Katherine Jones, Ph.D., ABPP
Q. What is your practice like?
I am currently a staff psychologist in the Trauma Recovery Program at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. As with other VA's around the country, Atlanta's emphasis on the treatment of PTSD expanded rapidly when it became apparent that the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were exacting major psychological tolls on service members. Though I'd been with the VA since 1998, most of my duties for the first six years were in the areas of general clinical and health psychology. I also served as Training Director. In the spring of 2004 I was called to active duty as a member of an Army Combat Stress Control unit. That June found me as a team leader on a small Forward Operating Base in central Iraq. Needless to say, there were many personal and professional challenges during the course of the ensuing year. However, when I returned to the VA, I brought back a unique set of experiences as a mental health professional. Thus, I was assigned to the Trauma Recovery Program. Initially, I worked solely with combat veterans. Later, my work began to include veterans (primarily, women) who were sexually assaulted during their military service. Currently, I work exclusively with our sexual trauma program, employing psychoeducational, exposure based, and skills building interventions. Last year, I resigned as Training Director and have shifted my training energies to the development of a module in cultural competency for our psychology interns. The work is challenging and stimulating. And, though the bureaucracy can be frustrating at times, the VA has proven to be a great professional "fit" for me.
Q. What motivated you to seek board certification in clinical psychology?
My motivation to seek board certification was to prepare myself for continued practice. Psychologists tend to enjoy lengthy professional lives and, I'm no different. I would like to remain engaged in some professional endeavors for at least another two decades. In order to remain professionally viable, it's important to not only continue the learning process but, to highlight my knowledge and skills in a manner that is respected by my peers and, meaningful to consumers. Board certification signifies that I have attained an advanced level of clinical accomplishment.
Q. What have you found most valuable or rewarding about board certification (e.g., salary increase, referrals, colleagues, increased self esteem, learning, something else)?
Interestingly, the most rewarding part of becoming board certified has been the process itself. While I am certain that additional benefits will manifest themselves, preparing the application and submitting to an examination of my peers, afforded me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with my motivation for entering graduate school thirty years ago. The complexity of human behavior and the desire to alleviate mental and emotional distress are just as stimulating today as they were for me then. That fact had become somewhat clouded over the years as I focused on the "bottom line"; and, juggled professional and family balls. Board certification was an opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to professional psychology.
Q. What advice would you give to a candidate for board certification in clinical psychology?
My advice to candidates for board certification is to integrate the process into your professional routine. If you subordinate preparation of the Professional Statement and Practice Sample to other activities, you risk having to "cram."
Q. What would readers be most surprised to learn about you?
I collect African and African - American Barbie dolls. As a veteran, I am proud to say that among my collection, I have Barbies representing every branch of the military except the Coast Guard. I don't think there is one but, if there is, will someone please let me know where she can be found!