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My father was a dock worker, my mother a teacher. My sister, Josie, was born with severe learning disabilities and a congenital heart defect. As you can imagine. in the late 60’s and early 70’s there was not a lot of help, or tolerance for that matter.
Life for our family was a struggle. My father was kind hearted and a hardworking man but before long the pressures of life began to take their toll. Medical bills were stacking up and he was struggling to cope. One night a work colleague took him to an illicit poker game.
Merely as a distraction and a stress reliever, something clicked within my father’s psyche and the die was cast. To cut a long story short, my father very quickly became a hardened gambler. When Josie passed he slipped to new depths and proceeded to drink himself into an early grave. You don’t need to be a genius to understand my motivation and a career path was laid out before me.
A single parent family in the late 80’s needed all the help they could get. We were very lucky and got that help. A series of scholarships and lucky breaks meant my education was taken care of. Wanting to stay in state, as close to my mother as possible, my entire under graduate and doctorate education was completed at UCLA.
I was awarded my doctorate in 1993 and went into practice as a clinical psychologist. Earning my spurs in the 90’s, working in a clinic in San Francisco treating alcoholics and drug addicts, opened my eyes to the suffering of a large portion of society. Helping to alleviate this mass suffering became my life’s passion.
While conferences in most fields are generally seen as an excuse for letting ones hair down, I view them as an opportunity for more education. One can never have too much education. I am a regular attendee of the Annual Meeting International Neuropsychological Society. Held in Washington, D.C. it is usually one of the first in the calendar.
Although a wintry Washington is not a fun place to be, the conference is always enlightening and I have met some long standing intellectual mentors there. The International Congress of Applied Psychology is held in Montreal, Quebec. I try to attend most years and have to admit I see it as my summer working vacation.
I try to attend at least one other international conference per year and the venue will vary. Italy, Sweden, The Netherlands and San Antonio, Texas have all been well worth the visit. The field of clinical psychology is always moving forward and this must never change. The real work will always be treatment but we must continue to share and learn as we go.