Dr. Martin Hsia grew up in Los Angeles, CA and first took an interest in psychology while in high school but wasn’t quite sure. He had friends who really loved history, chemistry, and math but recalls “none of those really kind of felt like they were going to be my jam. I thought maybe I’d be interested in medicine, because I kind of like the idea of helping people.” He attended Tufts University in Medford, MA and realized that med school wasn’t his thing either and eventually gravitated back towards psychology. In this podcast, Dr. Hsia discusses his academic and professional journey and the serendipitous circumstances that led him to Fuller Graduate School of Theology then to Fuller Graduate School of Psychology and eventually led him to become the Executive Director of a private practice called Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California (CBTSoCal).
After Dr. Hsia received his BA in Psychology and Spanish at Tufts University, he admits “I didn’t really think about being a clinician, being a therapist at the time.” He was hired in an administrative role for a large provider of mental health services around the greater Boston area in their intake department. In this role, he interacted with people who were calling for therapy services for medication management. He states, “on the back end, [I] also interacted with the clinicians, the psychiatrists, the clinical nurse specialists, the social workers, and the psychologists and it really was a, a great exposure to being in the world [of psychology].”
Out of all the psychology graduate schools in California, Dr. Hsia only applied to one graduate school. During our discussion, he shares why he chose Fuller Graduate School of Theology and Fuller Graduate School of Psychology for his PsyD in Clinical Psychology. He liked “a component of integrating sort of spirituality and issues of existentialism and faith, worldviews was really important to me, and so it just interested me because Fuller’s program is unique.”
He also explains why he decided to earn his PsyD instead of a PhD. He admits “I didn’t even know the difference between those two until I applied to graduate school.” Once he learned the difference, he recalls that he was more interested “in being a therapist and the PsyD was much more clinically focused in that regard” so “that’s the path I chose.”
Dr. Hsia shares his advice for those interested in the field of psychology and explains those who are considering doctoral studies, “typically in clinical psychology, the last year is a full year working as a pre-doctoral intern before you get your degree.” He shares his experience at Loma Linda VA Hospital as a pre doctoral intern and as a postdoctoral fellow in the trauma recovery program working with veterans and former service members dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other conditions.
During our discussion about how he became the Executive Director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California (CBTSoCal), Dr. Hsia explains how his “good friend and former colleague and mentor Dr. Rodney Boone…founded the practice quite a number of years ago.” He explains that the practice specializes in working with people who have OCD, anxiety disorders, and insomnia among other things. CBTSoCal has two locations: one in Torrance (South Bay) and another in Glendale (San Fernando/San Gabriel Valleys).
In this podcast, we discussed Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as well as two approaches for treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) including Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), sometimes referred to as Exposure with Response Prevention, and Inference-Based CBT (I-CBT). Near the end of our podcast discussion, Dr. Hsia also discusses body dysmorphic disorder which falls under the larger umbrella of OCD. You can jump to around 38:55 to find out more about this disorder.
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Interests and Specializations
Dr. Martin Hsia specializes in helping people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, insomnia, and provides consultation regarding communication, problem-solving, and communication. Dr. Hsia also applies CBT in his treatment of individuals with ADHA, depression, gambling addiction, and trichotillomania.
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology, Spanish (2001); Tufts University, Medford, MA.
Master of Arts (MA), Christian Leadership; Fuller Graduate School of Theology, Pasadena, CA.
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Clinical Psychology (2008); Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Pasadena, CA.
Other Sources and Links of Interest
Dr. Martin Hsia: Psychology Today
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. Martin Hsia to the show. Dr. Hsia is a licensed psychologist and executive director at the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Southern California, otherwise known as CBTSoCal. He specializes in helping people with OCD, anxiety, and ADHD. Today we will learn more about his academic and professional journey and what he and others at CBTSoCal do and what he loves most about his job. Dr. Hsia, welcome to our podcast.
Pleasure Brad. I look forward to speaking with you.
Well, I’m excited to have you on the show. To start off, just tell me a little bit more about your undergraduate studies and when you first took an interest in psychology.
