Dr. Laurel A. Sills: Her Journey to Become a Psychologist
“Early on, I recognized my desire to really know people on the deepest level. I was interested in their thoughts, feelings, motivations, dreams and beliefs—who they really were. I worked summers in high school at my Dad’s Internal Medicine Office helping people in need get or stay healthy and really enjoyed being in a more professional role assisting people. In college, I worked on summer as a patient transporter at Sinai Hospital in Detroit. I learned a lifetime full of wisdom and lessons about fear, dependency, pain, courage, strength, beliefs, compassion, advocacy, teamwork and resilience that summer.
Those lessons were very powerful as I was humbled and honored to help helpless people do the most intimate things in the bathroom as well as observe the most courageously determined people learn to function independently without their legs. I wanted their courage and grace in coping. I saw people in every part of the hospital from infancy to geriatric, patients to surgeons, happiness to death, and joy to grief. These years of experience gave me a window into our lifespan.
I wanted to help the depressed, learn what makes people brave and be able to deal with life’s curveballs without getting knocked out. I wanted to learn the coping skills of people with very serious diseases or illnesses who were coping with life and not getting down.
In l983, I entered a Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology to become a Psychologist at Wright State University School of Professional Psychology in Dayton, Ohio. I graduated in l987 with my Psy.D. (“Sigh-Dee” Doctor of Psychology) after completing my internship year at Henry Ford Hospital. There, I worked with medically ill patients of all kinds who were admitted to the medical floors; patients who were anxious about having diseases, who had problems with their thinking due to electrolyte imbalances that were correctable; patients suffering from being prisoners to their body with ALS Disease; and patients who were dying and needed help to say goodbye or to face death.
Upon completing a Post-Doc Internship to learn Group Therapy and work with more severe patients in Day Hospital and Inpatient settings at Heritage Hospital, I worked both at two Outpatient Clinics, part-time, as well as a full-time Staff Psychologist at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac at the Fox Center. There, I worked with people of all ages on the outpatient unit and specialized in the treatment of substance abuse and the effects on one’s family. I co-led the Intensive Outpatient Group Therapy there for 3 years until I left to go into my own full-time private practice in l993.
I have been in private practice since 1993, currently in W. Bloomfield, on the North side of Maple Road about 1-2 blocks east of Orchard Lake road in the Tanbark Office Complex. I have done freelance writing for the Gazette Newspapers in Farmington Hills, Women’s Health Style Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit Jewish News, Women’s Lifestyle Magazine and guest lecture for organizations on many topics from Self-esteem to Sexuality. Call if you wish for me to write or speak for your organization.