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Psychologist

Pamela Hays

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The person…

Pam Hays, a licensed clinical psychologist living in Kasilof, has traveled the world to learn about many different cultures and the field of psychology. Pam currently works in Kenai with Central Peninsula Counseling Services and the Kenaitze Tribe’s Nakenu Family Center, and writes and edits multicultural counseling textbooks.

Pam became interested in cultures and languages at an early age. She decided to pursue psychology because it was a field in which she could combine her interest in cultures and languages with opportunities to make a positive difference in the world that also included a paycheck! After graduating from high school in Kenai, she spent summers working as a waitress to earn enough money to go to school and take courses that had a cross-cultural theme. Pam eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at New Mexico State University which included a junior year at the University of North Wales in the U.K. After college, she moved to France where she earned a certificate in French at La Sorbonne in Paris, and then returned to Alaska to complete a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at UAA. Pam continued her education with a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hawaii. Her dissertation research for her doctorate was done in Tunisia (North Africa). She completed a postdoctoral fellowship of study in geropsychology (practice with older people) at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and then moved to Seattle where she worked for 11 years as a professor in the graduate counseling psychology program at Antioch University. Pam returned to her home community in the Kenai area in 1999.

When Pam is not immersed in her work, she likes to do yoga, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and hike. She also participates in a women’s book group and a spiritual discussion group.

The job…

Pam loves the variety in her current work schedule. When asked to describe a typical day, she said it would be easier to describe a typical week. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Pam works at Central Peninsula Counseling Services in Kenai. She has six or seven clients each day at the Center and also supervises one of the social workers. On Wednesday mornings she travels to the Nakenu Family Center in Kenai where she does group supervision with staff clinicians. At these group meetings, therapists staff cases and Pam gives them suggestions on how to handle especially difficult cases. She also consults with the Director of the Family Center. Pam says one of the unique and challenging aspects of working as a psychologist in a rural community is that there are few, if any, specialists to refer clients to in the field of psychotherapy. She notes that most practitioners who work in rural areas need to be generalists.

Pam also has a passion for writing and generally spends about three days a week (Thursdays through Saturdays) immersing herself in this work in her “writing cabin” which is situated close to her home. She has published many articles and two books on cross-cultural therapy (to see descriptions of her books, go to http://www.apa.org/books).

In addition to this busy weekly schedule, Pam travels about once every two months, teaching workshops around the country and teaching weekend graduate courses at Antioch University Seattle.

Advice to students…

Pam suggests to students interested in psychology that you not narrow yourself too quickly. “The more experience you have with diverse groups of people, the more you will be able to relate to different clients in the future.”

For those beginning their career in the behavioral health field, Pam said it is important to engage in very good self-care, mentally, physically, and spiritually. She comments that it is important for behavioral health professionals to have a good support network for themselves.

This page was last updated by Janice Troyer on December 18, 2006

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