Around the age of 14, Paul Sheesley took a psychology course in high school. About the same time, his parents gave him a book on psychology for his birthday, “Guilty by Reason of Insanity: Inside the Minds of Killers” by Dorothy Otnow Lewis. After reading the book, especially the case examples and studies, he remembers “becoming fascinated with the field [of psychology].” In fact, during his senior year, he did a practicum at Spring Grove in Maryland which is the third oldest mental health facility in the nation. He became so interested in counseling and psychology that he attended McDaniel College in Westminster, MD for his BA in psychology and neuroscience. Since then, Paul has been focused, driven, and ambitious when it comes to self-development and sharpening his clinical skills and expanding his acumen.
In this podcast, Paul shares his academic and professional journey in hopes that his experiences and advice will help those interested in the field of counseling and psychology. During our discussion, he shares some of the most important opportunities in his life which allowed him to expand his education, knowledge, and experience. He continued his education by attending The Chicago School of Professional Psychology for his MA in forensic psychology. During our discussion he shared his belief in applying and improving oneself by learning, and becoming proficient in, new types of therapy. He is a schema therapist and is part of the International Society of Schema Therapy. Paul is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor.
With almost 20 years of experience in the field of clinical psychology, Paul has his own practice in Washington, D.C. and Bel Air, MD. Through hard-work and dedication, he has built up his reputation as being one of the most notable transformational psychotherapists in the D.C. area specializing in helping politicians, C-suite executives, and other prominent people and couples to achieve balance in both their personal and professional lives. Throughout the podcast, Paul provides suggestions and advice to those interested in the field of psychology and those wanting to start their own practice. He is still fascinated with the brain and how it works and how the two hemispheres work and communicate with each other that he says a good therapist is “an amygdala whisperer.” Listen to the podcast for other advice and to find out what challenges are unique to his D.C. clients.
Interests and Specializations
Paul Sheesley focuses on working with individuals, couples, and families and uses psychodynamic, emotionally-focused, cognitive behavioral theories and approaches to help people achieve balance in their personal and professional lives. His clinical work also draws on schema therapy and a variety of targeted and thoughtful interventions.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Psychology/Neuroscience (2006); McDaniel College, Westminster, MD.
Master of Arts (M.A.), Forensic Psychology (2010); The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, IL.
Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling/Clinical Psychology (2013); Towson University, Towson, MD.
Certified Schema Therapist (2019): The Cognitive Therapy Institute of New Jersey, Lakewood, NJ.
Other Sources and Links of Interest
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 Paul Sheesley to the show. Paul is a psychotherapist with almost 20 years of experience in the field of clinical psychology. As one of DC’s most notable transformational psychotherapists, he empowers politicians, C level executives and other prominent people and couples to achieve balance in both their personal and professional lives. Today, we will learn more about his academic and professional journey and discuss challenges working with these types of clients and the therapy approaches he uses to help these clients. Paul, welcome to our podcast.
Hi Brad, thanks so much for having me and I’m looking forward to today’s recording.
Well, I know you’re a busy man and you’ve got a lot of experience and certifications, but before we get started, do you remember when you first became interested in counseling and psychology?
Actually, I do. Uhm, it goes far back actually, to somewhere around the age of 14. I remember my parents had gotten me a book on psychology for my birthday and I actually saw…have the book. It says, “Happy Birthday Paul, 14th” and it was uh, I, I can’t remember her name, it was Dr. uhm, Dorothy Otnow Lewis and she’s a clip. Actually, forensic psychiatrist and interesting now I do remember the book it was “Guilty by Reason of Insanity”, and I guess my parents thought, or my mother thought that was an interesting book for me to read because I was also taking a psychology course in high school. I thought this was really neat and I guess they thought, well, we’ll, we’ll get a small gift, a book. I’m like you have a book and I remember reading it and just becoming fascinated with the field and, and the, the case examples and studies that she had done with her population and so. That’s, that, I think that is where it kicked off.
Well, it’s interesting you mentioned that book because it was focused on forensic, and you actually received your Master of Arts in forensic psychology at the school at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. And if you’ve seen any of our podcasts, what we normally do is kind of go through your academic and professional journey and I’ll go back to your Bachelor of Arts. You attended McDaniel, McDaniel, or is McDaniel?
Yep, McDaniel yes.
McDaniel College in Westminster, MD for your BA in Psychology and Neuroscience. At what point did you know you wanted to get your psychology degree? Was it after reading that book or was it later on? Tell us a little bit more about that.
