Q&A with Dr. Amelia Miller, Ph.D.
We are continuing our ‘Our Psychologists’ Series with Dr. Amelia Miller! Dr. Miller is a licensed psychologist with 10 years of experience in relationship concerns, anxiety, depression, disordered eating/body image, perfectionism, trauma and resilience with close attention to intersecting identities.
What is your Role at Best Within You?
I am a licensed psychologist at Best Within You. I have been part of the practice for a couple of months, and I have really enjoyed being able to engage in individual therapy focused on eating concerns, eating disorders, body image, women’s issues, and thinking about how culture plays a role in these areas.
What is your therapeutic approach?
My training is in the interpersonal process perspective. I value using the therapeutic alliance as a microcosm of what is happening in the outside “real world.” For example, if someone has social anxiety, I will use our relationship to work through the anxieties and fears that may be happening outside of the therapy room. I provide a safe space to process things that may be difficult to process in the outside world.
There is a lot of shame surrounding eating concerns and body image. It is valuable to process your thoughts and feelings in a safe space, get to the depths of your anxieties, and hear someone else’s perspective to create change.
I also use a feminist and multicultural approach. I do not believe you can have a theoretical approach without thinking about your own perspectives, values, and biases.
What are your specialties and areas of experience?
I started by specializing in substance use, however quickly learned that substance use, trauma, and eating disorders typically play off of one another. It is difficult to look at one without also having a deep understanding of the others.
I specialize in thinking about cultural humility and the ways that multicultural identities affect eating disorders and the eating disorder treatment experience. My dissertation was on experiences of Latinas in Anorexia treatment. I studied the sense of isolation within family and culture in addition to the effects of white treatment facilities. I learned about the experience of feeling alienated, ostracized, and tokenized for intersecting identities within treatment.
What made you choose to specialize in your particular niche?
As early as middle school, I realized that many of my friends and women in my life were indoctrinated by messages around body image and eating concerns. My seventh-grade English teacher noticed I had this interest and gave me books about women’s issues, including “The Best Little Girl in the World.” In ninth grade, one of my other teachers gave me a book called “Reviving Ophelia.” Both of these teachers knew I loved to read and was interested in these issues, so they helped fuel my fire. To this day, I still carry these interests with me through my work.
Can you discuss your academic and career paths?
I am from North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill for Undergrad where I majored in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. I was very involved in an organization that focused on Sexual Assault and Trauma which allowed me to further my passion for looking at women’s issues from multiple perspectives.
I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do after undergrad. I applied for Research Assistant jobs, and decided to work for two years at Duke University as a Research Technician. One of my main projects focused on Delirium for lung transplant candidates. My favorite part of the role was talking to the patients about their experiences and vulnerability, and this is when I knew I wanted to be a psychologist.
Following this experience, I went to the University of Georgia for my Masters in Community Counseling where I focused on substance use and learned more about the interpersonal process approach. I stayed at UGA for my Ph.D. working with the phenomenal Dr. Delgado-Romero and his research team “Bien”. His work focused on Latino related issues in Psychology. His work inspired me to pursue the path of looking at Eating Disorders within the Latino community. During this time, I worked at a health center that did therapy for the unserved community, helped create the Latino mental health center “ALCES”, and worked in the UGA counseling center.
I went to Emory University for my internship, Post-Doc, and worked there as a Psychologist. I worked as a Psychologist with the Emory Medical School where I worked with Medical Students to reduce the stigma of mental health in the medical field with groups and individuals.
What are some of your professional goals and accomplishments?
My role with the Emory School of Medicine was a very impactful role. I was able to do a presentation with a subset of 200+ students in a challenging field and create conversation around their experiences. This allowed the students to uncover that they are not alone in a larger group setting.
Currently, I am not doing as many presentations and group sessions, however, I would love to come back to creating change in communities. Specifically, I would love to do this regarding Eating Concerns so individuals can see they are not alone in a larger group setting.
What are you most passionate about?
Professionally as a white women therapist, I am most passionate about thinking about the role of white providers in perpetuating bias and discrimination in counseling settings. I am passionate about taking a step back in uncovering myself, and continuing to do the necessary social justice work as a lifestyle. It is important to be able to constantly change and grow by challenging myself through learning.
What do you like to do outside of the workplace?
Outside of the workplace, I love spending time with my family and reading. I love fiction books and read about a book a week!
What would you say to an individual considering therapy?
I would say from the feminist approach, that people have done the best they can with what they had. If you are feeling stuck, it is such a strength to ask for help, take that next step, and realize you do not have to be alone in this process. Meeting with a therapist will empower you to live out your own values between sessions, see a different perspective, and speak to someone who will listen. Starting therapy is the hardest but most important step, and I will work with you to build a safe relationship.
Therapy with Dr. Miller
Thank You to Dr. Miller for this amazing Q&A. If you are looking for therapy and think you may benefit from Dr. Miller’s services at Best Within You, you can schedule a free consultation! Dr. Miller also recently contributed to Latinx Mental Health: From Surviving to Thriving.