Alumni Embraces Personal Challenges to Enhance Professional Work
Antioch MA in Clinical Psychology Graduate, Patrick Davey Tully, MA, LMFT, credits both his Antioch education and the personal challenges he’s had to face all his life, with helping develop the “integrative approach to therapy” he uses in his current professional work.
Tully explains: “Becoming a therapist and continuing this journey has brought upon the necessity to be truthful to both myself and to others. Being a cis gay man, I am not the ‘normal’ sexual orientation as promoted by society. Yes, we have improved in terms of acceptance in some ways, but the very notion that individuals in the LGBTQ community have had to deal with assumed heterosexuality is very strange. Since so many people do not fit society’s heteronormative ‘discourses’ people label us as different.”
But the challenges didn’t stop there, Tully also had to deal with physical adversity at a very early age: “Having a challenge such as hearing loss has shown me how people tend to treat differences as strange. Growing up, we are not taught enough about disability or anything else besides what is seen as ‘normal’ in our society. So, this leads to a further isolation as no one knows how to fully deal with it. And the person with the challenge or oppressive identity is forced to bear the full brunt of it.”
Ever the integrator, Tully brings it all back to his work. “So much of my experience has allowed me to connect with others who also have felt like ‘outsiders’ and guide them as they discover that they are inherently powerful and can very much deal with the things that make them different than the false “normal” our society continues to promote.”
Originally pursuing a career as a thespian, Tully graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts Los Angeles with an AA in Acting, then felt the call to help others. He was able to transfer his credits and complete his BA at Antioch and then obtain his MA in Clinical Psychology very quickly thereafter.
“I was amazed at how open Antioch was to LGBTQ justice and learning, especially as a cis gay man who had not realized how much internalized distorted beliefs affected me.” He used the time wisely to “dissect through endless reflection essays, my past and how it influenced my present. My therapy was made ever the richer, and I learned surprising things about myself. I was being taught how to pull intricate details from my life experiences and learn how to conceptualize them in ways that made sense. By doing this work on myself, I developed even more empathy and understanding for my clients.”
He still uses a term from his acting days as a core component to his therapeutic work: “Scripts”. Tully explains: “‘Scripts’ refer to the expectations brought upon us by society as we have grown up. In our lives, we don’t often question these default assumptions, such as how we view mental conditions or what defines success. When we have the chance to look at what we’ve internalized, we can redefine things for ourselves in ways that make sense for us and live happier lives due to that. For example, our pathological view of being too sensitive contributes to the idea that we must toughen up our personalities in order to be happy. The reality is we can also learn to accept ourselves as we are and look at our personality traits in constructive ways rather than pathological ones.”
And what are his feelings about the changes in the field of clinical psychology? “Therapy used to be more focused on pathology and a form of psychoanalytic therapy that wasn’t relational. Today, many types of modalities exist, and many more therapists have a relational approach than in the past. Clinical psychology has evolved to introduce schools of thought that embrace the idea that not everything is inherently pathological. Therefore, the traditional labeling of diagnoses has been questioned. What hasn’t changed enough is the stigma therapy has.” As an example, Tully points to the increase in “life coaches”. He explains, “Many people seem to be more accepting of life coaches because of the idea that the past is not important to solve one’s concerns. But while I respect life coaches, there are therapists who are solution-focused and follow this train of thought. Even when following a model that works with the past, the here-and-now is still frequently emphasized.”
Tully describes his own personal style as an “integrative approach.”
“Integrative refers to appreciating multiple modalities and taking from them what seems to be best for the client,” added Tully. “I am familiar with many, including but not limited to: psychodynamic therapies (attachment theory, family systems, etc.), CBT, EMDR Therapy, and others. I appreciate long-term therapy more than short-term solution-focused CBT only therapy. The reason is not that these approaches are negative. I use them in my work. But I appreciate the details the client and therapist obtain as they work together consistently for the long-term. Treatment goals are often layered and come out as we go through therapy. The experience of therapy is healing, as is the time between sessions.”
But Tully understands the value of continued learning and growth in his field and remains very active: “I attend conferences, trainings, and networking events in an effort to further my networking and learning. The beauty of engagement regionally and nationally is being exposed to a greater set of ideas than your restricted geographic location. I live in Los Angeles, which is extremely liberal. The experiences I have here are different than the mid-west and other areas. So, by keeping in touch with clinicians from multiple parts of the nation, I am reminded of how geography influences my ideas and assumptions. Thus, this leads me to appreciate Los Angeles and also appreciate other areas for their uniqueness.”
Constantly evolving and adapting, Patrick Tully’s life has been one of adversity and constant growth, personally and professionally, and he hopes he can be an example for the next generation of therapist: “I would advise newer therapists to allow clients to have space and truly listen to what the client is needing from the therapist. Yes, having a foundation of training is helpful, but sticking to that training without flexibility is not helpful for everyone, as we are all unique human beings. It’s not helpful to box people in. Always question your assumptions and continue to always take risks with curiosity. Pretending things that make us different don’t exist makes the client feel ignored and marginalized.”
“And continue consultation even after licensure. We will always have blind spots when it comes to our clients.”
People can visit Patrick Tully’s website to learn more about his practice here.