Dr. Tania Diaz started her journey by pursuing business but soon realized that she wasn’t happy. When asked what ignited her interest in psychology, she contemplated if she picked the discipline or if the discipline picked her. In this podcast, Dr. Diaz answers this question and shares her academic and professional journey in hopes that it will help others find their purpose by following their heart. She explains how many of her experiences, including her internship and residency, helped to solidify her drive to become a clinical psychologist.
With over 25 years of clinical experience in the mental health field, Dr. Diaz is the founder, and owner, of the Comprehensive Assessment Center (CAC), a private practice in Miami Lakes, FL. During our discussion, she reveals the reasons why she founded the Center and explains some of the challenges of opening your own business. She also provides advice to those interested in opening their own business or practice.
Dr. Diaz is unique in many ways. She is Hispanic, Cuban by descent. She shares how her internship at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital impacted her view, and focus, on helping families, adolescents, and children deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit, depression, anxiety, and other conditions. Dr. Diaz also shares her experiences during her residency at Everglades Correctional Institution, an all-male maximum security prison. She said that one of the biggest takeaways was “my inner transformation and how my lens changed about the prison system and the inmates within the prison system. And I thought to myself, you know, there are a lot of good people that make really poor choices.”
Throughout the podcast interview, Dr. Diaz provides valuable insight and advice to those who are having a difficult time figuring out what they should do with their lives. She believes that if you want to find your purpose, you should follow your heart or gut. She shares how, and why, she followed her heart as an 18- or 19-year-old to become a teacher and a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Diaz reveals that she is now taking a leap of faith and making another change in her life and professional journey based on her intuition. She is focusing more on her clinical work and is exploring how quantum psychology may help her clients.
She also discusses why she became a Certified Heartmath Trainer and how it can help individuals “gain higher levels of what we call coherence.” She further explains the role the amygdala plays in heart rhythm technology and how it can help people reduce and avoid stress in their lives. She then suggests checking out the app called Smiling Mind if you are interested in mindfulness and meditation.
Connect with Dr. Tania Diaz: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Youtube
Connect with the Show: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
Interests and Specializations
Dr. Tania Diaz has over 25 years of clinical experience in the mental health field. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and offers assistance and mentoring to help her clients find their life purpose and find meaning in their daily activities. As founder, and owner, of the Comprehensive Assessment Center (CAC), the team of bilingual licensed clinicians specialize “in the areas of Clinical Psychology, Child Psychology and assessment. We provide an array of services to children, adolescents, and adults.”
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Psychology (1993); Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), Clinical Psychology (1999); Carlos Albizu University, Miami, FL.
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 will welcome Dr. Tania Diaz to the show. Dr. Diaz is founder and owner of the Comprehensive Assessment Center (CAC) in Miami Lakes, FL. She received her bachelor’s degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL and her doctorate in clinical psychology from Carlos Albizu University in Miami. Today we will learn more about her academic journey, advice for those interested in clinical psychology and those interested in starting their own business or practice. Dr. Diaz, welcome to our podcast.
Well, thank you so much for having me on Bradley. Greatly appreciated and thank you for the invitation. Always happy to help.
Well, thank you I, I’m excited to talk a little bit more about your academic journey as well as what changes you’re going through now and how you started your business. But first I want to ask one question that a lot of our listeners are going to ask and wonder what ignited your interest in psychology, particularly, in clinical psychology.
