Why I became a clinical psychologist in private practice
dr sarah kertz

I grew up in Missouri, in a small town near Ste. Genevieve. I knew I wanted to be a psychologist from the time I was in the 7th grade. Our social studies book included chapters on the major disciplines (anthropology, sociology, psychology) and after the psychology section, I became focused on clinical psychology as a career goal.

I majored in Psychology with minors in statistics and English at Truman State University and then went on to my doctoral program at the University of Louisville.  Doctoral programs in clinical psychology are structured a little like medical school, in that coursework is completed first, followed by a one year “residency” called an internship.  After four years in Louisville I was thrilled to match at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical school. I stayed on for a year of postdoctoral training where I conducted treatment outcome research and also continued my clinical work in the partial hospital program. I loved my time in Boston but when an opportunity for an academic job opened at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, I jumped at the chance to move closer to home.

I spent eight years at SIUC in the psychology department where I conducted research, taught under graduate and graduate level classes in psychology, and supervised the doctoral student’s therapy and assessment work in the Clinical Center. After 5 years I was granted tenure and a year later took a sabbatical in fall of 2018. It was during that period that I finally had some time to slow down and reflect. While there was a lot that I enjoyed about my position (mostly mentoring my graduate students on their thesis and dissertation research and providing clinical supervision), there were also areas that were putting a strain on my life. I was living in St. Louis and commuting to Carbondale several days a week and/or staying overnight a few nights a week in Airbnbs.  I was also feeling growing frustrations with funding agencies and a general lack of other resources I felt I needed to do my best work.

During a meeting with a career counselor, she asked me to think about work that I enjoy doing, feel proud of, and am good at. From that perspective, it was easy for me to recognize that my therapy work met all those criteria while my academic work met some but not all. At that point I began to make plans to leave the university and think about moving to full time private practice.

I am so excited to make this transition and to tackle new challenges.  I love working with anxiety and OCD and look forward to being able to spend my time in a way that feels meaningful. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, please call me at 314-462-2965.

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3250 Hampton Ave

St. Louis MO 63139