Episode 6 | Trauma-Informed Care: Career Insights from Frontline Mental Health Experts
In this episode of Talking Mental Health Careers, Dr. Maureen O'Connor sits down with three influential PAU alumni – Dr. Lisa Brown, Dr. Jessica Walsh, and Dr. Flora White-Cooper to explore their individual journeys in the specialized field of trauma-informed care.
From educational experiences to pivotal career decisions, Dr. Brown, Dr. Walsh, and Dr. White-Cooper reveal how they found themselves drawn to trauma-focused work and the events and considerations that shaped their paths. From work in a university setting to the front lines of major disasters, from working with veterans with PTSD and with those dealing with intergenerational trauma, these experts shed light on the myriad ways professionals can approach trauma-related challenges and the evolution of their understanding over time. Our guests discuss the word "trauma" itself, its casual usage, and the deeper meanings, nuances, and implications it carries. This episode promises profound insights into the complexities of trauma from those at the forefront.
About Our Host
Maureen O’Connor, Ph.D., J.D. is the president of Palo Alto University (PAU), which specializes in Psychology and Counseling. Prior to joining PAU, Dr. O’Connor held multiple roles at the City University of New York (CUNY) in New York City over a period of 18 years. Dr. O’Connor completed a Ph.D. and J.D. in a dual degree program in psychology, law, and policy at the University of Arizona and clerked for the late Honorable Patricia Wald, then Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, prior to launching her academic career. An American Psychological Association (APA) Fellow, she has held numerous governance roles in APA, including as Chair of its Task Force on Human Rights. She has been active in the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI/APA Division 9) for many years, including serving as its President. Recent work focused on evidence-based pedagogy development for doctoral students, and on innovative mentoring strategies. Her 2019 book, Teaching Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach (2019), with co-authors Drs. Jill Grose-Fifer and Patricia Brooks, was published by Wiley Press. She is a member of the 39th class of the American Leadership Fellows program in Silicon Valley and serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.
About Our Guests
Guest 1 | Lisa M. Brown, Ph.D., ABPP
Dr. Lisa Brown is a Professor and the Director of the Trauma Program at Palo Alto University and an Adjunct Clinical Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine who is a licensed clinical psychologist and boarded in geropsychology. She graduated from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in 2002. Prior faculty positions have been in the School of Aging Studies, the University of South Florida, and the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida. She is the former President of Division 20, Adult Development and Aging, American Psychological Association (2020-2021), and the founder of the Disasters and Older Adults Special Interest Group, Gerontological Society of America.
Guest 2 | Jessica Walsh, Ph.D.
Dr. Jessica Walsh is a clinical psychologist at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She serves as the Technology Innovations Coordinator, a role which involves supporting the VA, both clinically and administratively, in the design, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of telemental health innovations implementation, operations, and planning. Clinically, she specializes in PTSD and couples therapy.
Guest 3 | Flora White-Cooper, Ph.D.
Dr. Flora White-Cooper strives to combine her education, training, work experiences, and interests to create a career that reflects "never growing tired." She is an Army Veteran and retired Correctional Officer. She co-created and operated an in-house rehabilitation program for nonviolent inmates. She graduated from PAU in Clinical Psychology with a certificate in Neuropsychology. She obtained a 2-year postdoctorate certificate in Neuropsychology. Flora White-Cooper spent most of her career working with offenders with mental illnesses. Flora White-Cooper's career also reflects her passion for mental health, research, and speaking at conferences and conventions.