You know that’s a great question Bradley. And really you have to kind of think you know; did I pick the actual, you know, venue, the discipline or did the discipline actually pick me? And, and the answer is, the discipline picked me because when I got out of the gate, I wanted to finish school quickly, make lots of money, retire early, and that’s all I wanted. And I was that one kid in high school that everybody went to to talk to, to share. That I would be able to hold space for and when I started my journey, I started pursuing business and I really wasn’t happy. Yeah, I didn’t like my courses. Wasn’t doing relatively well in them. I took all my electives in psychology, and I was really engaged, and I really had this strong affinity. And I was really enjoying it all, straight A’s, didn’t even have to study a whole lot. It just came natural. And then there was this one course. It was a self-actualization course and this 5-foot two African American female. Sat in front of the class, she was the facilitator at the time, and just kind of looked out and I could have sworn, Bradley, she was talking directly at me because she was discerning between do you want to make lots of money and be unsatisfied with the rest of your life? Or do you want to love what you do and never have to work a day in your life, you see. And she sat there, and she spoke to all of us, and she said, and if you feel that you don’t know enough or you are not smart enough or you don’t have the drive enough, well, I’m here to tell you that if I can do it, anybody can do it because I am challenged in three ways. I’m a woman. I’m black. And I’m vertically challenged ’cause she was only 5’2”. After that class, the following day, I went and I changed my major from business to psychology ’cause I knew, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Well, that’s very impactful. And thank you for sharing that story. It seems like I, I hear a lot of those. It comes down to one event, one class, one person that opened up your eyes to Oh my gosh, this is something that I could do. And you know you were saying you were doing so well, and it came naturally. You were probably considering it. And then she was probably the one in that class was probably the one to kind of push you over the edge to move forward and make that change in your major.
Yeah, well, you know what, Bradley? It’s interesting ’cause I wasn’t even considering it because I really didn’t think that I had the tenacity that had the resilience that I had, you know, the ability to really, almost like sacrifice. You know bits and pieces of your life because it is, if you’re going to go for your doctorate, it’s a long tenure, you see. But looking back, you know you just take one course at a time, one semester at a time, and before you know it, you’ve arrived and you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing. The purpose in your life has found you as opposed to you finding your purpose truly. We just have to allow it to happen.
Well, that’s a good take on it, and that’s a good way to almost reduce your anxieties a little bit more instead of having to search out. A lot of people, I remember as an undergrad I was “What am I going to do?” You know? And then, all of a sudden, it just kind of comes to you and you figure that out in time. So, getting back to let’s, let’s kind of talk about your undergraduate experiences, at what point did you know that you, you wanted to go for your bachelor’s degree and was it a BA or a BS? I couldn’t find that information out.
Yeah, no, it’s the Bachelor of Science from Nova Southeastern University and, and, Bradley, just you said it best. You know, undergraduate you just you just don’t know. You know there’s so many options and it becomes overwhelming and maybe not even being informed of all the intricacies of so many choices. What they all kind of roll out to be? So, I would go to library and I was a struggling student, so I really didn’t have a scholarship and I really didn’t have, I guess, financial support and so I’ve kind of put myself through school, so I was going into the library and consulting with the librarian and back then it was the card catalog and trying to find out, you know, what type of scholarships there were and I, I did a search in terms of what careers were out there and what were they paying and what were the number of years and minimum requirements. So, I was doing a lot of data collection. Anxiety through the roof because I had no idea, and you see. And, like you said, it’s just you have to put a little bit of the effort in and you’re going to have to trust the process and people are going to cross your path that are going to guide you that are going to influence you, that are going to talk to you in ways that only your inner knowing can hear, you see. And that was that professor at, you know, Nova Southeastern. And once again, I was still in the business track, but it resonated it, you see. I felt it in my gut. I knew it. I had done my work and it wasn’t the highest paying job and it wasn’t, you see. But it resonated and made sense. And so, I moved in that direction, and I started to interview faculty at Nova Southeastern University. I started to go ahead and ask them, ’cause I was afraid about the student loans, Bradley, I was afraid about all the years, you know, uh, of commitment. You know ’cause in order to get to doctorate, you have four undergraduate years, and then you got two years of your masters and you got another, you know, two years, depending on if you’re going into a combined program or if you’re going through the tradition, we could talk about that as well. The difference between a terminal versus nonterminal master’s degree. So, I just started to talk to people who were already in the field to gain as much information as possible and this is, this is a beautiful program that you have ’cause this is what you’re doing virtually for all of the folks that are listening.
Well, I appreciate the support and you’re exactly right. We always find that my guests and, and myself always recommend reaching out. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people that are in the field. A lot of people are just, you know, again, you’re scared at the at the forefront but you’re going to stand out a little bit more versus those who are afraid to reach out. Don’t be afraid to reach out and Doctor Diaz, I’m Brad Schumacher and I really love what you’re doing. I love that you started your own business. Do you have a few minutes to talk about, you know, a little bit more about how you started it, how you decided, and then they’ll say yes or no, and if they say yes, then you, you, you have somebody to talk to and lean on a little bit and and share your experiences and your goals and they’re going to. It’s going to…everybody in the field is so supportive. You know everybody wants to help you. And if you end up in the same field or you don’t, they’re still going to be supportive, so I’m glad that you’re in that same group of people that welcome that kind of input from other people.
