A Conversation with Dr. Iren Fellegvari
CalSouthern continues to receive exciting news from alumni of the School of Behavioral Sciences as they progress toward licensure. Not long ago, we learned that Dr. Jill Moland passed the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), leaving only the California Psychology Supplemental Examination (CPSE) standing between Dr. Moland and her California Psychologist License. She’ll be taking the CPSE this fall and we wish her the best!
We’re also happy to report that Dr. Blair Banks and Dr. Norman Bentson attained California licensure as clinical psychologists. In New Mexico, Diana Stearns—an MA graduate and current PsyD learner—has been licensed as a mental health counselor.
More recently, we’ve learned that PsyD learner Katheryn Whittaker has attained dual California licensure as both a licensed MFT and LPCC. In fact, she received the third LPCC license to be issued by the state!
And now we receive word that 2011 PsyD graduate Dr. Iren Fellegvari is the latest to attain licensure a California clinical psychologist.
We caught up with Dr. Fellegvari for a short conversation during which she reflected on the licensing process and her CalSouthern experience, in addition to discussing some of her plans for the future.
CalSouthern: The road to licensure is long and arduous, to say the least. Now that you have attained your goal, what are some of your thoughts and emotions?
Dr. Iren Fellegvari: I am extremely happy and more than a little relieved. I enjoyed the educational component—CalSouthern’s PsyD program—very much. The faculty, staff, and my fellow students provided all the guidance and support I needed to get through the program relatively quickly and without too much difficulty.
Arranging and completing the hours of supervised professional experience was, for me, a challenge, however. In San Diego where I live, there are many universities with psychology doctoral programs which made it more difficult to find an internship. The fact that I needed to work full-time to pay for life expenses complicated matters. Fortunately, I found a private company that accepted me as a psych assistant and I was able to work inpatient, which allowed me to accumulate supervised hours relatively quickly.
CalSouthern: Backing up a bit, why did you decide to pursue psychology as a career in the first place?
Dr. Fellegvari: I wanted to be a psychologist all my life. However, I was born in Hungary during the socialist system. In that society, people rarely went to therapy (we were “perfect”). Because of my family situation, I needed to become a breadwinner early in life and a career as a chemist was more feasible financially.
When the socialist system broke down, the chemistry research lost importance for me; it was time for a change. Although I had temporarily forgotten my love for psychology, after immigrating to America and enrolling at Oral Roberts University, I took a counseling class by chance. That rekindled my love for the field. I changed my major almost immediately and became a professional counselor and marriage and family therapist a few years later.
CalSouthern: You’ve earned your doctorate, completed all the required hours, and passed the licensing examinations. Looking back, what were some of the greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Dr. Fellegvari: In addition to finding an internship (as I mentioned above), the biggest challenge was probably the breadth of material one must cover in the program. I had to use very strict discipline and set goals for every week and every month. And I am quite sure that I have never written as many essays in all my life! But the faculty mentors were very helpful and encouraging. Also, my fellow students that I met on the message boards were very sympathetic and supportive, too.
CalSouthern: What were some of the more enjoyable, gratifying aspects of your journey?
Dr. Fellegvari: Certain courses immediately come to mind. For example, I loved Physiology Psychology. I believe that very soon every therapist will have to incorporate knowledge of the brain into his or her therapy, and I am very happy that CalSouthern gave me an educational foundation in this area. Also, the trauma course changed my view of therapy and I have been learning trauma treatment methods ever since.
I am also very happy with the friends I met at CalSouthern (through the Internet, at first). They are wonderful professionals and great people. And although I love young people, as a more mature student, I was happy to see how many people my age shared my dreams and were willing to work hard to follow those dreams later in life.
CalSouthern: Would you recommend CalSouthern to others?
Dr. Fellegvari: Definitely. CalSouthern is a very good school. I have never been encouraged as much as I was there, by faculty, staff, and classmates. And CalSouthern is still affordable, which is important in this tight economy. Having the flexibility to work helps, too.
There are a few issues with not being APA-accredited, but there are lots of opportunities in private practices and a variety of agencies. If you are a good therapist, you’ll be successful.
CalSouthern: Now that you’ve attained licensure, what are some of your professional goals and aspirations?
Dr. Fellegvari: I want to continue to learn and perform trauma treatment and I’ve already received my certificate in EMDR. I have also begun training for Emotional Transformation Therapy, which is very interesting. In addition, I have applied to learn neurofeedback and hopefully, I can learn the Somatic Experience method as well. Ultimately, I want to do brief, whole-body trauma treatment.
CalSouthern: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement to those who are just embarking upon this path?
Dr. Fellegvari: This profession can be very rewarding. If someone has a love of learning and is interested in keeping up with the newest developments in their field, psychology is a great area. And CalSouthern is a warm, professional, very supportive place to study, and is still affordable, too.