Dr. Nicholas J. Westers is a child psychologist at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Westers is an expert in helping adolescents deal with non-suicidal self-injury (self-cutting, scratching, biting and burning).

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Nicholas J. Westers)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Nicholas J. Westers)

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“As a teenager, I came to believe that life is about people. I had a desire to call out the value in others, particularly teenagers. I knew an advanced degree would train me how to do that and would open doors for me. My belief that God knew I would be a good fit for this ultimately led me to pursue a doctorate in psychology,” said Westers.

“One challenge I faced was not having family support immediately around me. I was going to school in another state far away from where my family lived. The biggest challenge was getting support for my doctoral dissertation topic, which was on adolescent non-suicidal self-injury. At the time, the topic I picked was just being researched and documented, so there wasn’t a lot of support for this newer field of study,” said Westers.

The program Westers followed was a nested program. He earned a master’s degree while working towards his doctorate in clinical psychology from Regent University.

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“Being permitted to step into someone’s world, meet them on the sacred ground where some of their deepest hurts dwell, join them on their journey toward healing, and laugh along the way. It’s hard to imagine a greater reward than that,” said Westers in regards to earning the advanced degrees.

“Children’s Medical Center’s mission statement is to make life better for children. I feel like I can make a difference in the world every single day by doing just that,” said Westers.

“Life doesn’t start after getting an advanced degree. Working toward goals is important, but living according to one’s values might be more important. For example, obtaining an advanced degree can be a goal worth striving for if it’s not at the expense of your value of loving your family,” said Westers.

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Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com