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Tammy Hoier, PhD – Psychologist and Actress

By Admin | December 20, 2008


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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