A knock on Dr. Pamela Reeves’ office door changed her life.
She was working as a paralegal and the law firm’s managing partner had a message for her: You’re in the wrong field.
“You’re great with details, and we love your work,” he said, “But you’re in the wrong field. You work so well with others. You know everything about everyone in this office, including myself. I’ve even cried and told you some of my most personal thoughts, which I don’t do with anyone!”
Dr. Reeves, a single mother, had pursued a career in the legal field in order to provide stability for her family. She enjoyed her work, but everyone in the office sought her out for her listening ear, thoughtful questions and wise feedback. When the managing partner saw that, he encouraged her to go back to school while continuing to work at the law firm.
Dr. Reeves took the opportunity for change. She earned her degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the National University (where she is now also an adjunct professor) and, later, her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Throughout her academic and professional life, Dr. Reeves gained experience in a variety of settings: a county psychiatric hospital, prisons, juvenile detention centers, and a center for runaway teens. For a time, she psychologically assessed children in the foster care system. This diversity of experience helped Dr. Reeves discover they type of work she liked most.
Like her career change, supervision came to her through a colleague as well. A therapist working toward her licensure approached Dr. Reeves and asked if she would be her clinical supervisor. Again, she seized the opportunity. This step led to Dr. Reeves later opening her own private practice. In her work, she specializes in empowering and helping women who have endured domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. She also works with LGBTQIA individuals. Dr. Reeves leverages psychodynamic and interpersonal positive psychology. Her approach is client-centered and solutions-focused.
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Dr. Reeves is passionate about nurturing new therapists careers and paying it forward, the same way her boss once did for her.
“My number one value as a supervisor is to be authentic,” Dr. Reeves says. “I provide my supervisees a nonjudgemental, safe place so they can go on and create that for their clients. Authenticity means checking your ego at the door.”
Dr. Reeves puts an emphasis vulnerability, so that supervisees “can sit on the other side and learn what it feels like to open up.” She utilizes parallel processing to help her supervision groups gain experience at recognizing countertransference.
“I had some really great supervisors who didn’t micromanage,” she recalls of her own time in supervision. “They allowed parallel processing and case consultation. I felt heard.” She also remembers supervisors who weren’t as good. “Basically, they talked too much about themselves. They didn’t bring real-life situations into the supervision.”
Dr. Reeves aims to make supervision productive and engaging. In group supervision sessions, she facilitates role playing scenarios, providing new clinicians an opportunity to jump into realistic situations, but without real-life consequences.
“The majority of supervisees struggle with imposter syndrome,” notes Dr. Reeves. “They have a lot of book knowledge, but now it is time to put it into practice. They have someone’s life in their hand and I see them nervous about messing up, so empowering them is important.”
Dr. Reeves is excited about conducting tele-supervision through Motivo. “I love things that are creative and I love innovation,” she says. “I truly enjoy being a supervisor. So this technology just makes it more accessible and beneficial.”
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