Right, so I attended undergraduate studies at Tufts University in Boston and ahh I had, you know, had an interest in sort of psychology, at least what I thought it was in high school just because, you know, I had friends who loved history and another friend that loved chemistry and really sort of found their thing and or you know friends who really into, into math and none of those really kind of felt like they were going to be my jam. I thought maybe I’d be interested in medicine, because I kind of like the idea of helping people. And, you know, being a professional in that regard. But I was also just really interested in in kind of people and motivation and personality and things like that. So, I went when I went when I first went to, got to Tufts, I thought, well, maybe I’ll I, I sort of was an unofficially declared psychology major, but with a possible eye open still to, you know, maybe pre Med coursework and then I remember within the first week of college I saw my friends in the dorm who were doing, you know, bio 10 homework, their first pre Med classes and I said I guess I’m not going to Med school because that looked out of my league. And anyways, long story short, yeah, I mean at my university international relations, international business, and economics is really big, so I kind of considered that for a while just ’cause that’s what a lot of people were doing, but eventually gravitated back towards psychology and, uhm, I, you know, got my degree, undergraduate degree.
I believe you majored in both psychology and Spanish am I, am I right?
I did, it was a double major, you know, I had studied Spanish in high school and really enjoyed the language and I studied abroad so it just sort of made sense to, you know, take enough classes and, and have that major as well.
So, at what point did you actually think about continuing your, your career academically and to get your graduate degree in psychology, then was that while you were going through, or was it before, during, after your undergrad? Tell me a little bit more about that.
Right, yeah, so as I said, I sort of it’s it was sort of waves of a I guess life calling if you will where I sort of said I think that sounds like something I might be interested in and sort of veered away from it in my sophomore year and then sort of came back to you, got my degree and then I graduated and sort of said well, I, I don’t think I want to teach. I’m not really interested in research and I didn’t really think about being a clinician, being a therapist at the time for whatever reason and so I just graduated and you know did some temp work and because of a degree in psychology was hired in an administrative role in, you know, sort of like a large you know, provider of mental health services around the Greater Boston area, uh, in their sort of intake department. So, I was handling phone intakes and, in that role, really got to both interact with people who were calling for therapy for services for medication management for everything under the sun. And on the back end, also interacted with the clinicians, the psychiatrists, the clinical nurse specialists, the social workers, and the psychologists and it really was a, a great exposure to being in the world that you know and, and so and I said, hey, maybe this maybe I wouldn’t pursue graduate studies in this and, and then eventually that’s what happened so.
And eventually you attended Graduate School at Fuller Graduate School of Theology in Pasadena, CA. I believe you received your masters in Christian leadership. And then you continued on for your PsyD in clinical psychology within the same school, I believe. But it was the School of Psychology at Fuller instead. So, tell me, you know, there were so many different schools, graduate schools, in the state of California, and you know I’ll share my screen and just give an example here real quick. Let me go here and share right here and you’ll see. Here’s the state of California. Tons and tons of schools here, but I highlighted for, for you and for our audience, if they’re looking as well, here’s Fuller and they do have actually offer a Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Science. And then, you move forward, and you can see both of these on this line, a PhD and a PsyD in Clinical Psychology. So, tell us how did you decide on going to Fuller instead of all these other schools?
