The President's Message
by Hengameh Maroufi, PhD
I hope you have all had a great start to the year. It is difficult to believe that we are already in spring. It was great to see those of you who attended the annual meeting and presentation on the Changing Landscape of Psychedelics at JFK University. Dr. Presti was extremely knowledgeable and I know I learned a lot about this topic. It really is a wonderful time to see some familiar faces as well as meet some new ones. I would like to thank Dr. Scanlin for putting together the wonderful event. I hope more of you will be able to come to our events such as our quarterly CE dinners, First Fridays at Scott’s and the upcoming mixer/social with local psychiatrists. I know the CCPA board would love to meet more of you at our events. All of these events are excellent opportunities for networking.
I am sorry to say that since our last newsletter, we have had more young lives lost in the tragedy in Florida. I know gun control and its intersection with mental health is yet another topic that has our country divided. While it is an important topic I do not want to focus on it at this time. However, what is well worth talking about is the bravery of the students who have felt called to action. It is an honor to watch these young people’s passion and determination to stop further loss of life. Regardless of which side of the gun control debate you are on I hope you have had a chance to listen to these students who I believe whole heartedly will teach us adults something. THEY will make the changes THEY want to see in their country.
On a personal note, I wanted to share with you all that I recently closed my private practice. The decision to leave private practice was a very difficult one. Initially, I did not think it was worth a discussion in the newsletter, but a dear colleague encouraged me to do so and share my thoughts about this major change of direction in my professional life as mid-career psychologist. One of the realities of private practice these days is working with insurance companies. Overall, this was really a difficult experience both in terms of the low reimbursement rates and the amount of time lost trying to communicate with them. It was not an empowering situation for me, which led me to do some soul searching. I realized that I was always a happier and better employee than I was as a professional in private practice/business owner. I realized I truly missed being a member of a clinical team. However, early in my job search, I found that hospital and clinic based facilities did not see my private practice experience as an asset. They preferred to hire someone who was coming directly from another organization who had been part of a team and reported to a supervisor. They were seeking an applicant who was a team player and easy to supervise. While I believed I had both of those qualities, it was not something that was coming across on the resume based on my last few years of private practice experience. My ego took a hit as I began to feel that I had to prove myself once again. I was not expecting that being in private practice would be a disadvantage. As a first step, I decided to accept a contract position with a correctional facility. Hence, I transitioned to the public sector. It was something that was not my first choice but somehow felt right as a new beginning. As it turns out it was a great decision. I love being a member of the team at the California Health Care Facility, in the inpatient psychiatric unit, in Stockton. I am very energized by being a team member. I began to see how isolating private practice had been. I love seeing psychologists have a major role within the treatment team. While psychiatrists are part of the team, I feel it is us psychologists who have “ownership” of the clinical cases. It is a very sad environment and given the demographics of the inmates, I see first hand many of the social justice issues I have always been active in talking about. Everyday I get to see the role poverty, race, lack of access to mental health, and substance abuse have in the lives of incarcerated individuals. That is in itself turning out to be a very important experience. It is difficult to see that the rehabilitation of the inmates is not happening in the most productive way. As difficult as this work is, I feel lucky to have access to a part of society that I would never have gotten to see. The inmates are a forgotten segment of society. That has made it necessary for me to redefine what it means for me to have impact on the lives of those I work with. In this short-term inpatient setting, impact can be limited to making a patient simply feel heard and understood as longer term treatment is not provided. Lastly, I don’t mind acknowledging the importance of a steady income, which I feel, is lacking for those who are not yet established in private practice. As psychologists we do have a difficult job yet we often feel guilty about wanting to be rewarded adequately.
Interestingly, many of the younger clinicians at the facility talk about leaving to start a private practice. The bottom line one really has to think about is which professional path is a better fit given an individual’s personality and not just think that the “grass is greener on the other side”. This is a great time to remind you all about the hard work Dr. Smith Baumann has been doing with our Early Career group. This group provides support to psychologists who are establishing themselves in their careers.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our board for their commitment to CCPA. It would not be possible to keep CCPA going without the hard work of Dr. Scanlin, Dr. Mann, Dr. Komori-Stager, Dr. O’Grady, Dr. Peterson, Dr. Pojman, Dr. Middlebrook, Dr. Sadur, Dr. Schuman, Dr. Smith- Baumann and Dr. Chan. We have several unfilled board positions. If you have a small amount of time to contribute and are interested, please contact one of us for further information. We would love to talk to you about the positions! As always, please know that I would love to hear from you regarding any suggestions you might have for CCPA and how it might serve its members best. In particular, if you have suggestions for events, speakers or opportunities for community engagement please contact any of us.
Hengameh Maroufi, Ph.D.