Tammy Hoier, PhD – Psychologist and Actress (Part 3 of 3)

By Admin | December 29, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Who do you pattern yourself after as an actor?

I really like Judy Dench. I really like the British actresses because they have such good technique. And they crossover so well. They do all this dialogue work which is really incredible.

They are native British speakers and they get coached and do the research so they can play say a Southern dialect. If you get it wrong it is really noticeable. Heath Ledger did a lot of dialect work in Brokeback Mountain.

Did you think Heath Ledger was believable as a Wyoming cowboy?

Absolutely. I have not seen Dark Knight yet where he used some kind of weird language that was not his dialect. But, Judy Dench, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslett. Some of the Canadian actresses up in Stratford I am just awed by.

Do you go to the theatre much?

I do. There is a lot connected with the theatre department. I go to school with a lot of kids and I want to go see them perform.

What degree are you working on? Are you still in set design?

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. I got training in the actors’ studio in the department. I am a forever student in the Acting department.

When you go see a movie or play, do you get thrown off by critiquing the performance technically?

No, I am simply aware of it. I can tell bad acting or not so great acting as well as the next person. I know why. If I saw someone playing a psychologist or mental health professional, I would know if that would fly.

What did you think of the HBO series In Treatment that was based on a therapist and his clients?

I have only seen one episode… and I really liked it. It happened to be an interesting episode where a pilot was goingto go back to Iraq and try to find the town he blew away and assuage his unacknowledged guilt. I thought it was a really engaging and pretty truthful session.

So, as a therapist you were watching a therapy session and you thought it was realistic?


Did you think the acting was good?

Yeah, I thought it was pretty good on that occasion.

What’s your dream role?

When you get in middle age and older, you get to do things like being a crazy mother or an evil mother, a queen, Eleanor Roosevelt. One is cast as a certain type.

I have a sort of queenly demeanor. I am not Estelle Parsons orsomebody like that who was a Golden Girl. I would like to do something that is out of the square for me. We are going to do Hamlet at the University and I have thought about auditioning but I would like to be the gravedigger.

They are going to do Urinetown at the university and it is going to be directed by a guy who has worked on musicals in New York before he came back (to Morgantown) to teach. I would love to do a musical because that would complete my childhood dream. There is dancing and I love dancing and there would be a sense of completion.

Copyright 2008

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Tammy Hoier, PhD – Psychologist and Actress (Part 2 of 3)

By Admin | December 29, 2008 at 12:52 am


How did you get interested in acting?

I had a friend who I met through a client. This woman was a costumer; she did theatre tech which involves costuming and set design. I have always been redesigning or renovating our farmhouse, which is 130 years old, as a hobby. So I thought I would love to do the set design thing. My husband was so relieved.. that school would be less expensive than renovating.

And, I decided coincidentally around 2001 I needed to do something else with my life besides just work as a psychologist because I was really getting tired.

So, I checked into set design in the theater department at WVU. As a prerequisite you had to take some kind of introto acting course and an overview of theatre as prerequisites. I got kinda hooked actually by the professor who taught the acting course, who said I should be an actress.

You got into acting through set design?

Yeah, I was going to get a degree in set design.

To get out of psychology?

No, to do both.

So, you took acting 101?

I took it as a summer course for two weeks at the university. And, I had a great time.

Had you done any acting before?

I had in junior high school. I got pulled into it by my mom. I was really shy and I had a lot of performance anxiety. And, I made it into the acting club and that was great until I had a lead role and I totally blanked out and dissociated.I was full of shame and I left the club.

I had grown up as a kid dreaming of musical theatre. I’d sing to musicals and dance and do all that as my solitary play. The middle school experience finished that off.. for about 40 years.

Is anybody in your family an actor?


So you have been acting since 2001?

Yeah, I got really small parts in the acting in the productions at the university partly because they have people thirtyand under. Some times they need an older person. I don’t have a lot of competition.

You aren’t going for the ingénue roles?

Ah, no. I think those days are over. I think even having a love interest that is younger than thirty is really over too.