It’s funny thinking about the answer to that question at this point so many years later, Brad because I only, it was, it was in some ways very haphazard looking back at it, I was moving back from the East Coast. I grew up here in the Los Angeles area and I was just returning home to be closer to, you know, family and extended family without a real plan and in the just a few weeks before I was going to move back without a specific plan in place, I heard about this program through another friend of mine, and before I, I had even decided I was going to pursue graduate studies in psychology and I said, huh, that’s in Pasadena, that’s, you know, reasonable driving distance from home. You know it’s, it’s, you know it’s a legitimate graduate program and it’s clinical psychology. It was interesting. It was, you know, as I had learned more about it, I was interested in it. And you know, just a component of integrating sort of spirituality and issues of existentialism and faith, worldviews was really important to me and, and so it just interested me because Fuller’s program is unique as you sort of alluded to, it is a seminary so they have a school theology where you know they train people who are, you know, pursuing ministry and, and, you know higher academic roles in sort of Christian theology and stuff, and they have a school of psychology, so and there’s very much sort of an integration and an interplay between those two worlds. And so, it was the only school I looked at, and it was the only school I applied to. And fortunately, they, they accepted me and, uh, and no regrets. It was, it was a, it was a great fit for me and have great memories and, and was very much shaped and formed there. So, I wouldn’t necessarily advise that perhaps way of doing it for anyone. Anyone else who’s pursuing graduate studies that I might if it was my own child or someone I’m mentoring, I’d probably advise maybe a little bit more systematic research, as even as you demonstrated. And a second error, but that’s just, just the way I went about it and I’m glad it worked out.
Everybody has, I as you and I were talking before we started the podcast, everybody has a different kind of journey and so I thank you for sharing that. I, I am curious, how did you decide whether or not you were going to get the PhD or go the PhD route versus the PsyD? Can you speak to that for a moment?
Right, and I didn’t even know the difference between those two until I applied to Graduate School. I had never heard of a PsyD. Many people who have never, you know, know and don’t know anything about clinical psychology don’t know what a PsyD is, but you know, once I was explained the difference and you know the PhD you know entailed more, more of a research focus, more of a path towards an academic career which just kind of didn’t seem like me. I was more interested in, in being a therapist and the PsyD was much more clinically focused in that regard and so that, uhm, that’s the path I chose, yeah.
And I should mention for our audience that the Fuller Theological Seminary is APA accredited. And so, for some people, if you want to make sure that you get the credentials, it’s important to be aware of that program in the school if they are APA accredited as well. So, I’m not saying you can’t do anything, you can’t, you know, pursue a career, but if you want to get that licensure then you should pay more attention to that APA accreditation. Now, I know that you did a postdoctoral fellowship at Loma Linda, VA, and you trained using some evidence-based treatments for PTSD. Tell us a little bit more about that experience.
Yeah, again, really grateful for that experience. I, so I was actually there for two years. My first year was as a pre doctoral intern, and so I guess, for viewers who are considering doctoral studies, typically in clinical psychology, the last year is a full year working as a, as a pre doctoral intern before you get your degree, so I was I matched at the Loma Linda VA Hospital was very delighted to be there soaked up everything I could. Facilitated every possible group that there was an opportunity for, uhm, and then fortunately was able to stay on to do one extra year as a postdoctoral fellow in the Trauma recovery program there. So yeah, I mean, you know we’re working with the veterans you know, former service members of across the board. Obviously in the trauma recovery program, a lot of veterans who had actually been in combat. A lot of veterans don’t actually serve in combat zones. But you know, a lot of folks that had served in Vietnam era at, at that time, there was a lot of younger folks coming back. Very young veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, some folks that that served in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, and, and even some World War II vets. There was, you know, I that was just fascinating and, and really interesting to work with people of across different major areas of service across life spans. You know, and to tell people who had who had served. And obviously we’re dealing with a lot of different things. All, all the, everything, all the things that you hear about you know the nature of post-traumatic stress and everything around that returning from war. So, so yeah. And that’s, that’s just a, a brief intro to some of the things that I got to be involved with and help people with for a couple of years.
Now you already mentioned one thing. I had a question here what was important to you when selecting a graduate psychology program? You already mentioned proximity. Some of the faith, uh, based teachings as well. If you were going to give some advice to other people that were interested in whether they were getting a PsyD or PhD, what kind of other advice would you advise them on when they’re trying to select a graduate psychology program?
