Life + Arts

FIVE MINUTES: Psych grad student gets analyzed

Chris Patronella: What are you studying?

Daniel Mortenson: I’m a graduate student concentrating in clinical psychology. For my undergrad, I went to Brown University and was a double major in psychology and sociology.

Patronella: And you’re currently teaching psychological statistics at UH. All the students say you make the subject so non-threatening, like making a bear look like a kitten.

Mortenson: Good, then I’m doing my job-yeah, I’ve been teaching for three years and it’s a subject no one really wants to take. I love teaching, but I have this real animosity towards it because I hate the whole holier-than-thou professor thing.

Patronella: I know most students think you’re hilarious. You’ve had some practice?

Mortenson: I used to do improv in a public speaking club and for some reason it kind of clicked, and a lot of times in therapy and teaching you have to improv.’

Patronella: So why psychology?

Mortenson: You know, it’s funny, because I had a roommate tell me majoring in psychology was like being a part of the ‘feeling good’ club. In therapy, you often get that question, and the common response is to just throw it back, ‘Well, what do you think about it? How does it make you feel?’

Patronella: The classic therapist response.

Mortenson: No, that’s the big joke, but actually it’s kind of tricky. What you think is important in the session could be all well and good, but it could be this other thing you didn’t expect that really made an impact. I’ve also heard it said like, ‘So what is it, your like paying someone to be your friend or something?’

Patronella: Yeah, until they want help too.

Mortenson: Well it’s a whole different kind of relation. I think part of being a good therapist is asking yourself that kind of question a lot, but I don’t think there’s ever an ultimate answer, it’s more of a process.

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