Steve Wodka, Psy.D. is CEO and co-owner of a private outpatient psychotherapy practice, Personal Growth Associates. There are three psychologists who own and run the practice; they have been in business for 16 years. Wodka have been in general private practice for a total of 25 years, and has worked in mental health since 1982.
Wodka completed his undergraduate degree at Loyola University of Chicago as a double major in biology and psychology. He attended Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, obtaining a doctorate in psychology. This was a less traditional degree at the time, but has become more standard in recent times.
What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?
“In my current role, I see between 6-10 patients per day, interspersed with supervisory meetings and business meetings to help our practice run smoothly. We are a practice that is very focused on inter-clinician collaboration and self-examination. We constantly work on our own issues so they don’t interfere with clients’ needs and make sure we support each other in our emotionally challenging roles. We practice these same goals in supervision of younger/newer clinicians and strive to develop expertise in a our up-and-coming clinicians.”
What is your favorite part of your daily duties?
“My favorite part of my daily duties are my sessions with patients. To see people face and conquer challenges and to grow and thrive is the greatest reward in my job. I am an extrovert, and I love to learn about people. To act as a conduit to their personal growth is amazing for me even after 25 years in private practice.”
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
“My education was helpful because of the rigorous academics I learned at Loyola and the incredible mentoring I received at Forest Institute. In addition, while in graduate school, I worked on the inpatient unit at Lutheran General Hospital as a psychiatric technician. The direct and practical experience with patients helped me learn about diagnoses, helped me develop ways to manage stressful situations and allowed me to learn how to deal with crises and think on my feet. In addition to academics, practical experience is key to hone your clinical skills with patients. Lastly, people need to pick this role as a calling, not just a job.”
Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?
“People who pick the field of psychology to fix themselves are making a mistake. In my opinion, we all have issues to work on and areas where we can grow, but the job of a therapist is equally stressful and rewarding, demanding significant emotional and intellectual commitment. The best therapist personality is one where you value balance in your life, utilize a sense of humor, have the heart of a helper and value giving of yourself to others. You will need commitment, maturity and value self-examination. Although this vocation requires many sacrifices, I couldn’t imagine myself doing any other job.”
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