Right, yeah, yeah. I mean, I suppose a number of factors, yeah, as we sort of said the location emphasis. I mean, I think if someone is very clear that they want to be, you know heavily in an academic role teaching undergraduate students, teaching graduate students, contributing to the body of, of literature you know then. Probably, maybe, maybe gravitated towards a larger like a state program around here at UCLA, USC. You know where there’s, there’s a heavy component, and those are typically going to be PhD programs, maybe more so than a PsyD program because of the heavy research component. But then there’s you know, sort of professional schools of psychology that you know are, are private and, and, and may have larger cohorts of students. Around here, in the LA area, we have Alliant University, or it used to be the California School of Professional Psychology. A lot of great colleagues, people on our team graduated from there. Uhm so yeah, and I think it’s also you know you might look at the faculty at a certain program and if you have a specific, you know, clinical interest or research interest, you that would obviously be a consideration. And then I guess, I suppose the, the reputation of a program I, again, I was very fortunate. I didn’t know much about Fuller or graduate training in psychology at all. But it, it turns out once I got to my graduate program, you know Fuller actually had a very good reputation in the area for the caliber of student and the level of training that they produced. For us and the people that had came before for myself and my cohort mates, we’re doing great work in the field, and we’re well received, and you know, getting matched for, for great programs for predoctoral internships and beyond. So that helps. And then I’m very grateful for that.
Good, I know that you mentioned. I know I mentioned earlier that at one point you, you didn’t even consider going the clinical route and becoming a clinical psychologist, so. Try to think back and, and was there a point at which you thought, OK, this is kind of cool. I love this and was it the first time that you actually worked at one of those practices or tell me you know at what point, basically, did you know that you wanted to become a clinical psychologist?
Yeah man, I think it was. Again, it’s very weird in my case because it might have just been in the moment when I saw when I learned about my graduate program and it was sort of looking over the shoulder of my friend who was saying, hey, you’re moving to LA and there’s you know, have you heard of Fuller and like somewhere maybe yeah, and you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a seminary and they have a School of Psychology and I said, huh? And it was, it was just sort of those weird all in a moment like. And then I sort of it was like. Getting incepted with an idea whereas like huh and I kept thinking about and returning to the website and this is, you know, websites in you know the early 2000s, right? And just, it’s like maybe, maybe I could really do this and that’s where it’s it. Just kind of all came together in a matter of few days. And like I said in the last few weeks before I moved back to California. Yeah, I you know approached a couple professors and some people I had worked with there about, you know references and was able to kind of cobble that together last minute before leaving, so it was sort of a serendipitous in a sense.
Well, it does sound like it. It sounds like it all came together quite fast for you, and it jelled for you. I, I believe you’ve worked at multiple different practices, and one thing that I picked up on was you were actually an adjunct faculty, you had an adjunct faculty appointment I should say, at USC Keck Hospital and I believe you were supervising the psychiatry residents on their CBT training. Tell us a little bit more about that experience and, for our audience members, they often wonder how did you find that opportunity, or how did you find these types of opportunities?
Yeah, well, I, I’m, I’m currently in that role. It’s a, it’s a volunteer voluntary faculty appointment as I forget the appointment of the actual title clinical or adjunct professor with psychiatry and behavioral sciences. And I did some something similar previously. Actually, at my alma mater at Fuller, supervising their doctoral students. Those, those are clinical psychology graduate students. So, these are, these are residents these are physicians, uh, you know pursuing psychiatry and so as part of, you know the residency training. In their third year, they have, uh, they, they get to do some psychotherapy and not all you know. Obviously, most physicians don’t have that training at all but in psychiatry, you know, they’re, they’re very, very steeped in, you know, medication management and, and psychopharmacology and all that. But it’s great that they also have a training component to actually learning the models of psychotherapy, to be able to practice that so, at USC Psychiatry residency program here in LA, they have both supervision from a psychoanalytic perspective, psychoanalytic supervisors and CBT supervisors. And so. So that’s the role I’m in and have been really enjoying. You know, working with physicians as, as supervisees for the last few years.
What’s the most challenging aspect of that role?
Most challenging aspects, uhm, it’s really not challenging to be honest, because I mean most of these residents are, you know, they’re, they’re, uhm, eager and intelligent and really, you know, really interested in hearing, you know perspective on, I’m not a physician, you know, and, and so obviously they have expertise that I don’t have, never have, but they’re very eager to hear you know about anything I have to offer from my work in the clinical field. In my experience and things that will benefit their patients so. It’s, it’s really, it’s really, it’s actually very enjoyable, very stimulating, and I really can’t say there’s much challenging about it other than that it’s all been over, over, over zoom, even though it’s technically within driving distance, but I sort of started this during the pandemic and so but.
