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Confessions of a Media-Savvy Coach: My Advice for Mental Health Pros

The average person who gets a PhD in psychology typically takes on clients in a private practice or works for a hospital. I decided to take my career in a slightly different direction. After earning my PhD in clinical psychology, I was working with adolescents in a fully locked psychiatric facility. I loved my clients and coworkers, but I knew there was something else I was meant to do. My purpose was to educate on a large scale. So I pivoted into coaching and media work. I noticed I was one of the only people doing this.


As part of my work, I help other mental health professionals get media jobs. So during this downtime, let me teach you a bit about being a mental health expert in media. If you're interested, use this to help manifest it in your own life:


1. Get your degree. A masters, PsyD or PhD is great. Have the knowledge needed to be the best professional possible.


2. Identify your specialty or niche. Shows want to know you have confidence discussing a particular subject. Mine is aesthetics and African-American women. But with experience and training, you can branch out. I also have trauma and personality disorder expertise.


3. Network, network, network. Talent is crucial in this industry, but so are relationships with decision makers - producers, show runners, writers. My first media experience was a radio show because a producer liked my Twitter comments.


4. Build your on-camera skills. It's not as easy as it looks. You must be flexible and appear confident even if you don't feel it. I've had last minute changes that would have thrown me without subject expertise and confidence. When the camera turns on, forget what came before. Present what you came to present.


5. Know yourself - what you will and won't do. Mental health experts are often on unscripted shows with flexibility in self-presentation. You may be asked to do uncomfortable things. Know your boundaries and stand firm. Don't worry about being replaced - you can be. But don't do what doesn't align with your values. I'm fortunate that most of my work has aligned with my values, but this isn't everyone's experience. Go into any filming knowing your limits and how to articulate them. Be willing to walk away.


Let me know if you want more information on starting or continuing a media career as an expert!

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