An interview with Dr. Kendal Maxwell, Clinical Neuropsychologist on August 3, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Kendal Maxwell, Ph.D., is a Clinical Neuropsychologist at an academic medical center in Los Angeles, CA providing brief psychotherapeutic interventions and assessments to her clients. She also is the lead neuropsychologist within the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) clinic at said center and practices a combination of interventions from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well Existential Therapy and Acceptance Commitment based therapy models with her clients.
Additionally, she is the author of a guided journal related to creating better habits called, 12 Months to Happier Habits, available on Amazon. She also is the author of two podcast series, 21 Day Positive Mindfulness Meditation Challenge and 21 Day Acceptance Meditation Challenge, one of which has over 1 million downloads and reaches audiences worldwide. Additionally, she enjoys reaching lay audiences daily by providing “Mini Meditations” and research in psychology through her Tiktok and Instagram @positivemindmediator.
Please tell me a little about your background and what got you involved with awareness.
With regards to Parkinson’s disease awareness specifically, my direct boss during my post-doctoral fellowship as well as my work now has a primary interest with the disease. During my fellowship I attended deep brain stimulation surgical procedures and was heavily involved in pre and post neuropsychological evaluations for DBS procedures. Additionally, I was involved in a research project related to Parkinson’s disease that went on for several years.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
When it comes to Parkinson’s disease, I want people to know about soft signs related to it so they can be detected earlier and assisted with their care. I am a firm believer that individuals with PD can still live very full and long lives when they are adequately cared for.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My passion specifically is related to assisting others in understanding the power of perspective as well as the power of mindfulness meditation in their quality of life.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s awareness have when working with you?
Usually, we are trying to find ways to increase their quality of life whether that is mentally, spiritually, or through behavioral activation and not allowing them to live in a symptom focused mindset. Additionally, we are exploring cognitive functioning as some people who have PD have cognitive changes. Goals for these individuals may be figuring out compensatory strategies for issues related to the changes in their thinking as well as finding ways to improve safety at home while maintaining as much independence as possible.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s awareness?
I am always preaching that just because an individual has PD does not mean they cannot live a full life. Their functioning may be limited in a new way, but there are ways to adapt things around them and help them to continue to engage in the life they love.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
I am going to continue to empathize with quality of life despite any illness that is diagnosed. My main goal is to remind people to develop a variety of adaptive coping mechanisms throughout their life in case their physical functioning changes. That way if they can no longer move well, they still have coping mechanisms that can be used such as meditation, prayer, virtual reality, etc.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
Half my job when I meet with a patient is discussing caregiver burden and emotional coping. Thereafter, we may also be exploring what to do to help with safety management for the patient and provide resources for support groups and psychotherapy.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson community, what would it be?
What is life without the story? Your story continues despite the suffering you may have. Each person’s suffering is unique, but it is how we respond to our suffering that matters most. We choose each day what our perspective is, and we can change our perspective at any moment.