ADAA - My Professional Cradle
ADAA - My Professional Cradle
Back in 1994, I applied for a poster presentation for the ADAA annual conference based on my observations that there is a certain group of patients whose onset of OCD began after a certain level of trauma/PTSD. ADAA's committee accepted my presentation for a symposium which was supervised and led by one of the leading experts in the world on OCD and PTSD: Dr. Edna Foa (also an ADAA member).
Once the poster was accepted, an unbelievable buzz went through the OCD and anxiety disorder community at UCLA. This incredible association not only accepted my paper but also found it to be important enough to be presented at the conference. While thrilled, my anxiety went through the roof. I barely spoke English, and whenever I did my Russian accent was so profoundly evident that English words sounded foreign. I would even carry a Webster Dictionary with me wherever I went. As such, I would practice the talk tirelessly – every time of the day, every place I could find, I would be practicing, including random UCLA bathrooms! I would practice in front of everyone, from UCLA faculty to colleagues to family members.
Suddenly, the day was here. My anxiety was so high that I refused to leave my bedroom to present. My husband had to force me out of the bedroom, telling me that I had to go and report my findings regardless of my feelings of complete and total failure.
And so I did.
At the time of my presentation, my voice was shaking and cracking, exposing my Russian origin. I was gasping for air, and I could hear my heart beating. I continued presenting, despite the fact that my professor was lowering himself in his seat. When I concluded, there were a plethora of questions being thrown at me. "Were the findings correct?" "Were the patients real?" These questions confused me, at which point Dr. Edna Foa stood up to assist me. She answered all the questions herself and defended my research. She dispelled any concerns about the truthfulness of my comments. This is how my talk became the talk of the conference that Saturday.
In the evening at a networking event, I asked Dr. Foa if I could become her student. I gathered up the confidence to ask, and in response she asked me to write a letter. I was later accepted into her program and excelled in it. It made me a far better therapist than I ever could have been had I not worked with her.
Had it not been for that day at ADAA, my career could not have skyrocketed the way it did, and I would not have achieved the same levels of success. The acceptance that I felt at that conference and the sense of exuberance that rushed over me means more to me than any other peaks that I have experienced in my career. Not even the appearances on documentaries and TV shows nor the multiple awards I received could surpass the moment my supervisor passed a quiet remark that today marked the day I was accepted within the anxiety disorders community. Ever since then, I have given hundreds of presentations, and I have never missed one with the ADAA conference.
For me, ADAA was the first step in my professional journey and helped me gain the confidence to step onto other big and bright stages later in my career. I believe that ADAA can be that same stepping-stone for other young professionals. ADAA offers an incredible professional stage for anyone looking to begin their career.
Photo Credit: Eda Gorbis (on the left) and Dr. Edna Foa on the right. 1994