About Me

People vary in how much they would like to know about a therapist, so this page is organized to allow you to select those areas of specific interest to you. I have written each section in reverse chronological order, beginning with what is current and working backward. I hope that this will allow you to better identify what is of importance to you.

Education

Since completing in 1997 all of the requirements for licensure as a clinical psychologist, a license that requires a doctoral degree, I have kept current with developments in my field through a long list of continuing education seminars. In 2007, I undertook and completed a more thorough study of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an effective treatment for traumatic memories. In 2008, I earned certification as a Level 2 EMDR practitioner, which required several months of supervised practice in addition to studying the theory and applications of this method.

After completing my doctoral degree, I completed a nine-month post-doctoral fellowship in infant mental health at Michael Reese Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois in 1995-96. This involved assessment and treatment of children under five years of age, many of whom were foster children in Chicago's child welfare system.

I earned my doctorate (Psy.D.) in 1995 at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, which is now part of Argosy University, in Chicago, Illinois. Included in the completion of the requirements for this degree was my yearlong internship at Turning Point, a community mental health center in Skokie, Illinois. My doctoral thesis involved independent research and is entitled, "The Drive for Thinness: A Cross-Cultural Study of Body Image and Weight-Loss Behaviors."

In 1984, I earned my master's degree in experimental psychology (M.A.) at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, Canada. This degree included the completion of my master's thesis, entitled "Mnemonic Strategies in Second Language Learning." Dr. Allan Paivio, well-known in the field of psycholinguistics (the psychology of language), was my advisor.

Beginning college with a partial scholarship after graduating high school in 1966 (Edsel Ford High School, Dearborn, Michigan), it took me quite a while to complete my bachelor's degree, as I took time out to begin a family. But I eventually did go back to school and earned my B.A. degree at the University of North Carolina—Greensboro in 1983, graduating summa cum laude with a major in linguistics. I was awarded the college's Outstanding Student Award, in large part because of the research I did with Dr. Marc Marschark on creative language in the use of American Sign Language by deaf children. This fascinating study also led to my pursuing a graduate degree in psychology. It was no coincidence that Dr. Paivio had been Dr. Marschark's doctoral advisor; with our research together, Dr. Marschark became something of a mentor for me and actively encouraged my pursuit of further education.

Before returning for my BA, I completed certification in Montessori preschool education at the Michigan Montessori Center in Drayton Plains, Michigan. Prior to that, I had some training in computer programming at a business school; this did not lead to the employment opportunities I had hoped for, but later became quite useful in creating the computer programs I developed for the language learning research of my master's thesis.

Work History

I began working at Psychology Associates of the Fox Cities in 2003, shortly after my move from the Chicago area to Appleton, Wisconsin and gaining licensure in this state. My current work includes individual, marital, and family therapy, psychological testing, and the supervision of two master's level counselors. I have also done a little outside speaking in a continuing education seminar for daycare providers. I hope to do more presentations. An interesting but non-clinical addition to my work is meeting with high school students interested in pursuing a career in psychology, answering their questions, and discussing my experience of this field.

In the Chicago area, I worked for ten years at Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center, the community mental health center in Skokie, Illinois where I completed my doctoral internship. In addition to providing individual, family, and marital therapy, I was actively involved in the student training program for psychology and social work interns and externs. Before moving to Wisconsin, I served for about one and a half years as the director of student training for the agency. I was also involved in the Quality Assurance committee and was the representative of the Child and Adolescent Division on the Personnel Committee, for which I published a newsletter.

Concurrent with my work at Turning Point, I was employed in the Department of Psychiatry at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, completing a nine-month post-doctoral fellowship in infant mental health. This involved some individual and family therapy with children and adolescents as well as a considerable number of psychological assessments of young children, birth to five years of age, most of whom were in foster care. I wish I had had then the training I now have in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, especially EMDR, because the need was great with most of the children I served.

