328 Transcript

Dr. Jeremy Sharp Transcripts Leave a Comment

[00:00:00] Dr. Sharp: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This podcast is brought to you by PAR.

Conduct a broad-based assessment of personality and psychopathology with the Gold Standard Personality Assessment Inventory or PAI. The new PAI Spanish: Revised Translation retains semantic equivalents while using clearer and more inclusive language. Learn more at parinc.com\pai.

Hey everyone, welcome back to The Testing Psychologist podcast. I’m so glad to bring you another happy hour episode after a long delay, a long gap between happy hour episodes. We are back. I’m back with my good friends and psychologists, [00:01:00] Dr. Andre Chou, Dr. Laura Sanders, Dr. Chris Barnes, and Dr. Stephanie Nelson. We are talking about testing, we’re talking about practices, life, all sorts of things.

This is a free-flowing discussion, like all of the happy hour episodes where we start with a little bit of structure and then quickly find ourselves in different areas. It’s so much fun to connect with them and see where the conversation goes.

So a few things that we get into this time include certainly personal and professional check-in and see where everybody’s at, what everyone is doing, and the big changes that have happened for everyone over the last, gosh, 6-12 months. We talk about gratitude and a gratitude project. We talk about beliefs that we hold, that we might want to let go of. We tackle the question of [00:02:00] why do we even write reports? So these are just a few things that we get into. And all in all, it was a nice conversation with good friends.

So without further ado, let’s get to this happy hour discussion.

Hey, y’all, welcome back. Glad to have all of you again.

Dr. Andres: So excited.

Dr. Chris: Good. For sure.

Dr. Sharp: Good. We didn’t strategize our introduction to draw numbers and say who should go first. Let’s do some brief introductions so people can orient to your voices just in case they haven’t caught the previous [00:03:00] three happy hour episodes. Laura, do you want to go first?

Dr. Laura: Hi, I’m Laura Sanders, a licensed psychologist in Colorado and Texas, and I still have a business in Texas and a business in Colorado doing only psychological assessments.

Dr. Sharp: All right. Can’t wait to check in on your Texas business. Stephanie?

Dr. Stephanie: Hey everybody. I’m Stephanie. I have a small private practice in Seattle and mostly do consultation work now to other people who are testing psychologists, mostly for children, adolescents, and young adults.

Dr. Sharp: Welcome back, Andres.

Dr. Andres: I’m Andres and I’m a psychologist in Orange County, California, different from last time. I’m here to bring the hour in the happy hour.

Dr. Sharp: All right. Looking forward to that. Chris.

Dr. Chris: Hello everyone. Chris Barnes here in [00:04:00] Kalamazoo, Michigan, Southwest Michigan. I’m a psychologist and have a private group practice, and half the time I don’t know what I’m doing, so we’ll just leave that there and see where that goes.

Dr. Sharp: Half the time, that’s pretty good.

Dr. Chris: Yeah, approved since last time.

Dr. Sharp: Nice. If I could get to half the time knowing what I’m doing, feel pretty good. We’ve done three of these happy hour episodes but it’s been a long since the previous one, 70-something episodes, almost 100 episodes, which is nuts since the last one, I think. So it’s good to get back together with y’all.

For anybody who hasn’t listened to the previous happy hour episodes, these are just times for us to get together and chat about whatever comes up honestly, there’s not a lot of structure. It’s meant to be pretty loose just to hear what’s going on for everybody and dive into some topics [00:05:00] that hopefully, are somewhat interesting for the audience, but no guarantees. So we’ll see where we end up.

I’m curious about what’s going on for everybody. We haven’t talked in a long time. What’s happening personally and professionally for all of you? I feel like there have been changes since the last one for a lot of us. Andres, you moved?

Dr. Andres: I did. I was in Pasadena, California, and I moved to the Irvine area for those that know, Southern California, it’s about an hour away. So yeah, it’s been a bit of a shift. I’m in private practice and I’m doing it the right way, starting a private practice in the middle of a pandemic and then as it was picking up, moving it an hour away. It’s a good plan.

Dr. Sharp: I’m curious how that worked for your practice. Did you keep any of your old clients or did you start another new practice?

[00:06:00] Dr. Andres: No, I guess transferred it but I’m mostly therapy so a good number of my clients came over and they’re okay with Telehealth. I now have a part-time office that those that want in-person can come down. So anyone out there who has an office full-time, let’s talk.

But so far it’s been good. This is part of that imposter syndrome we’re always talking about. I’m always thinking, no one’s going to follow me. They’re not going to come to see me but they still do for some strange reasons.

Dr. Sharp: Well, that’s got to be relieving.

Dr. Andres: It is. I’m glad. I feel very lucky.

Dr. Sharp: I think about the top three things that would give me nightmares and heart attacks and stuff, [00:07:00] and closing my practice and opening a new one in a different state or a different location is one of those. So I admire, well, maybe, at least three of y’all have done that. That’s super interesting. So inspirational. [inaudible 00:07:23]

How about the rest of y’all?

Dr. Stephanie: A lot of people have questions about how you move to a new practice, how you market a new practice, and all the fear and anxiety that surrounds that. So it’s nice to hear that for the most part, it’s stressful but ends up working out for a lot of people.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. We definitely have some success stories here.

Dr. Laura: Yeah, absolutely. I think since the last time we all talked, I moved out of my [00:08:00] single office in Colorado and moved into a suite that I built out, hired a new psychologist who is fresh out of post-doctorate and she’s amazing. She’s been so wonderful. And just picking up the slack and it’s been great.

I have two wonderful externs right now who are really independent. The new space is working out nicely, and so the Colorado stuff is going great. Very happy.

Dr. Sharp: That’s awesome. I can’t wait to see your new office. For anybody who doesn’t know, Laura and I are in the same town.

Dr. Laura: My husband refers to him as my favorite competitor.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. That’s so funny. I met John yesterday for lunch to talk about Google Ads. I’m going to give John a shout-out. He does Google Ads for mental health professionals and gets rave reviews from everybody. I met with John [00:09:00] about some Google Ads and I think you called during lunch and he’s like, hey, I’m just hanging with your favorite competitor.

Dr. Laura: It’s so weird because the way that his brain works is so different from mine. I think of you as a friend. I don’t think of you as a competitor, which is dumb because we technically are but not really. There’s so much work to go around. I don’t feel any pressure to be like, don’t see him, see me. There’s so much work right now.

Dr. Sharp: It’s all, for sure.

Dr. Andres: Just in that thinking, it’s probably the opposites like, no, please go see him because I’m too full.

Dr. Laura: Exactly.

Dr. Sharp: It’s true. And we get a lot of clients who probably see both of us because they weren’t happy for one reason or another, or just like all the information they can get.

Dr. Laura: True story.

[00:10:00] Dr. Sharp: Wait, you didn’t say anything about your Texas practice?

Dr. Laura: It’s still hanging on. I’m still seeing about one person a week over Telehealth. It’s all, at this point, autism evaluations for adults that I’m seeing. And then I have LPA who’s working in that office. She’s working. It’s going, it’s becoming a lot to manage cognitively. So still looking at selling it and I think it’s on the horizon. I don’t want to jinx anything but keeping my fingers crossed, I think it’s going to happen.

Dr. Sharp: All right. I know it’s been a long process.

Dr. Laura: Oh my God.

Dr. Andres: I think you just moved when we did the first happy hour.

Dr. Laura: Yeah, it’s [00:11:00] been two and a half years.

Dr. Stephanie: Does it feel like home now?

Dr. Laura: Yeah, I think so. It’s dumb but on my Facebook feedback, I still have stuff from my Texas town that comes up and like weather and stuff, and I’m finally not that interested in it anymore.

Dr. Stephanie: Ah.

Dr. Laura: It took a long time for me to feel more integrated into this community. The kids are getting more integrated into things; we’re making more friends. It’s finally happening.

Dr. Andres: But you guys still care about the Houston Astros though, apparently.

Dr. Laura: That’s just my husband. I don’t care about these anymore.

Dr. Sharp: That’s the right team to care about right now.

Dr. Laura: Astros and the Cowboys are his people.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fair. Stephanie, what about you?

Dr. Stephanie: The biggest thing that has changed in my life is that I’m now getting to run more groups. I run some groups for testing [00:12:00] psychologists. I have two consult groups that go for about six weeks at a time where we cover sharpening our clinical skills through the context of cases. There are sometimes people that bring up topics.

I’ve run now the fourth Report Writing Bootcamp, where we just spend a month helping people define what a good report is from their own perspective, and then figure out ways to streamline and polish up the parts of their reports that they want to show off their values.

I also have started one that I call leveling up and leveling out, it’s for people who are ready to take that next step as a testing psychologist but aren’t sure what that looks like because the path out of just seeing all the clients all the time seems hard to imagine. And so I just ran a group with [00:13:00] eight incredible testing psychologists. We all happened to be women, but it was so fun to talk about what that next step might look like they all had such amazing creative ideas and it was just incredible. I can’t wait to do that group again just because it was so exciting. So that’s one of the big things that I’m doing now that’s different.