We’ve, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been there.
Yep, now, then after you attended NSU, you attended Carlos Albizu University for your doctorate. Were you considering other schools, and if so, why did you choose Carlos Albizu?
Yeah, well Bradley, remember I mentioned that I, I’m kind of self-made, self-supportive and so I needed to work through my graduate story in, my graduate studies in order for me to, you know, be able to care for my senior parent at that time you see. So, I had a household. I had a senior period. I had to put myself through school. So, I could not go to a school that didn’t allow you to work full time and during that time, that era, a lot of major graduate schools, they didn’t allow you to work full time because they wanted you to commit to school full time and there was no way I could possibly do it. So, I did interview at other universities, and they did get in for the universities, but Carlos Albizu University was non- traditional in that it tailored its programs to the working professional. And as a direct result I, I went with them and even during the interview I was working two jobs. OK, while going to school at Nova completed my Nova undergraduate in 3 1/2 years and during the interview, they said you’re not going to continue to work those two jobs are you. You’re going to school, and I said Oh no, no, no, no. And I did for about a year and a half. After you know until my retention started to go because it was overnight shift and then I had to prioritize and I said OK, it’s time it’s time. You should always, have to always put your health first and you know just kind of constantly shift priorities depending on the need of the time.
You also mentioned that it kind of found you. This, this career found you. Now let’s talk a little bit more specifically about how clinical psychology found you versus all of the other branches of psychology. Can you speak to that for a minute?
Yeah, of course. Great question, you know ’cause it’s like a buffet, right? You’re going to go to a buffet and there’s going to be things that you like on the buffet more than others, things that are going to be more appealing, that you gravitate to, your taste buds are just gonna incline you. So clinical psychology was really about the intangible. I’m gonna say about personality, about affective disorders, meaning like depression, anxiety, those things and while you could measure them in surveys and questionnaires. You’re really hard to kind of wrap your hands around them sometimes you see. And that’s the people that I wanted to reach. OK, those are the people that I wanted to help. The neuropsychology was more medical. You did a lot of assessments and then after that you never saw the person again and so it was very kind of impersonal. A very important piece because you get that evaluation and then you have the opportunity to develop a treatment plan that helps the individual, you know, and makes referrals whether it be occupational therapy, physical therapy, all that. And forensics, another wonderful opportunity to help those that are incarcerated but that was just not with my alignment at the time. I really wanted to work with people that were struggling emotionally and that’s what led me to clinical psychology.
Well, that’s a good summary and you kind of highlighted some of the other branches as well. And what’s interesting is, you know, people I think nowadays neuropsychology and neuroscience back then and then, now it’s blending more with psychology. I’m finding through my discussions with my guests and people outside of the podcast guests that neuropsychology is kind of finding its way into all these different branches anyway. For example, forensic psychology, more and more people are looking at the, the neuroscience behind what you remember as a witness, you know, to an event and then they’re looking at how to recall that information and the, the types of memory that you, you bring up while you see a line up or you see pictures or anything like that. So, it’s interesting that all of these seem to start to blend a little bit more and almost intertwine with other branches as well, and that’s just one example, but it’s interesting that you brought up the neuropsychology. I recently had a guest on that talked about that as well and we had that slight discussion so. Do you have any other fond memories you already brought up one that kind of, you know, solidified your idea this is this is where I need to be…any other fond experiences or memories while attending either Nova Southeastern or Carlos Albizu.
Yeah, I you know what, I was in a business that exemplifies how sometimes when you’re doing your work and, and you’re doing what you’re, I guess, purpose is like in your aligning with your heart is speaking to you that this makes sense for you. People cross your path. I remember giving a presentation. And there was this presentation in class, the door was open and one of the chairs passed by and he kind of peeked over, didn’t think anything of it. I went to library, I was always at the library, and he sits, sits down and he says, have you ever thought of XY and Z for your dissertation? He gets up and he leaves away. I mean he walks away, and I was like OK. He comes back around a couple of weeks later and he says have you ever thought about teaching? He says you have a knack for it. If you haven’t thought about it, think about it. He gets up. He walks away, you see. And so, we developed a relationship. He ended up becoming my chair and my mentor. OK, he’s long past, God bless him and it’s just people that take special interest in giving back because they themselves have been in that situation and hence the reason for my being here on your show today, ’cause it’s always about giving back. So yeah, yeah that’s always a fun memory ’cause he kind of guided me when I had no idea that I wanted to be a professor either.