Well, for everybody who’s listening.
Yeah, for everybody who’s listening. I want to remind everybody that you are a licensed psychologist. And as I mentioned earlier, you’re the Executive Director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California. I’ve seen on some of your videos and, and even on your website and social media you refer to it as CBTSoCal and I’m going to share my screen again and I want you to tell me a little bit more about the center. How you found this opportunity? And then how does this center differ from maybe some of the other centers or other practices out there? So, while I’m sharing my screen, go ahead and tell me a little bit more about the center.
Yeah, sure, you know we, we refer to it as CBTSoCal just because it’s a bit of a mouthful to say Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California and our, you know, website URL has always just been CBTSoCal. And this website is actually in the process of getting overhauled too, so it would look different than maybe just a few weeks. But in any case, yeah, my, my good friend and former colleague and mentor Dr. Rodney Boone, he was an Assistant Professor at UCLA for many years and recently retired, but he founded the practice quite a number of years ago, as, and you know it. It’s been a group practice for many years specializing in working with people with OCD, anxiety disorders, insomnia among lots of other things that we see people with certain body, bodily-focused, repetitive behaviors. I work with people with depression, ADHD. We’re starting to do some testing and assessment services as well, and you know, I came to the practice almost 10 years. And uhm, after having worked at a couple other group practices and it just it’s, it’s a great fit just there’s a lot more things for me to learn. Enjoyed the chance to work with primarily adults as my as you know where I do my best work, but also kind of some older teens and, and we, we also work with, I don’t work a lot with kids at this point myself, but a lot of folks on our team do. Uhm, so we just see a lot of very kind of specialized things that, you know, in another practice I’ve worked at and sort of generally going through training I either didn’t, you know, didn’t see a lot of it didn’t have much training in or, or even if it did feature, you know, kind of. We didn’t really have the specialized environment to, to, to really learn the effective skills for dealing with it. Uhm, you know, again, depending on who’s watching or listening to this. I mean, cognitive behavior therapy is sort of one major school of thought or one large umbrella theoretical orientation for doing psychotherapy. And in contrast to sort of the psychoanalytic traditions which are always also very rich and very important, you know, CBT is in general a little bit more sort of hands on a little bit more directive a little bit more tangible. We traditionally we think of CBT as a little bit more of a time limited evidence-based approach but, you know, in private practice we, we want to just meet people where, where, where they’re at, and so we apply the skills and the theories and all the tools of CBT. But in in a very flexible way and you know, we work with people short-term, and they get what they need out of it, great, but we also work with people longer term ’cause, you know, people are people, and no one is the same, so. Yeah, I don’t know. I could keep going on and on, but if other questions come up, yeah.
No, that’s good. That’s good. I, I like hearing more about it. There’s one thing to read about it online, and another thing to actually speak to somebody who’s actually there. I should mention you have two different locations, one in Torrance in South Bay and the other in Glendale which is in San Fernando and San Gabriel Valley. The other thing that I, I really love doing when I’m bringing guests on is, is doing all the research and I found a lot of your YouTube videos and some of them were quite fun to listen to as well. And but in one of those videos, I remember that you had talked about Exposure Response Prevention or ERP. Can you tell us a little bit more about that.
