Listen to Joyce's podcast Episodes:
Intro: I was born and raised in a destructive cult, I left when I was 24 with my husband and 2 children. I spent years trying to understand what was wrong with me and why I was so different. Going to school helped me delve into and begin to understand my life and the ways my developmental process was interrupted. In my master’s program I studied what happens to children in this type of environment, in my doctoral program I studied how to help this population heal.
Do you currently have a doctoral degree? Yes, Ph. D. in Depth Psychology
Are you pursing a doctoral degree at present? No.
What are your plans for future study? I continually educate myself in the area of Trauma by reading and taking relevant courses, but I have no plans to further my formal education.
What were your plans for future study? Once I earned my doctorate, I was ready to give back.
What line of work/business are you in currently?
The business I am creating is one where I help people born and raised in cults transform their trauma and to teach therapist how to help them heal.
Our listeners are probably curious to know how they can best finance their schooling. What can you tell us about how you financed your doctoral program?
I was able to get student loans and paid for what I could.
How prepared were you financially for this pursuit?
I wish I had saved more and relied less on loans.
How did you decide to pursue a doctoral degree?
It was the natural progression after my Master’s and it was an important step towards my personal development.
Has it always been something you’ve been passionate about pursing?
No, I was told by my mother that we didn’t have good genes and I was not smart enough to become educated. It wasn’t until I perused my Associate of Arts degree, encouraged by my husband, that I discovered I was dyslexic, not dumb.
How about inspiration? People don’t typically wake up and say, “I’m enrolling in a doctoral program today!”, so how did it work for you? Was there someone or something that inspired you? The school I was attending had a lot to do with it, it provided a great space for me to move forward and continue the work I had started in my Master's program.
How did you select your field of study? Depth Psychology was part of my Master’s in Counseling Program, and it was a natural next step.
Family/Study balance, do you have a family? How’s that balance working out for you? I will not lie, it was hard working full time and going to school, my husband and I had our own business. My family was supportive at times and demanding of my time other times. Both my children were adults by the time I entered my graduate degrees. There is still an expectation for women to do it all and I felt this at times. Communication is the key.
Were you ever unsure about or did you ever question what you’d gotten yourself into? When I first applied for my Master’s I was scared, but when I applied for my Ph.D. I knew it was the right move.
Did you ever second guess your field of study of choice?
There was a time when I might have chosen medicine, but I believe I am right where I am supposed to be.
What other degrees have you earned along the way? An Associate of Arts in early childhood psychology with an emphasis in social work. A B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in Behavioral Psychology with a minor in addictions. An M.A. (Master of Arts) in Counseling and finally Ph.D. in Depth psychology
What do you enjoy most about your program? The structure, it was once a month for three intense days, then one week for the summer with a summer project. A lot of reading and paper writing but this was the best for me while I was still working.
Where are you in the program now? I have my Ph.D. all done.
Have you crossed the finish line? Yes, and it feels great.
How did your undergrad experience influence your decision to start this program?
By the time I started my B.A I was on a course for my Master’s and the Doctorate program was the next step.
What was the biggest difference between being a Doctoral Student and a Doctoral Candidate? A student is in the program, a candidate is waiting for acceptance. Usually there is a letter to write and of course you have to have the qualifying credits.
Can you think back to a stressful time during your program? Yes, when I was told my mother had a heart attack, it was a shock and a relief. She was a cult leader and I thought she would no longer be able to hurt anyone. Then I found out she was fine and the relief was gone.
What made it stressful? I realized that she had stolen my ability to grieve for her.
What is your fondest memory of your program? The other students in my cohort, we supported each other and formed some strong lasting bonds and friendships.
In a couple of sentences, share what was your dissertation defense was like. It was very satisfying; I was able to articulate my defense. My adviser and readers were supportive and told me I had completed a work that would help others. They said that though all dissertations offer something to their field of study that mine would offer healing to many individuals.
So, you have to select an adviser /mentor, how did you go about this? I had spent time with my teachers and had read some of their works. I chose someone I thought would challenge me but also had input into my subject.
Are there names (of professionals/staff within the program) in a hat that you select from or is there a catalogue of professionals/staff to select from? No.
Do you select from professors who were already your instructors? Yes.
What words of wisdom or encouragement would you give to someone who’s considering earning a doctoral degree? Make sure you need it to do your work or to complete your own personal growth.
How did you choose your dissertation topic? It chose me.
Were you passionate about this topic? Yes, it was about my life experience.
If you have already chosen a topic (or will at some future point) why would you say that “passion” about the dissertation topic is important? You will be Eating. Breathing, Dreaming and living with this topic, if it is not your passion you might fall into the rabbit hole and never finish it as many have.
How long did it take to complete the course work for the doctoral degree? How long afterward did it take to complete the Doctoral Dissertation? 3 years for the course work and 2 more years when it was accepted.
At any point, did you ever feel like discontinuing your program? No, I was motivated.
Tell me about the significant contribution to your field that you made as part of the Doctoral Dissertation process. Bringing attention to the kind of complex trauma children born and raised in cults suffer and how to help them heal.
Please share two things about yourself (that you haven’t already shared above) that you’d like listeners to know. I have learned to transform my trauma into strength, I will admit that I am a work in progress, but it is my wish to bring others hope.
Listen to Joyce's podcast Episodes: