AASECT Certified Counselor Spotlight - Teresa Vanderlinde, DO, CSC
AASECT Certified Counselor Teresa Vanderlinde, DO, CSC answers a few questions for the Certified Counselor Spotlight:
1. Can you give us a quick rundown of what keeps you busiest these days?
I am still working full time as a Gynecologist, practicing Integrative Healthcare for Women during my regular business hours, but have taken on Sexuality Counseling patients at the end of the day, nearly every day now. I am also giving CME Educational Presentations to local hospital staff physicians, NP’s and PA’s. I am happy in my life at home and work and so glad that I made the decision to pursue this avenue at this midlife, mid career time.
2. Why was it important to you to become AASECT Certified and what do you hope to accomplish now that you are Certified?
2a. It was VERY important to me to become AASECT Certified as a Counselor to project much professionalism and integrity in a field that is so new to the Medical Community. Doing this Fellowship Level of training gave me the confidence and skills to perfect what I was already doing on the fly on a regular basis.
2b. As some of my physician friends have said and felt, Sexual Medicine seems to not be taken very seriously by the rest of our profession. By giving CME lectures on a clinical level to the local community, I feel like I am making a dent in their pre-conceived notions and raising the bar in the level of Medical Sexual Health awareness and treatment in our community.
3. How has your relationship with AASECT affected your career?
My interraction with AASECT has been fine for the last few years being a member. I have thoroughly enjoyed the annual conferences, and especially chance to learn from my psychology colleagues. I had a minor hiccup when the rules changed midway through my certification process, but through reasonable discussion with administrators, everything worked out great in the end. I would like to see AASECT push more aggressively into the Medical Community, to garner more awareness and respect for what we do. It’s my hope that ACOG will create a formalized Fellowship program and instill a 5th recognized Subspecialty for OB-GYN physicians to bring this field to the forefront (with all of us previously certified getting grandfathered in, of course! :-)
4. What are your main areas of interest within the field? What would you consider your special niche?
My main area of focus is any-aged women with any sexual concern: physical, medical, medication, hormonal, emotional, psychological, spiritual, pain problems, history of trauma, finding their voice, stating their needs, and realizing they are not ‘broken’. I believe my niche is to help psychologists with the physical part of the sexual issues, and to help physicians with the psychological side of the picture. Medical Providers usually have 10 – 15 minutes allowed per visit. I offer 45 minute medical and 60 minute counseling visits to delve into all the ascpects of Sexual Health and Well-Being. My favorite patient is a middle aged menopausal woman in a long term relationship who needs a little physical, hormonal and psychological intervention since I see they experience the most rapid improvement in their situations. I enjoy encouraging older women, uncomfortable with their sexuality, to begin to enjoy the practice of self stimulation and vibrator use.
5. What obstacles have you faced over the years, and how did you overcome them?
The obstacles I have encountered are now mostly behind me. Those were mostly in the 90’s when I was working 120 hours per week, delivering babies, doing surgery, teaching residents, being an officer in the Army Medical Corps along with raising 2 active children. I never felt I had enough time to do anything as well as I would have liked, which was an awful feeling, being so sleep deprived so much of the time. With being an OB-GYN physician since 1989, I feel like I had come as far in the field as I could, without going back to do a hospital based subspecialty fellowship. So Sexual Counseling fulfilled my needs for higher education and slightly different focus from what was becoming rather rote for me in my day-to-day practice.
6. What do you like the most about the field at this point?
Transitioning over to Medical Sexual Counseling was a natural extension of what I already do so much. It is now my greatest joy to help so many women with increasing their sexual pleasure and satisfaction so easily with minimal interventions. I thoroughly enjoyed learning all the new material in the medical and psychological realms, and receiving wonderful advice from my Supervisors. It feels great to acquire new skills that are so much in demand in my chosen vocation. I expect I will slow down on my GYN hours and increase my Counseling hours over the next 3 – 5 years, being a wonderful exit strategy from a straight Medical practice.
7. Do you have any tips that might be of interest to educators, counselors and/or therapists?
My pearls for physicians, NP, PA’s, CNM’s, etc., considering doing all the training to become a Counselor is to JUST DO IT! It’s fun, it’s a great mid career lateral shift in focus, and no one else is brave enough to speak up in public about it. It can be done while keeping a busy practice in full operation. For me it worked out very well to wait until my children were grown and out of the house to devote much time and effort to my studies, case collection, supervision, and extensive reading. Luckily, all of it was so much fun, it hardly seemed like work at all!
8. Is there anything else you would like to share with colleagues?
I am grateful for the openness and willingness of my newly made AASECT friends and colleagues from the psychological side of the house to share their knowledge and experience so willingly. I love having a world wide community that willingly advises their colleagues on any topic. I am indebted to my supervisors and mentors, Michael Krychman, MD, Gina Ogden PhD, Judy Rowan, PhD and Ricky Seigel, PhD, as well as my office staff for supporting me along this path.