Right, so exposure and response, Exposure with Response Prevention, or ERP, is sort of a, uh. I guess one approach, uh, one psychotherapy tool, I guess, that’s under the larger umbrella of cognitive behavioral therapy and, uh, it’s probably the, you know, one of the major approaches for helping people with OCD. And how I would generally think about it is, you know, ERP, exposure with response prevention, exposure is more targeted toward the “O” in OCD. Obsessions as unwanted thoughts, anxieties, fears, fear, you know, images is confronting them rather than avoiding them. So, avoiding thoughts and images that are uncomfortable is the most natural and intuitive response, but in the long run is not actually helpful or productive. And then the “RP” in ERP, response prevention is, you know, tailored to the “C” in OCD, the compulsions, which is anything geared towards finding immediate relief neutralizing the obsessions. Trying to reduce anxiety, in you, know ill-fated ways or dealing with the ruminative thoughts. And so, it’s sort of flipping OCD on its head and giving people tools and the encouragement, the support and the coaching to find ways to, systematically again sort of confront fears and decrease the anxiety that OCD really can, can bring upon someone. So, ERP is a major tool and a very established treatment in the research and in the OCD specialist community. It’s not the only tool that we use with OCD, but, but it is a is a very powerful one.
So, I’ll share my screen again and here’s that YouTube video. I brought this up while you were talking about it and the important role of ERP in the treatment of OCD with you and a guest kind of having a casual conversation about this as well. You have some other YouTube videos here. PsychRally, I believe was the podcast that you guys were doing for quite a while there and you also have a podcast within CBTSoCal as well, and that’s right here. And so, if you’re interested in in a little bit more to learn more about some of these therapies as well as anything dealing with anxiety, I’d highly recommend and we’ll, we’ll include this on the website when we go live with this podcast as well.
I should clarify Brad, sorry, just the yeah that first one you showed was I, I was actually the guest.
The host there was Natasha Daniels and she’s a does a lot of great work with children and youth dealing with OCD and anxiety. And actually, the link to the podcast on our, our website is actually similar links to what we have here. PsychRally was the name of a podcast that that we did a number of years ago but yeah, yeah.
Good, good. OK no that’s good. And then these two right here were, were interesting to me. I actually listened to these as well. These were a couple of the Moments of Meaning a few years ago that you basically shared some experiences that you had with some of your clients so the audience could actually understand and almost put themselves, I felt like I was in in their shoes. You know, like this one was about overcoming gambling addiction in therapy and then the other one was this one about. I can’t remember what this one was about, it was. Oh, I think it started off. He asked that question. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he said Dr. Hsia or Martin, have you ever considered or have you ever killed someone? Was that the right one? Yeah, so that, that struck me right away.
Yeah, the, the Moments of Meaning project was sort of spawned by a colleague of mine in the LA area here and it was sort of basically the idea that you know, kind of like a Ted Talk style event where you know it’s sort of, you know, written and produced, and obviously we don’t disclose, you know, confidential information so some stories were told by colleagues that were sort of with the permission of the person they work with, but most of them are sort of disguised basically, you know where a lot of details were changed, so they’d be unrecognizable if, if anyone were to peer themselves in it, but, but yeah, it was basically so the, the mission to destigmatize what happens in therapy. Therapists are real people too, have our own reactions and our own things that go on and but also to, to humanize the process ’cause you know there’s billions of dollars that go out there marketing, psychiatric drugs there’s no unified marketing effort for, for therapy and for counseling other than what you see in maybe movies and shows, which is always not, uh, not always a positive portrayal. So that was, that was the mission there.
And so, since you are a therapist, I have to ask this question if you yourself were in therapy, how would you describe the ideal therapist?
Well yeah, uhm. Well, I mean I think it, it, it depends on, on a lot of things, you know. Depending on, on what a person is dealing with right? I mean if, if you’re dealing with something very specific, let’s say like OCD, you’d want to work with someone who very much knows what they’re doing with something like that or eating disorders or substance abuse or something. I think for a lot of folks, if it’s you know otherwise are, are not, I guess you could say, you know, acutely debilitated by a specific issue, but maybe dealing with some sort of a more general form of anxiety, or a general depression. Then, you know, sometimes it’s a matter of just is this, the goodness of fit, is this is the person I feel a connection with you, you know that I’m in a similar wavelength with and that may be colored by a number of things. Do we share some similar traits to, you know, feel a cisgendered male? Do you feel more you know, seen by a fellow cisgendered male, if you’re, uh, more nonbinary, do you feel more comfortable being seen by, by someone else who’s, who’s gender diverse, etc.. Someone from a similar ethnic background, a spiritual background, so a constellation of factors that can really vary person to person and at different times, even perhaps.
