Carla Pulliam, PhD

Thanks for visiting my page. If you like what you read here, please give me a call and we can spend a few minutes talking.  You can tell me more about why you’re needing help. If I’m not your person, I can connect you with a reputable, competent and ethical clinician who can better meet your needs.

If we work together, I will encourage you to be curious about yourself. My commitment to and belief in personal autonomy mean that I won’t tell you what to do-which would presume that I know what is right for you-but will instead guide you on your own path of self-discovery. If our work goes well, you will learn to delight in your strengths and to tolerate and accommodate your weaknesses. Along the way, uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety, sadness, feeling stuck, over-using substances and other problems will improve.

You will find me interested in the whole body as part of mental health. Brain and body research is exploding with discoveries about how relationships-especially early ones-impact physical and emotional development over time. Body awareness, mindfulness, meditation, breath work, nutrition, exercise, and many other interventions contribute to the well-being of the individual, and together we will play with all of these ideas and their relevance to your overall psychological health.

Read on to learn more about my specific experience.

Populations Served

I have been a psychologist for 20 years. During this time I’ve worked with many populations and concerns. Some of the most common include, but are not limited to:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Parenting issues: Adjustment to parenthood and helping children through difficult developmental stages can be challenging. I enjoy working with parents to understand what the problems represent and to provide input about helpful strategies.
    • Relationship issues: Much unhappiness derives from relationship difficulties in the family, at work, in friendships, and elsewhere. Often this is the result of old and maladaptive patterns that repeat. Knowledge about these patterns can help individuals make different and better choices.
    • Health and medical issues: I have extensive experience at the interface between physical health and emotional well being. I have specific expertise in working with diabetes, celiac disease and chronic pain.
    • Life transition/adjustment (for example, becoming parents, marriage, divorce, job changes, moves, mid-life issues, children leaving home)
    • Professional concerns, such as managing stress, finding balance, negotiating boundaries and other work-related concerns
    • Mild forms of addiction, eating disorders or compulsive disorders
    • Professional concerns, such as managing stress, finding balance, negotiating boundaries and other work-related concerns
My Approach to Therapy

I enjoy learning about and integrating many aspects of human experience into my work. People can be understood from multiple perspectives: biological, behavioral, spiritual, rational/thinking, emotive/intuitive or others.  Art, music, philosophy and other creations deepen our understanding of ourselves in non-verbal ways. I pull from all of these perspectives as I think about how someone comes to be who they are.

While we might use a variety of tools in our work, I am most often integrating the above influences into what is known as a psychoanalytic or psychodynamic approach to my thinking about you and your life. This means I will be thinking about unconscious influence, or how factors that are not in your awareness influence the ways that you think, feel and act. I will be curious about the influence of relationship patterns, and how past relationships and our interactions impact your present behaviors. Finally, we will explore the areas of conflict that underlie your difficulties. For example, you might have trouble getting yourself to make certain behavioral changes (diet, exercise, addictions, love relationships, etc.), despite feeling that they would be best. Often these changes are sabotaged by unconscious conflict that can be understood in psychodynamic/psychoanalytic terms.

Importantly, working with me does not involve me telling you what to do. Rather, we will work collaboratively to understand you and to help you make decisions that make the most sense for you.

The goals of psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapy can be focused on targeted symptom improvement, but also often involve working towards being freer in life generally, with improved satisfaction in relationships, occupational endeavors and creativity/play/fun.

What You Can Expect

In our field we debate the core principles of informed consent for psychotherapy, as it is a difficult process to describe to someone until they’ve participated in the work. Each course of therapy is different, depending on the personalities and current and past life experiences of the patient and psychologist.

Generally speaking, we will sit together on average once per week, though we may meet more or less frequently depending on your goals. We will talk about whatever is on your mind. I will listen to what you’re saying with your goals for treatment in mind and will share what I’m coming to understand about the origin of your struggles.

Importantly, we may experience these difficulties together during our sessions, and this can be painful and difficult at times. Things in your life may also become more difficult at first, as you come to understand how your patterns were formed and begin to play with making some changes. However, each painful experience creates an opportunity for deeper understanding, and deeper understanding creates an opportunity for behavioral change. As you begin to solidify new ways of interacting with the world around you, life should become more satisfying and your symptoms should dissipate.

We will work collaboratively with your goals in mind and we will discuss and reshape your goals as therapy progresses. Our work might involve behavioral or written homework, but it is more likely to simply require curiosity about your thoughts, feelings and dreams in between sessions as a means of more deeply understanding what occurs in your unconscious mind.

Therapy involves a significant investment of time and money, so you should think carefully about the doctor and type of therapy you choose to pursue. I’d be happy to talk more about this by phone so you can be maximally informed and prepared to make your best decision.