So, from there. Again, I had finished the psychology course in high school. And uhm, at the time this was a, I was in the era where folks began to start taking college classes while in high school. And so, I was looking to the local Community College. And I thought, well, you know, I’m going to take another one and, uh, and I’ll, I’ll get to leave high school early, which was great. And so, I started taking college courses. Some of the basic courses that that most will start out with is your psychology 101 and the human development like 102. And, uh, you know technical writing and all that fun stuff and so started taking those courses and became even more intrigued, especially through the developmental piece just understanding human development from, you know, infancy on which was which was another avenue of, of, of becoming more aware of people. And uhm, and then in there, there was this opportunity because as a high schooler, it’s like we, we, we typically do like volunteer work at some point. And I thought, well, I. Where are these folks? So, it’s like where, the folks, right the, the folks that I’ve read about, you know, were mental health right? I know where we go for physical right we go to the doctor. We go to the hospital and so I went to the hospital and OK. Well, I, I think there is a mental health ward or sect a part of the hospital. And I went and I spoke to the director, and I remember them saying, well, we do have one. It’s a psychiatric unit, but we don’t have volunteers there, so I said, oh, well, I’m going to be the first. So, I went, and I reached out to the director of the psychiatric unit, and I said I’m really interested. You know, I am so, you know, I’m fascinated by the field. I’d like to be involved and she spoke to the director of the hospital or the volunteer, the Volunteer service and I was their first volunteer on the Emergency Psychiatric Board. And so then, that’s where it really picked up my interest so. I remember doing that quite a bit and, interestingly, the experience was almost play it by ear because it’s like, what do you? So, what was my role? And I kind of invented my role and. A lot of the times, it was stay behind the counter just kind of observe and, uh, yeah so that, that was a really cool experience.
Well, you mentioned one of your experiences and you have many others, as I mentioned, the next school that you attended after your BA, as I mentioned in the intro, is the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and you received your Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology. So, I was curious, you went from psychology and neuropsychology, and then you went to forensics. So, I have a couple questions regarding that. So what made you kind of more interested in exploring that field or that section of psychology versus staying within clinical psychology?
So, I never quite diverted from clinical psychology. I, I tell folks that I, I tailored my education and experiences. And so, when I was at McDaniel College, you know, it was primarily focused on psychology and then the neuroscience piece kicked in. Uhm, I remember Dr. Steven Grant, uhm, a wonderful man, very intelligent, worked at NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) and NIH (National Institutes of Health), and he taught a lot of cognitive neuroscience classes. I took neurobiology courses and, and I felt at that time I, I really wanted to link, you know, the biology to mental health. And that and I always, I’ve, I’m, I, I’m still uhm, you know, a nerd for science and biology and so the brain fascinates me, especially, you know, even when I do work with obsessive compulsive disorder and understanding brain hemispheres et cetera. Uh, you know a good therapist is a, an amygdala whisperer. And so that’s like, really, right. So, uh, we had to do interns and practicums as part of our senior year, and I did a practicum at Spring Grove in Maryland. And so, for those who don’t know what that is, it’s a mental health facility. It’s the third oldest in the nation. And, uh, and on, in that facility that inpatient, but they also have an outpatient and I’m sure many other programs there, ’cause it’s been quite some time since I’ve been there. Uhm, they had a, a lockdown unit and so I remember they quite called it a forensic unit, but it was locked down for a reason, and there were many patients there that had been held or had been there like post some sort of event in their life, not only mental health but something else that may have caused them to say hey, you know what I think we need to keep, keep you from the community. I remember working there working with a few individuals and I thought man, this was really neat. I like I, I’m very curious about human behavior. And not only human behavior, but what is it that what influences human behavior to be, to commit crimes, right? To uhm, you know, act out against others in a way that violates one rights right? And so, I was very curious about that. And you know these terms as I was developing my psychological mindset is like antisocial personalities and sociopathy and uhm, you know and, and even growing up right? We watch these movies, and they talk about, but they illustrate, and they inflate these types of terms and what these people look like. And I’m like, wow, these it was very different than what we were watching in the entertainment world, uhm, and, and so I, I, I wanted to understand the biology, the psychology, and the behavior of these, of these individuals, and I just thought that was so fascinating and, and obviously with the influence of other like professors and, and professionals, uhm, just exploring their background and being influenced by them. I then decided you know, I, I want to check out this program so the Chicago School of Professional Psychology offered a forensic master’s degree. Uhm, another segue into that, I was also working with the juvenile justice system and working with adolescent offenders, and so that was another avenue of understanding even from an earlier stage of life, human behavior from, from a developmental standpoint, uhm, and so I was interested in doing forensics and I want to do forensic evaluations. I wanted to do court testimony. I wanted to do assessments, uhm, you know I want it to be, at that time, someone that would be able to, to, uh, initiate with these individuals and be able to give a psychological perspective. Uhm, and that, that felt rewarding. And I know not, not many of us, at that time, I would consider wanted to do that type of stuff, you know. Uh, they read about these folks in the news, and they go, get away from me. I don’t want anything to do with them.
