Dr. Heather Krol is a post-doctoral psychology fellow at the Center for Pediatric Eating Disorders at Children’s Medical Center Plano, Texas.  She earned her doctorate degree in clinical psychology from University of Texas Southwestern.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Heather Krol)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Heather Krol)

Why did you pursue a doctorate degree?

“I have always been interested in learning what makes an individual think and interact with their world in their own unique way. I enjoy having an impact on a person’s life; sometimes truly listening can be exactly what a person needs. During and after earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the UT – Austin, I pursued multiple clinical opportunities to work with children and adolescents. These experiences showed me the high importance of identifying and intervening with problems early, in order to set youngsters up for a greater quality of life as they move toward adulthood. After meeting with several psychologists and researching available programs, I decided that a doctorate in clinical psychology would be the ideal degree to fit my professional goals.”

What would you tell others who are considering pursuing a higher degree?

“One of the most helpful steps I took in deciding which degree to pursue was to actually meet with people working in the field. I found it immensely helpful to sit down with psychologists and ask them what a typical day looks like in their profession. Pursuing a higher degree is a huge time, financial and emotional commitment. It is important that you get a good sense of what a career could look like with the degree you are interested in, before you decide on your degree path. You never know when someone you meet will one day be a potential employer, colleague or recommendation letter-writer. Always be professional and let your excitement for your field speak for itself.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced while pursuing your degree?

“One of the biggest challenges I faced while pursuing my degree was (and still is) letting go of my perfectionism. Whether it was working on a 5th draft of a dissertation edit or treating a challenging family, I had to learn the valuable lesson that I am not perfect (despite trying). Along with this lesson, I learned to be flexible with changes, learn from my mistakes and to hand responsibility for progress back over to my clients and their families. Many of my patients with eating disorders struggle with crippling perfectionism and I work hard to model embracing one’s true self – imperfections and all.”

What was the biggest reward for earning your doctorate?

“The greatest reward is having the honor of being allowed into my client’s private, internal world.  I cannot begin to explain the sense of pride and happiness I experience when a client discovers their ‘voice’ and embodies self-acceptance. Another rewarding aspect of obtaining my degree is that I now have a professional platform from which to advocate for my clients. Individuals suffering from eating disorders are often misunderstood. I have the opportunity to spread education about these individuals.”

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