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Get To Know Dr. Hannah Gilfix!

Let’s break the ice: if you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sushi is by far my most favorite food and I would be satisfied eating it for every meal if I could. My long term goal is to try every sushi restaurant in the Tampa Bay area. In a close second place, I’m a huge fan of Peruvian food, especially Lomo Saltado (which is a meat & french fry stir fry dish), and ceviche (which is a raw fish dish- but I promise it is so good!).

Where did you go to school for undergrad? What did you study?

I attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, a small liberal arts college, where I majored in Neuroscience. Being able to really understand scientifically what was going on in the brain was a huge plus when I started graduate school in Psychology! I was also able to spend time conducting research in a psychology lab on campus looking at the impact of how sleep can impact memory, which is definitely still applicable in my life & the life of many of my clients!

Where did you go to graduate school?

I went to graduate school right here at USF Tampa! After living in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Illinois, it has been life changing to be able to live somewhere warm and sunny all the time!

Why did you decide to become a psychologist?

My path into the field of psychology wasn’t exactly linear but everything I did ultimately influenced me to end up here! When I took AP Psychology in High School, I absolutely fell in love with the field of psychology, and knew that would most likely play some role in my future career. While in college, I decided to spend more time in the field of Neuroscience, which allowed me to gain knowledge of the scientific underpinnings of many people’s behaviors. After college, I worked for two years in a high school outside of Chicago providing 1-1 coaching to high achieving students, helping them learn the skills to gain access to and succeed at top colleges around the country. All of these experiences furthered my passion for the field of psychology and solidified my desire to become a psychologist and continue working with people of all ages in a more direct capacity. I have absolutely loved providing support to individuals and working alongside them as they gain new understandings of themselves and learn skills to overcome stressors and challenges.

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about helping people learn how to form mutually growth-fostering relationships with others. I believe that sometimes, people feel as though there are things about themselves that are unlovable or unacceptable, which can often lead a person to hide these aspects of themselves in their relationships with others. This often leads to less fulfilling or validating relationships. When people are able to be more present and open in their relationships, that not only increases connection, but also increases one’s overall sense of worth.

Do you have any pets?

I have two dogs, Olive and Suki. Olive is a 10 pound, 6 year old Schnoodle with whom I have an unhealthy obsession and she tends to follow me around like a shadow. Suki is a Plotthound and is Olive’s best friend. She can appear big and scary but she is actually a scaredy-cat (most recently she was spooked by a balloon, and the vacuum cleaner is her biggest enemy).

Tell us your favorite joke!

Why did Waldo start therapy?
He wanted to find himself.

What are the client ages you work with?

I have worked with clients of all ages, from toddlers all the way up to 80+. However, I work most with teens, college students, and adults. I love working with people who are going through life transitions, such as graduating high school, learning how to navigate being away from home for the first time, dealing with the beginning/end of relationships, starting a new career, etc. I think having a therapist during these times can be such a source of stability which can be useful for clients who are attempting to learn how to fit new roles into their sense of self.

What clinical rotations have you done, and how have these shaped you as a clinician?

I completed many clinical rotations during graduate school. I worked at the Tampa VA where I provided therapy to veterans struggling with chronic pain. I was trained in an evidenced-based biopsychosocial model using CBT to help veterans return to the type of life they wanted to be living. Other rotations included working at the Rothman Center for Pediatric Neuropsychiatry in St Pete, Florida, where I provided therapy for kids and adolescents with Tourettes Disorder, Social Anxiety, and Generalized Anxiety. I also earned my certification in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) after working at the Silver Child Development Center in Tampa, FL, which is an evidenced-based treatment for children with disruptive behaviors. Additionally, I spent several years in graduate school working with AP and IB students in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco County schools coaching them in effective ways to handle academic stress as well as how to increase their overall engagement so that they could succeed both academically and emotionally. This work was critical for both my thesis research (which involved examining the character strengths of AP/IB students) as well as my dissertation research (which involved looking at how different ways of coping of AP/IB students impacted their overall levels of happiness).

Tell us about your internship/residency?

I just finished my internship at the University of South Florida Tampa Counseling Center. I provided therapy (both in person and virtually) to college and graduate students who presented with a range of different concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, identity changes, relationship concerns, eating concerns, and academic stress. Additionally, I was able to lead several groups that involved helping students learn more about themselves and learn new ways of interacting with others. I have found that group therapy can be incredibly valuable for so many clients as they are able to learn from their peers and feel so much less alone in their struggles. Finally, I led many events on campus for students covering topics such as coping strategies for decreasing stress, managing the college transition, and learning effective communication styles.

What hobbies do you have? What do you like to do in your free time?

I am still relishing in the experience of being able to be outside during the winter here and not having to bundle up for -10 degree temperatures. I love spending time in nature, especially hiking in the mountains (which is clearly not possible in Florida). I also have a giant board game collection of over 75 games which keeps being added to. Finally, I love reading, and am always looking for something new to read (so if you have any favorites, please feel free to share!)

What do you plan to learn next in your career? Any areas you’d like to learn more about?

I am super excited to be working at the Integrative Care Clinic! Being in private practice means that I can tailor treatment to what is best for my clients and I am so excited for that flexibility. I am definitely interested in becoming certified in the Gottman method, which is an evidenced-based therapy for couples, and continuing to work with people on strengthening their ability to be authentic and vulnerable in their relationships with others (whether romantic or otherwise).

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