“I Turned My Pain Into My Purpose” With Dr. Nancy Irwin
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nancy Irwin is a clinical psychologist/therapeutic hypnotist/author on staff at Seasons in Malibu, and in private practice in Los Angeles. She’s appeared on Anderson Cooper, “The Doctors.” “The Today Show with Megyn Kelly” and more on a variety of psychological issues from addictions to trauma to reinvention.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was previously a professional stand-up comedian for 10 years. As a comic, you only work about 30 minutes a day, so I had a lot of time on my hands and volunteered in the community for a shelter for sexually abused teens. I absolutely fell in love with it; this experience underscored that I was not really fulfilled in entertainment anymore; it waked up the healer in me and allowed me to heal from my own adolescent sexual abuse at the hand of a clergyman. This prompted me to return to graduate school and earn my doctor- ate in clinical psychology, concentrating in trauma recovery and the prevention and healing of sexual abuse. I could not be more fulfilled.
How have your personal challenges informed your career path?
Answered in #2. I turned my pain into my purpose.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Doctor”
1. I wish I was told how to make some “me-time”. I was indeed warned that healers need a great deal of “me time” to self-nurture and shake off the pain from others collect- ed during the day. That is easier said than done. I try my best to factor in enough self- soothing activities (massage, running, movies, etc.) but it is hard to strike a balance.
2. I wish I’d know how hard it would be to listen to my family members as well as I listen to patients. My loved ones sometimes get the short end of the stick, as it were, from me because I can get pretty “peopled out” by the end of the day and just don’t want to think or listen anymore!
3. I wish I’d known how much the Internet would grow, and how much time would be needed (albeit, my choice) to write, guest on podcasts, radio shows, TV appearances, etc. A great deal of time is needed to prepare and be out of the clinic to fulfill these duties. My first duty is to patients; I love media work, but have not mastered being 2 places at once yet!
4. I wish I’d known how hard it is to end the hour with a patient, to prepare for the next, when they are in the throes of a major breakthrough or breakdown. Very difficult to utter those words: “I’m so sorry but our time is up.” I feel for them!
5. I wish I’d known how common “doorknob therapy” is ….that tendency for patients to drop a bomb/the nugget of their issue on their way out the door. It is sort of like a Lt. Columbo moment: “Oh, just one more thing… I’’m considering getting a sex change…”
This is really difficult to acknowledge and process on their way out the door and hold that thought till the next session.
Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?
I believe it helps my field of work. Most people to read my website say they chose me because of my honesty, and feel I can “get” them better because we share similar experiences.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?
One of my very favorite quotes is: “I have learned to judge a man not by his success in life, but rather by the obstacles he’s overcome while trying to succeed.” I believe persistence and grit are the most important qualities. Talent and intelligence can only take us so far.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I were President, I would enforce a law that everyone has to volunteer in their community at least one hour per month. With roughly 326 million adults, can you image the changes we could make if every adult gave 12 hours a year…that would be 3,912,000,000 hours a year to help clean the environment, read to the blind, feed the hungry, entertain the aging, rescue animals, tutor, mentor, paint a school, lend assistance to charities, drive the disabled, coach at-risk youth, sing or just talk to those in hospice, and more.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The latest Tweets from DrNancyIrwin (@DrNancyIrwin). Clinical Psychologist/Author @ANDERSON, CNBC, BRAVO, NY Times, FOX…www.twitter.com