Well, not only that, but that’s a unique communication behavior. Planting the seed, not even waiting for a response.
Walking, walking away. That’s funny, that’s funny. Any, any other advice that you’d have, you’ve already shared a lot of advice so far, for those who are seeking a masters or doctorate degree in psychology and, specifically, any advice to for those interested in clinical psychology.
Yeah, so your decision really should come down to a couple of things. Number one proximity, and there’s a lot of competition now because now education is changing. OK, we’re doing some hybrid models within some line models. Working in person. So, you know proximity. Are you willing to move or are you willing to stay in state number 1. Number 2, finances play a really big role in it, you see? So, do they have stipends and scholarships? Which universities offer what type of incentives? If you’re a veteran, if you come back to school, whether you’re you know right out of high school or whether you know you’re in second phase in your life, it doesn’t matter. What are your needs and try to match your needs with the offerings that those universities have. So, attending college fairs, attending, you know college fairs is a great way to really get a flavor for the different universities there, you see. Because if they set up all the other tables and so forth. Uhm, going online, Google is your best friend, right? Top 10 colleges in this particular area of the states you see and then look them up individually there during their admissions department. Be mindful of how fast they respond to you. Be mindful of the campus life, if that’s what is aligning with you and when you want that experience as part of the package. So do your do your homework.
No, very good advice. I’d also add, if I may, go, you know extending the Google search, and find career guides and so one thing that I know that our website does is we have put together scholarship pages and, and career guides as well. And let’s make sure that I’m sharing the right screen here screen number one. I have multiple screens. So, so one of the things is just a career guide that gives you not only types of psychologists, types of therapists, counselors and then talks about those and then gives some recommendations and other resources for that. The other thing that’s interesting that a lot of our guests and, and some of our people that are listening to the podcast. They want to know a little bit about as we talked about these branches of psychology. If you can see these here and so, you know, what’s the difference between experimental psychology or educational or developmental? Go out and do your own research to find out. Oh well, that speaks to me like you were saying before, and does it speak to you, or doesn’t it speak to you? And those are some other recommendations that I’d have is just do your research and, and Google is your best friend as you said. So definitely go out there and be proactive, I think that’s the bottom-line. Don’t be reactive, be proactive and, and try to educate yourself a little bit more. One thing I found when doing the research on you and I love doing research on my guests before having them on and, and yours was quite unique as well in a number of ways. Number one is in 1999 you completed your internship at Nichlaus Children’s Hospital and, I believe, you are providing individual group and family therapy to mostly children and adolescents so tell us how you found that opportunity and what was most memorable about that experience.
Yeah, so Bradley I got a funny story, right? So, when I was 18 years old didn’t want to have anything to do with children and they, they just, they were loud and I just dirty none of that and a friend of mine told me one day you’re going to be working with children, I just know it, because children will gravitate towards me. And I was at a barbecue, a whole bunch of children. I’m just relaxing, you know with the adults. Tania, Tania can you push me on the swing. Tania can you…? And so, there was again, a natural affinity and, and I thought that working with children was, I wanted to be a well, well-rounded psychologist and I thought working with children. Gosh, I didn’t have any experience working with children, so I ended up doing my practicum at, back then it was called Miami Children Hospital, now Nichlaus Hospital and I fell in love with children.
And as a direct result I ended up doing 2 years well at Nichlaus Hospital and it was wonderful, wonderful experience.
The other unique aspect of your academic career is after your internship there you completed one year residency at Everglades Correctional Institution, which is an all-male maximum security prison. So, this is unique. You know I haven’t come across this before so tell us a little bit more about some of the challenges and why you selected. If, if I’m, I’m looking for an internship and I’m a short female, black individual as you just described yourself, yeah, I want to go to this all-male prison so tell me a little bit about why you selected that and tell me your experiences.
Yeah, so the short African American female is my professor, Bradley.
