Division 53 | Past Columns - Pascale Stemmle

Past Columns - Pascale Stemmle
Pascale Stemmle, Psy.D., Pacific Anxiety Group

Pascale Stemmle, Psy.D.
Pacific Anxiety Group,
Menlo Park, CA

1. What is your current occupation?

I am a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice at the Pacific Anxiety Group in Menlo Park, CA. We are a group of psychologists providing evidence-based treatments for children, adolescents, and adults with anxiety, mood, and related disorders. I am also adjunct clinical faculty at Palo Alto University.

2. What do you do? / Describe your role.

In private practice, I see clients for outpatient therapy, primarily children and adolescents. Sometimes I offer more intensive therapy (e.g. meeting 2-3 times weekly) when a client's presenting issues require it, or when a client requests it (and it is clinically appropriate). As adjunct faculty at Palo Alto University, I have taught clinical and abnormal psychology to undergraduates and helped to mentor a handful of students in obtaining volunteer clinical experiences and applying to graduate school. 

3. How did you learn about your job? 

Through contacts I made in graduate school! Two former practicum supervisors were partners at the group; a former classmate was teaching at PAU and recommended me for an adjunct position. 

4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?

I was fortunate to complete both my clinical internship, and a joint clinical/research postdoctoral fellowship, at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. At UCLA I had wonderful mentors, some who held primarily clinical positions, and some who were primarily research focused. I decided by the end of my training that I really wanted to focus on clinical care, teaching and supervision. I looked at various clinical settings where I could achieve these goals, and in the end felt that a private practice would best enable me to achieve a work-life balance that works for me.

5. Are you a member of Division 53?  If so, how has being a member of Division 53 been helpful to you?

Yes, I am a member. Being a member of the division helps me to expand my professional network, maintain contact with colleagues that I do not see often due to geographical constraints, and I have also learned from the newsletters, journal, and listserve. Although I haven't yet made it to an APA conference, I believe that when I do it will also be a good experience.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?

Seeing clients. That's really what motivated me to pursue graduate school in the first place. Like most of us, I worked as a research associate prior to grad school, and for me, being in the room with a client, hearing their stories and finding ways to connect with them, was always what I got the most excited about. I also love seeing students get excited about our field and working with them to develop their passions and ideas further.

7. What is a tough aspect of your job?  How have you handled it?

There were many reasons that I decided to join a group of psychologists rather than having my own independent office, but one of the most important to me was the opportunity to be around bright, friendly, and competent colleagues. However, even though we work together in the same building, we still spend a lot of time on our own (seeing clients, returning calls, paperwork, etc) and that can feel isolating at times. To cope, I try to have weekly lunches with colleagues, to sit outside during breaks between sessions so I can get fresh air and people watch, to attend regular case consultation meetings, and to stay in touch with close friends from graduate school or internship who are luckily very skilled at listening and supporting me if I need to talk. 

8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?

Be open to all the feedback you receive from others in as non-defensive and non-judgmental a way as you are able. This includes supervisors, colleagues, and clients. This is how you will learn and grow as a psychologist, and there will come a time when you wish you were receiving as much detailed feedback on your work as you used to. 

9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?

Graduate schools, internship training programs, and postdoctoral fellowships do a remarkable job in training us to be scientists/scholars and practitioners. However, in my experience the business aspect of clinical work is neglected. In order to run a successful private practice, you'll need to learn how to set up your practice, how to market yourself, what you need in order for continued professional development, and how to manage the financial aspect of the business (fees and billing, dealing with insurance if you opt to, and one that tends to be tough for many of us just starting out--talking about money with clients). These are some of the things that I've sorted through in the past year, am still learning about, and will likely continue to work to master over many years. I suggest talking to lots of professionals if you are interested in private practice to get their perspective, and asking one or two to help mentor you as you move forward.

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