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Featured Therapist Interview
Rochelle I. Frank, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in Oakland, California, with over 25 years of clinical and academic experience. She received a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, and her doctorate in clinical psychology from Syracuse University after completing a predoctoral fellowship at Yale Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Frank specializes in evidence-based treatment of complex and co-occurring mood, anxiety, and trauma-related problems in adults and adolescents, and also treats high-conflict couples and families. She received post-doctoral training in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and other evidence-based treatments, including acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive-behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP) for chronic depression, radically open dialectical behavior therapy (RO-DBT) for problems of overcontrol, and compassion-focused therapy. In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Frank currently holds faculty and supervisory appointments at the University of California, Berkeley (Clinical Science Program), The
Wright Institute, and the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Dr. Frank provides professional consultation and continuing education workshops to professional and lay audiences, and is a Clinical Adviser for Octave Health Group, a state-of-the-art behavioral health services corporation that integrates technology and evidence-based treatments to enhance therapy outcomes. She also serves on the advisory boards of the Oakland DBT and Mindfulness Center, and the Institute for Behavioral Health, a not-for-profit continuing medical education program. She is co-author of The transdiagnostic road map to case formulation and treatment planning: Practical guidance for clinical decision making (Frank & Davidson, 2014; New Harbinger), and a contributing author to S. G. Hofmann & S. C. Hayes (Eds.), Beyond the DSM (in press, New Harbinger). She is a past president of the Alameda County Psychological Association, and currently is a reviewer for the American Psychological Association (publications division) and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (conference division).
For more information on Dr. Frank, see www.DrRochelleFrank.com
First, we would like to know a little about your practice.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
My greatest strength is my willingness to bring my “real self”-who I am as a person-to my professional work with patients. Balancing clinical skills with attributes such as humor and patience is the art behind the clinical science, and probably the most effective way to help patients overcome shame about their problems and anxiety about whether or not they can get better. I also approach assessment and treatment with a transdiagnostic lens that allows me to target specific psychological processes underlying patients’ problems, and tailor therapy to their individual needs. Lastly, I’m both direct and empathic, and make a point of helping patients understand (and choose) the options that will overcome challenges and achieve their goals.
What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
Don’t get discouraged; it takes time! Reach out to experienced clinicians in your communities, as well as health centers, schools, and other institutions to let people know who you are and what you do. This builds a professional network for consultation, support, and referrals, and is a great way to make new friends. Joining local, state, and national professional organizations will help you stay current on research to inform clinical practice, participate in online forums, and find opportunities to share your work through continuing education workshops and webinars.
How do you remind your patients of their strengths during the therapy process?
My training and experience have helped me understand that behavioral change doesn’t happen without first validating patients’ pain and helping them accept where they are in order to get to where they want to be. It’s important to have them identify their strengths through exercises such as logging daily positives (e.g., something they accomplish, despite the challenges; something they might feel proud of, if they could feel proud of themselves), in order to gradually shift negative schemas and overcome shame. Regularly reviewing progress toward treatment goals is an important component of any effective treatment strategy, and it highlights patients’ growth, which can sometimes be hard for them to see. In addition to standardized instruments, I periodically ask patients how their life has changed since starting therapy, which broadens the lens through which they evaluate themselves and underscores their role as equal partners in the collaborative process of therapy.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
I am passionate about teaching, supervision, and helping prepare and develop students and trainees for future clinical practice. As an ardent believer in lifelong learning, I also enjoy teaching continuing education workshops and webinars to fellow practitioners, especially toward the goal of disseminating individualized transdiagnostic treatment, the approach described in the transdiagnostic road map book I co-authored with Joan Davidson in 2014. In my advisory board roles, I provide consultation and help develop and improve clinical programming, treatment, and continuing education.
We would also like to know a little about you personally.
Who was your mentor?
I have been fortunate throughout my training and practice to have had exceptional teachers and supervisors who provided a solid foundation for my clinical wisdom, helped me have the courage to take risks and be innovative with patients, and gave me an insatiable thirst for lifelong learning. Perhaps more meaningful, however, and what I remain in awe of, is what I have learned from the courage, tenacity, and resilience of my patients, who entrusted me with their care and gave me the honor of guiding them to the other side of the mountain.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I love spending time with my family and being outdoors, which is one of the reasons I love living in California. I am an avid golfer, and also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, and traveling. When I am home, I love to cook, which is the main outlet for my creativity.
We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.
What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?
CBT and its offshoots (i.e., “third wave” treatments) provide a solid theoretical foundation and a clear lens through which we can best evaluate patients’ problems and develop effective treatment plans to resolve them. It also gives us a structured approach to keep therapy moving toward specific goals, and the proven interventions to help patients achieve them. In short, it works!
Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?
While CBT’s rise to excellence has been the result of decades of invaluable research leading to the many evidence-based treatment protocols we benefit from today, the field is gaining momentum in moving toward a process-based approach that reflects the transdiagnostic nature of emotional and behavioral problems. Specifically, most individuals who seek psychotherapy typically present with multiple problems (as opposed to a single diagnostic entity); symptoms co-occur across diagnostic categories, often making it difficult to know exactly how to explain those symptoms and effectively treat them; and many presenting problems do not necessarily meet threshold criteria for a full diagnostic syndrome, yet are debilitating, nonetheless. I’m excited about the prospect of seeing more transdiagnostic mechanism-based approaches in the years to come.
How do you use the local or social media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
It’s an understatement to say that I’m no technical wizard, which is why I’ve shied away from social media. One of my main professional goals in 2020 is to branch into that realm.
Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
One of the most exciting benefits of ABCT membership is the opportunity to learn from the “masters” of the field by attending workshops taught by developers of the treatments I use in my clinical practice. In addition to staying current on empirical research and state-of-the-art interventions, ABCT has helped me develop a rich, rewarding, and fun network of colleagues and friends. I also have been fortunate to share my own work with others by co-leading workshops.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
Without a doubt, it’s the annual conference, peer-reviewed journals, and robust discourse with colleagues, all of which have helped me to stay current with the research, remain intellectually stimulated, and continually sharpen my skills as a practitioner.
What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?
I’d like to see more balance between the research and clinical interests within ABCT, especially at the conferences, which seem to have become more focused on showcasing research. While the research base is a critical foundation of clinical care, providing more opportunities for discussing and learning about clinical topics, techniques, and conundrums would be very appealing.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions!