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Featured Therapist Interview
Fay treats trauma and anxiety in Arkansas.
Anitra Fay is a licensed psychologist in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and has over 25 years experience counseling adults, children of all ages, and medical patients, as well as athletes, performers, and musicians. Dr. Fay has been a clinician in independent practice since 2004, specializing in anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, medical illness, life transition/upheaval, and performance enhancement. Dr. Fay is a past president of the Arkansas Psychological Association
When did you begin your practice?
I have been in independent private practice since 2004, and am in a group now called Clinical Psychology of Fort Smith. In the two decades prior to that, I was a clinical psychologist with a large outpatient multispecialty medical clinic, seeing a wide array of patients, particularly medical inpatient and outpatient referrals from all the medical specialty areas.
Do you have a specialty?
Because our town is in a relatively small market, I never had the luxury of having a narrow, specialized practice, but rather saw a large variety of patient referrals. My internship had a Pediatric Psychology emphasis, and my training included a wide array of behavioral and cognitive techniques. In addition to medical referrals, my practice has a special emphasis upon anxiety disorders and trauma, and I am Level II-trained in EMDR. With my interest in performance enhancement, I am particularly interested in looking at each patient’s performance area, the particular obstacles the patient perceives and experiences, and the strategies best suited to overcoming the obstacles.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
Due to my broad exposure to a varied patient population, my training in efficient treatment methodologies, and my personal interest and experience across a large range of artistic/creative/fitness endeavors, I feel I am well-suited to evaluate each patient’s situation; conceptualize the case; and work with the patient to develop a treatment plan to achieve realistic goals. Having been a musician for years has helped me understand various methods of targeted rehearsal strategies that maximize learning and performance.
What is one method you use to promote your practice?
Recently our practice group launched a website that features our individual practice interests and strengths. I also have connected the website to APA and other professional groups through LinkedIn and our state psychological association website to promote networking-based referrals.
How important are board certifications and/or credentialing programs to your practice?
Being a licensed psychologist with the internship and work experiences I have are the qualifications most beneficial in my practice. The level of training completed in EMDR has been an important consideration, as well.
What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
Be mindful of your areas of strength and weakness as well as your professional interests as you choose your niche and your method of practice implementation. The business end has to be tended to with diligence and oversight. Unless you are on salary, that means you have to pay close attention to your billing and accounting, even if you have excellent office staff-they can make mistakes. Talk to a colleague and a trusted accountant for advice on making sure you have your bases covered.
What self-help books do you suggest to your clients?
I like David Burns’ Feeling Good and Edna Foa & Reid Wilson’s Stop Obsessing for basic education about cognitive behavioral therapy concepts and exposure strategies for anxiety. I recommend The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans for understanding the power of language in negatively affecting self-concept and performance. Other favorites include Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, by Phil Jackson; Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn; and The Actor Speaks: Voice and the Performer, Patsy Rodenberg
What one book do you recommend as a “must read” to improve your practice?
Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It may seem like an odd choice, but the book has had a strong impact on my perspective professionally and personally. The mind and body can no longer be separated as entities. People really can learn skills that will allow us to set and achieve great goals despite obstacles and hardships…and yet the skills we need sometimes are the antithesis of the driven, intentional hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that are so prominent in our Western heritage.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
As a past president of the Arkansas Psychological Association, I have continued my involvement on various committees in such areas as diversity, professional development, fund raising, and legislative efforts.
How do you stay current with new research or advances in the field as applied to your practice?
Professional development with various sponsors of educational opportunities; ABCT publications; APA Practice Directorate; APA online journal subscription; daily “digest” of research disseminated from our state psychological association.
Where do you earn your continuing education credits?
Primarily, APA-approved opportunities sponsored by the Arkansas Psychological Association and EMDRIA.
Who was your mentor?
C. Eugene Walker, Ph.D., who was the director of my internship experience. He taught a lot about the professional parity of psychology with other professions and how to communicate effectively with professionals of other disciplines, including medicine. He also was excellent at case conceptualization, framing a case quickly, and designing and applying an efficient, effective treatment plan.
What is the last book you read?
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It’s a great read that underscores perspective/spin and the importance of looking at all sides of an issue before making assumptions.
How do you avoid burnout?
I work at keeping balance in my life, pursuing a variety of interests, enjoying my friends and family, keeping physically active, and being in nature when I can. Getting enough time to sleep is my biggest challenge!
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I enjoy involvement in the arts, outside activities, travel, cooking, viticulture, fitness activities, and follow collegiate sports.
Do you have any other “talents?”
I am a core musician in a professional symphony orchestra; my husband and I have started a muscadine vineyard; I also am involved in other aspects of music, fiber arts, stained glass, dance, hiking, and running.
What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?
Assist patients in understanding how their brain and body are working, and give them tools they can develop and use to impact how they think/feel/react. I love the empowerment that CBT gives the client.
Where do you see the field of cognitive and behavioral therapies going over the next 3 to 5 years?
As more is learned about the functioning of the brain and the role of DNA, I hope we will learn more about the strengths and potential health risks that each of us carries. We may be able to better individualize treatment strategies. I think the challenge will be helping people to continue to feel that they can make effective, positive changes rather than feel victimized by their plight or feel that eventual outcomes are inevitable, regardless of their actions.
How do you use the local media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
I try to be available to media to explain concepts or issues that they are researching for a piece. I think most of us, including me, need to continue to be more proactive in educating the public and utilizing media.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
Approximately 10 years.
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
ABCT offerings have helped me keep abreast of research and practice trends in the profession, as well as providing networking potential for communicating about issues and topics of concern.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
The annual meeting; the hard copy of the annual meeting program; and the website
What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?
I would like more access to discussion groups or ways to link with other professionals to consult about topics of interest.
How do you see the future of ABCT?
I think ABCT will continue to be a forum for the coming together of professionals interested in effective, research-based treatments that provide quality treatment to patients. The organization will need to assist professional members in the effective incorporation of technology to communicate with each other and with the public and clients. ABCT also will have an opportunity to support members in demonstrating to the public the viability of research-based treatment methods in order to compete with less-proven methodologies that may become popular.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions!