As a long time member of the American Psychological Association (APA), I have always tried to live by the APA’s motto: “Give psychology away.” This means that, on many occasions following a stressful day at the office, I spend countless hours on the phone, or otherwise engaged, on behalf of a family member or friend (and sometimes, the child of a friend) trying to help this person through a personal crisis. Although I am a social psychologist whose strength is in conducting social science research, I possess all of the skills required to help someone who is crying out for help. In fact, one of the reasons why I decided to become a psychologist is that, since childhood, I have always been the “go to” person for family and friends who need help resolving a problem. The problems are those experienced by almost everyone in their work, school, family, and relationship lives, and range from rather mundane difficulties, such as how to get along with a new boss, to serious psychological breakdowns. I have never, I repeat, never, failed to come to the aid of anyone who asks me for psychological help, nor have I ever charged anything for the help I provide. I have even driven several hours to participate in an intervention for a friend, at the request of her daughters, without asking for anything in return. Sometimes I jokingly say being a psychologist who is always helping someone is a “curse,” but after seeing the difference I have made in many people’s lives, I am glad I possess the unique ability to help people by giving psychology away.
I can verify that Melissa has taken her responsibilities as a psychologist very seriously and has given much of herself to others in this regard. She has given time as well as maybe part of her “soul” to people she knows well, and many she doesn’t know as well but who needed help. She has a tremendous ability to decipher some complicated situations and to foresee the ramifications of peoples’ actions and she has shared this without reward, or sometimes, even gratitude. I know that this has, from time to time, taken a personal toll on her and it is especially disheartening to her when, despite her best advice, the recipient continues to make bad decisions. But, she tries to help and does so on a personal, and business, level. As to the latter, we, or mostly, she, has been willing to help on some high profile litigation matters on a pro bono basis. And, while we cannot describe the cases in this forum, if at all, these have generally been very rewarding to see other professionals – the attorneys who are working pro bono also – make use of her skills and expertise in representing people who really need help. She has given psychology away, as both a responsibility and perhaps for whatever intrinsic reward doing so may offer. I have been a part of these efforts, and I’m also aware that there are other professions who find ways to give things away to help. There are some photographers who are doing some wonderful pro bono projects with veterans and in some medical settings. The point of this last observation is that in whatever you do there may be ways to offer yourself and your skills to people who could never otherwise have such help.