Dr. Jelena Kecmanovic (“Dr K.”) is a clinical psychologist, the founding director of the Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute (ABTI), and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) expert with over 25 years of experience as a therapist, teacher, mentor, author, and presenter. Dr K. is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post, and her work also has appeared in CNN, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, Fast Company, Psychotherapy Networker, and Psychology Today Magazine, among others. She also writes a Psychology Today blog, From Science to Practice, and has been quoted and interviewed widely, from the New York Times to NPR.
1. Career Influences
The work of Irving Yalom, who is arguably the greatest living existential psychiatrist, has influenced how I think about the human psyche and how I practice psychotherapy. He distilled the pertinent thinking of existential philosophers and applied it to psychology. I believe that any good therapy, including CBT, has roots in existential thought.
2. Biggest Career Success
I am proud to have gone from a Bosnian refugee to obtaining a Ph.D. from one of the top clinical psychology programs in the country (at Temple University), to college professor. After leaving full-time academia, I devoted myself to clinical practice, eventually building a well-regarded institute with 20 doctoral-level psychologists. Seeing my writing in print in publications like the Washington Post also fills me with gratitude.
3. Recent Lessons Learned
I’ve learned that you cannot be responsible for other people’s thoughts, feelings, or actions – only your own behavior. As long as you act in a way that is consistent with your values, you have done your job honorably. And you need to gracefully accept what is not under your control.
4. What inspires and motivates you?
What gives me raison d’etre is my family, my patients, nature, and intellectual pursuits.
5. Share a leadership story.
I think it’s important to remember that leaders work for their customers and for their associates – not the other way around. When we forget who’s in charge, we lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish and why.
6. Your Top Two
Memento mori, which leads to carpe diem.
Love is all you need. – John Lennon
7. Contact Dr. Jelena Kecmanovic
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