Dr. Jennifer Sweeton: clinical psychologist & internationally-recognized anxiety/trauma expert

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Bio:

Dr. Jennifer Sweeton is a licensed clinical psychologist and internationally-recognized expert on anxiety and trauma, women's issues, and the neuroscience of mental health. She completed her doctoral training at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and the National Center for PTSD. Additionally, she holds a master's degree in affective neuroscience from Stanford University, and studied behavioral genetics at Harvard University. Dr. Sweeton resides in the greater Kansas City area, where she owns a group private practice, Kansas City Mental Health Associates. She formerly served as the President of the Oklahoma Psychological Association, and holds adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Dr. Sweeton offers psychological services services to clients in Oklahoma, Kansas, and internationally, and is a sought-after trauma and neuroscience expert who has trained thousands of mental health professionals in her workshops.

What do I do best?

Finding and utilizing resources in a creative way is what I do best. I’ve often been called “resourceful,” and this skill has resulted in me taking a fairly unconventional path in my career (and, in some ways, my personal life). To me, being resourceful means that I am open to unique ways to reach goals, and I look for help or opportunities in unusual places. I am very interested in the study and practice of life design, and am constantly looking for ways to live more effectively and efficiently.

What makes me the best version of myself?

My greatest strength is my drive, closely followed by a willingness to be uncomfortable. As a child I naturally gravitated toward goals and seemed to easily stay motivated. I’m definitely a “self-starter” and rarely have to force myself to get things done! However, I think my willingness to be uncomfortable is more noteworthy, as it this has taken more practice and has required me to endure significant growing pains. Also, it is likely the one characteristic that has gotten me the furthest, as it has allowed me to take chances and persevere through hard times!

What are my aspirations?

My personal aspiration is to help create a world I can be proud to raise my daughter in. I specialize in working with women who have endured trauma, and hope to not only help the individual clients I serve, but also other professionals by training them in evidence-informed approaches to trauma treatment. My main professional goal is to create a life that integrates my interests, professional hobbies, and career, so that there I am living my passion every day.

My Biggest Success?

My biggest success was becoming a Rhodes Scholar national semi-finalist in college. It was a dream I had for years, and while I did not make it all the way, making it as far as I did remains my largest success. I also believe that this success set the stage for many of the successes that followed.

My Most Challenging Moment?

A notably difficult personal decision that has had a profound impact on my life was the decision to take legal action after suffering sexual harassment and sexual battery in my workplace. This was before I opened my own businesses, and occurred at the very end of my doctoral training and beginning of my career as a psychologist. There was tremendous pressure to remain quiet about what had occurred, and multiple attempts to report it resulted in repeated retaliation that made daily life difficult for a long time. At that time I felt angry and devastated that my career was (seemingly) being derailed before it had hardly began, and I felt the ordeal was taking me further and further from my chosen career as a clinical psychologist.

The battle lasted nearly two years, but at the end of that period many positive changes took place, and multiple women came forward with similar stories. Several individuals in power who had either perpetrated, or who had been complicit with the perpetration, were removed, and multiple women who had been victimized received financial compensation. While nothing can undo what happened, I became thankful over time for what that the experience of speaking up taught me. I learned that my voice will always be more powerful than my silence, and that change is possible when people organize and refuse to give up. Also, instead of derailing my career, I later realized that this trial set the tone for my entire career, as it has given me a new perspective from which I am able to empathize with and help women who have suffered in similar ways. In many ways, it has defined the course and purpose of my career!

My Motto?

This is not a motto, but it is a quote from Malcolm Gladwell that resonates with me because it is the example I want to set for my daughter. I want her to believe it is possible to do what you love and to be happy not only on vacations and weekends, but while working as well:

“My earliest memories of my father are of seeing him work at his desk and realizing that he was happy. I did not know it then, but that was one of the most precious gifts a father can give his child.”

― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I have many role models who have influenced me in both personal and professional ways. Tim Ferriss has changed the way I view my career and personal priorities, and his writings contributed to my decision to quit my day job in order to pursue a more meaningful career working for myself. Gloria Steinem’s consistent, relentless energy and advocacy continues to spark my passion for gender equality, while feminists such as Tamika Mallory continue to teach me the importance of intersectionality. Additionally, a consistent role model throughout my life has been my great grandmother due to her kindness, wisdom, sacrifice, and the value she put on education. I still have a small porcelain figurine of a (female) scholar that she gave me when I was a baby, and I consider it my most valuable possession.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

This is a difficult question! I like to travel to places that are as different from my home as possible. Some of my favorites places have been Bangkok, Shanghai, Tokyo, Athens, and Rome. I tend to gravitate toward places where old, rich histories and modern day life are juxtaposed. One of the most dramatic examples of this is the Colosseum in Rome, which is surrounded by modern, bustling roads and stores.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I like anything that makes my life easier, allows me flexibility, or frees up mental resources so that I can focus on more important things. As cliché as it sounds, I am very thankful for my laptop, which allows me to get work done from anywhere in the world. While this is now taken for granted, I realize this was not a luxury available to people until fairly recently. I also appreciate software that scores assessments for me, apps like Bungii or GrubHub, and the telemedicine platform doxy.me, which allows me to meet with clients remotely so that when I travel I can continue providing psychotherapy.

My Current Passions?

I am currently very passionate about continuing and professional education for mental health professionals. I’ve realized that training other professionals is a way to reach a broader audience and help more people at once, and I immensely enjoy giving seminars, webinars, and workshops on topics such as neuropsychotherapy, trauma, and anxiety. Additionally, I very much enjoy coaching mental health professionals who are struggling with life design, starting a practice, and balancing life’s demands, and I hope to do more of this in the future. In my personal life, I feel passionate about the minimalism movement, which my husband and I first became involved in a couple of years ago, and all things related to my daughter. As a parent and psychologist, it is fascinating and fun to watch her grow every day.