And I did see I, I did share on the screen a little bit meeting your team and meeting our team at the CBTSoCal and I did see Rodney Boone down there, but we had a good variety of people with PhDs, PsyDs, LMFT and, and so you even add AMFT and ACSW, we’re throwing out all these acronyms but a lot of different experiences and certifications and a wide variety of people from which to choose if somebody wanted to go to your center as well, a good variety of people that you can select from. I want to share one other thing, but before I do that, I should ask you kind of what’s kind of general advice that you could give somebody who’s trying to break into the field of psychology. You know, I’m, I’m kind of interested in it, but where should I go? What should I do to really find out if I’m really? If this is really something for me?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think even just what the, the, the show that you’re producing here, Brad, is, is obviously a great resource. People are able to hear from different psychologists and kind of their journeys into the field through the field and what, what we’re doing with our degrees and with our training. So just resources like this are, are fantastic. There’s I mean I just have to think there’s so much more information out there now than when I, or when you, applied to Graduate School in terms of being able to connect with other students, social media groups, and forums for people comparing notes about their experiences with various graduate programs. So, it’s, it’s hard to think from the perspective of you know myself so, so many years ago, because times are so different. But I guess that’s probably what I’d be. I’d be thinking other than what we discussed earlier in terms of the different, you know, criteria to consider. But yeah, I mean otherwise it’s, I think it, you know, people I, I feel like people aren’t going to pursue a four- or five- or six-year degree and you know the financing of that. That’s a big commitment. If they, if they don’t. If you’re not really. If it doesn’t really speak to you, you know it’s not the kind of thing you do, and you sort of say no I did that because my mom told me to do it and I realized, that it wasn’t for me, for the most part, right?
You might hear that with other with other professional trajectories, but for the most part when I feel like, you know, people, if you’re committed to this, if you, if you made this choice here, you’re, you’re pretty, for the most part, have, have a sense of really feeling like this is this is what you want to do.
I agree with you, I’m going to share my screen one more time. Just some of the social media sites out here you have Facebook for CBTSoCal, out here. Some very good posts on here as well. Congratulations, by the way, I meant to say this, you were honored as a recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Member of the Year Award by San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association. So, congratulations.
Uh, I also noticed that in your history that you. I believe you volunteered with the local professional chapter of psychologists, and you were on the board for a number of years, so that’s yet another way to get involved and find out if you really like this field of psychology. Tell me a little bit more about that experience.
Well, that relates to the, uh, the, the plaque and the, the Distinguished Member Award you mentioned there. So, it’s the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association is the, the local chapter of psychologists in this area. It’s a sub chapter of the California Psychological Association which I think has maybe 12 or 13 local chapters throughout our state. And yeah, I mean it’s just a great way to get to know you and it’s connected with other colleagues, not just for cross referring for different purposes, but just to you know, be part of a, you know, the professional community. To share resources to advocate together and just be in the know with what’s going on at a state level because things are always changing in terms of, you know, regulations and continuing Ed requirements, and I think there’s even some statistic that says membership and involvement in professional associations is highly negatively correlated with malpractice suits. So, people who are not involved with their professional communities are more statistically prone to that, so you know if that puts you at ease. It puts people at ease too. But uhm, but I’ve enjoyed it, I was, I was served on the board for SGVPA, San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association, for nine years. And so that’s, you know, probably a major reason they honored me with that award.
Well, it’s interesting that those statistics that you just shared. I never thought about that, but yeah, it exists. Malpractice suits do exist, so I’m sharing the screen again there. CBTSoCal also has a Twitter page you can follow and then you have the PsychRally that you were mentioning before also has a Twitter page. And then you have your LinkedIn page here as well. So, if you wanted to find out a little bit more about Dr. Hsia and the clinic and the practice go online and we’ll, we’ll include these links as well. The last thing that we usually do at the end of our podcast is asking a couple fun questions, and one of them is tell me something unique about yourself, Martin.