Dr. Laura: I was wondering, do you get to see before and after in your Report Writing Bootcamp? Do you get to see the outcome of what you are pouring in and then how it changes people’s output?

Dr. Stephanie: The first bootcamp that I did, I tried to make people share their reports and it turns out that people don’t want to do that, even in the context of a small intimate group. So I don’t make people share anymore. What we do is we figure out what the skeleton of our reports looks like, what parts we have in it, our reading level, what part is our most [00:14:00] valuable part, and what part is just there so that we look like a good testing psychologist. And we figure out how to streamline that 80% that’s just there to check the boxes of a good report and then how to showcase the other 20%.

I give people ideas and suggestions and we problem solve and we talk about it and people share their own things, but I don’t actually see what their reports look like before and what their reports look like after. That’s for them to know.

Sometimes I get to see people’s reports through, I do these individual strength-based report reviews, and so they’ll send me a de-identified report and I’ll do all that stuff for them, like help them figure out their reading level, what their strengths are, what may be some hidden strengths in the reports are, what parts maybe don’t shine as much because it’s not really what their highest values as a testing psychologist and give them some ideas for streamlining or for [00:15:00] showcasing the parts that are amazing. And then I get to see sometimes follow-ups of what they did with that, which is really cool because I get cool ideas from it.

Also, people tell me that now they’re writing reports in half the time it used to take them or it’s more fun for them or anything like that. We all know, report writing is like a soul-destroying business, so anything that I can do that helps make anyone else’s life the tiniest bit easier it’s just amazing. It’s so rewarding.

Dr. Andres: Can I ask, where do you get your ideas from in terms of; this is the question, is it based off of research you’ve read or is it your own experience? That’s just such an interesting thing to me because it could be so subjective.

Dr. Stephanie: It can be. People often ask me why I spend the [00:16:00] first whole session of the Bootcamp and when I work with people individually is about defining what your highest values are, is I want to help people become their own authority in what a good report is and also what a good enough report is that you need to send out on a day when one of your kids is sick and you have a flat tire and you’re not feeling great.

So I’m helping people define that for themselves because it is subjective and if we constantly are trying to write reports for the mean colleague that we anticipate is going to somehow secretly see it, and for the psychiatrist and for the school and for the parents themselves and for our old supervisor who we picture with their red pen, it’s an exhausting business. So I try and figure out what their highest values are and then there’s not a lot out there in our field about what a good report is other than long, I guess, except we’re [00:17:00] also told to make them short.

I went to the world of business communication, science communication, user design, health communication, some of those other fields to find out what good communication practices are, both in terms of what we say, how we say it, and what it looks like on the page. And so that’s where I get all my ideas from.

Dr. Andres: You said making the report shorter, I feel like that’s a recent thing that has become in vogue, if you will, in the field. At least in my experience in training, it’s never been like that. And then suddenly that’s a thing now. So I don’t know.

Dr. Stephanie: Well, Jacques Donders wrote that paper, Pediatric Neuropsychological Reports: Do They Really Have To Be So Long? quite a while ago. It’s probably been 20 years now. [00:18:00] His report sample was two pages long.

We often get advice, especially those of us who are struggling to get our reports done on time, people say, well, why don’t you just make them shorter and write them faster but they don’t tell us how. And if you look at the models that are out there in books, if you pick up a copy of Neuropsychological Report Writing, for example, all the samples are long, like 30 pages long.

So it’s a tough tension because I think we’re getting both messages; that we’re getting this idea of if not shorter, faster, but also make sure that it’s incredibly thorough and incredibly long, and I think a lot of people are stuck in that tension. We must see a post every week on the Facebook page that says, I’m struggling with reports; how fast should I turn them around? How do I make them more streamlined? People are struggling with that tension and how to do [00:19:00] it.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Well, in my experience too, it’s harder to write succinctly and say what you’re trying to say. That’s the mental exercise. Writing wrong is easy.

Dr. Stephanie: It shows off if you don’t have anything important to say. It’s amazing when you look at all those words or maybe not necessarily saying anything, or maybe are disguising the fact that you don’t even necessarily know what you’re talking about. There’s something called the illusion of understanding, where you ask people like, hey, do you guys know how a zipper works?

Dr. Sharp: Oh, that’s right.

Dr. Stephanie: And everybody says, sure, I totally know how that works. And then you say, great, here’s a piece of paper and a pen, go ahead and draw for me exactly how a zipper works. And it turns out [00:20:00] most of us don’t want to do that drawing because we don’t actually know.

I think there are a lot of our concepts or ideas as a testing psychologists that we have a little bit of illusion of competence around and we’re sitting there talking about orthographic processing or working memory without totally understanding what we mean and we’re just disguising that with a lot of words. And once you start forcing yourself to at least put it into simpler words, if not make it more succinct, you start realizing, oh, I need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what this is because I’ve just described a zipper in a lot of words but not any that actually explain how it works.

Dr. Chris: I forget where I heard this from. I forget if it was a podcast or maybe it was in training and it was a writing exercise where you take whatever you have; let’s say it’s two pages and then you rewrite it in one page and then you rewrite it in half a page and then you rewrite it in a paragraph.

[00:21:00] I did that once, not with the report, just on something else for fun and I was just shocked at how hard it was but how easy it was at the same time, like once you took a step back and looked at it, you’re like, why did I just take 10 pages to say like, the kid has ADHD. You can boil it down so much more easily. And just to what you were saying, we wrap so much language around things unnecessarily.

Dr. Andres: It begs the question; why do we even do reports? I think we’ve talked about this a little bit before, but it’s like, why do we even do reports? Especially, since our field’s so tied to the medical field where you get some test results back for blood work, there’s no history and impressions. It’s just like, this is what’s going on. Here are some things you could do about it.

Dr. Laura: So we can get paid by insurance. That’s why.

Dr. Stephanie: Well, I [00:22:00] think a lot of people have a lot of different reasons. Some people want to tell the story, some people want to get accommodations, and some people want to have a document they can refer back to. Sometimes it’s just listening and hearing your story reflected back that actually is the therapeutic aspect of reports.

I think you have to define for yourself why you are writing reports and what you want people to get out of them. Do you want to empower people? Do you want to problem solve? Do you want to make recommendations and that warm handoff to the next provider?

Once you know what your goal is, you can stop trying to do all the goals. I think that’s a lot of what’s taking that 30 pages is that you’re trying to do everything a little bit as opposed to the two or three things that you do really well. So that’s my big passion right now.

Dr. Laura: My favorite part of it is giving the client something tangible and that they can take [00:23:00] to the next person so they’re not starting from a blank slate. Because so many people I talk to are like, it’s so hard to talk about these things. It’s so hard to think about it in this way. And so therapy can start so much easier for a lot of people if they can pass on this document that gives the story succinctly, of course.

Dr. Andres: It’s interesting because I understand why our training programs do this, but we are often trained in very set models, often based off the typical research paper model, the scientific method model. It’s because it’s a shotgun approach. This will cover the bases for any setting you’re in, but it’s so general that it doesn’t fit most settings. Because in my setting, I do a lot of [00:24:00] personality assessment and oftentimes the history is just as valuable, if not more than the results.

I have clients that will read through the history and be like, well, I didn’t realize this is how my story went and they didn’t really care about their results. It was more about just hearing their story told back to them in a different way but then where that wouldn’t fly in neuropsychology evaluation. Just thinking about that a little bit.

Dr. Stephanie: So you have to tailor it to your clients and what your values are. Instead, we’re taught the IMRaD structure; the introduction, methods, discussion, and summary model that help our supervisors check our work. They can see that we took a good history and that we understand how test results work and that we know how to interpret a WISC and can then integrate everything and it helps our supervisor follow us.

It’s [00:25:00] a format that we’re all very familiar with because we read so many journal articles so it’s familiar to us but it actually doesn’t work for almost any other audience, especially those who don’t read a lot of journal articles for a living.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I think I told this story before probably on the podcast, about giving that presentation to a group of therapists here in town about testing and why it’s helpful and how it could be helpful, and so forth. And toward the end, somebody raised their hand and asked the question, what’s the best way to read a report? This was probably four, five years ago. I don’t know, maybe more.

Before I even thought about it, I said, oh, just flip to the back. That’s where the important stuff is. And then afterward I was like, why did I say that? Not why did i say but why do we do that? That didn’t make any sense. That’s [00:26:00] just one small example of how we can change it up and put the important stuff first.

But I will say this too, just as coming on the other side of it, so we have a pretty nice cohort of doctoral interns here and we’re part of a consortium. So we have six or eight total interns around the consortium. And we were doing a training two weeks ago, and I just went around and asked folks, what was the average report length that you wrote in graduate school? How were you trained?