Oh, I see, OK, sorry.
I’m Hispanic, Cuban by descent, no worries. OK, but uhm. It’s a great question? Why did I choose forensics and the reason was more practical than anything else, Bradley, because they were going to, uhm, I guess certify the number of hours I needed as my post doctorate so that I could become licensed, and I had. I was the primary provider in my home, so I needed to kind of take those practical steps if you will. And I also thought, you know, I know nothing about it. And I, I it was definitely an experience, and it was definitely very, very challenging and I’ll tell you why, because I had to unlearn a lot of the things that I learned in textbooks and in traditional practice, you see.
But the one biggest, biggest, biggest takeaway, I think was my inner transformation and how my lens changed about the prison system and the inmates within the prison system. And I thought to myself, you know, there are a lot of good people that make really poor choices. You see, and it’s not to say that they’re all, you know, really, really good, people but it’s not saying. I’m saying everyone, at some point, has made a poor choice. Just sometimes those choices end up being fatal choices. So, yeah, so it definitely gave me the opportunity to really kind of, you know, evaluate you know. I hate the word psychopathology, you know, but, but just the struggles across the lifespan, the struggles across the lifespan and how they bleed into adulthood on individual, social, micro and macro levels.
So, what’s interesting? I did some research on that facility and it was originally planned as a mental health facility and was converted to the Correctional institution in 1995, and I believe you started there probably four years after it actually transitioned. I think you were there about 1999 or 2000, maybe 2001 now that I learned that you stayed at Nichlaus for two years and not one year. So, it was closer to that time period. But I found that interesting that it originally was a mental health facility and, and then they’re bringing people in like you to help, you know, with the inmates. So, it’s quite a unique story. Now you are the owner and founder of the Comprehensive Assessment Center (CAC), and you refer to it as the Center. Tell us more about the Center and how and why you founded it.
Yeah, so I went ahead, and I entered academia the same year that I opened the Center. OK on a full-time faculty position and the reason I wanted the Center is because I wanted to keep my feet wet in terms of reciprocating with clients and applying the principles that I had previously learned; I didn’t want to be a faculty that just taught and regurgitated from the textbook. I wanted to have the classroom come alive by injecting experiences, OK, uhm, that I had in not only my, you know I, I’ve also worked community health agencies and my internship post-doctorate but also in my private practice so this was the best of both worlds for me, I had an opportunity to still have that client contact and in the same bank I could share some of those experiences with students in a supervision capacity, in an academic capacity and in a mentoring capacity.
What were some of the biggest challenges when you started the Center?
Yeah, that’s great. Not knowing how to run a business. Because they don’t teach you that in psychology, and you know, in, in, in, in Graduate School when you’re going for psychology. And I didn’t major obviously in business, so learning through trial and error. Yeah, was probably the hardest.
OK, and then I, I’m sharing the screen again and, and here is kind of a little bit more information about the Center and I love all the pictures of all the staff there as well. Uhm, were these the original 5 or did you eventually add more?
Those were, yeah, those were the original yeah yeah.
OK, good, good and I should point out that, uh, a good variety if you talk about your team here. A good variety of experiences that you’re bringing to the table as well so. So, the other question that I have regarding that is you know you said I didn’t know how to run a business, so that was one of the challenges as well. PR, advertising, taking care of the money, the insurance, that sort of stuff. So, did you kind of know ahead of time that hey, I’m going to have to find somebody to do this. Or did you take that on yourself and then decide no, I can’t do it because and the reason I’m asking that is whenever I ask my guests about starting a business, some of them do try to do it themselves and then realize this is just overwhelming. I can’t do it. I’m not good in this area or some of them recognize from the get-go I need to find somebody in order to start this ’cause I’m not going to do this so tell me what your thought process was, and your experience was.