Unique, uh well, yeah, I mean like you alluded to it earlier, so I had a second degree in, in Spanish and lived abroad in Spain for a semester. I don’t look like the typical person who you would envision speaking Spanish and it’s deteriorated over time, to be honest, just from lack of use, but that was always, you know, sometimes people didn’t wouldn’t expect someone like me spoke Spanish but, but I enjoy foreign language and, uh, my Mandarin is at a decent level at this point too, so, so yeah. And I, and, and I, I enjoy running. I was a I was a sprinter in high school and ran for 9 years so that’s something you know as a fan of the sport and fan of competitive track and field, that’s something I follow.
OK, yeah, I did read someplace that you, you had that double major Spanish as well as Mandarin in your history as well, so I only speak one. I know a little bit of Spanish. I’m part German, but I, I don’t speak German at all. Maybe a couple words, maybe hi, bye, thank you.
Not yet, not yet.
Yeah, not yet. No, that’s true. So, I, I ask a lot of my guests what’s your favorite term, principle, or theory, and why?
Yeah, term principle. So, this is a specifically within the field you mean.
Any anything actually, I’ve had some guests talk about one of these terms within the field of psychology. Others have gone outside of the field, so.
I see, yeah, I think what comes to mind is, you know we talked earlier about ERP, exposure with response prevention for OCD, and you know the other major angle that we’re using a lot with OCD is what we call the inference-based model. The inference-based approach or, or inference-based CBT, ICBT. And long story short, basically the, the idea there is that OCD, anxiety, any ruminative thought process it kind of pulls us into our imagination of things that could go wrong. What if scenarios, what it could have showed us what ifs? And uhm, and that can be a real trap. Yeah, because and, and you’ll know it if you’re stuck in that kind of pattern because you’ll it’ll be tempting to try to think about something, figure out well, what if would I, would I? Could I do this dangerous thing that I’m afraid of doing? What if there’s germs would I get sick? Would I go to hell if I did this? These kinds of things and these are in in some ways, it’s an unanswerable question and helping people kind of just see that the not just the content of their thoughts, but the process and helping them sort of ground in the present moment here and now in their 5 senses and their common sense is sort of just a way, an antidote to helping them distinguish where to focus their attention. Uh, instead of getting looped into this ruminative sort of round and round dog chasing its own tail type process. And that’s been very transformative for, for our work and for a lot of people that we’re helping so.
I mentioned earlier that part of the, what I love about researching the guest is I find out a lot of information as well and I didn’t really think about anxiety in so many different ways and there’s generalized anxiety, panic anxiety, social or performance anxiety, phobias and I came across a disorder that I hadn’t heard of before and it’s called body dysmorphic disorder. And I, I’m sure that I, I saw that someplace in my research, and so I’m not sure if you could speak to that for a minute before we move on.
Yeah, body dysmorphic disorder has sort of traditionally been sort of categorized under the larger umbrella of, of OCD and probably has some similar features, but it’s basically sort of a when, when someone can get really fixated on a certain aspect of their physical appearance like my, my lips look too bad or my nose is too big or the color of my skin or something where you know someone else might look at the person and say I didn’t even notice that. And, uh, and sometimes what can happen is that, you know, you know, people can, can get very fixated, almost as if that one part of their body or their appearance becomes their whole person and defines them, and they really just feel insecure and anxious. And again, kind of ruminative on, on how bad that looks and how who I am as a result of that flawed feature. Again, in a way where someone else might say I didn’t even notice or not really a big deal and but just by virtue of the attention paid to that part of one’s appearance, it, it kind of becomes a self-reinforcing but kind of a trap, you know, because you, we can’t just necessarily fix it or just think your way out of it.
OK, well thank you for sharing that. Is there anything else that you’d like to bring up or discuss on this podcast?
No, I just really appreciate your questions and I hope uh people listening, you know, find something of value listening to us talk and, you know, hear, hear different psychologists share their, their journey and about the work we’re doing.
Well, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I enjoyed learning about your journey as well. Thanks again for sharing with us today.
Thank you, appreciate it.