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Dr. Kristen Casey (Clinical Psychologist & Author)

What Makes You Feel Most Empowered?

Where do I begin! If I had to choose, it would be connecting with others on a deep, raw, authentic level.

It can be difficult to show up to live and really acknowledge how fragile and temporary it all is.

I think that's why I appreciate being a therapist so much. To sit across from someone with no cell phones or distractions and acknowledge that life can be painful or difficult makes me feel very alive.

It's real. There's a level of mutual trust and genuineness involved, in addition to helping people achieve their goals, that gives me something to live for.

What Is Your Biggest Fear?

My biggest fear is not accepting myself. I've done tons of work up until this point to allow myself to live a life with less concern of how others view me.

Self-love is a little more difficult.

I find myself wondering if I'll ever be enough (for myself). I know I am enough for others, for my job, for my family...

The journey to self-love and self-compassion is an ever-evolving, non-linear experience. I'm grateful for the awareness to know that this is what I have to work on.

I imagine myself on my deathbed looking back, wondering if I saw myself how others saw me. If she sees the potential, the loving kindness, the genuine human, the dedication to help reduce human suffering. It's hard to connect the dots looking forwards (quote from Steve Jobs), and I hope I don't disappoint myself.

Which Is More Important: What You Say Or How You Say It?

How you say it. You might have a very important message that isn't received well because it was delivered in a way that may not be digestible. I know there are people out there that value direct, blunt communication (I'm one of them!). I also know that the recipient may have to be in a certain headspace to receive the information.

What's Your Greatest Accomplishment So Far?

My greatest accomplishment so far is still being here. Aside from having a doctorate degree, having a dissertation that passed with distinction, being an EMT, helping tons of people, creating a social media platform for accessible mental health content.. I still go back to the fact that we all struggle with something.

I'm so proud of myself for not letting go and not giving up. I struggled with anxiety, insomnia, PTSD and an eating disorder and have my own healing journey.

I'm grateful for other mental health professionals who didn't give up on me at the time, and this is one of the core reasons why I pay it forward.

As a psychologist, what are some of the common themes you've observed since the pandemic started?

So many! I've noticed that people are taking more time to reflect on the things that really matter to them. They question their relationship with social media, certain people, and situations/experiences in their life. "Do I really want this?" "Is this really serving me?" I think it's great for people to reevaluate their lives because we aren't here for a very long time.

May as well live a life you are excited about, with purpose and passion.

I also noticed a spike in anxiety, depression, and isolation. It was difficult for people (including myself at the beginning of the pandemic) to have hope for the future based on what was happening.

The best thing that I've had the privilege to be a part of and observe is people's growth and healing. The pandemic caused a lot of reflection and people are so incredibly resilient and strong. Even when they are struggling.

It took more effort during these times, but people are truly amazing. They got uncomfortable. They got sad. They got mad. They rejected the idea that life had to continue the way it was. They created safety during an incredibly insecure time.

Being a therapist during the pandemic and seeing the strength from my clients really had an impact on me. It gave me hope.

What inspired you to start Evolve Psychological Services? What are some of the challenges you have to overcome in building the business and any milestone you would like to share?

I worked for the federal government prior to opening a private practice. I thought I was going to retire there, I loved that job so much. I received great training and had amazing colleagues who I'll never forget. I had amazing supervisors who took their time in teaching me the ropes.

Then, my family started to struggle. I had 4 close family members and several friends pass away since the start of the pandemic (non-Covid related). I had to reevaluate my career and professional goals because my family needed my help, especially because I live in the Midwest and they are all on the east coast. I needed more time to dedicate to them.

I opened Evolve as a telehealth-only private practice on the side while I worked my other full-time job. It was great! Loved the set up and how I can work both jobs. Diving into it full time was a huge risk and I was terrified, if I could be honest.

What if I failed? How would I manage everything? To my surprise, it was a dream. I had time that I desperately needed and I could manage all areas of my life seamlessly. I put a ton of work into this, though. I remember spending hours on Saturday and Sunday nights trying to make sure everything was perfect (ethically and legally).

I also reached out for help more often than I ever did, which was completely out of my comfort zone. Believing in myself was the hardest part but I'm beginning to think it's what we all need to succeed.

What's The One Thing That Should Be Taught In School That Isn’t Or Not Enough?

How to manage mental health (distress tolerance skills and emotion regulation skills).

I wish I was taught how to deal with the discomforts of life from a professional at a young age.

Our parents can do a great job of helping us and guiding us - but sometimes they are also dealing with their own demons.

I wish someone taught me how to deal with a breakup, or how to manage my emotions when I couldn't exactly name them.

I notice a lot of my younger clients are asking these same questions in therapy.

If You Were Given A Chance To Play A Favorite Memory For The Rest Of Your Life, What Would It Be?

Wow. This one made me cry as I was remembering it. I remember my grandmother and I would spend time on her porch as she knitted and I played with the grass and flowers. She told me everything from her childhood. I would listen. I didn't understand at the time, I was young, maybe 5 or 6 years old.

She told me that women didn't have many rights or luxuries when she was young and she hoped that I would be part of a change for women, so that they can continue to vote, own houses, and become doctors and lawyers.

She always told me to be kind and to love everyone even if they were mean, especially other women, because they were likely struggling with something.

She told me there are going to be times in life when you want to give up but to continue because life changes so rapidly, so the bad times don't last.

I think this is one of the reasons I did what I did, against all odds. I didn't have much support (financial) for my career endeavors. I had to make a bunch of sacrifices, but I think my grandmother would be proud of me.

Social Media (Instagram, TikTok, & Twitter): @drkristencasey


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