A lot of people said 8-10 pages, which is way different than my training, which was 30 or 40 and much longer. I don’t know what’s contained in that 8-10 pages of course, but it was encouraging to see that it was coming down. I don’t know how widespread that is, but at least in our cohort, it was nice to hear that.

Dr. Andres: The question is, [00:27:00] is that a graduate school 8-10 pages or is that an undergraduate, 8-10 pages or even high school where your big margins, size 40 font, line spacing.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. I love this discussion but I’m feeling this, I want to check in with Chris. We didn’t do the check-in.

Dr. Andres: No, we don’t want to do that here.

Dr. Chris: I think last time we were on our happy hour, I was in the process of purchasing a building and that fell apart, and thank God it did because it fell apart at the exact same time my health fell apart. So there was a lot going on and I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t say that it was all connected somehow.

And so I went through some really weird health stuff and three or four months of diagnostic workups, which was interesting that Andres had said, we’re working in this field where we have to write these long reports and these other specialists say, negative results, positive results, what have you. So I saw lots of those.

Fortunately, we got some things figured out and coming out of the dark, so I paused moving out of [00:28:00] Telehealth from home and have a new suite that moving into its six offices in it so we can all move over there. It’s been so fun putting it together in my brain and designing of it as we’ve been getting it all closer to coming to fruition.

It was supposed to open on October 15th, which was supposed to be our first day, but the supply chain issues and the construction company had a bunch of stuff stolen, so it put a pause on their process. So December 1 is allegedly the day. It’ll be exciting to get in there. I’m doing one day in person a week now, and it’s always shocking to me how energized I am when I come home, even doing less work.

So I go there and see four or five testing people, whether it’s intakes or administering of assessments and I come home and I’m super happy and I’m all fired up and I’ll come upstairs from the days I’m working at home and I’ll interact with my children and I’m just grumpy. So there’s something about getting out of my home office that I’m super excited about and just to have the flexibility of going [00:29:00] to the office or staying home, I think it’s going to be really nice.

And it’s nice to get a sense of community back with the group as well. It’s been a long time coming and that year delay was, it’s been torture, to be honest.

Dr. Laura: Such an extrovert.

Dr. Chris: I’m not an extrovert, though. Not such an introvert. I am such an introvert.

Dr. Laura: I don’t buy that.

Dr. Chris: Dammit it.

Dr. Andres: I think I’m the only one in this group that claims that I’m an extrovert.

Dr. Chris: I play the role well, I guess in short spurts, I get energized.

Dr. Sharp: No, I’m the same way. I’m definitely an introvert in the purest sense, and I like being in the office. It’s that classic, like I want to be around people but not necessarily interact with them a whole lot. I like the buzz of being in the office and being able to do little snippets of conversation, but if I was deeply interacting for eight hours a day, that would be a different story.

[00:30:00] Dr. Chris: It’s been nice to be in person, even with my colleagues, and doing some training. I have two psychometrists and a master’s level intern now, and so doing some training with them, conveying information and challenging the way that they’re perceiving things and putting the data together, that’s different and I haven’t been able to do that in a long time. So that’s super fun.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fun.

Dr. Laura: That’s exciting, Chris, you’ve got big stuff happening.

Dr. Chris: I do. I’m terrified all at the same time with all of it unfolding.

Dr. Sharp: What’s the worst that could happen?

Dr. Chris: Well, don’t let my anxiety answer those questions. There is a lot of bad bend down those rabbit holes.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fair.

Dr. Laura: So Jeremy, how many people do you have employed currently?

Dr. Sharp: I don’t know. I’m kidding.

Dr. Andres: Random people just walking through his office that he doesn’t know.

Dr. Laura: Creating the buzz.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, seriously. At this [00:31:00] point, we have 42 on payroll, which is a lot. I’m joking about it, I don’t know, but it seemed like it went from 25 to 40 really fast.

Dr. Stephanie: Have you met them all?

Dr. Sharp: Yes.

Dr. Andres: Are they human people?

Dr. Sharp: Yes.

Dr. Chris: Do you have a Milton in the basement?

Dr. Sharp: One is a dog. We do have a therapy. It’s been a whirlwind over the last probably year or a year and a half, absolutely. It’s weird to get to this place. I think a lot of folks know they’ve been working really hard to implement this Entrepreneurial Operating System in our practice, which is like a business framework.

A consequence of that is that I am more removed from the day-to-day stuff, it’s been really hard for me. I don’t like losing touch with people [00:32:00] but we’re beyond that point now where it used to be a practice where I knew people’s kids’ birthdays and when they were going on vacation and all, and that’s shifting. So there’s a grieving process as that is changing, we’ve lost some of that small practice feel as we’ve grown.

I think it’s okay. It’s different. It’s not bad. It’s just different. That’s what people say. But it was cool. We did our annual staff retreat about a month ago, and this is the first time we really shifted to more of a larger practice model for that.

So historically, we would all sit in a circle and it got to the point, there were 20-ish of us, 20 or 25 of us, and we just sit in a circle for the whole morning and [00:33:00] share and connect with one another. This year we shifted to more small group activities throughout the day so that people could connect a little more deeply and it wasn’t so vulnerable to be in front of the whole group. And that went over well. So that was helpful and hopeful for me to see that we could do this a different way and still feel connected to one another.

It’s been a big transition to do all of this. I’m clinging to the day-to-day stuff but my leadership team is like, stop, basically. Stop trying to help. We’ve got this. That’s a weird process to go through for me to trust people, basically.

Dr. Stephanie: I just read a book about leadership, I think it’s called [00:34:00] Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader that talks about how you have to act like a leader first, even when it feels hard and uncertain and challenging. And then you start thinking like a leader afterwards. Like so many things you have to do it first, feel the fear and do it anyway, and then you start thinking that way.

Many of us expect it to go the other way around. We’re going to start thinking about being a leader first and then eventually we’ll feel like it, and then we’ll start stepping into a leadership role. It turns out that it doesn’t work that way. You just have to go through that awkward, weird, uncomfortable period and then your internal shift happens.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, like the mood follows action. I’ll talk about that a lot. It’s that imposter syndrome thing again, in some, it’s just another facet of this thread that keeps running through our conversation and it comes up [00:35:00] at every stage of growth at least for me then change in the practice.

Dr. Stephanie: That’s so cool though, how you’re documenting it all for us. I know some people are like following along at home, they’re like, oh, I’m reading this book Traction. I know what they’re doing. I know they’re following your journey. So that’s really cool. I think that’s very inspiring for a lot of people.

Dr. Sharp: It’s really kind. It’s fun. I don’t know how interesting that is for a lot of folks, but hopefully, to some folks, it’s been an interesting process. It’s a big shift but absolutely necessary. So lots of changes for everybody, it sounds like.

Chris, I’m totally connecting with you too because, I don’t know if we were right in the same timeline, but I was trying to buy a building too, and then decided not to, which turned out to be a good forced choice maybe and some health stuff and [00:36:00] we just take what we can.

Dr. Chris: It’s almost nice when your body starts making decisions for you. You just can’t overthink it at that point.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. Do any of y’all listen to or hear of the Huberman Lab podcast?

Dr. Laura: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Chris: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Dr. Sharp: I’ve been listening to that a lot and I take a lot of value from that. He talks a lot about just the biological bases of stress and behavior and how different things influence our brains and bodies. I love it because it’s so science-based but also relatively relatable. So it’s good. I’ll link to it in the show notes.

Let’s see, where do we go from here?

Dr. Stephanie: I think we have to talk about Chris’s project.

Dr. Sharp: Oh, that’s right, yes.

[00:37:00] Dr. Chris: I did this gratitude project. I know you guys know about it because I was sharing it with you. I was live-tweeting it basically to you guys as my sounding board. I used you all unknowingly to you as accountability because once I threw this thing out there, I was like, shit, I have to do this.

So for some background, about a month ago, it was just prior to October, it was the week before October. Just spontaneously, I had this idea, I think I was talking with some therapy clients. We were working on gratitude and its benefits of it and I was like, Chris, you should listen to what you say and maybe it’s time for you to start putting your money where your mouth is. And I said I’m going to engage some project. What is that going to look like? I don’t know.

And then the next day, I was in a therapy session and it popped up into my brain and I said, all right, every weekday, Monday through Friday for the month of October, just send someone a gratitude card. So that’s easy enough, I’ll do that. And got super excited about it. October 1st came, sent a few cards here in that first week, and it was super easy.

I had people in my brain just begging for cards effectively. I just owed so many people some [00:38:00] gratitude. And these people sent all the way back in my adolescence, got the big ones out of the way, and made it through with the exception, we went to Disney. So I brought the cards with me at Disney, but of course, never sent them. So sent them when I got back and sent out 20-plus cards, one per day, every weekday.

It was a crazy experience. At the beginning, I was like, it’s going to be cool. I owe some people some thank-yous. It’s going to cost me a stamp and a card. It’s going to be easy and I will see what happens. I got excited and then a whole rollercoaster of emotions ensued and the outcome was far beyond what I ever could have expected.

