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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Kaise Stephan – Swimmer, English Channel and Cancer Fundraiser (Part 2 of 3)

By Admin | December 13, 2008 at 4:25 am

What was the most challenging part of your training schedule?

I would train morning at 5 am before work, at lunch while at work, and after work. Then go home to see my wife and 6 month old son at the time.

The most challenging part? I got used to swimming 5 km in morning. Not too tired in morning, but lunch and afternoon swims made it very challenging. My schedule needed to be very fluid to cope with changes in demands from both sides. Just like reporting to two bosses, one of them in my case was a tough and excellent swimming coach.

Back in 2006, I started by training 10 km per week, this quickly built up to 30 km per week. By the time it came to the last few months before the swim I was doing 60-90 km per week depending on the training schedule set by my coach Daniel Esposito.

A number of times, I took weeks off work, spending 35-40 hours in the water training 90 km I was glad to be back at work.

Altogether in the campaign. I (swam) 4500km of intensive training, the equivalent of crossing the Australian continent – Sydney to Perth – and another 400km into the Indian Ocean.

The last two months were very challenging trying to balance work, family, training and fundraising.

Did you do most of your training in a pool?

I trained in differing types of conditions: Pool swimming, ocean swimming, night swims, pre-dawm swims, river swims, cold water swims. It was not pretty.

Before the swim, were you more excited or scared?

It was a great and an amazing day for me. Starting with the confirmation phone call from Andy King the boat pilot at 8pm the night before.

I set my alarm clock for 3am for a 5am swim start time, too excited to sleep. In the morning I had the last breakfast – 6 weetbix -before the swim. Not too nervous yet. I was surprised at how calm I was, perhaps it was all the training, the big help by all around me that gave me extra strength.

What was the actual day of the swim like for you?

Met Andy at 0430 who took me and crew to Shakespeare beach. Stretched and got greased up with channel grease, I did not talk much, tried to maintain full focus. I reached the beach, jumped off the side of the boat, swam to beach waiting for boat horn to signal my start, greeted my family on the beach and all I could say was thanks and in my mind “it was nice to have known you!!”.

Boat horn clearly heard, in I went with no hesitation. I could see the white cliffs of dover stating their beautiful presence behind me. Weather was so great, thanks to God for that.

The white cliffs fell away. I came across the first shipping lane on the UK side. Massive tankers, mini floating cities creating 4-5m waves!!

In the middle of the channel, I saw some jellyfish under the surface, I did not come into contact with any. today I read that Portuguese man o war are around the UK beaches. Thank goodness I did not see them. It was getting difficult then as I did not see land either way at that stage.

I then saw started to see more ships and I knew I was nearing the french coast. Half an hour later I saw the french coast, a boost. An hour later at the 9 hour mark, the coast did not look any closer – a big down, very tired, cold, hungry, all feeling the weight at once, spirit down.

How did you manage to fight through that feeling of discouragement?

Then. I received a message from wife and 10 month old son via my sister who was on the boat. I asked for no messages so I could focus, but this one got through.

The message was that my son was saying “baba go, baba go.” He usually says words like that, but that was so appropriate to the occasion. My coach said that after this I swam faster than the start of the swim. My newfound energy and speed continued for two hours. Wow.

I then started making out objects on the beach, it was now 1-2 km away. My coach said it went well and if I wanted to finish, it is there for the taking, it is up to me.

I was very tired now, arms and legs still moving, not sore amazingly just tired. I then saw some ground through the water, the realization started to hit me, two and a half years of training was coming to an end.

After twelve hours and 32 minutes it was emotional to see ground again. The ground got closer, I then touched the sand on the bottom, sand filtering through my fingers, in the water, this was it, the end.

All I had to do was walk, even crawl onto the beach. I tried to walk, fell two times – my legs were wobbly. I stood up again then walked onto the beach, some surprised beachgoers were gob smacked. Where did this swimmer come from, then they realised, handshakes. The boat horn tooted, celebrations from me, I could lift my arms but not jump up and down, celebrations on the boat.

I then had to swim back to the boat, 200 m away (the boat could not moor at beach), I did not want to swim 200 m more. I had already swum 50 km!!!

They sent through the attached life boat They had Australian flag with them. This was the flag which was given to CCFL, the flag that flew on the Australian federal parliament on 4 June 2008. That was an amazing moment for me and all involved, I was so exhausted yet so exhilarated.

Twelve hours and thirty minutes.

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