Who’s Who: Jessica Punzo, PsyD
Owner/Founder, Middle Path Psychotherapy, LLC
Formal education: PsyD, concentration in traumatic stress (Adler University); Psychology BS, biology minor(Roosevelt University)
Areas of expertise/interests: Complex PTSD, LGBTQ populations, perinatal mental health, psychedelic assisted therapy
Self-care activities: Exercise (specifically all things Peloton!), listening to music and attending music festivals, home decorating (especially Halloween decorating), crafting, traveling, being in nature, spending time with my family
I will never forget working with my first trauma survivor and having the thought, ‘This is it. This is where I want to be. This is my calling.’
What led you to this Field and career path?
Being a first-generation kid came with a lot of high expectations, especially as it related to school and education. Both of my parents sacrificed a lot to come to this country, so I always felt the need to make them proud and be successful. Therefore, I began college as Pre-Law student, with aspirations to become a lawyer. I quickly found out through the course work, that the field was not for me. I randomly took an abnormal psychology class and was hooked. I was fascinated to learn about human behavior. The more classes I took, the more interested I became and I decided quite quickly that I wanted to obtain the highest degree in this field – a doctoral degree. I went straight from my undergraduate program into my graduate program and have not looked back since!
How do you keep your life in balance?
I feel like this is one of the hardest things as a helping profession. Personally, I find it difficult to “take off my psychologist hat” when I’m not at work. Being a therapist is such a big part of my identity, that I have often struggled to not get pulled into that role outside of work. I have had to be intentional and mindful of my boundaries as it relates to work. I try to be conscious about engaging in the self care activities I listed below and spending time with my family and friends to help offset the heavy workload I can have at times. It is always a work in progress!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Be flexible and open. I know when I first started out in graduate school, I thought I wanted to get into neuropsychology. Similar to what happened in my undergraduate, it did not end up being the area of psychology that brought me joy. I will never forget working with my first trauma survivor and having the thought, “This is it. This is where I want to be. This is my calling.” It surprised me, because it was so different than what I thought I would be doing, but it was absolutely the right choice. The more I learned, the more it affirmed my feelings and thoughts about this field. I would also tell someone starting off to follow their passions. It’s okay if your mentors or colleagues are not interested in that area or you don’t know much about it. You will find more mentors and colleagues who are interested in the same area, trust me. It is so important to keep that passion and love of learning alive!
What are your future plans and goals?
Currently I am getting trained in Psychedelic Assisted Therapy through the Integrative Psychiatry Institute. I have been very interested in psychedelics for the past couple of years, seeing how some of these medicines have tremendously helped my clients and many other people. I am excited to be able to offer another modality of treatment to my clients and have thoroughly enjoyed learning about how these medicines work. If any of you are interested in this work, please contact me. As I mentioned above, I love finding others passionate about similar interests!
I am also thrilled to start my term as President Elect next year for this division. I cannot wait to work with the Presidential Trio to continue growing our division. Being in various leadership roles within the division throughout the past ten plus years, has provided me with so much knowledge and insight into how this division functions and how we can continue to improve. Please know my door is always open and I would love to hear from all of you to understand your needs and how you think we can better serve our members.
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