So, I, I, it’s interesting that you brought up a couple things. Number one is the forensic and, and almost tailoring your education and you took control by saying hey I want to explore this. I want to look a little bit more at the forensic and the amygdala, as you said, and look at how the brain works. I’m sharing the screen, and this is the Chicago School of Professional Psychology as you mentioned. When you click on psychology here you have all these different areas that you could go into and it’s just by chance, if you saw my recent guest, she actually teaches at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Rhonda Goldman. I don’t know if that rings a bell to you, if, if she was there when you were there or not, but she’s in the clinical psychology department. But as you said, you, you focused more on the forensic, but it’s, it’s interesting that you bring that up, because, as you know, there’s so many different types of psychologists out there that you know and types of therapists and counselors. More and more people are bringing in the neuropsychology or the neuroscience into their field as well. Uhm, and you know, especially in forensic and, and that sort of field as well. So, tell me a little bit more about kind of any suggestions that you might have for our audience members when selecting a graduate psychology program. I know that you already mentioned, I wanted to tailor it and I wanted to get a vast experience. Any other bits of advice or suggestions of, for people wanting to continue their undergraduate in psychology into the graduate realm?
I would say to be open minded to different populations and therapeutic approaches, and I think the graduate professors do an excellent job of expanding those horizons for students in terms of, you know, different types of theories that they could elaborate on, but also the populations that they can experience working with through like their practicum and internship and so. I think that’s super important in terms of just identifying, uh, you know, one, the degree of comfort and working with folks, you know. Well, I mean, I’ve talked to other professionals and, and when I was doing more forensics, people would go uh-uh, oh, I don’t even, I don’t even want your patients in my building so, uhm, so that was, that was, you know, that is a niche and, and that was very again selected and as you’ll come to find out, I’ve worked with many different populations and that’s just one because I’m a psychology nerd and I love working with people but trying on different hats, different locations, different styles, different, uh, now when I say locations like if you’re going to do substance use, you know you’re working in a in a methadone clinic or an outpatient clinic, or forensics in a, in a jail system or outpatient system, and so they have different environments and different people, and doing your research and talking to other professionals or listening to podcasts like this, which they did not have when I was in my career decision making, so that’s some, that’s some of the advice.
Well, great advice. I know that uh, I found your CV, uh, your Vita and I kind of see chronologically what you did, but I’m going to open it up to you when you immediately, you know, received your, your master’s degree, what did you do right after that? I know that you were working on things while you were going through your master’s, but do you remember hey, I went through graduation. I have my master’s degree. What was the next thing that you did?
Yeah, and there’s a lot of parallels here too, in terms of, uhm, how one thing influences while working on another to the next decision. So even just before my master’s I had been doing in home family therapy. Uhm, and so working with the Department of Juvenile Service Social Services. So, I was very much in the Community field, working with adolescents and families. And, you know, as an adult, and I tell folks all this all the time, is that some of the challenges we have, we weren’t born yesterday, right? We it, it’s. Some of our challenges we’ve come from a Once Upon a time and it’s and it’s often from childhood and adolescence, and so being able to have that unique perspective and working with families and adolescents at that time while completing my master’s, you know, did give rise to a lot of appreciation for the adult challenges. And I had ended up working with the more severe population of adolescence, when I’d worked at a Level 5, a pretty inpatient educational program for severe emotionally disturbed adolescent females. Uhm, so I did that for some time while completing my master’s degree, and so that again there was some forensics piece there, there was a lot of trauma. This is where my trauma experience starts to come into play. This is where neural psychology comes into play and development. And then I, I think trekking through my master’s and completing that. It’s what do I do next, right? Because I have this master’s degree, but I there’s a there’s a pathway, it’s if, if I’m going to continue to practice in a capacity where I’m more independent than I need to become licensed and so, you know, that journey took off and, and I needed to find a home, if you will, to sharpen my clinical skills but also to complete the recommended protocol for getting licensed right, which is your hours and supervision. And, you know, how many specific group hours and individual hours and, and so on. And I thought, well, I also am interested in substance use. And why? It’s because it shows up everywhere and it did. It showed up in, in, in, even in the, uhm, the forensic world. It showed up in the juvenile world. It showed up in the family world and so I was very curious about substance use and its behaviors of. And so, I pursued a career then in with the local health department and so outpatient community service. Uhm, and it was it’s the, the, the old word, for it was a department of addictions. Well, they’ve long changed that, uhm, with, you know, the climate of substance use and so that too was an interesting time in life because the substance use and its focus had taken a turn and that it became more emphasized, more, you know, the public awareness grew, and so as it grew, I grew, and it ballooned with me in it. And so, I became in my county, in part of Maryland, a face for that department and in the community and working with the with the court systems. Uhm, you know addictions like addictions court and uhm I ran and developed an intensive outpatient program for to for the county which I, I remember going to the psychiatrist who had trained to me also trained there by clinical psychiatrists or and, uhm, for a portion of my hours and I said, you know, I think I want to run an IOP. Did you guys have one before? And they, yeah, but it didn’t work, I said, well this one, I’m gonna make this one work and it did and still, still ongoing today and so, uhm, you know that was a lot of great experience and doing my internship at a methadone clinic. You know, I used to wake up and be there by 4:45-5:00 AM. I’d work there. I’d go back to my office working with other patients and then from there I would go to maybe even drive to school, come back and work on extended day to the late evening because I had to fit it all in there so.
