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Women in Medicine: Yuri Tsutsumi, PsyD

During September, we proudly feature trainees in our department for Women in Medicine Month!

Why did you pursue a career in medicine?

I grew up in Tokyo, Japan, and many are surprised to hear that behind the pristine streets, shimmering neon lights, and skyscrapers, we struggle in silence as mental health resources are harrowingly scarce and underdeveloped. Patients are frequently treated in sterile hospital environments with psychiatrists in lab coats and little to no psychologically oriented care. I pursued a career in clinical psychology since my dream is to deliver evidence supported treatment that is warm, inviting, and exudes empathy, where therapists are in cardigans and sweaters. This symbolizes where I would like to start in my attempt to diminish the stigma that surrounds mental health in Japan. I have known this is my path since my high school years witnessing friends and loved ones succumb to mental illness due to shame and lack of available treatment. In fact, I specifically came to the United States in order to use my fluency in English to translate the literature and methods here back to Japan. I pursued psychology to keep the promise I made to myself, which is to spend years in the US training, learning, and eventually translating this experience for the people living in Japan.

What is your work focused on?

I specialize in treating Eating Disorders, OCD, and Anxiety related disorders utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and Existential-Humanistic interventions.

What is the most fulfilling part of your work?

Having the honor to walk alongside my patients as a fellow traveler on their therapeutic journey, to be in their presence of vulnerability which facilitates deep connection. There are no words to describe the experience of witnessing my patients learn the depths of their resilience while they confront their fears and uncomfortable emotions. It’s as if I am seeing someone who was afraid or perhaps unaware of their ability to swim, learn how to backstroke, butterfly, and at times float. The best part of my work is having met my past, present, and future patients who facilitate my continued growth as a psychologist.

What advice would you give others who are considering embarking on a career in medicine?

Although I was well aware since my early years that I wanted to pursue a career in clinical psychology, I did not have a true sense of how fulfilling and meaningful the practice would be until I had hands-on experience in the field. Psychology allows you to form deep connections with your patients, to have the honor of being their confidant, to work as a team in moving past roadblocks in their lives, and to be their support and guide in times of difficulty while witnessing them overcome the unimaginable. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by this path, just remember that the bumps in the road are the road, and in the end you will be gifted an immeasurable privilege.

Yuri Tsutsumi, PsyD

Women in Medicine

We asked some of the #StanfordWIM in our department to share their stories - why they pursued a career in medicine, what their work focuses on, what the most fulfilling parts of their work are, and what advice they would give others starting in the field. Hear what they have to say!