We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Alicia Goodman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. Alicia, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
This question really spoke to me as it is something that I am constantly coming back to personally. My mother has always told me to strike a balance, to “sharpen the saw” as she would say, encouraging me to take time just for me. Every day. As a mom of two, someone who graduated with my PhD seven months pregnant with a 3 year old at home, working and going to school and now owning my own business and co-running a separate business with my husband, I had always told my mom I was fine, and thought I was. Unknowingly , I wasn’t, Now, seeking a worklife balance is my every day, but hasn’t always been that way.

The first time I realized I was struggling with a work life balance was when my son was 3 ( he is 15 now). I was reading with him before bed and all I could think about is how I wanted him to go to sleep so I could finish working on my dissertation or finish the report I was putting off. I quickly snapped to and decided at that moment that if I kept doing that ( not being present) that I was going to actually miss his growing up. I wouldn’t say it has been easy to maintain a balance by any means, it does require a constant effort.

The second time I realized this was a problem for me was not that long ago. I was trying to achieve a work life balance by working hard and playing hard. I thought that if I worked several long hour days and then took time off, like really off, not answering emails and taking a vacation, that was a work life balance. However, I started noticing that every time I would have time off, I would get sick. I started researching this and learned that the work hard , play hard model wasn’t working for me. My adrenaline and cortisol was keeping my immunity up, when I stopped working so hard, my immunity system crashed and I would feel sick. I wanted to enjoy my time off not feel sick! I knew that something had to change.

I have learned that to truly achieve a work life balance, I need to find balance in my every day. Now, I take both time for me and time for work most days, and at least 2 days a week I make time just for me.

A few things have helped me to achieve this.
I work really hard to not bring work home with me. Even if it means I stay a little longer at work or finish a call or email in my car before walking in the house. My husband jokes that my second office is my car, and my dogs get so confused thinking I’m home and then wondering where I am. But-it does help me tremendously.
Another thing I do is I set my work hours and I don’t stray from that. When I was starting out, I would bend my availability to meet client needs, start an hour early or stay an hour past when I wanted to. I have since realized that my max client hours is 5 in a day so now I stick to that. It helps me be the best psychologist I can be. Having an incredible office manager also helps me with this. She takes my available hours and fills them I fit my work phone calls or consultation and supervision hours into those available hours. Sometimes I still schedule short meetings on my off days, but I feel very much in control of scheduling those without breaking the balance. And if I don’t feel like I want to, I don’t. I’ve learned It’s ok to say no. Every day to reduce my emails, I review one recap email that comes from my office manager, covering important things to respond to, and I take the time to thoughtfully respond to it.

A daily practice I always teach and now partake in is being in the moment and practicing mindfulness. Staying present as much as possible truly does allow me to enjoy my time off. I work evenings because most of my clients are children and they are at school during the day. It used to be that I would stress all day about having to work in the evening that I couldn’t enjoy my time off at all! I am now scheduling fun things to do for me before I go to work in the evening. I had to let go of the idea that I couldn’t play before I worked or that somehow it would mean I wouldn’t be able to meet my responsibilities if I did something for me before work. I think the adage of “work before play” must have gotten embedded in my psyche, as as much as it might have before served me, it no longer does!

It’s not a perfect balance yet, but it’s perfectly a work in progress, as I expect it will continue to be. At the end of the day, I try to give myself grace and be in the moment as much as possible. So mom- you were right, as usual. It just took me having to figure it out for myself to know and fully understand it. Balance, every day. Yes. Every day.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My psychology practice, Simply Psychology LLC includes a very unique group of professionals and a multidisciplinary team who are experts in assessment and intervention as well as providing psychological and therapeutic services and parent support. All staff members from psychometrists, (who are school psychologists), interns and clinical staff who are school counselors , our speech language pathologist, and myself have all had training and experience working in or currently work within educational systems. This is something that sets us apart and makes our practice unique when compared to other psychology practices. We are truly an educational psychology practice through and through, taking both education , understanding the learning process as well as teaching parents and school personnel and psychology to help our families.

We provide parent educational workshops, social skills to children, and our focus is on anxiety disorders. I grew our practice to focus on areas of significant need in be community. Specialty areas that no one else was specializing in around Arizona. We specifically work with children and families struggling with selective mutism , Tics/ Tourettes, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, separation anxiety, specific phobias, and school based anxieties, We also specialize in gifted and 2e evaluations, and comprehensive psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations. We work with parents to help them with challenging behaviors, handling their child’s emotional concerns, and navigating the special education and general education systems.

I have had a love of working for children since I was a kid myself, with my first babysitting jobs at 12. After graduating from college with a degree in criminal justice I worked in the juvenile justice system as a counselor for adjudicated youth in residential treatment. My work there taught me how to connect with teens who had very different backgrounds than I did. I created counseling groups and formed therapeutic relationships with many students. My love for Psychology and education grew and blossomed into a doctorate in educational psychology from ASU. I spent 9 years as a school psychologist, with my first as an interim school psychologist ( a loophole I found that was closed after me). I took on three schools by myself. That was quite the task- and i was only part time! After that first year I got an internship in a local school district where I remained for 8 years. I always broke through ceilings and barriers with my work, from interim school psychologist to providing parent coaching and being a psychometrist at a group practice before I received my independent license. I quickly outgrew the group practice and started my own practice. I had not taken one business course but that didn’t stop me and to this day one of my favorite things to do is work on growing our business to help more people. Maybe it’s in the genes as my father owned a fourth generation business while I was growing up. At Simply Psychology, we are constantly innovating and changing with the times to keep up with demand. There is a mental health crisis going on right now and we do our best to be part of the solution by offering group educational workshops to our parents and social skills groups to our youth. We believe in providing very high quality mental health services, including evaluations, therapy, parent coaching, and education while striving for an excellent customer/ client experience. We believe that it takes a village and we are so honored to be part of the villages helping our youth and families in Arizona to grow and be strong mentally, socially, and educationally.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Arizona is an amazing place to explore! A week is tough to get it all in but I would say to drink in the Scottsdale vibe, maybe hitting The Breakfast Club for brunch and the Mexicano for dinner, Midday walking along the canal , strolling old town, or doing a city scavenger hunt. If you are downtown, hitting up Bitter and Twisted and my favorite Jamaican restaurant, The Rum Bar. You can always catch a game in Arizona as we have all major sports teams here in The Valley and are hosts to several spring training facilities as well. Phoenix also encompasses museums , the art museum , the MIM, and the heard museum are some of my favorites. If you have a day trip opportunity, going to Tonto Natural Bridge park or Sedona would be my picks. Of course there is Flagstaff and Pine/ Strawberry and Prescott which are cooler places to spend the summer and really amazing towns. If you want something off the beaten path, Tortilla Flats has a great restaurant as well and Jerome is my favorite little artist town followed by Cottonwood where they have some great wine tasting rooms and some fun antique shopping.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my parents, my children, and my husband who always support my endeavors. Everyone I have met along the way that has shaped who I am, those that paved the road for me to be the best I can be, from teachers and friends in grade school , high school, college and grad school, to the staff and administration at Hillcrest, and Manzanita, to the people who said I couldn’t, and made me stronger, to those who believed in me and always said I could, to my amazing crew at Simply Psychology. Finally, to my puppies who by flopping on top of me the moment I sit down remind me that sometimes it’s important to just sit still for a bit.

Website: www.simplypsychservices.com

Facebook: Simply Psychology LLC

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