Yeah, so Bradley I’m like one of the best kept secrets. And the reason why I’m saying this is, modestly so, right, uhm, is that I really didn’t do a lot of marketing. And so again, it started out very, very small and a lot of it was word of mouth. I got on some of the insurance panels. I do some social media now you see, and I ended up having to hire, you know, someone to do the administrative piece, but not really a lot of marketing or anything along that line because my primary scope was in academia, you see. So, if you really wanted to launch, you know, your own business, you definitely need to hire yours. If you don’t know or take courses and become educated, you know on the logistics and the business piece of it you see. But remember, I didn’t want to go into business for just for that, you see. So, I ended up hiring someone who was with me for about 10 years. Who did the administrative piece, but not a lot of marketing or anything. I just got a lot of referrals. I currently have a waiting list from individuals that I’ve seen intergenerationally. I’ve seen you know, mom for X number of years has a baby couple years later. Mom is doing phenomenal. I see their child. They grow up to be a teenager and come back a couple of years later and it’s awesome. It’s, it’s, it’s amazing to be able to still continue, it’s almost like you’re part of their extended family without blurring the boundaries or lines.
So, it sounds like you, you create this relationship and you like seeing their growth throughout their lives as well. And, you know, one thing before I ask you a little bit about your teaching because I know that you have taught graduate and undergraduate courses at various universities before I transition to that. One thing that came to mind while you were talking is. How did you decide what areas to focus on or offer in terms of counseling and therapy? Or is it, you know, come to me and we’ll, we’ll deal with anything. I know on the website; you say we specialize in certain areas. So how did you decide that? Is it based on your staff and their experience and their, you know, level of education and, and their training? Or did you also have you and your staff train for those particular topic areas.
Yeah, so yeah it does.
Does that make sense?
It does, it does. I wanted, I wanted the center to be very comprehensive in its ability to render services to diverse populations in the USA. And so, I had somebody who was perhaps a subject matter, was a licensed marriage and family therapist. OK, and they specialize in LGBTQI, you know, clientele among others. I had somebody who specializes in working with teenage girls that are really, really struggling, you know, from low self-esteem to truancy. I wanted somebody who did assessments myself. I wanted someone to be able to do family work so that if you needed, you know, it’s like a one stop shop to a certain degree. Now I have focused more OK on more the mindful based what we call Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach. OK, I’ll, now struck a very special interest. Now I’m curious now again about quantum psychology, you see. And it boils down to science, you made reference to that earlier in terms of neurology. How ironic is that, I wanted nothing to do with medicine and now I’m diving into science. You see. So, uhm, and I think that the biggest takeaway for the audience is, you know, listening here is that you’re always evolving and you’re always changing. So, always kind of look life, you know, with the sense of curiosity you say, and if, if it spikes your curiosity, then move in the direction of it. As you mentioned, Bradley, do your research. Start learning about it. And you, you’ll, you sometimes, sometimes you’ll end up going down the rabbit hole, but in a good way ’cause you’ll discover gems along the way and some of those pieces are going to really, really resonate with you, and those are the ones that you need to kind of, you know, pay special attention to and proceed with.
Sure, very good advice and you mentioned you know expanding yourself and and being open to evolve and change. Two things that I wanted to ask is I see that you’re a certified Heartmath trainer. So, tell me, what does that mean? I looked it up, but I want to hear from you, what is this? Why did you go that route and become a certified Heartmath trainer?
Yeah, so remember I was mentioning that for a couple of years I’ve been looking at the, the influence of science, ecology, energy, electromagnetic frequencies, things of that nature, right? And so, I came across in my research with the Heart Math Institute. And the Heart Math Institute is a research-based organization out in California and what they’ve done is they’ve created, OK, instrumentation that helps, it’s almost like a biofeedback kind of mechanism, that helps the individual to gain higher levels of what we call coherence, ok. So, let’s if you allow me briefly to explain what that is based on just physiology, the, everybody is familiar with the amygdala. That’s a piece of the brain that houses all the emotions. Well, what we, some of us might not know is the amygdala, the amygdala, OK, is synchronized to your heart in terms of its heartbeat, right? And it communicates bidirectionally to your heart, and your heart sends messages to the amygdala. And when people get very, very anxious, and so forth the first thing that starts happening in their hearts, their pattern quickly. It sends messages through the vagus nerve right up to the amygdala, saying fight or fight. You’re in danger, right? And then what happens next? Adrenaline cortisol starts pumping into your bloodstream, right? Doesn’t make you feel good. You either fight or flight or you freeze but then if you learn to slow down your heart and you slow down your heartbeat, you’re sending different messages up to the amygdala saying that everything is, well, you’re calm, right? And so, I thought they got something here. They really do and uhm, and so I went. And you know I, I dive in, and I wanted to become certified so that I’m able to not only do this in therapy but also train others if they’re interested in this particular experience, you see. So, it’s really cool ’cause you could actually attach it to your, you know, to your cell phone and you could measure. You can do it at any point in time and it really centers you because what happens when you are centered and grounded Bradley and you have that low, excuse me, that slow heart rate, it creates coherence which creates a space for you to be able to respond as opposed to react, because when our amygdala is inflamed, what happens? Our prefrontal cortex is part of the brain that’s responsible for, you know, executive thinking and planning, goes offline and this is why they tell you don’t make any major decisions when you’re under duress.