What has been your favorite role?

I think my favorite role was a project that I did with two graduate students from the department. We did it in ourcommunity theatre. We did it in April 2008. It was a Canadian play Elizabeth Rex that was put up initially byStratford up in Ontario. It won the Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer.

It is really interesting. It is about Elizabeth the first in her last yearsof life, the night before her last lover is executed for treason. It is a really smart play. It was really fun. My friend who is an actress, she played the male actor who plays female roles for Shakespeare.

In Elizabethan England they didn’t let women play roles at all. The men played the roles. So, Denise played a guy who played the women. It was wonderful, it was really fun. It was a thrill.

Do you do this professionally?

No. I would be interested in auditioning professionally but there is nothing close and I don’t want to disrupt my life. I have friends here, I have my husband, I have my clients. I am really happy doing community theatre.

So, where do you want to go with your acting?

I take one project at a time.

Do you want to direct?

Yeah, I would feel comfortable now directing. I haven’t directed anything yet but I feel I know enough to start doing it.

Do you write plays?

I have been taking intro to playwriting courses. I have taken two and a friend of mine is a poet. She wrote a series of poems about Sago, the mine disaster in 2006 and we have talked about doing a joint project and I am writing a script for my class and I hope to get at least a reading at the community theatre.

You are both an actor and a psychologist. Do your find that your acting helps you more in doing therapy or does your psychology background help you more in your acting?

At this point, I have had enough training and experience that I can marry them. I think my acting helped my therapywork and some of the things I use in my office from acting school have been really useful.

Like what?

How to properly do breathing to calm yourself. People say they are relaxed but they don’t do it right, they don’t do diaphragmatic breathing. I can reenact for somebody their nonverbal communication. I can say “this is how you said it to her” to a couple. I can play the other partner and show them how they used their tone of voice and inflections and they usually accept that.

I use things about voice and tone of voice – the higher ranges is a social trained and you are not using your natural voice. You are using a tense voice, it is not really grounded.

Copyright 2008

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Tammy Hoier, PhD – Psychologist and Actress

By Admin | December 20, 2008 at 1:05 am


Where are you from?

I was brought up in the Chicago area, in Illinois.

Where did you go to college and what was your academic major?

I went to Stanford and I was a psych major.

And then you got further training? That was your undergraduate major?

That was my undergraduate major. Then I went back to the Chicago area after college and got a master’s in special ed and I was a special ed teacher.

But, I think I always wanted to be a psychologist so I went back to school and came to WVU and got a PhD in clinical psych.

What has been your career path from the end of your training to now? When you did you get your PhD?

In ’84.

What have you done career-wise from ’84 to 2008?

I worked at University of Pittsburgh as a researcher in social skills training, developmental stuff. I was beginning a private practice once I got licensed about a year after I graduated.

Then, I did a little bit of private practice floating between Pittsburgh and Morgantown. Then, I stayed in Morgantown. My husband Mike relocated here full-time.

I have always had a couple of contracts. I worked at an adolescent addiction center as a psychologist for about seven years. I worked at an adult addiction center for a couple of years.

I taught psych courses as a contracted adjunct with the psych department at WVU. Now, I am adjunct faculty in Behavioral Medicine. I see residents. In the past I worked a lot with the court system. I did a lot of work with sexually abused kids and adult abuse survivors, which I stopped doing probably seven years ago now, maybe eight.

Then, ’til four years ago I contracted with the public schools in the county south of us working with their special ed kids, which was like doing mental health care with abused kids in the schools.

What is your area of specialty right now?

I am seeing adults. No pure character disorders, rather cases that are not so stressful. I see marital couples. I see men and women with developmental issues or lifespan issues or depression.

I see some adolescents. I see fighting mother daughter pairs; those are some of my favorite cases because they are so flamboyant. I see a few kids but not very many.

There has been some press recently about psychologists taking part in prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, aiding the military in breaking down prisoners. What’s your take on that?

The American Psych Association sent around a letter about whether as an organization they should endorse it or not. I signed a petition that said absolutely not. It is unethical. It is not for me.