In the beginning, like I mentioned, there were some really important people that I think I owed some thank- yous to, and they played a huge role in my life and I don’t think I ever had an opportunity to share that with them. So that was the big target. One was a band director in high school, a high school college counselor rather, who I think got me into the college, and just some other people who did little things on the surface, but deeply meaningful things for me overall.

[00:39:00] And so I sent those, those were like the ones with the big targets on it. And then I hit this moment of panic and I was like, shit, I got to send 20 cards. I’ve sent five, who are these other 15 people going to be? And so I had this moment of anxiety of like, oh my goodness, what am I going to do?

And I sat with it for probably a day and a half. And then suddenly after I got the dust to settle, I found gratitude everywhere. And so it was really easy once I got through that interesting phase to find gratitude and send these cards.

And then I started trying to find these people and that was hard to do too. I was looking for addresses. Some of the people I owed gratitude to in my eyes had passed away. So that was an interesting grieving process to go through, some pretty important people in my life.

And then as I was looking for some of these people’s addresses, it turns out that one of them in particular, my band director from high school was in town. She had moved to California and she just happened to be in town.

So it was last week, I went to dinner with her and a few other people who I graduated [00:40:00] with. And this was over 20 years ago that we graduated. I met her for coffee yesterday morning and it was such a cool experience. We met at Biggby Coffee here in Michigan. I’m super nervous because I knew going into this, I was going to confess my gratitude and just tell her how meaningful she was to me.

For a little bit of backstory, I ran away in high school, her and one other person were like, all right, so what are we going to do now? They were just totally supportive, non-judgmental. They were just absolutely there for me. I barely graduated high school and the only reason I went was to be in a band and so she played such a tremendous role of preparing me for college, and getting into college is where I caught my strides.

So I was going to lay it all out to her yesterday morning and we’re walking into this coffee shop. I’m like, oh my God, there’s going to be people here. I’m going to be a mess. What’s going to happen? We opened the door and no one is in there. It was perfect.

So it was me and her and the baristas, and we’re sitting there having coffee and I just [00:41:00] started out and I said, I don’t think you understand how much you mean to me. She’s like, wait, what? I was like, let me explain, and ran her through the whole thing.

I think it was magical for both of us. I can’t speak to her experience. She sent me a message yesterday that said, thank you and that was meaningful. But for me to get into that space and share that with her, and I had been harboring this for so long, didn’t even know the extent to which she had impacted me, that was the ultimate experience from this, just so randomly how it unfolded but all these other things that happened along the way were really cool as well, just like seeing my reactions.

Then there was another interesting piece where I got super internal on it and I was like, all right, so why am I picking these people and who am I doing this for? Am I doing this for me? Am I doing it for them? Who’s going to respond? Is anyone going to respond? Who would I want to respond to?

And so it was a deeply insightful opportunity. If you had asked me five, six weeks ago, hey man, what do you want to get out of this? I would’ve said, I just want to send these cards and say thank you. [00:42:00] I am absolutely in shock about the whole overall experience, and the highs and the lows, and it’s been super cool.

And so I’ve been inviting all kinds of people to do it. I’m riding the high from it still but sharing my experience and encouraging folks to do it has been awesome as well because it gives me another opportunity to share how deeply impactful it was for me.

Dr. Sharp: I love that you did it. Like so many of us, I’ll speak for myself. I say that I’m going to do lots of things or think I’m going to do lots of things, but then the execution becomes challenging for whatever reason. There’s so much to say. I have so many reactions to all of that, but I’ll just lead with the easy one, which is, it’s awesome that you even did it. That’s a success in itself.

Dr. Chris: I know myself and I knew that I might have put 50% of the energy into it and had it fizzle out halfway through. [00:43:00] So I set some rules for myself, super intentionally. It was only going to be one 4×6 card, just enough room for four or five or six sentences, maybe like a PS on the back.

It wouldn’t be a deeply daunting task every day. It was like, I got to my desk 5-10 minutes early, wrote the letter and put it in the mail that afternoon. I told myself it was going to be one a day. I wasn’t going to batch them because if I batched them, it would’ve been a big monster I would’ve avoided. One a day seemed much easier.

I was also, I think this might actually have heard this on Huberman, I heard it somewhere where I was looking for small dopamine kicks, not the huge dopamine kicks because I didn’t want to have that huge experience. I wanted the slow burn on it. And so I was happy that I set those rules for myself because it made it much easier.

I also told myself, no family members. For whatever reason, I came up with that rule. I wanted to stick to that. I cheated once because I sent one to my grandma, my only living [00:44:00] grandparent, and it just said I love you on it. I felt compelled to do that one day and I figured it was a good enough reason to break the rule, but other than that, I stuck to all of it really intensely.

It’s November 4th now, so even just in the last four or five days, I’ve just had so many names pop into my head. I’m not sending formal cards; I’m just sending messages on Facebook or a text message here or there. It’s been a lasting behavior change afterward as well. Again, we’re just a week out of October now, but nonetheless, it was really impactful overall.

Dr. Stephanie: It’s not just that he does things, I only sent one gratitude letter. Chris challenged us all to do this, and I sent one and it’s to Chris and he hasn’t received it yet because I live in RV and finding stamps is really hard. He hasn’t received it yet, but he’s such an inspiration in his willingness to be vulnerable.

Do you guys remember when he told us about the 360-type feedback that he was getting from everybody? [00:45:00] He just puts himself out there and is willing to talk about these softer emotions or these personal connections or this meaning that I think a lot of us are maybe not as brave to do. It’s such an inspiration. It’s so cool to know you and to know someone in my life who’s doing things like that.

Dr. Laura: Absolutely. I did all five that you asked me to do and I batched them and then they were gone. That’s how my brain works so differently from yours. I sent out five to two professors and an old LSSP colleague, and some people that I really appreciated.

I kept it closely tied to my professional life in terms of people who have inspired me or helped me make the move from [00:46:00] the school system to private practice. My old best friend who I’d had a falling out with, just talked about how much I appreciated the early seeds from college that she had planted, that I could actually go on and get a PhD, know that I was enough.

We always talked about how we would collect bugs in our bug catchers. You get this certification and this degree and this accolade or this award. It was cool. I did get one letter back, which was really cool. It was really special.

Dr. Sharp: That’s awesome. I think I probably fell between y’all where I also batched and got maybe 12 or 15 or something like that but I haven’t sent them yet. I wrote all the cards and they’re just sitting, I think they’re literally in my backpack right there, right now. I got tripped up with finding addresses. I have a lot of people that it was hard to find addresses [00:47:00] for, but I totally experienced that process though that you’re describing Chris, where like once I got into it, it was like a snowball.

I started identifying people that I could be grateful toward and it just kept going. And that was a really cool experience just to recognize that it’s like what you look for is what you see or something. I know there’s a term for that whole thing, but I love that. I appreciate the inspiration as well. Like Stephanie said, there are not a lot of folks who do that and you’re doing it, that’s really cool.

Dr. Chris: It was surprising how it all unfolded. It was super impulsive. I was like, yeah, I’m going to do this thing, watch this, hold my beer, and thank God I took the leap. I think that there’s a lot of metaphor in there as well. Sometimes you just have to make the leap and see what happens. If you enter it with an open perspective, I think you can get way more out [00:48:00] of any process. This was me putting effectively pen to paper and stamp on an envelope and sending a thank you.

I think that the people that received these, at least the people that responded, had really strong reactions. I was just happy to hold that in my space, just hold gratitude there and manifest it into a note. I tend to go down a rabbit hole, so I know I’m overthought a lot of this, but keeping that energy is way more healthy for me than being pissed off at the world or watching the notes or all the other nonsense that we put our energy into. So as I look back, it was a way of just altering my trajectory of experience as well.

Dr. Sharp: Let’s take a break to hear from our featured partner. Conduct a broad-based assessment of personality and psychopathology with the Gold Standard Personality Assessment Inventory or PAI. 22 non-overlapping scales cover a full range of clinical constructs, so you’ll get the information you need to make a diagnosis and formulate a treatment [00:49:00] plan. Plus, for your clients who speak Spanish, the new PAI Spanish: Revised Translation retains semantic equivalents while updating language to be clearer and more inclusive. Learn more at parinc.com\pai.

All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Dr. Andres: I also batched mine and sent none.

Dr. Chris: At the end of the day, as long as you thought about it for a second, that was good enough, at least in my eyes.

Dr. Andres: Well, it’s interesting, as I’m thinking about it now, there are a lot of good excuses for why I didn’t do it. I just moved, I guess since our last happy hour, we had a baby. That small thing.

Dr. Sharp: That’s important.

