“A beauty in terrible things, sometimes, is that something amazing comes on the other side of it.” – Courtney Wells

Grab your fave beverage because my guest Courtney Wells, PhD, and I are about to spill the kombucha on taking down the patriarchy. Kombucha is tea, after all, so the idiom still works, y’all! 

Courtney is many things, including a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director at Pivot Psychological Services in Chicago, and tamer of two Pekinese. Additionally, they’re simply an amazing human with profound insights into dismantling the systemic oppression that leads to self-doubt and wayward searches for validation. Courtney’s path towards genuine self-expression informs their approach to trauma work offers a model for societal healing as well as the creation of non-hierarchical, inclusive systems in therapy and beyond. 

If you’ve listened to the show for a while (or, let’s be honest, even one episode), you know I’m a proponent and practitioner of the NeuroAffective Relational Model, or NARM. It’s my jam. Courtney ascribes to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT. If you came to this conversation expecting a head-to-head battle of the bands, forget it. What’s often lost in our sound bite obsessed culture is space for myriad, even opposing, viewpoints. Could fanning the flames of faux debate be white supremacy rearing its ugly head? A rhetorical question, of course, because that evil spectre touches everything.

“Destroying the patriarchy is part of ACT therapy where you take on the patriarchy, and then you destroy it,” Courtney laughs. Tongue-in-cheek aside, they credit ACT with undermining establishment principles like grind culture or the “right way” of doing and being. The right way of white supremacy, they point out, “is generally where somebody else benefits from all of your work. You get a little bit, but somebody else benefits greatly from all that you do.” 

Courtney says that patriarchal forces crush our will under fear of retribution and ostracization, pushing us to favor avoidance at all costs to keep the gears running full steam ahead. “Starting to move toward the life I wanted as opposed to trying to avoid the consequence I was afraid of was such a shift and, it sounds so simple,” she says, adding, “It’s simple but not easy.” ACT can be complicated and requires commitment (as its name implies). The model is “about staying in it with someone long enough to also see what the feeling is that’s there or what the internal experience is that’s there.”

Regardless of model, healing is an evolutionary process, and the more expansive our collective recovery, the stronger our resistance to patriarchal influences.  


Profiler TV show

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)


Pivot Psychological Services


Dr. Courtney Wells received their BS in Psychology at John Carroll University, their MA in Community Counseling at John Carroll University, and their PhD in Counseling Psychology at Texas Woman’s University. They completed their predoctoral internship at the Dallas Veteran’s Affairs and their postdoctoral fellowship at the Jesse Brown Veteran’s Affairs, specializing in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pain, and substance use. Courtney was also the creator and Director of the Trauma Program at one of the largest Partial Hospitalization and Outpatient Programs in Chicago.

Courtney is a prolific reader of mystery novels and a tamer of two Pekingese.

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