Now, it’s interesting that you brought that up. I, I want to share my screen one more time here. And you have a YouTube channel and it’s interesting that you brought up the vagus nerve as well. That was one of your most recent videos that you shared on here, but all these other areas that you talked about, it’s kind of interesting, especially when you brought in the idea of this Heartmath is, and this it probably relates to that heart rhythm technology. Yep, that you were talking about. So, all of these things that people don’t really think about that they can control, when in actuality you can bring down your heartbeat and and focus on that. And then, as you were saying, the amygdala, so all that stuff is interesting to me. I always love talking about some of that stuff, so I mentioned earlier that you were teaching graduate and undergraduate. Are you still at, is it, NSU?
I am, uhm, I teach on a part time basis. I am faculty, well, that’s what is called like an affiliate faculty at Nova Southeastern and I teach for Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine. And what I do there is I teach about first year medical students some the basic, you know, skills, clinical skills, what to look for assessments. Uhm, I, I’ve, I’ve given a couple of lectures on eating disorders and the Physiology behind it with the psychology behind it, the sociology behind it. And so, the, the shift now is moving towards integrated healthcare, and so they’re bringing different in professionals from different, I guess, disciplines and, and kind of just collaborating and talking and having fun and learning.
You mentioned earlier before we started recording the podcast that you’re, you’re going through kind of a transition and making some changes in your life and then emphasizing on certain areas more so now and in in the future. So, tell us a little bit more about your plans and goals for the future and, and what that entails.
Yeah, so Bradley, you know I, I kind of am beginning to almost like reinvent myself again and so that 18- or 19-year-old who was trying to figure life out back then. Now midlife is going through the same kind of transition because I’m seeing that the field is changing and not only is the field changing, but I’m changing. And I, I want something that extends past traditional paradigm because there is so much more than what is visible to the naked eye, and so quantum mechanics underscores that principle down to the very molecular proton you see. And so, I become fascinated how you know things can be influenced on an individual basis and then collectively on a quantum level you see. So, I’m, I’m really excited about learning what my next stage is going to look like and so, I’m taking a, how do you say, a leap of faith and going based on my intuition and after 22 years at the university I have tendered my resignation on in good terms because I feel that that chapter in my life is now complete and I have to now go back and follow my heart again in order to explore the next chapter in the book of what we call Life.
Well, it’s, it’s. I’m glad to hear that you know you I, I sense from you that you self-reflect a lot of times and you go with your intuition and follow your gut. Any kind of phrase that you want to go with? So, I applaud you for doing that. A lot of people are afraid to do that because they look at the ramifications of doing that. What if I, you know, fail? I don’t have enough money to support myself. I what if this? What if that and so I applaud you for following your, your intuition and I wish you luck in that endeavor as well. One thing that we usually do with all of our guests is we usually have some fun questions here at the end, and if you if you had a chance to take a look at some of them I shared with you. What is your favorite term, principle, or theory, and why?
Again, my, my favorite theory that I’m fascinated with is quantum right now. Ultimately, that’s where it’s at for me right now, ’cause it kind of leans into all sorts of different branches of psychology and also a little bit on just the magic of being human.
If you had any other advice for those interested in the field of clinical psychology or those wanting to start through their own business or practice any other bits of advice for them before we leave.
Do your homework. Do your research. Yeah, talk to professionals out there. That’s the best thing that you can do. Talk to the people that I’ve walked in the shoes that you want to walk in, yeah.
OK, very good. Here’s kind of a fun one and take the moment to think about this one. If you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?