Dr. Andres: Forgot, I had a child in there. [00:50:00] I’m psychodynamically trained. I’m thinking about, okay, is there something about that that resistance to showing gratitude? In my own therapeutic work, one of the themes that come up is that there’s a fine line in terms of gratitude and in this sense is that you, it’s one thing to feel small like when someone harms you or hurts you, it’s another thing to bring yourself to be small if you will. And that gratitude is one of those things where you’re bringing yourself to humbling yourself that you need other people, that you appreciate what they give you.

You’re small, if you get that analogy in both situations, but one is you’re choosing to be right. So there’s something about that that could be scary because it [00:51:00] feels similar to being small in the other way, in a not-so-voluntary way. So I’m thinking about that a little bit.

Dr. Chris: Do you want to think out loud with us?

Dr. Andres: Yeah, I think about it a lot, back when I was five years old.

Dr. Sharp: Well, gratitude and apologies are adjacent. At least for me, there’s a connection there. You’re, like you said, humbling yourself. You’re making yourself vulnerable for one reason or another. Different sides may be on the same coin, at least the way that I think of it. Because you risk, people might not respond.

That’s a part of it for me that I’m wrestling with. You talked about this a little bit, Chris, in your journey with this is, what if people don’t say anything? That’s scary sometimes, [00:52:00] to never know how it impacts people.

Dr. Chris: Exactly. You just don’t know how it hits them and when it hits them or even if it got to them. I had to boil it down to putting it in the mail, that was the end-all-be-all for me. If anything else came of it, that was extra. I had to talk myself down a few times by wondering what people’s reaction was, or this side or the other. Anything that comes a bit above and beyond just putting in the mail was this gravy bonus.

Dr. Stephanie: That’s so interesting.

Dr. Andres: I’m thinking about how, for those that don’t know, we have a little slack chat and then one of the topics that came up is, well, some of us had a hard time thinking about who to extend gratitude before and that could be for whatever reason. One, the exercise, at least for me, could bring up some feelings like, wow, I know this is not true but [00:53:00] some of the reaction is, well, who was there? And then what’s the standard? Where are the goalposts for who I should be extending gratitude? And there are plenty of people I could probably do that.

So there’s that element of like, okay, sometimes there’s a reminder of the pain of, okay, there are times when maybe life was difficult and it felt lonely, and there weren’t people that were around when we needed them. The second part is also the idea of the impact, this person had an impact on me if I’m able to think about this person. What if I didn’t mean that much to them? It’s like, oh, that’s cool. Thumbs up. I’m glad you had a good time. What’s your name?

Dr. Sharp: That’s what I was getting at with that comment about how would they react, and if they were like, who is this person? I don’t remember.

Dr. Andres: New address, who is this?

Dr. Laura: I [00:54:00] definitely thought that with the one professor that was from my master’s program and she’s moved on to a different university and I definitely had the thought of, is she going to remember who I am? It’s okay if she doesn’t. I will never know if she got the letter. I’m willing to bet that she’ll never reach out to me. I guess it’s okay if she doesn’t remember because we touch people’s lives every day without realizing it.

Dr. Chris: And that was the big takeaway for me as well, Laura, is that I sent letters to people because they said something nice about something or they offered me this or the other meaningless stuff on the surface and it had such a large impact on me because of timing and we do this stuff all day long without even knowing that we’re impacting people even outside of our therapeutic work.

That was this extra meta-level of like, whoa, like we’re all so much more connected, and I think it’s important to pay [00:55:00] attention to that. We have positive and negative impacts on everyone around us all the time.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah.

Dr. Stephanie: I read in a book about influence, that we touch 80,000 people’s lives in some way in an average lifetime. Now I’m a little concerned that you made this all up and this is just like a Rorschach test to get us to reveal our attachment style.

Dr. Chris: I am not that smart.

Dr. Stephanie: I would hate getting any feedback because I have this avoidant attachment and I’m like, I don’t want anyone to respond back or to know that I’ve touched anyone’s life. That’s too uncomfortable and I’m just worried that you made this all up to try and get me to reveal that about myself.

Dr. Sharp: Mission accomplished.

Dr. Andres: Everyone listening, send Stephanie an email right now.

Dr. Stephanie: Please stop.

Dr. Chris: The license plate will be in the show notes.

Dr. Stephanie: Changing the email address quickly.

Dr. Andres: So maybe relating back to testing and assessment, I’ve been [00:56:00] rereading, I go back to it every now and then. It’s called Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy by Nancy McWilliams. She has a set of three books I love personally. And if you guys have ever read Irvin Yalom’s book about Love’s Executioner, he talks about how you did an exercise with the therapy patient where the patient would write down in a journal and talk about the things that the client felt were meaningful and oftentimes, it was the smallest, mundane things.

And even McWilliams, she talks about how and when she’s done it, it’s usually the spontaneous thing that she didn’t really think through. I’m thinking about in terms of what’s influential in terms of our work, whether it’s therapy or assessment, is that we try so hard to make every single [00:57:00] thing meaningful. Even in our reports, at least I do, I think about this one word; how did I phrase the sentence? It’s going to impact them, but oftentimes it’s probably the way that I offered some water before the feedback or the way that I gave them some space to ask questions, that’s often the most impactful.

So just thinking about that a little bit. I’m guessing the reason why that’s coming to mind is in these stories of gratitude is the way these people affected us, it probably wasn’t a big deal to them. It’s just like, oh yeah, I do this for all my students, or yeah, of course, you’re my grandchild and things like that. So just thinking about that a little bit.

Dr. Sharp: That’s funny. I’m glad you brought that. I was thinking about that Yalom book as well, that this seems like a clear parallel there. These things that we do that we don’t think makes a difference or these other folks did that [00:58:00] they maybe don’t even remember, but it’s stuck. It’s like those moments that you feel seen in some way or whatever it is that sticks with you.

Dr. Stephanie: A lot of the magic of an assessment is they tell their story and you don’t shame them or you dissolve some of the shame or help them manage some of it, or that you just see them and listen, or that you are just there with them during some distress and that’s what they remember so much more than that report that you spent 12 hours writing or the diagnostic decision that you agonized over or the time you spent interpreting their WISC subtest profile. So much of it is really about the magic of being with another person while they’re being vulnerable.

Dr. Chris: Have you guys ever had this question?

Dr. Andres: Why do we write reports?

[00:59:00] Dr. Chris: Again. Have you guys ever had the experience where you’re doing an intake and at the end, the other person’s like, I feel better already. Oh, it feels so good already. I think it’s just that very thing of just holding that space for folks and we are trained to not react necessarily. We’re trained to be humans, of course, but we also aren’t impacted by some of the wild stuff that Billy, Joe, Bobby or Susie would react to because we hear the gamut of life experiences. And so just being with that person and not having the shame me reaction is just in of itself so powerful.

Dr. Andres: Are we trained to be human? Is that what happens in our programs?

Dr. Chris: I don’t know, man. I’m a behaviorist, so I think we’re trained to do everything.

Dr. Sharp: That reminds me of a question that I got during my comps in graduate school, we had to do oral comps. One of the favorite questions that they like to ask folks was, it was a two-parter. There’s a setup. So [01:00:00] the first part was, do you believe that psychology is a combination of science and art? So then you can answer that question. Most people would say yes.

And then the second part is, well, can you teach the art or does it just come naturally? And that stumped a lot of us, that was a really hard question in graduate school.

Dr. Andres: That an amazing question, man.

Dr. Sharp: That’s a heavy question for a graduate student.

Dr. Andres: Did you score 65?

Dr. Laura: Sometimes.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. But it gets to that question of how much we get taught to be human. Can we learn that somehow or is it just a skill? I don’t know.

Dr. Stephanie: I think it’s both. Artists also learn how to be better artists. They go to art school or they [01:01:00] practice through their craft and they get feedback. I think all of us learn all the time how to be better listeners and how to be more curious and how to be more flexible and all the art parts that we bring so y’all respond. Sure both.

Dr. Andres: Right. All of it.

Dr. Chris: I think that we get trained to look at nuance differently. Just like I couldn’t tell the difference between a beautiful piece of art to the world and a banana-taped duct tape to a white canvas but looking at nuance is what we can be trained to do and looking at the process over the content and not diving into symptoms, but looking at someone’s experience. I think we can be trained to do that. Some of us are better than others naturally, but certainly, we can develop those skills.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I agree with that. I liken it to leadership stuff. Some people are [01:02:00] “born leaders” Some like myself, have to learn a lot.

Dr. Stephanie: Thrust upon them.

Dr. Laura: What did you say when you were a graduate student? Do you remember?

Dr. Sharp: Oh my gosh. Of course, I fell for it, I was like, yeah, it’s a combination of science and art. And then I could see the gleam in their eye as soon as I said it. And then for the second part, I said something actually pretty similar, of course, like not as articulate by any means, but I was like, I think you can probably learn to be better at this job if you try.

I stumbled through it, but it’s more the process than the content. It was how you handle this ridiculous question that is really hard to answer. So that’s where I landed. [01:03:00] Lots of thought-provoking discussions today. I like it.