Education

2000-2001: Post-doctoral Fellowship, Health and Hospital Psychology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

1996-2000: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology

Dissertation: High Risk Versus Low Risk Acute Low Back Pain Patients: Psychosocial Differences and Effects of Early Biobehavioral Intervention

1986-1990: Smith College, Northampton, MA, B.A. Psychology

1988-1989: The University of Florence, Italy

Training and Experience

5/03-present Private Psychotherapy Practice, Dallas/Grapevine, TX. Developed private practice designed to provide psychotherapeutic services to adults and older adolescents presenting with a broad range of psychological and psychiatric issues.

5/02-2010 Clinical Faculty, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Participated in a variety of activities designed to augment clinical training, such as psychotherapy supervision, teaching medical and psychology students, running psychotherapy groups and taking part in the admissions process.

4/03-11/04 Baylor Health and Hospital System, Dallas, TX. Performed psychological evaluations on patients presenting with heterogeneous chronic pain disorders. Evaluations were undertaken for the purposes of treatment planning and identification of issues potentially affecting patient care. Participated in interdisciplinary team conferences involving anesthesiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychology.

8/02/3/02 Clinical Liaison Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Service, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, TX. Performed consults to all services throughout the hospital. Provided training and supervision of post-docs and interns in this same capacity. Organized didactics designed to highlight issues relevant to psychologists working on a medical service. Participation was part of an ongoing evaluation and development of psychologists’ ability to function independently on a traditionally psychiatric consult service, and to contribute to developing curricula designed to assist psychology interns in playing a more autonomous role in this same setting.

3/02-3/02 Balint Group, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Co-directed a Balint group for the providers of service on the UT Southwestern Palliative Care team, including physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains. The group examined the relationships between particular patients and providers, in an effort to reduce job burn-out and increase the quality of clinical care.

9/01-3/02 Co-director, Parkland Hospital Chronic Pain Management Program, Dallas, TX. Performed responsibilities listed below, while attending to ongoing administrative matters involved in program development and management. Directed weekly interdisciplinary staff meetings to discuss intake evaluations on patients, team conference patients as they progressed through the program, and to expediently address issues arising with each discipline relevant to the program.

1/99-8/01 Parkland Hospital Chronic Pain Management Program, Dallas, TX. Involved in program development, implementation and treatment at an interdisciplinary chronic pain management program. Provided direct patient care and supervised psychology interns in clinical work, including patient intakes and treatment (biofeedback, group, family, and individual psychotherapy), treatment planning, and outcome assessment.

1/99-8/2000 Additional responsibilities at the Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic included personality and neuropsychological assessments on patients referred by treating psychiatrists.

1998-2001 Eugene McDermott Center for Pain Management, Dallas, TX. Used hypnosis for pain management and smoking cessation on a heterogeneous group of chronic pain patients. Conducted individual and psychoeducational group therapy focused on issues related to pain management. Completed intake assessments and assisted in treatment planning for these patients. Played an active role in weekly interdisciplinary case conferences involving anesthesiology, psychiatry, psychology, physical therapy, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

1997-2001 Southwestern Outpatient Clinic, Dallas, TX. Conducted diagnostic interviews and personality and neuropsychological assessments on patients presenting with medical and psychiatric difficulties. Presented results to consult team as well as to treating physicians. Conducted brief, problem-focused individual and family psychotherapy, and assisted in treatment planning.

8/99-12/99 Parkland Hospital, Psychiatry Consult Liaison Service, Dallas, TX. Conducted diagnostic interviews, and personality and neuropsychological assessments on patients presenting with medical and psychiatric difficulties. Presented results to consult team as well as to treating physicians. Conducted brief, problem-focused individual and family psychotherapy, and assisted in treatment planning.

1997-1998 Terrell State Hospital, Terrell, TX. Rotated through four inpatient units, including adult acute, intermediate care, child/adolescent, and neuropsychology. Responsibilities included assessment (cognitive and personality), individual, family and group psychotherapy, and didactics targeted towards patients, families and staff.

1997-1999 Parkland Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Room, Dallas, TX. Assessed and provided crisis intervention to patients with the goal of identifying appropriate patient care/disposition. Decisions were made in a multidisciplinary fashion and included the necessary agency and familial involvement.

1995 St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, DC. Responsibilities included planning and conducting social activities on an adult, inpatient ward, designed to assist patients in the development of interpersonal skills.

Research
My past research has largely focused on the intersection between emotional well-being and physical symptoms, especially chronic pain.
 
Future research interests include identifying factors that enable psychologists to improve outcomes in their interventions. These might be psychotherapy outcomes in individual, group or couples therapy in the consulting room. However, I am also interested in interventions on a larger scale, including brief or sustained points of contact in schools, homeless shelters, refugee centers or other populations in the community at large.

I am also interested in race, gender, sex, class and all forms of bias. I want to encourage mutual understanding and minimize cruelty in our world through an exploration of factors that encourage positive interactions.

