So here’s the thing, when you start a therapeutic relationship you end up sharing a whole lot about yourself with your therapist, but you don’t necessarily get that information from them in return. Now, there is a very good reason for that. I promise. Your therapist is not supposed to become another friend where they share what happened over their weekend. That actually kind of defeats the purpose of having an objective person on your side, and you definitely wouldn’t want your therapist dropping their issues on you either! On the other hand, it can feel really uncomfortable when you’re sharing all of this information about yourself and then feel like you’re talking to a complete stranger. So let’s fix that! Dr. Kirsten Vadelund, Psy.D has answered some questions that can help give you a better sense of who she is, what her therapeutic style might be, and what she is all about! Read on to learn more about her!
What is your role at Integrated Care Clinic?
I recently graduated with my doctorate degree in clinical psychology, which I am so excited about because it means I am finally done with school! Woo! My title at ICC is postdoctoral fellow which means that I am now only one step away from being licensed! For my clients, it means that they get two minds for the price of one since I am still being supervised! How cool! I see clients with various presenting concerns, though I specialize in eating disorders and self-esteem. I use an emotion-focused approach to help my clients get to the underlying issues that are driving their current unhelpful behaviors. I absolutely love helping my clients unlearn negative beliefs about themselves that are keeping them stuck and teach them that all emotions are useful, even the ones that really don’t feel that great.
Let’s break the ice: if you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh man, this is a hard one. I might have been pickier when I was younger but that has definitely changed since I have gotten older. But if I really have to choose, I would say mac and cheese. But more specifically, the mac and cheese my family makes. We put a nice bread crumb crust on top so it is the perfect combo of gooey and crunch! Oh and also donuts. I love donuts. I had to slip in an extra thing in there, I told you it was a tough one for me.
Where did you go to school for undergrad? What did you study?
I went to Florida State University (Go Noles!) and majored in psychology. And fun fact, up until my junior year I was also majoring in Math. Yup, you read that right. It wasn’t until I was taking physics and it was taking such a toll that I decided I really didn’t need to know Linear Algebra or Ordinary Differential Equations for my future career. However, I did end up with a minor in Math which always confuses people when I tell them and that’s fun for me! I also have a minor in Statistics, you could say I was pretty busy in undergrad!
Where did you go to graduate school?
I attended Nova Southeastern University in South Florida for graduate school! And yes, I have indeed lived in Florida my entire life, despite absolutely loving the cold weather, Florida is and always will be home to me! I decided that I would go straight for my doctorate in clinical psychology right after undergrad instead of taking any time off. I mean the time off would have been really amazing but I was already in school mode so I was like “let’s do this!” And I will say, I do not regret that decision one bit!
Why did you decide to become a psychologist?
I actually still remember sitting down with my dad on the last day of a vacation when I was in eighth grade and telling him I wanted to go into the field of psychology. At the time I told him I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but that was before I knew what that entailed. Medical school, no thank you. Then I took AP Psychology in high school and I was even more hooked, I was always so interested in how our minds worked and why we did things the way we did. And as cliché as it sounds, I wanted to help people in some capacity. Plus, my friends and family telling me how good of a listener I was and that it was really easy to talk to me helped too! I have always felt very fortunate to know where I wanted my career to go since basically eighth grade and I want to remind those that might not yet know, that is okay too. I promise!
What are you most passionate about?
If we are talking professionally, I would have to say that I am incredibly passionate about helping my clients let go of negative beliefs and thoughts that are holding them back from being the absolute best version of themselves. I love helping my clients realize that they are allowed to and are 100% capable of rewriting their narratives about themselves and their life.
Now, if we are talking personally, I have quite a few passions! One is my family and friends, I am such a family-oriented person which is probably why I have yet to leave Florida. My family and my fiancé’s families are both in Florida and we love being close to them! I also love to travel, I have been to quite a few places and I cannot wait to add even more to that list! Ireland, Scotland, and England are next on my list!
Do you have any pets?
I do, I have a dog and her name is Penny (Penelope when she is in trouble) and she is my entire world! Anyone that tries to tell me that pets are not like your own children; I would have to strongly disagree with you. I fell in love the first time I saw her in the shelter. She came right up to me and tried to snuggle me through her crate. I almost started crying right then and there, she was perfect. I have now had her for three years and despite the challenges that come with being a pet owner, I wouldn’t trade her for anything! She is a cuddler, loves to be outside and in the sun, a little stubborn (okay a lot), and loves everyone she meets. She fits into my family perfectly!
Tell us your favorite joke!
I am all about the dad jokes, so I don’t know if I have one in particular that is my favorite so I’ll throw a few at you! What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta! How does a penguin build its house? Igloos it together. What do you call a man with a rubber toe? Roberto. I could keep going but I won’t! I don’t know what it is about this kind of joke, but they get me every time. Now I should also tell you that I laugh very easily, basically at everything so there’s that too!
What are the client ages you work with?
To tell you the truth, I work with a variety of ages, but the age that I most enjoy working with would have to be older adolescents and young adults. I believe that is such a vital age where you can be going through so many changes that it can be hard to keep up. I love helping my clients navigate this world and come out stronger on the other side!
What clinical rotations have you done, and how have these shaped you as a clinician?
I worked extensively with individuals with eating disorders during my two years at a residential eating disorder treatment facility. I enjoyed my rotation here so much that I decided to stay and do my internship here as well. It was definitely challenging work, but this is where I received comprehensive training in eating disorder treatment to help my clients suffering from a variety of eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and ARFID. This experience taught me how to help my clients overcome their maladaptive coping strategies and learn to effectively regulate their emotions. I want to help my clients let go of their eating disorders and take the power back in their lives so they can live free from the secretive and confining nature of eating disorders. I also completed a year-long rotation at a family violence clinic where I gained invaluable experience in helping individuals process their past trauma. I utilized a cognitive behavioral approach to help my clients identify negative thought patterns in order to rewrite their narratives and build stronger relationships, communication skills, and healthier boundaries. I have such a passion for helping my clients enhance their self-awareness to provide lasting change and fulfillment. Finally, my very first rotation while in graduate school was working with children, teens, and families within the foster system. Although heartbreaking at times, I learned how family dynamics can play such a pivotal role in our mental health. I really came to enjoy working with families as well as my individual clients. The joy of seeing something finally “clicking” is the absolute best feeling!
What hobbies do you have? What do you like to do in your free time?
Is it too cheesy to say that I love spending time with my dog? Okay good because it’s true! But I also love to read. I love being able to lose myself in a book because the story can literally transport you to where the characters are making you feel like you are right there with them! Some of my favorites are Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the Red Queen series, and those are just a few! I also love anything and everything by Brene Brown and Jodi Picoult! I also love movies for this very reason too! Please don’t ask me what my favorites are because I really don’t think I could answer that one! Other hobbies I love are anything that can take me outside! The beach, of course, and I also really enjoy hiking and wished so badly that Florida was not so flat, but I work with what I got!
What do you plan to learn next in your career? Any areas you’d like to learn more about?
I am absolutely loving it here at Integrated Care Clinic! I am thoroughly enjoying that I have a work-family (and not just colleagues) that are there to support me and help me grow into an even more amazing therapist! I have also been recently introduced to Radically-Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy and I am hooked! I cannot wait to dive in deeper and learn more so I can start to utilize this treatment with my clients!