We might transition to a little more thought-provoking discussion with something that we did at our annual staff retreat this year, and it went over really well and it might send us down a path or two that could be interesting for the next half hour or so, if y’all are willing to participate in a little experiment.

Dr. Andres: My hands are getting sweaty. Good.

Dr. Stephanie: I think the theme of this podcast is trying new things, making yourself vulnerable, so that’s good.

Dr. Sharp: I like it. Okay.

Dr. Andres: Being artist, it pays more.

Dr. Sharp: So what this is and I learned about this actually [01:04:00] in July. I went to this conference, the Group Practice Owner’s Summit, and the icebreaker, the first day of the conference was using these things called Changes Cards, and I love them. And so I brought it to our staff retreat.

And so the Changes Cards are a deck of cards that basically just have questions meant to spur conversation. And like I said, it went over really well at our all-staff retreat. And so I thought maybe we could randomly draw two questions and see where this goes. Is that fair?

Dr. Chris: Yes.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. Y’all just trust that I am randomly drawing a card right now. This is a great question that really captures the essence of this deck of cards. The first question is, what helps you feel bold?

[01:05:00] Dr. Laura: My first impulse was caffeine.

Dr. Chris: That’s exactly what I was going to say.

Dr. Sharp: Let’s go with it. That’s great.

Dr. Andres: Don’t worry, I’ll answer all.

Dr. Stephanie: My answer is saying yes. When I say yes to things, but I have no brain. My default setting is no. So people bring me a new idea or a new opportunity or a new connection to make, my brain says no. When I first moved back to Seattle, which gosh was like 2000, it’s been like 10 or so years now, when I first moved back, I decided to do this year of saying yes to life, and it made me feel so much braver and more bold. [01:06:00] Just saying yes to things. So that’s my answer.

Dr. Laura: That’s interesting because it makes me feel bold to say, no, to something because I am so people-pleasing and I say yes to everything.

Dr. Stephanie: Yeah. So maybe we’re acting opposite?

Dr. Laura: Yeah.

Dr. Andres: Well, it depends on what the question is; if it’s a request, maybe for you, Laura, it’s to say no. It feels bold, but then if it’s a hey, come on, join us.

Dr. Laura: Like an invitation.

Dr. Andres: Yeah, an invitation.

Dr. Laura: I don’t say anything to requests. I just don’t answer, passive avoid.

Dr. Andres: Oh, my internet connection is bad.

Dr. Stephanie: I’m going through a tunnel.

Dr. Sharp: Yes.

Dr. Andres: For me, the thought that comes to mind is, I would say my natural [01:07:00] tendency is to be, I have a little bit of art background, so my natural tendency is to critique and go, I don’t think that’s going to work. And that’s also part of my personality. Or to doubt myself, I think that’s common.

I imagine the personalities that we have to become psychologists lend us to that response. I’ve been thinking about this lately and what’s been helpful for me is, this is interesting as we’re thinking about it, just when someone else, especially my wife goes like, you got this.

It’s hard to explain. It’s almost like, I don’t know if you guys are familiar with internal family systems of the theoretical orientation for therapy, but the idea is that you have this adult’s, [01:08:00] your sense of self that needs to be affirmed. Like, you got this, these other parts can take over and these insecure parts, these younger parts, but then who you are now, you got this and it’s almost like a pep talk to yourself, right? At least that’s the way I’m conceptualizing it.

So for me, it’s helpful when other people, like colleagues or especially loved ones when they go, no, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to figure this out. I actually make a lot of my business decisions like that, like panic, and then my wife will go be like, it’ll be fine, just go for it and I think you got it. And I’m like, alright.

Dr. Stephanie: Sounds like somebody has some gratitude letters to write.

Dr. Chris: Andres, I’m the exact opposite. When someone says, you’ve got this, I’m like, oh God, another person I’m going to disappoint when this goes south. Oh no, not another person in my car that’s going to look at me all in this weird look. [01:09:00] That’s something I really had to work on, especially, being in private practice and growing group practices and you have to make some risky decisions and I lean in the direction of anxiety and it’s been so hard and that’s a voice that I’ve really had to overcome.

And so maybe that’s what makes me feel bold is overcoming that internal voice that you’re absolutely describing right thereof that you got this thing and just knowing that people do have us and they want to have us. That’s been an interesting insight.

Dr. Sharp: I’m totally with …

Dr. Andres: You’re going to blow this. It’s going to be a total disaster. Don’t even try it.

Dr. Chris: And then I’m like, hold my beer. Watch this. There we go, Andres. We’re onto something.

Dr. Sharp: That’s so interesting. I’m with both of y’all. The first thing that came to my mind was, the first word was connection, but that was ill-formed. And as y’all have been talking, it’s really zeroing in a little bit. It is that support, feeling supported by someone or [01:10:00] that sense of, I’ve got you, I will support you. I’ll catch you if this doesn’t work. Something, I don’t know what you’d call that exactly, but just…

Dr. Stephanie: Secure attachment.

Dr. Sharp: Secure, yeah, which is not something that comes easily to me by any means. It’s that unconditional support or whatever, the safety net of another person.

Dr. Andres: It’s someone you could blame if it doesn’t go well. You said I got this, it’s your fault.

Dr. Laura: I’m finding myself thinking like, I feel bold when I just make a decision, when nobody else is supporting me, but I’m doing the thing. I’m going with my gut. I’m almost the opposite.

Dr. Andres: Yeah, this is, I don’t know what …

Dr. Stephanie: This the fun these cards?

Dr. Andres: Just bring us into [01:11:00] a group therapy session with Jeremy. I know you have a background, so this happened.

Dr. Stephanie: We’re not even recording. This is just therapy.

Dr. Andres: Send us the bill after.

Dr. Sharp: This is cool. This is why people really got into it at the retreat. You can take it as deep as you want to take it, but most of the time there’s some depth there that you could dive into if you wanted to. Makes you think. Want to do one more?

Dr. Chris: Please.

Dr. Sharp: All right. See, I have enough.

Dr. Andres: I say no. Must be bold.

Dr. Stephanie: We got this.

Dr. Sharp: This is a similar question; we can pass if it’s too similar. It also might be a nice segue as we start to wrap up. [01:12:00] When was the last time you felt inspired and why? Too similar or do we go with it?

Dr. Andres: Feels too similar to me.

Dr. Sharp: Okay.

Dr. Laura: Dead silence, great for podcasting.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. We just lost …

Dr. Andres: Let’s do 20 minutes of silence.

Dr. Stephanie: Just rejecting cards.

Dr. Sharp: This is pretty good. What idea do you hold tightly to but need to let go of?

Dr. Andres: Man.

Dr. Sharp: So we can think a little bit. It’s okay. I’ll feel a silence with voiceovers.

Dr. Andres: WAIS, WISC.

[01:13:00] Dr. Sharp: What idea are you holding tightly to that you need …?

Dr. Laura: I just got the mental imagery of you with the bug stamper like ASMR.

Dr. Andres: Before we start, for people listening, before we started recording, we had a joke about testing psychologists’ ASMR, and that’s what we’re talking about. It’s funny to us, only.

Dr. Stephanie: But it’s really funny to us, so apologies.

Dr. Sharp: Right. And this is where I announced my new podcast. ASMR for psychologists.

Dr. Chris: I think something that I hold on pretty intensely is that I am who I was, if that makes sense. I’ve had a lot of roller coasters in my life and made a lot of weird decisions, some not so great, and I hold onto some of the shame associated with those decisions as I look back in my rearview mirror and think that I’m still going to make the [01:14:00] same decisions moving forward, that could come to some deleterious outcome.

I think that fuels a lot of my what if anxiety about things in the future, that I made these decisions in the past, some good, most not great decisions and here I am and everything’s great. I’ve looked really happy with my life and what I’m doing and how I’m helping. But then it’s always like, oh God, you’re going to make another one of those terrible decisions and you’re going to X, Y, or Z and lose A, B and C. So I think I could really benefit from decreasing the grip at which I hold on to that thought. I know it’s always going to be there, but I think it’s time to slap the microphone out of that internal critic for sure.

Dr. Laura: Send it a gratitude letter and then let it go.

Dr. Chris: I’ll send it a fuck you letter. Those are just as good too.

Dr. Stephanie: One of the things I do in my group about [01:15:00] burnout and finding the next step is something called a Viking funeral. Are you guys familiar with the Viking funeral concept where you write down stories that you’re ready to let go of or ways of doing your work that you’re ready to let go of, and you write them down and you put them on a gigantic ship and light it on fire or something smaller?

You can go smaller if you want, but for a traditional Viking funeral, light it on fire and let it go. Thank it for its service to you and be done with it.

Dr. Sharp: That’s cool. We do an annual ritual like that in my family. My wife is really big into ritual and spirituality stuff, so she does a number of rituals throughout the year. On the winter solstice, December 22nd or 23rd, we do that as a family where we write down the behaviors or thoughts or ideas or whatever that we’d like to [01:16:00] leave behind in the previous year and we put them in a bowl and burn them, which the kids love, of course, but it’s also cool.

