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Meet the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium Co-Director: Dr. Steve Smith

Steve Smith, Ph.D. is the Co-Director of Clinical Training, PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium and Professor, Palo Alto University (PAU). Read the interview below to learn more about him and his role at PAU:

Steve Smith Running in Yosemite

Describe your position at PAU- Co-Director of the Psy.D. PGSP-Stanford Consortium- what does that mean?

As a consortium, the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. program is a joint venture between Palo Alto University and Stanford Medicine's Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. As such, faculty at the two institutions share responsibility for all aspects of teaching, supervision, mentorship, and practicum planning. Likewise, we have joint Directors of Clinical Training. I represent the PAU “arm” of the program and my colleague, Dr. Kimberly Hill represents the Stanford “arm” of the program. Dr. Hill and I share the responsibility for overseeing the PsyD Consortium, including course planning, curriculum development, clinical training, admissions, and compliance with APA Accreditation regulations. More than anything, we’re excited about making this program the very best it can be for students and faculty alike. It’s an unusual arrangement, but I think it works really well. Before coming to PAU, I was the DCT of the APA-Accredited Combined program in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at UC-Santa Barbara.

What's your favorite sport? Why?

Even though I work with a number of athletes, coaches, sport teams, and parent supporters, I’m not a big sports fan. I’m a fan of athletes or other people who appreciate the opportunity to challenge themselves and take risks. I love hearing about sports from the athletes who play them and by the same token, I love hearing artists and writers talk about their work and even the challenging leaps that people take to perform well in stressful occupations. I’m a fan of people who challenge themselves, who risk failure, and look for ways to have healthy balance in their lives. I don’t do much performance-enhancement work, but rather I provide therapy services for athletes who are struggling with depression, anxiety, family problems, etc., that might be impacting the overall quality of their lives (including their sports). The only sport that I follow with any regularity is professional cycling and that’s because I was a competitive cyclist myself for 25 years. Now that I’m a competitive runner, I enjoy watching some running, but I don’t really care to watch any other sports unless I’m working with the team.

What's been your biggest adventure? What did you like about it?

Tough question. In the past 10 years, I've taken some goofy solo backpacking trips hostel-hopping around Asia, South America, and Africa. But I think that my biggest adventure was last summer when my wife and I ran six miles up Gibraltar Mountain Road in Santa Barbara to get married. I’m not sure what could be a bigger adventure than that.

What are your research interests? What makes you passionate about them?

Over the past 20 years, most of my work has been in the area of personality assessment with a particular emphasis on performance-based techniques like the Rorschach. More recently, I’ve been much more interested in collaborative and therapeutic models of assessment that actually serve a therapeutic function for the patient. Research is pretty clear that the greatest promise of assessment is not merely in its diagnostic function but rather in the potential for assessment results to provide a transformative way for patients to learn about themselves. It’s wonderfully powerful work. These days, however, much of my work is in the utility of assessment with marginalized populations. I’m currently co-editing a book on Diversity-Sensitive Personality Assessment, with my colleague Radhika Krishnamurthy.

Much of my passion these days is on my clinical work and teaching, however. In my private practice (www.sparccal.com), I’m working closely with schools, coaches, and teams to promote healthy sport participation and life balance among children and adolescents. We live in a very high-pressure society here, so I’m always working to help make sports and physical activity fun for kids (and not another thing for them or their parents to be stressed about). I frequently give talks to parent groups and sports teams as well. I have a general private practice caseload, but I enjoy working with men and boys, and athletes of all genders, ages, and abilities. And, as always, I’m always striving to be a better teacher, supervisor, and mentor.

 
 
 

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