Going Full Circle

From Student to Teacher to Student Again

Kerri JohnsonI was already in a state of disbelief at my commencement ceremony in 2004. After four years of hard work, I could not believe I had finally reached this exciting turning point. But then one professor said something to astound me further: “You did it, girl — now come back and teach.”

I looked at Dr. Louis Cozolino, a professor of psychology, with incredulity. Was he serious? I immediately thought, “How can I, not even a licensed psychologist yet, dare to think of working alongside teachers who have just handed me a diploma.” Thankfully, with the encouragement of my therapist, I realized that I should not fear this great opportunity to give back to the school that had taught me so much.

Now, after nearly three years of working with students, I have affirmed my love for teaching. It is rewarding to see how each student takes his or her own path, utilizing his or her unique personality and experience. I enjoy the exchange of information, in which my students share their world with me, and I impart the invaluable knowledge I have gained from Pepperdine and my professional career.

The benefits I gain from teaching also transfer to my private practice in Beverly Hills. I work with individuals suffering from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and personality disorders. Teaching keeps me sharp, and enhances my ability to hear my clients in a way that betters the therapeutic relationship and ultimately their lives.

I owe so much of my career to my days as a doctoral student at GSEP. My teachers helped shaped how I think about teaching and practicing clinical psychology. Now I am able to show the same compassion and deep love for the material that they showed and inspired in me.

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