(as printed in "The Dallas Psychologist")
STACY N. BROUN, PH.D.
We sometimes leave our graduate training with a belief that there is a "right" and "wrong" way to do psychotherapy. Stacy Broun, Ph.D., has learned that the rules have to be flexible and change to match the needs of a given population. She also has learned that careers, which seem so linear while in school, actually can create a full, rich circle of professional and personal experiences.
After receiving her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and being licensed in 1984, Dr. Broun began working with clients from the HIV/AIDS community. She brought her interests to DPA, where she had already served as DPA Secretary, as well as Chairperson of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (a group which has been subsumed under the more recently-created national APA group). She and Ron Garber, Ph.D., organized AIDS Support Dallas, a group of psychologists that offered programs and services to all city AIDS/HIV organizations. At its peak, AIDS Support Dallas DPA psychologists ran psychotherapy and support groups, provided individual services, and staffed crisis intervention phone lines.
Dr. Broun has continued her involvement in the HIV/AIDS community as well as those who now struggle with other chronic illnesses. Approximately half of her current practice is HIV/AIDS clients, with another quarter including individual clients from the gay and lesbian communities, adolescents, and couples. She co-led a support group for physicians who treat HIV/AIDS patients that met for 13 years of continuous existence, finally terminating with many of the original members. Her professional contributions have been nationally recognized through her appointment as one of only five committee member of the Texas branch of HOPE (HIV Office of Psychology Education), an APA-sponsored group of psychologists who are trained to educate other psychologists to work with HIV/AIDS patients.
Dr. Broun began her education pursuing a degree in fine arts, and she still thinks of herself primarily as an artist. The art that she perceives in psychotherapy involves incorporating life into therapy, including encouraging the use of media such as art, movies, and fiction, as vehicles for client self-discovery in session. Another part of the art is learning to understand and be proficient in the use of the client's unique language and personal cultural information.
A significant part of Dr. Broun's artistic sensitivity has been knowing when to change her own habits and guidelines. Working with chronic illness, disenfranchisement and death have taught her that many of the traditional "rules" do not work. She describes having learned the importance of becoming involved in the life trajectory of her clients, including sharing significant moments with as they occur, whether in hospitals, homes, or during funeral services.
This process of working with death and dying has also allowed her to explore the significance of spirituality, both in therapy and in life. This interest was initially expressed in her doctoral dissertation on faith and ego development, and it has evolved into a belief in the importance of affording clients a place in therapy in which spirituality can be addressed as part of life's other major issues. Dr. Broun describes her deep belief that working with HIV/AIDS patients has been part of her own life path of self discovery and spiritual growth.
In describing her career and life path, Dr. Broun reflects on how changes over time are, truly, bringing her full circle. HIV/AIDS work was originally focused and death and dying. Thanks to more effective medications, her work with HIV/AIDS clients now includes more issues of how to live well and long. Armed with her own rich experiences as therapist, friend, mother, and guide, Stacy Broun may be uniquely prepared to help others discover and follow their own diverse and rich life-circles.
In November, 2014, the Texas Psychological Association honored Dr. Broun with the Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award.