Division 53 | Past Columns - Adrienne Fricker-Elhai

Past Columns - Adrienne Fricker-Elhai
Adrienne Fricker-Elhai, Ph.D., Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital

Adrienne Fricker-Elhai, Ph.D.
Director, The Cullen Center
Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital

1. What is your current occupation?

AnsDirector of The Cullen Center for Adolescents, Children, and Families at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, an outpatient clinic that provides evidenced based trauma informed therapies for youth who have experienced a trauma. We are an affiliate of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).

2. What do you do? / Describe your role.

Ans - I am in charge of running the clinic, overseeing the staff and interns, interfacing with the community, and providing trauma informed training to the community at large. I also see a few clients.

3. How did you learn about your job? 

Ans - I learned about The Cullen Center from contacts through my husband, who is also a psychologist. I interviewed for a staff psychologist position when we moved to Toledo, Ohio, and was hired. Two years later, I was promoted to director.

4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?

Ans - I started out in the trauma and abuse field doing research and completed an internship and two year fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina’s National Crime Victims Center. I then married a psychologist in academia and have had to find positions in the cities where he found jobs. This moved us from sunny South Carolina to cold South Dakota where I worked for seven years as a child psychologist doing inpatient, outpatient, and residential work. I also taught psychiatry fellows. When we moved to Toledo, Ohio, I returned to my roots in childhood trauma at The Cullen Center.

5. Are you a member of Division 53?  If so, how has being a member of Division 53 been helpful to you?

Ans - I am not a member at this time.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?

Ans - I enjoy being a part of NCTSN that allows us to be connected to other trauma experts in the field, learn evidenced based therapies during year-long learning collaboratives, and help create trauma informed products for the community.

7. What is a tough aspect of your job?  How have you handled it?

Ans - Navigating the billing and insurance system: The rules change, the reimbursement decreases, and what parity? I try to handle these stressors through persistence, forging ahead, and seeking the advice of others who have been successful.

8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?

Ans - I have noticed that it is very beneficial to become firmly rooted in one theoretical orientation during graduate school (preferably one that has an evidence base). This does not mean that a developing therapist should not be open to other ways of thinking about their clients and psychopathology. However, eclecticism, especially without firm roots in one orientation, can lead to a lack of a clear treatment plan, drifting from original goals, and get in the way of true progress.

9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?

Ans - Psychology degrees are wonderful to help one become a therapist, but do not teach administrative or managerial skills. If you are interested in becoming a director of a clinic, I would suggest investing some time in learning leadership skills.

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