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Behind the Expert

Dr.+Ramani+Durvasula%2C+Clinical+Psychologist%2C%0AProfessor
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Behind the Expert

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Clinical Psychologist,
Professor

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Clinical Psychologist, Professor

J. Aaron Delgado

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Clinical Psychologist, Professor

J. Aaron Delgado

J. Aaron Delgado

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Clinical Psychologist, Professor

J. Aaron Delgado, Managing Editor

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Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a Clinical Psychologist and has been a Professor of Psychology at Cal State LA since 1999.

When Dr. Ramani is not teaching or helping out patients she is in the limelight as an expert psychologist on various television shows, such as History channel’s “Stanley’s Super Humans” or “My Shopping Addiction” on Bravo. She is the author of “You Are Why You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist”.

She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut and later attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she got her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology. In 2002 Dr. Ramani was a recipient of the prestigious Emerging Scholar Award from the American Association of University Women, and in 2012, she was named Outstanding Professor at Cal State LA.

Q: When did you realize that you wanted to study in the field of Psychology?

A: My high school didn’t have a Psychology class, so when I first went to my undergraduate at the University of Rochester they had a very interesting hybrid program that brought together Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Literature, and Psychology. It was a special track I applied to and got in, and so I got forced into a psych class very early in and I thought “Well, this is intriguing” and then I just kept going. It was fascinating and I happen to love literature and I thought psychology, in some ways, was sort of that perfect hub discipline to understand all of that.

Q: How were you notified or approached when you were invited to be a guest on TV for the first time? When and what show?  

A: I tried to break into TV. I got an agent and I couldn’t get into the business in this town because of the nature of the beast. This was before YouTube was this big thing, so I couldn’t even start my own channel because it was back in 2009. I had a bit of a stroke of luck which was at the very last minute a television show on Bravo was searching out for an expert. They had to replace someone and that’s when I was chosen to be the psychologist on a show on Bravo based on weight loss. They needed someone quick and I think if they’d taken their time to find me, they would probably not pick me because I didn’t have a lot of experience, but since they had to fill it quickly, that’s how I got the job. From there I got a lot of facetime on television which led to doing more talking head stuff on CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC.

Q: What is your most memorable experience on television?

A: I would say my most memorable experiences were two of them. One was a show I did one episode for the History channel called “Stanley’s Super Humans”. That probably got me more global traction than anything I’d ever been on and because it showed all over the world and it was about these people who had like sort of superhuman abilities. That was probably one of the cooler things I’ve done. The other was being the host of “My Shopping Addiction” because we shot that in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Unlike in my usual clinical practice, I actually got to be with a patient for 12 to 14 hours a day for four days. I got into their lives and looked in their closets and went shopping with them.

Q: From all your years teaching students and being a guest on TV, what is something you learned from these 

experiences?

A: Tell a story. Everybody wants to hear a story. If I go into a class, I’m telling them a story. I had to become very on point and tell the good story and keep them engaged and have many examples. I’m all of those things come together in both situations. When I teach a class it’s almost like that’s the persona on television. You also have to care about what you’re talking about. You’ve got to care about when you have to be interested and engaging. You have to be more excited about it than anyone else in the room.

Q: When you’re not teaching, conducting research, or being a guest on TV, what do you do for fun/free time?

A: I have two daughters that I try to spend time with. When I can I do whatever little things we can do together. I have a magnificent sister that I enjoy talking to, she is the strongest, bravest woman I know and she’s my laughter. My partner is actually a professor here at Cal State LA in the Department of Art, Professor Wearn, and he’s just a source of joy for me. I’m lucky because I also get to travel a lot for my work. Another thing I do for fun is travel; often times I have more fun in other cities so I’ll go to museums or hike. I’m also a big reader!

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: Hopefully retired. My girls will be out of the house and I came here [to Cal State LA] pregnant 18 years ago and so it’d be nice to not have to worry about who’s picking up who. I’m hoping by then that my sixth and seventh book will be out. I’ll also keep reading books. I’d love to keep working with clients. I’m going to be a little old for the TV game but I’m sure someone might want to hear what I have to say. I’d like to, more than anything, expand my international work: more work in Johannesburg and in India. I honestly hope that Cal State LA develops its international programs more so I could stay involved in that because I’ll be more flexible to go back and forth. My partner is from New Zealand so I could easily see retirement going off quietly to the very, very, very far south reaches of the country.

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