When it's coming from a place of love and concern, we're all about a straight shooter. We've been team Dr. V since we first saw her years ago on BRAVO's LA Shrinks, where we were introduced to this Clinical Psychiatrist that was never shy to tell you how it is and to call you on your crap! We continued to follow her as she appeared on a number of daytime, primetime and reality TV show spots, including as a host on WE TV's Marriage Bootcamp. We took some time to talk with Dr. V about her job as a Clinical Psychologist, the power and importance of communication, her new book Bad Advice and of course being on Marriage Bootcamp.
ATHLEISURE MAG: We fell in love with you on BRAVO’s LA Shrinks as well as on the The Real Housewives of NJ and on WE TV’s Millionaire Matchmaker and Marriage Bootcamp! Can you tell us how you came to Clinical Psychology as a career and then how you were able to parlay that into you being on Reality, Daytime and PrimeTime TV?
DR. V: You know I knew from a very young age that I was very equipped to solve problems. So I kind of went from the stoop to the screen. As I sit here talking with you, I think about how I used to sit on my neighborhood stoop and solve problems. It was a very working class neighborhood where all the houses were connected – row homes. So it was the kind of place where people would gather out front in front of people’s stoops.
I remember being super young like 4-5-6 and hearing people discuss their lives in very intimate ways! I mean a lot of shit goes down on the stoop for sure! So I would listen and it seemed like people would have this idea that somehow their problems were unsolvable. At a very young age, call it naivete or hopefulness, I never saw it that way. I always thought that the problems could be solved and I would go into my own head and solve the problem.
Like I’d be like, “wait let me tell you how shit goes – this is not a big problem.” I would go inside myself and be like, this is easy guys, it can’t be this hard. By the way, this is very different than giving advice. Because when you’re young, you’re able to use and even when you’re older – you use what’s called Executive Functioning in your brain. It’s when you’re able to re-engineer problems. I think that at the end of the day to get back to your first question, I had a very early development of that in my brain of Executive Functioning and being able to see problems and than rearrange them, which is different then giving advice. I don’t even like to give advice by the way – I stay away from it.
AM: We like that you make that distinction because hearing you say that – definitely is a difference and to do so at such a young age and to understand that is phenomenal.
DR. V: It’s the idea that solutions and advice are different. I think that when you come from it at that perspective, how can we work together to find a solution as opposed to “I’m the expert, I know better than you and you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Fuck that – we can work together and find solutions. I think that at the end of the day, that’s how I got started in Psychology and it was at that young age – I knew I was able to re-engineer my own problems and other people’s problems.
Taking that a step further, I sought after higher education. You had pointed out Clinical Psychology which is different the Counseling Psychology and other forms. Clinical Psychology just means that it’s research based and as a science lover, I love doing research. But at the end of the day, it’s really just that I was dumb enough to take the longer route – that’s really what’s happening! You tack on another couple of years for your dissertation, so a lot of doing the same things, just the degree of Clinical Psychology which is a PHD has more of a research focus where Counseling Psychology has more of a counseling focus – talk therapy. So that’s really the only difference there. I love research, I love doing it, collecting other people’s research. Anyone of those degrees, they can also share that same love of research – it’s just required as a PHD in Clinical Psychology to do the research for the degree.
So how I found myself, I was there on the stoop re-engineering everyone’s problems and I gained enough confidence to tell people what if you did this or what if you did that? And I think that coming from a very working class Italian neighborhood where there was a sense of community, the volume was turned up and we never had enough of anything but love and emotions – I think I developed a way of communicating that I had to be super clear. I had to make my point super clear and it has to land! Because for Uncle Rocky to take in my advice or my solutions – it has to land. Because of that, that was Prime TV talk as it has to land and it has to make an impact. If not, it’s not entertaining or there is no reveal or whatever entertainment words we use.
I think that is how I find myself in front of the screen and I battle on a regular basis – my own shyness. I know it doesn’t come off that way, but I am a very shy person.
AM: We would have never guessed that!
DR. V: Oh yeah! I am incredibly shy and I have had to really talk myself through my own levels of courage. Obviously as I have gotten older, it’s gotten easier as I will be 47 and I am sitting in this bath of “I don’t give a fuck” – but I battle this on a daily basis in front of the camera. I battle this by getting so into the process that I forget that the camera is there. I immerse myself into the person that we are talking to or the project that we are dealing with and I really have to forget that the cameras are there and I am able to cope better with my shyness and I can hone in on the person I am talking to?
AM: How important is communication with the person that you are talking to whether it’s a significant other, a friend etc?
DR V: Well communication defines the relationship. It is the key to every aspect of our lives. Communication, if we were to think of it as our form of expression and creativity, it leaves us room to be able to take in feedback about our communication. Your sense of self expression isn’t my way of self expression. The way that you communicate is not the way that I would creatively do so. The words that you choose, the metaphors that you give and how you choose to communicate with someone else is really quite magical. Communication and how we communicate in the world defines who we are, defines the relationship, defines our friendships and really is the most important ingredient in life!
I don’t like when people say, “that person can’t communicate effectively.” It just means that you can’t hear their message. Communication is co-created. We don’t realize that as humans we help each other feel things. As we sit on the phone with one another, we help each other feel things and this is what sets us a part. We’re almost contagious to each other. Communication seems like it’s such a simple word, but to me it’s more then just that word and it embodies so much more! It embodies the self expression, how you perceive yourself and others – it’s creative. It’s a creative endeavor.