Dr. Chris: The church we used to attend prior to COVID-19, we used to do this, it was the last service of the year, and they called it the Burning Bowl ceremony. They’d give you flash paper and you’d write it on flash paper and you’d walk up to the candle and off it goes. It was pretty dramatic, but it was really cool.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. To get back to the question, I feel like I’m like continually struggling to let go of the idea daily that if I try hard enough, I can control everything I want to control. This is a very standard thing. This is not a revolutionary idea, but it is so hard just catching myself in all the ways that I [01:17:00] find myself trying to control the outcome of everything.

It’s a daily practice, so I don’t know how to let go of that except to notice it and question it, and it leads to a lot of anxiety, of course. That’s the connection, which is not helpful for anybody. Any other thoughts on what I feel about letting go of?

Dr. Stephanie: Two of the fundamental questions that human beings have are, am I too much, and am I not enough? I think that’s where so many of us get caught. I certainly do. I’m both too much and that I’m not enough.

We all might define too much or not enough differently and [01:18:00] have different feelings about that, but I think a lot of us just vacillate between those two. I’ve been visiting California last month and so I’ve been amongst these really big trees and I’ve been trying to give all of that to the trees just to do these walking meditations and just find these trees that have been around for 2000, 3000 years who I figure can take it. And just giving them all of my petty worries about being too much or about things that I feel like I’m supposed to be that I’m not, and just trying to let them have it because I’m tired of carrying those around.

Dr. Sharp: I like that. I think the trees can handle it.

Dr. Stephanie: I’m hopeful, they seem okay.

Dr. Laura: I think I need to let go of the thought that I’m cerebral only. I’m also a [01:19:00] physical person and I can do more physically than, I always think I can’t do that. Like I can’t take that hike. I can’t run, I can’t work out, I can’t whatever. That’s something I need to let go is separating myself in that way.

Dr. Andres: I think I need to let go of the idea I’m going to get any sleep with our baby. Just kidding, we actually get a decent sleep. We’re very lucky.

I’m thinking about in the context of private practice, and this is tricky, so I’m thinking about how as psychologists we’re trained to look at research and try to eliminate bias. What does the research say to inform how we do things in our practice or in our work? But then in terms of [01:20:00] running a practice, that’s a little trickier. There’s not necessarily a batch of research we can go to, like how to run a psychological practice. There’s some business research and things like that.

And then so there’s this push and pull, like, I want to know what everyone else is contributing and at the same time, it’s helpful to get some ideas from other people in terms of how to run a practice, but there are certain things that are aligned with just my personality and how I want to run my practice.

I’ve always wrestled with this. I don’t know if you guys resonate with this at all, but in terms of practice, there’s already a business. For me, there’s the practical efficient way that probably makes me a little bit more money and then there’s a way that I feel like it’s aligned with my values and it aligns with my personality and my goals. I’m always going back and forth between those.

[01:21:00] And maybe there’s some flexibility that needs to have. I’m the one with a younger practice in the group. I haven’t been in this that long, so I’m trying to figure it out. There are some things maybe I could loosen up with and I don’t have to get the exact right color curtains or whatever.

But then there’s also this element of like, okay, I took a long time to buy my therapist chair. I’m not even sure I bought it but that’s okay. That’s just a funny example, but then that’s okay because that’s important to me because I spent a lot of time on it. So for me, that’s important. Might not be important to someone else or maybe everyone else but for me it’s important and so letting go of the idea, I have to do it just like everyone else.

[01:22:00] Oh man, that pulls on so many things about junior high, are you cool? And then also culturally, like, hey, this is what you’re supposed to do for the greater good of the community. A lot of balances there and stuff like that but that’s what I’m thinking of.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I wonder if that resonates with some folks out there. I think there is a lot of information out there about how you should do things and I think, Stephanie, you’ve spoken to this in our Facebook group, how there’s a selection bias too because the people you hear from are most likely the folks who feel like they’re doing it well and you’re not hearing a lot of the other opinions of folks who are doing it differently, and maybe it’s not going so well or maybe it is, but it’s just different and they just don’t feel comfortable sharing it. There’s a lot of information that’s hidden.

Dr. Stephanie: Yeah, you’re just seeing like the highlight reels of the people who are like, well, I thought [01:23:00] about it for a day, and then my office was featured in a magazine because I had designed it so perfectly and you’re not hearing about what it’s actually like for most people, which is just this cobbled together, agonized over plus impulsive decisions, plus borrowing things and ideas from friends, that mishmash that most of us are actually caught in.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. It just keeps coming back to the imposter syndrome, like, are we okay? I think we’re okay. Can we just say everybody’s okay? Maybe everybody’s okay.

Dr. Stephanie: Everybody’s okay. We don’t get this instruction manual on how to run a practice or how to write a report or how to raise a kid and we should get an instruction manual, but it should probably just say like, you’re okay.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. We should write that.

Dr. Stephanie: You got this.

Dr. Andres: No.

Dr. Stephanie: You do. You got this.

[01:24:00] Dr. Sharp: Well, I appreciate y’all indulging in these Changes Cards. It’s a cool thing. We use these at dinner time with the kids too to just spark conversation rather than talking about whatever video game or whatever YouTube video they saw, which is fine but this gets a little deeper.

Dr. Chris: Is it like who’s your favorite parent?

Dr. Sharp: We like to do in our house; to make our kids choose.

Dr. Chris: Absolutely.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, rank how much they love us. And we do the same for them. We tell them, you’re our favorite.

Dr. Chris: I’m disappointed in you and your disgrace and I love you. It’s really good.

Dr. Sharp: Right.

Dr. Andres: Well, what’s going on here? From gratitude to shame.

Dr. Sharp: Well, maybe we start to wrap up on a [01:25:00] hopeful note. Maybe it’s a hopeful note. I’m curious about what y’all are excited about for the next six months. Anything on the horizon, anything looking cool? Anything you’re looking forward to putting into place personally, or professionally?

Dr. Stephanie: I have a ton of speaking events coming up that I am just super excited about. Can I tell you guys about it?

Dr. Sharp: Give us the highlights.

Dr. Stephanie: So on December 9th, I’m giving my report writing seminar to the New Jersey Neuropsychology Society, which I’ve given a bunch of times, but it’s so much fun to give. So I’m really excited about that. And then on December 14th, I’m going to be joining Peter Isquith for one of his PAR grand rounds, talking about how to assess and more importantly, write about those distressed and distressing kids who are engaging in some behavior that’s maybe self-destructive or other [01:26:00] destructive, and how to talk about that.

And then on February 25th, my good friends, Liz Angoff, who writes the Brain Building book, and Alison Wilkinson-Smith, who you’ve had on about therapeutic assessment, the three of us are going to do a workshop about how to give feedback to kids giving three different models. So Liz is going to talk about her book, I’m going to talk about letters, and Allison’s going to talk about TA fables.

So you can go to Liz’s website right now, brainbuildingbook.com/empower. We’re going to talk about how to empower any kid with that. I’ve got those coming up. I’m also going to be talking about how to give hard feedbacks and the art and science of asking good questions at other events and stuff like that.

I have so much more time and space right now to collaborate with people and to come up with ways to share my ideas. I’m just so excited. The winter round of groups also going to be coming up. [01:27:00] Just lots of ways to collaborate with people.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. Links in the show notes for anybody who’s interested. Got to say that.

Dr. Chris: I’m super excited about moving into the new location and getting settled in there. Having some of the dust settled. I’m going to be hiring pretty aggressively, so I’m super excited about that. I want to get my feet back in the pond. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to do some of that stuff. It’s so enriching.

I also have a side project. I love technology and I’m super lazy so I did another impulsive thing and I made this website called The Lazy Psychologist. I’m going to be writing about my process there and all the cool shit I’ve come up with, at least I think is cool, some of the things I’ve tried were complete bombs, so hopefully, some people can just learn through my experience. So I’ll have all the cool stuff on there.

We’ll see how much energy I’m able to give it because it’s not the biggest burning fire but [01:28:00] I’m super excited about putting that piece together. It’s been fun to build so far.

Dr. Stephanie: Oh, that’s awesome. How have you not shared that with us yet?

Dr. Sharp: Is it live?

Dr. Chris: It is live. It’s live-ish. It will be by the time this airs because I wanted to make sure I set it to hold myself accountable to get the thing done finally. It’s something I’ve been putting together for a while. It’s not broken but I still need to upload a few things but with all the imagery there and the basic structures there.

I’m going to put my process of the gratitude project on it. It’s going to be like a dump all-catchall space. If someone can earn something from some of the heavy lifting that we do in our own individual ways, then that’s going to be awesome. I might try to sell a few things here or there too. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Dr. Sharp: That’s great. Is it thelazypsychologist.com?

