Stress Management is Key to Dalton’s Success

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Amelia Pavlik
Institute Communications
404-385-4142

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From making a judgment call to hospitalize a mentally ill student to conducting a one-on-one counseling session with a student with an eating disorder, Irene Dalton’s days are filled with listening to and dealing with the stress and worries of others

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From making a judgment call to hospitalize a mentally ill student to conducting a one-on-one counseling session with a student with an eating disorder, Irene Dalton’s days are filled with listening to and dealing with the stress and worries of others.            

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  • Irene Dalton Irene Dalton
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From making a judgment call to hospitalize a mentally ill student to conducting a one-on-one counseling session with a student with an eating disorder, Irene Dalton’s days are filled with listening to and dealing with the stress and worries of others.

“In a job like this, especially when things are hectic around the Counseling Center, self care becomes really important,” said Dalton, a psychologist in the center. “Counseling students is rewarding, but it can also be very stressful. And we’re no good to the students if we don’t take care of ourselves.” 

That’s why Dalton has developed her own coping mechanism for maintaining her happiness — she makes a daily lunch trip to the Campus Recreation Center (CRC). 

“I do the stair climbing machine, because I think it’s the most efficient way for me to get a good cardio workout,” she said. “Coming to the CRC is a distraction that allows me to recharge.”

Taking on the role of graduate student practicum coordinator is another way that Dalton copes with the stress that can come with counseling students.

“Although I enjoy counseling, sometimes it’s nice to change gears,” she said. “As practicum coordinator, I get to focus on training students who want to do what I do. Being able to do this in addition to counseling three to four students a day helps me balance the stress that comes with listening to students talk about their problems.” 

Read on to learn more about Dalton and her time at Tech.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

In elementary school, I think I took a career test that indicated I should be a pharmacist. Careers in science run in my family, so this made sense. But over the years, my interest shifted to psychology.

How did you arrive at Georgia Tech?

I came to Tech to do my post-doctoral work in 2000 and ended up taking on a permanent position. So I’m still in my first real job since graduate school. 

What is an average day in your job like?

Aside from counseling students and being the practicum coordinator, I’m also part of an eating disorder treatment team on campus. The group includes a nutritionist, physician, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist and myself. We exist to provide more well-rounded care for students with eating disorders. I also co-facilitate an Asperger’s Syndrome support group for students who are impacted by this form of autism. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

It would have to be watching the students I work with learn to deal with their problems and grow into successful adults. For example, I worked with a young man who was diagnosed with severe depression. At some point in our conversations, he became more open to medication and taking gradual steps to improve his health — like getting more sleep and exercise. By the time he graduated, the student was doing much better. A few years later, I received an email from him saying that he was married and living a healthy lifestyle. These moments remind me of why I do this for a living.  

What is the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without?

My iPhone. I try not to fiddle with it during the day, but I do love to play Words with Friends.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch? 

That would be Spoon, and I love the panang curry with tofu and vegetables.  

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken — did it pay off? 

My biggest risk was to pick up and move to Georgia at age 23 to pursue a doctoral program in psychology. I had not moved much up to that point, and all of my friends, family and much of my extended family lived in the Washington D.C. area. So to leave the only place I knew as home to move to a new culture (the South is very different from the D.C. area) where I didn’t know anyone was scary. But it paid off — I’ve lived in Georgia for 21 years and consider it home. 

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?  

I’d want to get to know my maternal grandfather, who I never met. He risked his life to emigrate from Armenia, and I’ve always wanted to speak to him about this experience.

Tell us the best advice you’ve received.  

It’s always better to listen than talk, meaning you can learn a lot about a person by listening — not by talking at them.

What do you like to do in your free time?  

Any spare time my husband and I have is spent with my 10- and 4-year-old daughters.

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counseling center, Irene Dalton
Status
  • Created By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Oct 29, 2012 - 11:18am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:13pm