Wow, that’s good. Well, the trip is easy. I’d like to see the world. Because I just don’t go for the uhm, touristy things. I really, really enjoy seeing how people live in the different cultures and just the different experiences and how see people across the world look differently and how it could have been me more on that side of the world. And so forth. So, I, I enjoy that. In terms of project. Being of service internationally. Absolutely. And whatever that capacity looks like. Uhm, helping bridge the gap between the tangible and the intangible and somewhere along the way teaching health care professionals is teaching health care professionals to communicate that, to create that ripple effect. That’s what I did in Albizu University in terms of mentoring students that were in their internship process, and they’ve gone on to become supervisors. And I’ve always told them pay it forward. Don’t forget to pay it forward and they have, and they’ve come back and then supervised others and so forth and so forth, and so on. And so, I guess the next stage is I want to do the same thing I did in academia, but I want to do it to those working professionals in the field so that that could also be paid forward.
Very good answer. I like that answer, and here’s a question I haven’t asked any of my guests yet, but it occurred to me when you were saying I’d love to travel the world. I’ve traveled a lot as well and it got me thinking that how you would counsel somebody or deal with some of their, uhm, you know, if you’re in the psychological or clinical field, you would have to know some of their cultural norms and expectations in order to almost counsel them appropriately. Because if you counseled them as if they were, you know in the American culture and in their culture was totally different. Uhm, talk about that or brainstorm with me about that. If you, if you ever worked outside of the, you know, United States, how would you approach setting up your own business there and how you would counsel people?
Yeah, no, that’s an excellent question and that’s one of the reasons, Bradley, we didn’t touch on it before, but that’s one of the reasons why I also decided on Albizu University because they specialize in cross cultural counseling.
Yeah, and so, uhm, and that’s must. That’s a staple and you have to know the person’s culture because that’s woven into their life experiences and for you to be able to become of service to them, you really have to understand their experiences. But not in a social vacuum. You gotta understand their experiences, you know, on a macro level, you see, and that involves doing a little homework and learning about the culture and understanding what eye contact means, and with certain religions you know, kind of overshadow or influence certain behaviors. What’s acceptable, what’s not.
Yeah, and, and I don’t want my audience to believe or think that I’m saying that everybody in the American culture shares the same culture. We have different subcultures in, in America as well, but I was just thinking about I have some friends in, in different countries and what we take for granted as hey if you need to clarify or question something, go ahead and do that. But in other cultures, if you did that, then that’s a no no that it’s disrespectful to bring that up again and you mentioned eye contact and a lot of the nonverbals. So, again, we have these different cultures within America as well, and I, I realized that so. Is there anything else that you’d like to bring up or discuss in this podcast?
Yeah, I, I, I’d like to go ahead and just plant a seed I’m going to. I’m going to go. I’m going to give everybody a tip. Everybody has a superpower that they’re not even aware of. And what that superpower is is the breath. We need it to survive, we need it to be alive. But going back to the heart rhythm technology, going down to slowing down your heart rate, it has a plethora of benefits and so forth and how you do that, Bradley, is through the breath. And the breath, you could also gain higher levels of awareness. You said I reflect a lot, I do, and part of my self-reflection is also engaging in meditation. And meditation is not when people think meditation is, you’re going to sit in a Lotus position on top of a mountain for hours on end. No, no meditation could be from 3 minutes to 5 minutes, as long as you have some level of consistency, and your mind is supposed to go wacky. And the trick is to bring it back to center to the breath and the more you exercise that, the higher levels of calm you project within yourself and outwardly and people, it’s palpable because they can sense that. The color we all are as a society, the better we are at responding, thinking and really interacting with one another.
That’s very good advice, and the other thing to keep in mind is you could almost make it a challenge for yourself if you connect and use your phone or anything else to look at your breathing and everything. How good you are at controlling that and and being able to bring it down lower and lower so it’s almost like a, you could view it as a challenge to get better at that.
So, I’d like to give everybody a gift. I don’t get any royalties, none of this. It’s a free App and it’s called Smiling Mind. Smiling mind. And it could be done with adults, children, youth, teenagers, family school systems. It’s amazing and you pace yourself from one minute to three all the way to 45 minutes. If you’re curious and if you move, take a look at it.
OK, well thank you. Tania, thanks again for sharing your story and your advice and I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. Thanks again for your time.
Likewise, thank you for having me.