It sounds, yeah, it sounds like. I mean, I, I’ll, I’ll share my screen again and, and for those of you who want to find out a little bit more about Paul and his experiences and licenses. Nice employment history here. I went through everything. I’m not going to highlight any single one here, but it’s nice to see you know you not only provided the experience and kind of the dateline to kind of put us in the in the chronological order there, but you’ve described, a lot of people wouldn’t know what, you know some of your roles were, so you gave a good description. So, I, I applaud you for doing that. But let me try to attempt to summarize a little bit of some of your experiences after your master’s and number one is you, you kept involved in many different areas. You kept working. You kept expanding, you kept accruing those hours, but not only that, but in different areas of psychology as well you also attended Towson University and received a certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling and Clinical Psychology in 2013. Also, during this time you, as you mentioned, you did an internship as a psychotherapist, group therapist at Methadone Clinic. You were also an FFT or a Functional Family Therapist at Morningstar Youth Academy and then eventually you went into, and I found this one very interesting, you worked at the Cecil County Correctional Facility at Hartford, or not Hartford, its Harford County Health Department and that was that division of addiction services that they probably rebranded as well, and you, I’m not sure if you mentioned this one ’cause you mentioned a lot of them…Baltimore Crisis Response as Director of the Crisis Residential Services. And the final one I wanted to mention was the Chesapeake Health Care Solutions and so advice on how you kept finding these opportunities to expand your experience, knowledge and then, as you said, you were, the timing was right, it started to balloon, and you were there, and you were almost the face for your community there. So, tell us kind of overall suggestions on how our audience could help find some of these. And back then it was probably a little different than now and I don’t want to answer for you, but I think word of mouth knowing people and then reaching out and don’t be afraid to reach out. But now you could do a lot of things online, but I don’t want to deemphasize the importance of making those connections, wouldn’t you say?
Oh, absolutely, and there was a lot of, you know, having conversations with folks in the field that that you know I had gravitated to towards. Uhm, you know, I ended up getting a double licensure, so at that time I think there was only 900 of us in the state of Maryland that were duly licensed as an addiction specialist as well as mental health and, uhm, you know, I still had this forensic piece that was happening and so the Cecil County Correctional Facility was the, the location you had referred and so I was there, in, in conjunction with a psychiatrist, pretty much the only team that pretty much ran the mental health portion of that facility in that Correctional Facility. And uhm, the methadone clinic piece was a part of the practicum that was the requirement for my, for the licensure as well. And then Towson University was the location where I did receive extra credit, and interestingly there, again coming back to being tailored was that a lot of the classes were not clinical. So, I had to go to the director, and I said I want clinical classes and she said well, you’re not a part of the clinical program. I said, I know. I’m, I want to take clinical classes and she said, well, I’ll give you a shot. So, she’d let me take a clinical course, and from there I took my clinic, my clinical classes with clinical psych students, both PhD track and practitioner track to access most of my clinical experiences or course load there. And, and so it, it’s, there’s a lot of self-driven. I’m a very ambitious person, maybe you could tell. And so, you, you know, and I’m persistent. And so, you know seeking out these opportunities, they fell in line with, with what I felt would round me out in my understanding of, of, of people, and which then led to my me wanting to go, you know what, I think I’m going to venture into private practice. I think I have enough clinical acumen and interaction and human behavior to understand the complexities of folks, because every one of those areas identified, identified are quite complex. Uhm, and so, it, it did, it helped me considerably in terms of working with folks of all walks of life.
Very good transition. You helped me out on my next follow up question. Now you have a private practice in both Bel Air, MD and Washington, D.C.. I’ll share your website, wonderful looking website, and when you scroll down, good introduction and then the types of therapy and how you focus on different therapy. One thing that point, that kind of stood out to me was the schema therapy. So, for our audience, kind of give us a high-level summary of what schema therapy is?
