Advice From a Clinical Psychologist and Neurodevelopmental Specialist

By Amanda Janke, M.A.

Specialist Interview

For those who may be considering specializing in child psychology, here is what Dr. Rachelle Hansen, co-chair of the Child Psychology division of the Minnesota Psychological Association had to say about being a Clinical Psychologist and Neurodevelopmental specialist.

 Her work consists of therapy, testing, supervising, creating curriculum, and teaching.  In 2015 she started the Stepping Stone Clinic with a vision that integrated mental health services with nutrition, occupational therapy, and cognitive training.  In 2021 she founded LifeFX, an executive functioning coaching program, to address the need for specialized interventions for executive functioning. When asked what made her choose this specialty, she said that it chose her.  Her love of the brain and biochemistry background steered her as well as this specialty being a perfect blend of her people-connection skills and nerdiness.

She reports her journey being a long one.  She started undergrad at age 15, being a first-generation college student.  However, she didn’t start clinical psychology graduate training until the age of 34.  She had dropped out of medical school and became a reading recovery teacher and worked for courts in helping to determine long-term placement care for children in the system.  To sum up her journey, she states “there is no “perfect” way of getting to where you want to be.”

When asked about strategies to take with this specialty, she recommended that students plan to work evenings and weekends if you want to work with kids and families, especially outside of a medical facility.  However, this is different between settings.  For example, private practice tends to have the most flexibility in hours but may also require you to work evenings and weekends more than other systems.  She recommends advocating for yourself and your situation to find a system that works best for you. 

 She also expressed that you need to find ways to protect your time.  For example, she tried to take a day off during the week to get her errands and social meetings done.  She chooses not to conduct testing in January to reward herself as well as prepare for the coming year by revising templates and protocols and avoid the slow period when client’s deductibles are high.  Overall, she says, “you alone cannot fix the system” when referring to the imbalance between number of providers and those in need.

The biggest take away from this interview with Dr. Rachelle Hansen, is to find balance in your work.  Whether it is finding the system that works best for you or finding a routine in the work you have.  Create boundaries to protect your time and remember, “you are an expert, but an expert can show vulnerability in not always knowing.” 

Thank you to Dr. Rachelle Hansen for taking the time to share her experience as a Clinical Psychologist and Neurodevelopmental specialist.  If you would like to learn more about Dr. Hansen and the Child Psychology Division, consider attending their next meeting.  Dates and times can be found on the Minnesota Psychological Association events calendar.        

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