Interview with Professor Kathy McCloskey, PsyD, PhD
Rebekah (RJ): My name is Rebekah Jackson and I am a third year student here at GIPP. I’m talking today with Dr. Kathy McCloskey, who has been an Associate professor at GIPP since 2002. I’m sitting with her today in order to find out more about her and her work at GIPP.
Let’s start with your background. Can you tell me a bit about your education and clinical training?
Dr. McCloskey (KM): I used to work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, first as a contractor, then as a civilian scientist, where I was head of the high-g workload unit. The US Air Force paid for my Master’s in Human Factors, then my Ph.D. in Experimental Psych. We did mostly psychophysiological studies, cockpit design, and high-g protection research, some of it classified, some not. I was a research weenie for many years before I finally realized that I was helping design weapons systems that were more and more lethal. I then entered the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University, where I completed my internship at Ellis Institute and my post-doc at the PATH Program. I’ve worked in a hospital crisis unit, a forensic batterer treatment program, a community mental health center, a junior high violence prevention program, a women’s prison, and a drug/alcohol unit throughout my Psy.D. career, providing clinical services of various sorts. I was the clinical director of the batterer treatment program (including practicum/intern supervision) and multiprofessional team leader at the women’s prison, both of which provided me with further administrative experience. Given my overall focus on violence and trauma intervention to date, it almost seems I’m now atoning for all the prior “lethal” work for the Air Force! (laughs)
RJ: Now that we know a bit about your history, how did you come to be a faculty member at GIPP? What do you see as your role as a faculty member at GIPP?
KM: When I arrived at GIPP, we had an exceptionally strong focus on social justice and diversity, not to mention a strong feminist focus and faculty -- this was the draw that landed me in Hartford. My role now is serving as one of only two tenured core faculty, and I see myself as one of the major anchors for the generalist training side of our program.
RS: Since you have come to GIPP, what have you liked most about teaching here? What have been some of your most rewarding experiences? On the flip side, what have been some of your biggest challenges?
KM: The major plus within GIPP is the group of students who enter here every year – their passion, intelligence, humor, sensitivity to social justice/diversity issues, and their advocacy for clients and the profession. That, without a doubt, keeps me going and makes everything worth it. The biggest challenge has been fighting the university administration for the necessary resources to maintain quality training, especially since we’re back on campus and have lost control of our budget.
RJ: What is your philosophy on education and training, and what is your approach to teaching?
KM: I believe that education and training within the profession is both a knowledge-based issue and a socialization issue – that is, students must learn the details while also understanding the process of becoming a professional psychologist. All of this should be embedded within a firm understanding of power differentials between the clinician and the client in order for ethical professional behavior to be centralized for the trainee. My approach as a trainer is to become progressively obsolete within the professional lives of my students so that they become independent practitioners with an identity of their own. I do this through mentoring, modeling, and imparting knowledge while simultaneously challenging students and holding them accountable, all within a developmental training model. I try very hard to be transparent and honest in my feedback, and to pair critical feedback with positive regard. You’d need to poll students, though, to find out how well I do that!
RJ: Diversity is one of the core commitments here at GIPP. How do you see that manifested within the program?
KM: Well, let’s just say we talk the talk very well, but need work in walking the walk. This is especially true within the make-up of our faculty and student body, as well as the design of our curriculum program-wide.
RJ: Are there any specific projects that you are currently working on?
KM: Yes. A colleague and I are trying to finalize a book we’ve edited that will be coming out through Taylor & Francis. This book is compiled of articles about battered women’s resistance strategies that will appear shortly in a special edition of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma we also edited. I’m also looking at pulling together all of the gender bias reports available from court systems in about 30 or so states across the country, and comparing and contrasting the results. This is a huge undertaking, especially since each state’s report varies in data format and much of the crucial information is in narrative form.
RJ: What are some hobbies or interests that you have outside of GIPP and the field of psychology?
KM: I’m a geek, so I read everything I get my hands on. I routinely check for advances in the general sciences, especially theoretical physics, as well as the social-psychological sciences, and I believe that’s actually fun! I also pay a strange and high level of attention to updated declassified info as released by the U.S. government. Perhaps it’s not so strange after all, seeing as how I was one of “those people” once upon a time. What people may not know about me is that, while I’m originally from Ohio, I should’ve probably been born in Missouri because I’m a die-hard “Show Me” type of person. I want and need to see it work, or have evidence of such, before I’ll change my mind or believe something new. This is why politics and religion both fascinate me – we keep doing the same thing over and over and it’s not working, but we believe it will. Given all this, I’m lucky I have a wonderful partner of over 15 years who puts up with me! It might help that we have a koi pond I obsess over, and we both love hiking in all four seasons. My partner says this makes me more human and less of a brainiac. Can you tell she loves to bust my chops?
RJ: Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you would like to add?
KM: Here’s what you can probably expect when you first meet me: My past colleague, Sarah Pearlman, once asked during a conversation, “Have you been dropped here from another planet?” I responded, “You know, that’s a good question. Given the size of the universe, and this thing called life is bigger than we can imagine, then….” At which point Sarah just sighed and got her answer.