Sure, so schema therapy, uhm, I remember several years ago I was looking to sharpen my clinical skills again. Then I thought, well, you know, I’ve got the gold standard of cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy. And I’ve got all these great cognitive tools, right? And so, I felt, you know I, I want to, what about personality disorders? And what about folks that, you know, I find to be, have difficult responding to traditional cognitive methods because I was actually started suddenly becoming quite interested in working with borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personalities and I was reading about schema therapy, and I thought, well, this is really cool and not only that, but Wendy Behary and Dr. Jeffrey Young. You know the, the, you know President, director, and founder were, were, were behind this model and so I, in Washington, D.C. they had a two-day training and Wendy Behary was running it with my friend, and colleague, Paul DelGrosso. And I was like wow, this is just some great stuff. And so, cognitive, or schema therapy is, is, it’s integrative. It has cognitive components but also emotional Gestalt, Gestalts, you know, chair work and it has a big emphasis on looking at childhood origin and trauma, or neglect, or unmet needs. Need that, then references what’s called schema or life traps as I like to call them in which you know from a developmental environmental standpoint, these life traps such as defectiveness failure, unrelenting standards, emotional deprivation, become uhm, a cognitive, emotional, physiological and behavioral response to the environment. And so, because our brains, right? Our memories cannot tell time, it looks to the environment goes, oh, I’ve been there before. Uh, even if it was 30 years ago or 40 years ago, and so oftentimes folks can have a unhealthy response or a coping mode. And so, these modes create a lot of disturbances in one’s life and, and, and in relationships for oneself, behaviorally, cognitively. And so, uhm, schema therapy works with the individual on an emotional level to understand these life traps, you know whether it is effectiveness, or failure, or internal critic modes, or punitiveness, and so there’s 18, by the way, and I won’t. Well, I tell them.
Rattle them all off.
Uhm, and to help them, I say wow, you know you, you know there’s this, uh, experience in your life that has then been interpreted throughout the rest of your life. And it keeps resonating. And so, your expectations of relationships and the relationship you have with yourself. Seems to be repeated and familiar from these earlier experiences and oh, look at that and now you’re coping with it, but you’re doing it in a way that’s unhealthy and creating suffering and, uh, and has made many of the listeners, and if you don’t, you know borderline personality individuals, you know, they tend to have a complex trauma background and so a lot. Of these core needs, uh, have been unmet and so they’re constantly surviving and striving to meet these needs in, in their later lives, and so working through this model like WOW, this is working for my clients and not just that, but I’ve been able to even, uhm, take pieces of it and apply it to other folks and other individuals in life just to help them understand their scripts. And so, I trained with Wendy Behary and, uh, Dr. Jeffrey Young and Paul DelGrosso, and it’s, it takes years to become proficient and, and so I’ve trained with like Travis Atkinson and working with schema therapy and couples. Ida Shaw, for example. And you know, working with group schema therapy and so I am schema therapist. So, I’m a part of the International Society of Schema Therapy, the Washington, D.C. Schema Therapy, New Jersey Schema Therapy Institute and so very much involved, uhm, and a participant and advocate for this, this model and the community.
Well, thank you for that summary. I know that through my discussions outside, and during the podcast, I learn all about these different therapies and our website highlights those as well. And EFT comes to mind when you were describing schema therapy as well, Emotion-Focused Therapy. One thing that I wanted to highlight for everybody is, you know, everybody knows that it’s stressful going through COVID, but here’s kind of an interesting update from all of 2021. And, and if you can see my screen, it basically breaks down the adults’ reporting symptoms of anxiety, or depressive disorder, or both by state. And I know that you’re in Maryland. And then Washington, D.C. and, and the average for the United States, you can see up here on, on top. And I noticed that Maryland was slightly below this, but Washington, D.C. was actually above this, and so just going across the border there all of a sudden you have all this stress. And the reason that I’m kind of bringing this up now is, you know you’re, you’re kind of the psychotherapist in DC that, that people go to, so you have these politicians, these CEOs, these other influential, powerful people that come to you and we have to remind ourselves that they’re human too, and they’re going to go through some challenges, uh, through these times as well, and so in some ways it’s almost more essential to deal with those people because they’re under more stress. Or may be under more stress. So, tell me a little bit more about you know how you found yourself in that role and how you’ve become one of the prominent psychotherapists in DC.
