Spotlight: Barbara H. Kelly, Ph.D., PPP student

What was your pathway toward entering the mental health field?

I began as a nurse and my awareness of the psychological needs of medical patients developed over time, beginning when I piloted an experimental program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that laid the groundwork for the first nurse practitioner program there.  Encouraged to expand the role of the nurse to include emotional care, I returned to school to get a Master’s Degree in Nursing and was hired, when the concept was still new, to develop ways to bring newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery in closer contact with their parents in order to facilitate attachment.  Aware I lacked adequate training to make a difference, I returned to school again and focused on Health Psychology. Fascinated by reports in the literature that cardiac transplant patients sometimes believed their personalities and even their genders could be altered when they received the heart of another person, my dissertation focused on documenting whether or not significant cognitive and/or personality changes occurred before and after transplant.  After completing my PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and after multiple years of practicing psychology in the Psychiatry Department there, I realized my training and experience omitted a huge piece of what it means to be human and I am grateful to now be living in a city that has a Psychoanalytic Center where I can continue to learn from dedicated and brilliant people in a didactic setting, in case consultation, and in my own psychoanalysis.

And what drew you to psychoanalysis/psychoanalytic psychology?

I think it was a combination of the patients I have worked with and my own personal experiences.  Having been separated from my father until I was 3 years old and long sensing the significance of that on my family and myself, I have come to appreciate the importance of my unconscious in understanding my self and my emotions.  Working with babies who failed to thrive, I witnessed how "ghosts in the nursery" take residence in families and exert influence for generations.  In my current position in the Behavioral Outpatient Program at Scripps Mercy Hospital, I see people who have been tried on many different combinations of medications and have had one or more extended courses of psychotherapy.  They still suffer significantly and many want to understand themselves better and make changes.  I am drawn to the potential that psychoanalytic psychotherapy offers to all of us who want to understand ourselves better, expand our freedoms, and make lasting change.

Tell us about your educational experience thus far at SDPC.

I am extremely impressed by the knowledge, expertise, and commitment to teaching and learning demonstrated by those who have taught didactically, by the consultation I receive, and by my own psychoanalysis.  At SDPC, I find the atmosphere both relaxing and stimulating and filled with more knowledge than I could ever absorb.  Anyone who loves to learn from experienced teachers and who loves the free exchange of ideas with peers and faculty will love SDPC.  Because SDPC is inclusive, we have the opportunity to talk with professionals whose credentials vary and view treatment from various perspectives.

How has your training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy affected your practice and your professional development?

As I am completing my first year in the Psychoanalytic Psychology Program and reflecting upon it, I realize that one of the major changes I have made is to start a small private practice.  Because I have always practiced within an institutional setting, many of the functional aspects of setting up a practice were done for me.  The idea of doing it myself was initially daunting but with the support and generosity of a peer and the guidance of my instructors, it has happened.

There is no question that what I have learned so far has expanded and improved tremendously the way I think about the individuals with whom I work.  I am much more aware of the changes that are likely to occur within both of us and the very vital aspects of the therapeutic relationship--the therapeutic alliance that certainly was emphasized in my previous training but not to the extent that it is in psychoanalytic work.  (And I might add, my husband--though he may disagree--is benefiting tremendously from the informal therapy I am providing!)

How else have you applied your analytic knowledge?

As a member of a multidisciplinary team at Scripps Mercy Hospital, I have the opportunity to share my newly acquired knowledge with my peers.

What is something very few people know about you?

For several years and in addition to my PhD training, I learned and offered dance movement as a therapy modality.

Tell us about your practice and who you are most interested in working with.

Although I have training and experience working with the adult client as a member of a couple, family, parent-child dyad, and/or group,  at this time I would like to focus on the adult client individually.  And although I have experience working with a broad range of problems--from the psychological implications of medical illness through to the management of schizophrenia--at this time I would like to concentrate on the problems of depression and anxiety as I begin to apply the principles of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Where is your practice and how can potential patients contact you?

My private practice is located in the Banker’s Hill area.  I can be reached at 619 890-8491.

I also work with patients in group settings who are admitted to the Scripps Mercy Hospital Behavioral Health Outpatient Program in the Hillcrest area.