As a master's level graduate student in London, Ontario, I worked as a teaching assistant for several undergraduate courses, and also as a research assistant for Dr. Allan Paivio, a former Mr. Canada who became well-known in the field of psycholinguistics, involving the study of language learning as related to brain functions, such as information processing and memory. While I enjoyed this work, an academic career of research and teaching did not engage enough of me, which is why I pursued a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Prior to returning to school to complete what turned into three degrees, I worked for several years as head teacher of the Greensboro Montessori School, a parent-run preschool for children ages three through six in Greensboro, North Carolina. I completed a year-long training program, complete with student teaching done at a Montessori preschool in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, to qualify for this position.

My earliest work experiences were varied, ranging from various waitress positions to a long distance telephone operator. Clearly, I did not grow up knowing just what career I wanted to pursue. Instead, I explored quite a lot of the world and myself. While it may appear like aimless wandering from the outside, my diverse experiences have informed my practice of psychology in many ways, broadening my awareness of what it means to be human and how much help we all may need at times.

Publications

Because of the professional generosity of Dr. Marschark, I entered graduate school as co-author of the publications generated by the research tools that I helped him develop. (This took place several years before my marriage, so my last name at the time was West.) The following list begins with a paper I wrote together with my doctoral thesis advisor. It reminds me of my disappointment that I never published the findings of either my master’s or doctoral thesis; I’ve always intended to but, somehow, I let it slip by.

  • Connors, M.E., & Melcher, S.A. (1993). Ethical issues in the treatment of weight-dissatisfied clients. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 24, 404-408.
  • Marschark, M., Everhart, V., Martin, J., & West, S.A. (1987). Identifying linguistic creativity in deaf and hearing children. Metaphor & Symbolic Activity, 2, 281-306.
  • Marschark, M., West, S.A., Nall, L., & Everhart, V. (1986). Development of creative language devices in signed and oral production. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 41, 534-550.
  • Marschark, M., & West, S.A. (1985). Creative language abilities of deaf children. Journal of Speech & Hearing Research, 28, 73-78.
  • Marschark, M., West, S.A., Nall, L., & Everhart, V. (May, 1985). Creative language devices in signed and oral production: A developmental study. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development, Toronto, Ontario.

Family

As a widow with two children and two grandchildren, I know not only the joys and heartaches of parenthood and delights and challenges of being a grandparent, but I also know something of the long toll of a spouse's battle with cancer, the shocking burden of the death of a spouse, and the struggle of single parenthood. Time has helped the worst of this fade and the best of this grow stronger. Since the spouse of one of my children has been recently in military service, I am especially aware of national and international issues. I remain very close to my family and, in fact, moved to Appleton from suburban Chicago in order to be an active grandparent on a daily basis.

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit that was infamous at the time for its racist policies. The younger of two children, I followed my brother's lead into questioning the substance and truth of my culture, leading to an interest in cultural diversity that continues to broaden and deepen my understanding of myself, my profession, and the world at large.

My parents each grew up in large farming families. My father eventually became a plumber, a bright man who never went to high school. In contrast, my mother earned a Master's Degree in Latin, and became a high school teacher. Both of my parents are long gone, but I still find myself benefiting from and pursuing much of what they valued in life. This includes not only family but generosity, learning, creativity, social responsibility, and a profound love and respect for the natural environment.

Outside Interests

My dad had a casual talent with graphic art and a great singing voice, which he rarely used as he aged; my mom loved to write, play the piano, and sing — even though she was tone deaf, much to my chagrin as a child with a better ear. She doggedly persisted in keeping my brother and myself open to our creative possibilities. My brother now makes his living as a writer and is quite a delightful visual artist for fun. I love all forms of music, and I dabble in writing, singing, and several visual arts, including fabric art; I am currently learning to play the harp.

Since my dad declared that the city was no place for a dog, we had pet cats throughout my childhood, all of them foundlings, a practice that I have continued to the present day. My current cadre of cats (four) includes three that had been brain damaged by feline distemper before we rescued them. Apparently, that illness damages the motor cortex in cats, so mine walk funny, and one falls down a lot. Nevertheless, all are great pets, very affectionate in that particularly independent but in your face way that cats have. While I treasure this opportunity to interact nonverbally with another species, I can't help but laugh as I recognize myself in the stereotype of an older woman with too many cats.

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