Sure, so. Uhm, I started working in DC. It was kind of an invitation; it was actually an invitation. I kind of like, hey, you know, I think you do really well here, and I think people would appreciate your, your skill and I thought, OK, well, let’s give it a shot ’cause the other location was New York and I didn’t want to get on the train every day so, uhm, and so even though I do commute in car today. But it, so I opened up a practice there and, uhm, you know, there are a lot of high-net-worth prominent individuals and, uhm, I, I think much like we can all appreciate a good practitioner. I, I, I feel like my skill and acumen set out. And it was discovered. And, uhm, you know, I began working with these individuals, and there is a bit of a, uh, there’s some steps that take place in order to get in front of, of folks of high caliber or net worth and, and, and, so when you talk about them being under stress and duress, we are all right are all under distress and dressed just like the numbers had demonstrated. You know, anxiety, stress, and worry do not discriminate. Uhm, you know we all have some degree of challenge in, in those areas just as they do, and they are human, and they have challenges that may be are a bit undefined because of our life experiences. We know we can’t say that we all have a CEO experience ’cause we don’t. They do, and those that do they, they have their own set of challenges that are unique to them and those around them. And uhm, you know for someone, for me to understand their professional, their lifestyle and their and whatever issues that. Are going on in their lives, I think that they find, and have found, you know, that I’m at a position where I can understand and appreciate, and I have experience. And just like any population that we work with, you have to gain experience. And uhm, I bring that forward and it’s recognized and appreciated. And uhm, I really love my work in Washington, and I love the population that I work with and, uhm, you know it, it, I, it has afforded me the ability to do like part time to do podcasts like this and other podcasts of educational value. Uhm, you know I, I think the other piece too is that I found myself being an advocate for individuals of high net worth like CEO’s or C suites or CFO’s or politicians, celebrities, prominent club owners, whichever because there’s a lot of misrepresentation and misunderstanding and misinformation because, especially from the media, you know, media is entertainment and so, uhm, you know folks of that of that population are just like us, they’re human. They have challenges, they have feelings and emotions and stressors. And they have histories, you know they were not born CEOs, you know they weren’t a CEO at 5-6-7 or 8 and you know they have life challenges too that that deserve the attention of a professional.
The other article that I found was one talking about leadership, and this is just a couple months ago. Leadership burnout is on the rise and it talked about some of these different areas and, and why it’s on the rise and, and so I can imagine in your role, your position, there must be some more unique challenges dealing with the C-Suite and the higher executives and politicians, especially versus, uh, I, I don’t know lack of a better term the, the normal or the average clientele that you usually meet. Can you speak to that a little bit? In other words, what are some of the most challenging aspects of dealing with that type of clientele?
Well, one there’s an audience and I think for anyone, if there’s ever an audience, you know, it’s performance and am I doing this right? And you know, maybe I have to do this right? And uhm, you know so, and there’s a consequence too, not just from the audience perspective, but they’re often the audience is the participant, of which is it working with them? And so, thinking about a CEO or corporate ownership, it’s you have employees. And so there’s your audience and the decisions that you make affect other people and, uhm, and especially if you’re a thought leader, you’re the inventor, or you’re the, you know, you’re the trustee or the, the CEO and you’re president or whatever your title is, you’re in a leadership role that often will not turn off, you know, just because you get home at 5:30 and you know, oh, it’s seven o’clock, time to turn on Netflix. As I said before with someone else, it doesn’t work that way, and there’s always a problem. There’s always something to be worked through. There’s always a strategy. There’s always a lingering conversation to be completed and being able to turn that off can be very difficult for these individuals because, one, they are high performers and that talent and skill that they have cuts both ways and that it is what has afforded them success and afforded the opportunity of other people in their lives to have success. But it also, you know, being able to turn it off so that they can recuperate and regenerate to be the successful person, uhm, become shortchanged and, and it, it becomes, you know they, they will shed self-care to perform and to keep up, if you will, a degree of performance or success or expectation, or promises and so, and that’s burnout is, is, is very real. In another podcast I talked about sleep deprivation, you know, and good sleep is usually the first to go and last to come back. You know, if we don’t sleep, we get, we get fatigued, we get tired we’re not sharp, ahh, we begin to take shortcuts on our physical health which overall impact our mental health. Uhm, you know in another podcast we talked about the effects of aging, you know, talking about presidencies and politicians and how they go in in one term and they come out another term looking very different. It’s because stress wears on the body it wears on our mental health. Uhm, and so, you know, burnout is a very real thing, uhm, and for individuals that we’re talking about, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s very prominent, and the expectations of their roles that they continue to keep at a caliber that sometimes our brains, our minds, and bodies, even though we will it, just cannot.
Right, Right, and you’re working very well with me. We didn’t plan this out ahead, but you, you talked about stress and, and different ways to deal with burnout as well. Recently you talked with INC., and they talked to you, and you provided a few tips and “3 Simple Ways to Manage Burnout According to a Top Psychotherapist.” I’ll highlight three of them, drop bad habits, you said, and you gave some good advice on that. Take baby steps moving forward and then have somebody to confide in and if you don’t have that, that outlet, and when I was reading about it, it’s really important to reach out to somebody and, and talk through things. Whether it’s a psychotherapist, psychologist, or anybody else or just a friend. I think it was very important to point that out to everybody. You mentioned lack of sleep and I read an article just last week saying the same thing, lack of sleep and then remember to drink plenty of water because when you’re stressed you use up more of your liquid and, and many times you get headaches because of lack of water. So, I don’t know how we’re getting off on this tangent, but I’m just, I’m just telling you what I what I read recently as well so. Uhm, if you were in therapy yourself, describe your ideal therapist.