Abstracts

    • Pulliam, C. B., Gajraj, Claassen, C., Jenkins, J., Staton, M., Bogard, J., Wall, A. & Brown, P. (2002). Effects of Interdisciplinary Pain Management on a County Hospital Low Back Pain Population. International Association for the Study of Pain. 10th World Congress on Pain., San Diego, CA.
    • Robinson, R., Pearson, C., Gatchel, R. Pulliam, C., Unterberg, J., & Noe, C. (2002). Psychosocial Differences between Groups of Pain Program Non-Completers: A Case for Tailored Approaches. The Journal of Pain, 3, Supplement 1, 6.

Past Editorial/Review Responsibilities

    • The Clinical Journal of Pain
    • Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Publications
    • Pulliam, C. B. & Gatchel, R. J. (2002). Employing risk factors for screening of chronic pain disability. In S. J. Linton (Ed.) New Avenues for the Prevention of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain and Disability. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
    • Claassen, C. A., Pulliam, C. B., Gillfillen, S., Staton, Mandy, Baller Mary, McIntire, D. (2002). Psychiatric services research: Treatment as usual. Poster presented at the World Congress of the International Association for Emergency Psychiatry, Barcelona, Spain.
    • Gatchel, R. J., Noe, C. E., Gajraj, N. M., Vakharia, A. S., Polatin, P. B., Deschner, M. & Pulliam, C. (2001). Treatment carve-out practices: Their effect on managing pain at an interdisciplinary pain center. The Journal of Workers Compensation, 2, 50-63.
    • Pulliam, C., Gatchel, R. J., &Gardea, M. A. (2001). Psychosocial differences in high-risk versus low-risk acute low back pain patients. The Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 11 (1), 43-52.
    • Gatchel, R. J., Noe, C. E., Pulliam, C., Robbins, H., Deschnr, M., Gajraj, N. M. &Vakharia, A. S. (2002). A preliminary study of MPI profile differences in predicting treatment outcome in a heterogeneous chronic pain patient cohort. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 18: 139-143.
Presentations & Trainings
    • I Don’t Know How She Does It-Or Does She? Finding Balance as a Working Mom (May, 2019). Baylor Health and Hospital System.
    • Real Talks About Race (2019, various dates). Worked with a small group to conceptualize, organize, implement and moderate racially diverse, small table group discussions around racial topics in the interest of improving communication and understanding among races.
    • On Being a Psychologist (March, 2019). Panel presentation and discussion to Carroll Medical Academy students on specifics of a career in psychology.
    • Select songs from Next to Normal (Broadway Musical) and their Relationship to the Human and Psychotherapeutic Experience (March, 2018). Dallas Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology.
    • Psychoanalytic Psychology Today: Treating Personality Instead of Symptoms (January and February 2015). The North Tarrant Mental Health Professionals, in conjunction with colleagues.
    • Case Presentation (November, 2014). Dallas Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology Fall conference, to Dr. Nancy McWilliams.
    • Psychoanalytic Psychology Today (2014). University of North Texas Graduate Students, in conjunction with colleagues.
    • Growing Nowhere Fast: Ambivalence, Impasse and Lullaby Songs (2012). Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology.
    • Conjoint Psychotherapy (2009). Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, in conjunction with colleagues.
    • Postpartum Depression (2006). Mothers of Preschoolers meeting, Southlake, TX.
      Keller Moms’ Group, Keller, TX.
    • Suicide Prevention and Awareness (2000). Presented to supporting naval command, staff and operational units at the Joint Reserve Base/Fort Worth as part of annual general military training requirements.
    • Stress Management (2000). UT Southwestern Center for Breast Care, Dallas, TX.
      Fear of Recurrence in Breast Cancer (2001). UT Southwestern Center for Breast Care. Dallas, TX.
    • The Emotional Aspects of Breast Cancer Diagnosis (2002). 8th Annual Breast Cancer Advances for the Primary Care Practitioner, Dallas, TX.
    • Treatment Effectiveness of an Interdisciplinary Pain Center on a Treatment of Heterogeneous Chronic Pain Patients (1999). Graduate Student Organization annual poster session, in conjunction with Robert Gatchel, Ph.D.
      Changes in Coping Style Following Treatment in an Interdisciplinary Pain Center (1999). Southwestern Psychological Association annual meeting, 4/2000.
Affiliations
    • American Psychological Association (APA)
    • Division 39 (Psychoanalysis), APA
    • Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (DSPP)
    • North Tarrant Mental Health Professionals (NTMHP)
    • Texas Psychological Association (TPA)
Recognitions & Awards

2008-2009 President, Dallas Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology, Dallas, TX
2003-2007 Secretary, Dallas Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology, Dallas, TX
2001-2002 Palliative Care Committee, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX
2001-2002 Clinical Training Committee, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Program in Clinical Psychology, Dallas, TX.
2000-2002 Admissions Committee, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, TX
2000-2001 The UT Southwestern Center for Breast Care, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX

Academic Honors

Graduate:

Chief Resident, Division of Psychology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Carmen Miller Michael Award, Outstanding Psychology Graduate Student

Undergraduate:

Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, Psi Chi