Dr. Chris: I think I got that and Lazy Psychologist and forwarded them one to the other just to catch it because [01:29:00] it was an impulsive decision and I was like, watch this, here we go.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. I love it.

Dr. Laura: I’m going to do a few more cards. I’m going to do it. I think that’s on my horizon. Other than that, I just want things to be smooth and I just want to keep making sure that things are running well in two states and then we have a cruise coming up over spring break. I’m very excited about it.

Dr. Stephanie: Where are you going?

Dr. Laura: Jamaica and from Florida, that route, which is going to be cool. I’ve never been on a cruise before.

Dr. Sharp: Kudos to you. I am terrified of cruises.

Dr. Laura: Are you?

Dr. Sharp: Yes.

Dr. Stephanie: Terrified?

Dr. Sharp: More so than flying. The idea of being on a boat in the middle of the open ocean is terrifying to me.

Dr. Laura: I can’t think about it.

Dr. Andres: All the creatures [01:30:00] underneath you.

Dr. Laura: Okay. I’m not going on a cruise.

Dr. Chris: Anyway, you’re going to have a great time.

Dr. Sharp: It’s going to be great for you. That sounds awesome.

Dr. Andres: I totally forgot…

Dr. Stephanie: You’re going to have another kid.

Dr. Andres: Yes. I’m going to have, no, I’m not. Learn our lesson. I just remembered, I’m glad you brought this up, Jordan Wright going to be like, what you forgot? But we’re doing an assessment throwdown, it’s the Society of Clinical Psychologists, the assessment psychology section of Division 12.

We’re doing throw-down show notes. I think it’s open to the public, but then it’s on November 18th. Some graduate students are, [01:31:00] depending on your personality, this sounds frightening or exciting, but a bunch of graduate students are going to present some assessment cases and there’s going to be three of us judges and we’re going to give our feedback. It’s supposed to be fun and helpful. I’m probably not doing the best job explaining it.

Dr. Stephanie: You’re looking at their case conceptualization skills, are you?

Dr. Andres: I’m just there to make fun of them, to be honest.

Dr. Laura: You’re bringing the Jeopardy Theme song and a gavel.

Dr. Andres: I’m there to bring the shame because I don’t think students these days have enough guilt and shame and that works.

Dr. Chris: Always room for more.

Dr. Andres: My best work is all driven by shame.

Dr. Laura: I hope you’re charging them a lot for this. They have lots of money to spare too.

Dr. Andres: Well, the reward is they get to shame me back.

[01:32:00] Dr. Stephanie: I have completely forgotten that you were doing that. You guys actually got graduate students to sign up for this.

Dr. Andres: There’s a lot actually.

Dr. Stephanie: Wow.

Dr. Chris: Fantastic.

Dr. Stephanie: I cannot wait to hear about how that goes.

Dr. Andres: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: What’s it actually called? Is it really an assessment throwdown?

Dr. Andres: It’s called an Assessment Throwdown.

Dr. Sharp: Okay.

Dr. Andres: Because after they present their cases, they physically battle it out with waste blocks.

Dr. Laura: And here, those get thrown.

Dr. Andres: Honestly, I don’t remember if it’s public or it’s just for the students. I’m guessing it is a Division 12. I’m so sorry, Jordan. Jeremy, if you could put it in the show notes, I’m sure people will want to check that out. It’s supposed to be fun. I don’t know. I’m not making it sound very fun. You’re going to shame and throw blocks at people, how is this fun? But [01:33:00] believe me, don’t knock it until you try it.

Dr. Stephanie: I’m remembering the description of it when it first came out, it was for graduate students to get some feedback from seasoned professionals like yourself and like him and to sharpen some of their skills in more fun than usual for some people’s aesthetic.

Dr. Andres: No, that’s precisely it. Thanks. I guess I should know more about it since I’m a part of it. The idea is that, what we talked about before, we learn this model of assessment and we don’t get a lot of feedback where we’re actually doing it in the field and a lot of times our professors aren’t doing a lot of assessment, maybe it might be a part-time thing.

So the idea is that to get encouragement. It’s meant to be a fun thing, encouragement [01:34:00] thing to help the students know what they’re doing well and get some feedback and that they can improve.

Dr. Stephanie: You’re planting seeds for some gratitude letters you’re going to get in 10 years.

Dr. Andres: There you go. It’s going to be the opposite. It’s like revenge letters. You ruined my life.

Dr. Chris: I forgot to say one thing about my gratitude project. I can’t believe I forgot this. My last letter to write is to myself. Have you guys ever seen Snoop Dogg get his Hollywood Square, the speech he gave?

Dr. Sharp: No.

Dr. Chris: He’s like, everyone, stop what you’re doing and google Snoop Dogg, Hollywood Squares speech. It is fabulous. It’s in pure Snoop Dogg style. It’s hilarious, but it’s so cool. He says, I want to thank so and so but most importantly, I want to thank me because I’m the one that did all the work and I’m the one that, just on and on and still watch it. What I said, didn’t [01:35:00] spoil it.

But man, we all go through so much stuff in our lives and we work so hard to get wherever we’re at and we never, at least, I never took a step back to like, man, you did all right despite all the stuff you go on. Sometimes you have to give some gratitude to yourself. I can’t believe I forgot to put that in there.

So even if you don’t send gratitude letters to the people around you, do one for yourself. Even if it’s in the shower, take a step back and say thank you for all the work that we do for ourselves because then we could help the people around us, whether they be family or clients or what have you.

Dr. Andres: I’m just having the mental image. I don’t know if we could cut this out, Jeremy, but me being completely naked and saying, you did all that.

Dr. Sharp: Sure.

Dr. Stephanie: Why do we all have that mental image? We are ending on this beautiful note and now we’re, it’s fantastic. No, I love it.

Dr. Andres: That’ll be in the show notes.

Dr. Stephanie: Perfect.

Dr. Chris: A picture of you?

[01:36:00] Dr. Sharp: It’s not going to be in the show notes, everyone. Don’t worry.

Dr. Stephanie: That’s why the e is after the podcast.

Dr. Sharp: That’s why there’s an e.

Dr. Andres: For Excellent.

Dr. Sharp: Oh my gosh. This is good. I have two projects that I’m excited about. One is my new podcast, Testing Psychologist ASMR. Look for that on all your favorite podcast platforms. Launching January 1st. What I am excited about is finally putting some energy into an in-person testing psychologist event after all these years of thinking about it and saying things about it, I’m putting some energy into it, and actually trying to make it happen. So that’s be …

Dr. Laura: Summer 2023?

Dr. Sharp: Summer 2023, yeah.

[01:37:00] Dr. Chris: Maybe it’ll have the five of us hanging out.

Dr. Sharp: Maybe it will.

Dr. Chris: That would be awesome. At its minimum, that would be amazing.

Dr. Stephanie: Yeah, it’s the five of us throwing down.

Dr. Sharp: Right. Shaming one another.

Dr. Chris: Burning pictures of naked gratitude letters.

Dr. Andres: Yes. That’s a good time.

Dr. Stephanie: No, that’s so cool. I think people are excited about the possibility of a testing psychologist conference. I’m just so excited.

Dr. Sharp: I hope so. I have no idea honestly, if people will be interested, but I am excited about it and I want to bring people together so there will be more about that.

Dr. Andres: You’re still going to do that stimulus book swap event? You don’t?

Dr. Sharp: Bring your carry-ons, [01:38:00] full testing materials. So there’s that, gosh, personally, I am excited, the winters here in Colorado have been wearing on me, but last winter, my son got super into skiing and we’re going to do it again this winter. He’s like super excited to go again this winter. I love snowboarding but gave it up in the early part of our kids’ lives because it’s just so hard to get away but we’re going to make a thing of it. And so I’m looking forward to having some one-on-one time with my son on the mountain doing something that we both love and it’ll make the winter a lot easier.

Dr. Andres: That brings me both sadness and joy because I love skiing but I haven’t been able to go for years because our kids are too young. So how many more years do I have to wait, Jeremy, before?

Dr. Sharp: Well, [01:39:00] people in Colorado start their kids skiing at three. So you can do whatever you want.

Dr. Andres: Alright kids, come on, let’s go.

Dr. Chris: Hop in the car right now.

Dr. Sharp: Our kids are 9 and 11. Once kids get 7, 8, and 9, they can crush it out there. So that’s that. Always nice to look forward to things. Thank you all for being here.

Dr. Laura: Thanks for having us.

Dr. Andres: Memories.

Dr. Chris: Pleasure.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I’ll have to do it again before another 100 episodes. That was too long. I appreciate you all. We’ll talk again soon.

Dr. Chris: Sounds good.

Dr. Stephanie: 100%.

Dr. Andres: Great to see you guys.

Dr. Sharp: All right y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. [01:40:00] Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcast.

And if you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist Mastermind Groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, and we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

[01:41:00] The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here. Similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, [01:42:00] please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

Click here to listen instead!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.