So, it’s interesting you say that. So, every therapist, every professional therapist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, social worker, uhm, behavioral aide, which, whichever mental health position you have, I think it is, it is recommended that you do therapy. You know to understand oneself is so important in this field, because you bring yourself into the session and as much as we think we like to compartmentalize and turn ourselves off to be, you know, fully present for the other person we bring memory to and again like I said, memories cannot tell time you know and that we could be triggered and we need to understand ourselves when working with individuals of any population and so, uhm, the ideal, I guess, therapist and so would be someone that is empathetic, that can be understanding. Uh, you know, obviously there’s a non-judgmental piece there. It’s meeting the person where they are in their life. And being able to, as they say, put yourself in their shoes, or at least trying on their socks, because it could be very difficult to do that. People go through life experiences that we cannot fathom. And you know what we have in front of this is make somebody who needs something from us and, and it’s helping them to maybe put that into words and helping them to explore what is it, what is it that they need because they’re often lost or maybe they’re uncertain and they need encouragement and maybe they need clinical intervention. And so being, you know, upfront with, with folks is really important to let them know that you’re comfortable working with them or not. You know, I think being in the helping field people can fall into the trap of wanting to be the hero and kind of an acting hero type of efforts for clients that you know, maybe they don’t have a full understanding of what, what’s happening in front of them or what’s happening in the client’s life so just, just having that comfortability and understanding. And then verbalizing that builds that rapport with the client and, and that’s, that’s really important for the longevity of the relationship and the positive influence that a mental health practitioner can have.
I would also add that it probably helps them feel more at ease knowing that, hey, my therapist, my psychotherapist, psychologist, has gone through therapy himself or herself as well to deal with it to, to help them relate and let you know that hey, I’ve been in your shoes, and I can relate with you. Uhm, what advice do you have to give someone who wants to break into the field of psychology, especially those who want to start their own practice? Before we started recording the podcast, I had mentioned, not everybody wants to go the academic route and, and become a professor. A lot of people want to do their own thing and then start their own practice. So, what advice would you give somebody, especially if they wanted to start their own practice?
So, mentorship, mentoring and talking to other colleagues is really important. Uhm, you know, understanding like doing like again, listening to podcasts like this and just talking to other professionals who are in private practice. Uhm, you know there’s usually an opportunity for practicum and internships, and so being able to work in a private practice to try that on for size is important to the experience. Doing your research is important, uhm, you know, in terms of what type of outpatient private practice groups, uhm, someone may be interested in in their area.
Very good advice. Is there anything else that you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before entering this career path?
It’s a good question. I haven’t given much thought, UM, something that I wish I had known, UM. Well, I, I think one thing that I wish I had was I, I guess, more kind of the exposure, the ability to like use like a meeting sources and just kind of search source sources to be able to like navigate different avenues and, uhm, even though I, I, don’t know how much that would have changed I, I think just more knowledge is always better. So, I, yeah, I, I have to think about that and answer that for myself. I, I can’t think of anything that comes to mind right now.
Based on your Vita and based on our discussion, one thing that I think you might agree with is, is put yourself out there and ask and, and, and you know almost you pushed your way in to become that first volunteer. Uh, find those internships, find those opportunities, and the worst that could happen is probably “No, we can’t do that.” Well, tell me why, why we can’t do that? And, and you seem like that type of you’d come back. And instead of saying hearing them, say no, we can’t do that. But why you know and, and push back a little bit? Maybe that’s a, a nice summary. What are your thoughts on that? Is that a good, uh, way of looking at how can we, you know, become better and improve ourselves and find these opportunities as well in the future?
Yeah, I, being persistent and developskill. You know I’ve; I’ve heard those two words before, especially when people have told me no. Uhm, it’s particularly one of the professors you know, Dr. Katz. He let me into the clinical program. And uhm, the professor that did my exit interview had also mentioned that as well, and so, uhm, you know there’s so many therapists out there and there’s so many opportunities and, you know, I think this this is a bit of the shadow is that with any profession there’s competition. And so, you know, to be recognized is, is your responsibility. And so, positioning yourself for those opportunities is, is really about doing your due diligence and your, your, your research and making sure that it lines up for what your goals are, and if that has it, you have to take a couple of right or left turns. Or maybe you have to pause and go back or start over or, uh, you, you know, move a parallel and then sometimes you have to do that but, in the end, you know, you’re reaching your goal where you want to be and, and what you want to do. And so, you have to, you have to continue because there’s a lot of stop signs. There’s a lot of no’s, there’s a lot of lag, and that’s to be an, anticipated.
