating to see, like, where I feel those pulls. I miss the comfort of being with my clients. I love that. And speaking is a little more like, keep me on my toes. A little more like ohh you know. You never quite know how an audience of 500 plus people is gonna react. So there’s a little part of me that’s like, ohh, I don’t know if I missed that too much, but I think that’s just my anxiety of having a some time away from that part of my life so it’s a Yin and Yang. Can I give you two, is that OK?

39:16 Bradley
Yes, that’s definitely OK. And I I should, I already told you congratulations. But I want to say it live on the air as well. Or in this recording. Congratulations on your newborn, 8 weeks old, a little baby boy. So, congratulations. That’s exciting for you.

39:27 Lauren
Thank you. Yeah, it’s been a whole journey, wrestling, motherhood and career. And, you know, I think a lot of people are, quite frankly, pretty afraid of like, how do I balance, you know, working in the field of psychology and having a child and that that was kind of a rule I had set for myself. I want to be licensed before I have a child, not to say that you can’t do it other ways, obviously. But you know, it’s something that I’m figuring out in real time and so far, here I am bright eyed and bushy tailed. So we’re figuring it out somewhere the other.

40:07 Bradley
Good, good. At the end of all of our podcast shows, we usually ask some fun questions of our guests. So, the first one I ask is tell us something unique about yourself.

40:20 Lauren
So, I am a like pretty die-hard Disney fan. I love all things Disney. Fun fact about me, I was in the Disney parade as a kid with my dad growing up so I’m not sure he really loved that getting pulled into the parade and dancing with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, but that was like a highlight of my childhood, and I still love Disney. I can’t wait to take my son.

40:42 Bradley
Nice. Nice. Was that land or world?

40:46 Lauren
Land because I’m in Los Angeles, so I went to Disneyland many a time as a kid.

40:51 Bradley
Very good, very good. What is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?

40:58 Lauren
Ooh, I live and breathe, breathe, acceptance and commitment therapy. I’m a big Steven Hayes fan and love all things ACT, so yeah.

41:10 Bradley
OK. And then the other one, getting back to the students, do you have any other advice for those who are interested in the field of psychology or opening their own private practice?

41:20 Lauren
Hmm, just continue to to reach out to providers. You know, we are in a helping profession. So, a lot of times people want to help you when you have questions. So even if it’s, let’s say you follow someone on Instagram. That you love their content about mental health? Send them a DM. Ask if you can have a virtual coffee with them, chances are likely that they will want to help you out, or they can refer you to someone who can.

41:45 Bradley
That’s great advice. If you have the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?

41:55 Lauren
You know one thing we didn’t get to do before having the baby and before the pandemic was a whole trip we had planned to Australia. So I, and Australia is so big, right? I feel like you need like a good like 2-3 weeks to to do it right. So, I think I’d vote for that.

42:10 Bradley
That sounds wonderful. I’ve never been. Is there anything else that you would like to discuss or bring up on this podcast?

42:19 Lauren
I think that just about covers it, but make sure for people listening to I know we say that ad nauseam, but make sure to keep up with your self-care. It is so easy to, you know, talk the talk and not walk the walk and so incorporate your self-care. Get yourself a pet that you love who can be your little therapy animal. That’s what my cat Mochi is to me. And, you know, I will say it’s rare that I find a provider who doesn’t love what they do. It’s rare that someone tells me they regret entering this field. So, if you feel like you have the passion and you want to do it, it is the best thing to be a part of, and so I hope everybody listening finds their right fit.

43:04 Bradley
Lauren, I really, truly appreciate you taking the time on maternity leave to talk to us and be on our podcast show. So thank you so much.

43:13 Lauren
Thank you, Brad. Good to be with you.

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