Faculty Focus Friday | Dr. Amy Young, Associate Professor of Psychology

Ashley Byrd
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Spalding Psychology faculty Dr. Amy Young,

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. Today’s featured faculty member is Dr. Amy Young, Associate Professor and Associate Director of Clinical Training in the School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Young, who earned a PsyD in Counseling Psychology from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, is a member of the American Psychological Association and Kentucky Psychological Association. 

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I get to help with training the next generation of psychologists, which is something I never thought I would be doing as a student. I never saw myself as being an educator, which is a wonderful surprise and is just as rewarding as having a practice.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

I am a clinical psychologist, so my area of area expertise is around mental health and abnormal psychology. I had a forensic internship experience at a men’s prison with the department of corrections. My specialty has been addictions, so I deal a lot with substance abuse treatment, homelessless and individuals who end up incarcerated due to their mental illness. Today in my private practice I still focus on addiction work, but I also do a lot of couples counseling (as well as counseling of) families in crisis, and families who struggle with infertility. In Louisville there are not a lot of resources for individuals who have miscarriages or in the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donation or surrogacy. The Food and Drug Administration now requires mental health screenings, and there are not a lot of psychologists who are willing to do that and certainly not for an affordable price. For about three years now, I have been doing those screenings, which is again not what I thought I would be doing, but because of the needs of the community and the women in need, I wanted to do it. Getting to help all of these people have families has been very rewarding.

Why is psychology a good option for new students to consider as their major?

I think psychology gives you a good background for lots of different things. Certainly if you want to be a therapist and want to do counseling or work with folks in crisis, obviously a psychology degree is for you and can give you great preparation for that. I also really feel like if people want to do work in business, sales, marketing, human resources and all of those jobs that require you to have people skills, I feel like psychology is a good place to start your education. We have lots of students that end up going to graduate programs, but their psychology degree has set them up to understand human behavior and help them be a leader in their career. All of that knowledge can be applied to so many different aspects of your life and will just make you a happier person.

What is an interesting thing that you keep in your office?

Everything in my office has meaning to me, and I love interior design, so when I decorated my space I tried to bring in things that make me feel inspired and connected. When people come to my office the things people usually notice first are the women in my office. A picture of my great-grandmother is hanging up on my wall, and she was incredibly lucky because she was able to go to school during a time when only men went to school. My great-great-grandfather made her promise that her children would all go to school and receive an education. So her daughter, who is my grandmother, became the first woman in her county to graduate from high school and receive a diploma. Of course, when I was growing up with her, she told me how important it is to have an education and if you have degrees and skills, you are able to be self-sufficient and you do not have to rely on others. So I think this was a strong legacy of women who believed in education and that it is a way to be self-empowered and fulfilled. When I see that picture I feel like they got me started on a good path, and I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t have that legacy about women and education. That portrait makes me smile, and I feel like they would be proud and would love Spalding and Mother Catherine.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I had my babies last year, so this past Commencement season was the first time I had ever seen graduation from a parent’s perspective. It was really rewarding to watch the ceremony and the recognition of completing their degree. We have a specific hooding ceremony for the doctorate and master’s student, but it was the first time I had seen it through the lens of the parents. I watched students look for their families and giving their parents hugs afterwards and seeing grandparents crying, and it was so rewarding. It reminded me of all the people in the students’ lives that helped them get to graduation day. As professors we see students in our world, but it reminded me of all the people that love that student. Being a parent, it made it really rewarding because parents are trusting us with their children.

At Spalding, we like to say,“Today is a great day to change the world.” How do you think your role at Spalding is helping you change the world or the world of your students?

Helping people to see all the ways people are struggling helps them to be better in the world. So if you see someone who has an anger problem, it is probably because that person is in pain. If you see someone that is acting more hostile, or someone who is discriminating against others, it’s because that person is suffering and isn’t thoughtful. Helping students understand that when you see people in distress it is because of a whole bunch of complicated factors. People are not good or bad, but some combination of the two, so the more students get that and understand human behavior, it makes them more thoughtful and compassionate as they go out to change the world.

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