Great advice, we usually end the podcast for the few fun questions and the first one I usually ask my guests is what is your favorite term, principle, or theory, and why?
Term, principle, or theory. Uhm, oh my. You really put me on the spot for those. Uhm, kind of elicits more of an emotional like, wow, that’s a, that’s an exciting question because I know I live by terms and theories and principles in all of the work that I do the, the self-care that I impose on myself and I think that, uhm, is one of them, is and it’s made, it sounds selfish and it’s not meant to be, it’s meant to be practical and healthy is putting oneself first and, you know, I tell that to a lot of my, my, my clients. You know you have to put yourself first and, and that doesn’t mean you know in a self-centered way, even though being self-centered can be healthy because we have to be able to say no, right? Uhm, time doesn’t equal availability, right? And so, we have to be able to take time for ourselves, to regenerate, to find our own happiness. To find what makes us tick to, uhm, you know, enjoy the facets of life because we can spend 40-50-60-70 hours a week in office and working. But that’s not living. That’s more existing and so over time I become more of the principle of self, uhm, and really doing what I enjoy. And if, if people get upset, you know, I, I, what’s the, what’s that expression? Sorry, not sorry…
I never thought about a turn now these days but, uhm, you know, because burnout’s a real thing, stress is a real thing, and we have to take care of ourselves.
I like that answer. What is something new that you have learned recently? And a lot of guests think inside their field, it can be anything. Think outside as well. So, something new that you have learned recently.
Something I’ve learned recently is that one, I really love doing media, I love doing podcasts. I like writing. I like scripting and doing articles, and that’s something that’s more professional that I was like, oh, I really like this. I like the creativity piece. And uhm, you know continuing to do that, I think is given a revival to some of the work that I do, because it’s fun. You know, I don’t have to do it. I like to do it. I, it’s just another avenue of reaching people. Uhm, on a personal level, something new or I’d say revived is really personal that I, I picked up skiing again. So, I’m doing a lot of that now that the ski season’s over. I’ve all this new gear that I can’t wait to use next year, but I just returned from Quebec and did some skiing at Mont Tremblant, which was roof. Just a love, lovely place. And I love nature and just being outdoors. And whether it’s on a mountain and or whatever, wherever it is in nature, and I do have an adventurous side, you know, like whitewater rafting and do like level 5 and, you know, I love the ocean, boating, beach, and travel and exploring so. Uhm, that, you know, I’ve always loved that, but the newness of it is that I’m, I’m, I’m very motivated to continue with those efforts, and especially when it comes to that self-care piece, which is super important for me.
I’m looking over, I didn’t tell you, but I have three screens in front of me, so I’m looking over and I, and I, I pulled up your Facebook and, and you have some good pictures in there showing some of your adventures as well.
I can tell.
So, I saw that on your Facebook page. If you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?
To complete one, to complete a project or to go onto a trip. I, you know, I, I would like, you could tell that I, I can, I really appreciate my work is that I would love to establish a practice in another country just to be able to have and for selfish but also helpful reasons is to help other people outside, right? But also, to be able to experience a different culture to be immersed in the culture and immersed in the different perspectives of mental health that maybe that particular culture offers. And so, I’ve always thought about. And so, what? And a project, uhm, people always, it’s funny because I always get a lot of slack, so I know a lot of boaters and sail boaters and I’m like I want a boat, I want to have a project boat. And they are like Why? Why? Like, I don’t know. Maybe ’cause I just like to be frustrated all the time I don’t know, maybe so.
Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned that I talked to another guest about having a practice overseas or in another country and we talked about that and one of the challenges was needing to learn their culture and their cultural norms because the norms in the United States are different from there. So, being able to understand the norms and then offer some advice would be challenging as well and something new. So, is there anything else that you would like to discuss or bring up in this podcast?
No, I think our conversation was very positively saturated and, and lots of great questions and, and dialogue, and I think, uh, the information is, uh, hopefully helpful and if, if folks have more questions or they want to reach out to me, you know they can go to my website and email me. It’s www.paulsheesleylcpc.com. There’s an email link there, and there’s obviously a number to, to call as well.
Well, I appreciate you taking the time and willingness and I didn’t do this ahead of time, but you’ll see on your website you have multiple licenses. You’re a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). You’re a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and then you also mentioned about drug addiction, and so you are a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) as well and so I applaud you for seeking out your passion and, and maybe you’ll get that boat one day, who knows, maybe we’ll talk later and you’ll say “Brad, I got my boat. I’m working on, it’s been five years, I’ve been working on it now though.”
Hasn’t sunk yet, yeah?
Right. Paul, thanks again for sharing your story and advice with us.
Thanks so much for having me.