So, you think there should be no psychologists present?

Yes. I mean, I assume they are not there for the benefit of the interviewee.

So, are you supporting the candidate for the APA president whose campaign is centered around prohibiting psychologists from being at the base?

I haven’t sent in my ballot yet because I’ve got other things to do. So, I am going to look at everybody after this current election that is coming up, the bigger one (November 4.). I am spending a lot of time with that.

What are the particular psychology private practice challenges in West Virginia?

There are a lot of uninsured people and there are a lot of people underinsured and there are people who are on Medicaid and Medicare. Finally, many people have accessibility and transportation problems.

I don’t take those clients anymore for a couple of reasons. One of which is I put in a lot of time and they are very stressful cases, you know, a higher percentage of stressful cases.

And, with fewer personal resources, I just had to do that to care of myself. I see some underinsured people for a reduced fee and I have seen clients for free. So, that’s how I try to make up for that. But, it’s an insurance and rural issue.

There was just an article on CNNcom about the difficulty for healthcare practitioners who aren’t from West Virginia coming into West Virginia and being culturally accepted. How the stereotypes probably do exist. There is incest, there is spousal abuse. There is a high level of addiction. Do you find that in your practice?

There is incest, abuse and addiction nationwide. As to being accepted culturally, I think it’s really a matter of approachability as a person. I mean if somebody comes in with a suit and is not willing to talk or listen and there is a certain professional veneer, that’s going to turn people off.

But, if there is sense of humor and a relaxed warmth with people, I haven’t really found there to be a cultural barrier. Now, there are people who don’t want to be in my office. But, that is not a social/cultural issue.

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Kaise Stephan – Swimmer, English Channel and Cancer Fundraiser (Part 3 of 3)

By Admin | December 13, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Why did you have to get back in the boat once you got to France? Couldn’t you have just stayed in France overnight?

Yes, back to the boat. I did not have a visa to stay in France nor a passport on me!! I understand that channel swimmers are granted permission to stay on French soil for ten minutes without needing any documents.

While planning for the swim it made sense to me to go back to Dover as we – full crew, family and I – were already set up comfortably there. Any subsequent travels could occur post recovery.

How did you celebrate swimming the Channel?

I lifted both arms above my head, i could still do that. No running around the beach at Cap Griz Nez no cartwheels, just lots of real joy.

Also a dinner with family, my cousin, and the whole support crew that night.

Who was in your support boat during your swim?

Two family members. Dad and sister – my wife was on land with 10 month old son -, my coach Daniel Esposito, feeder, support swimmer Ryan Ainley, communication person back to Australia, a CSA qualified referee to ensure the CSA rules are adhered to, boat captain, and two of his crew

What did your support swimmer do?

My support swimmer got in every second hour for one hour at a time after the first four hours for pacing and companionship. Ryan swam around five hours of the total twelve hour thirty minute swim.

Did you take any breaks while you were swimming to eat and/or drink?

Every 40 minutes I was stopping for thirty seconds to sixty seconds to feed. Feeding time should be reduced to a minimun to avoid hypothermia and avoid losing valuable distance due to the action of the tides. Feeds had Gatorade, glucose with water mixture, bannana, jelly beans, vitamin supplement midway and towards the end some chocolate.

Do you think you will ever do it again?

Perhaps the Channel, perhaps another swim, although I need a strong reason.

What is next for your swimming career?

Not sure.

What advice would you give someone who wants to swim the Channel?

Be prepared. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. I can talk a lot about the preparation but I refer for more information and reference sites. There are also lots of good websites connected to the bodies governing Channel crossings (Channel Swimming Association and Channel Swimming and Pilots Federation.)

What did your family think of your swim?

They were very pleased and very relieved with the outcome. My family was so supportive. I would like to thank my wife Svetlana, my parents Dr Said and Armenouhi, my brother Hanna and sister Sherien for their amazing support. I would like to thank God and Christ for their amazing support.

What is your resting heartrate?

50 bpm.

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