Ben Gaddes

Doctoral student
Clinical Psychology

Celebrity he'd love to hang out with - Andy Kauffman. They'd spend the day playing tricks on people.
Desert Island
• Movie - El Camino - Vince Gilligan
• Book - Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
• Album - The Carnival by Wyclef Jean

Ben Gaddes posing for a photo in the Bookstore

Ben Gaddes believes in second chances.

When he began pursuing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2017, he viewed it an opportunity to give mental health work another shot. After graduating with a Master's degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California in 2013, he spent a number of years in Rhode Island and Massachusetts as a clinician working with teens in residential, foster care, and juvenile detention centers, as well as with convicted sex offenders.

These experiences turned out to be emotionally draining for Ben, who left the practice in 2015 to analyze his career path and determine his next move. He embarked on a 6 month-long backpacking trip down the Appalachian Trail in the hopes that it would bring some clarity about what his next move should be. On the trail, he met countless other hikers who each had an intense story to tell. Their accounts led him to conduct an ethnography on how people experience transformative change within the long-distance hiking community.

Upon deciding that he would give mental health a second chance, Ben joined the renowned Clinical Psychology program at Duquesne. The program is unique in its approach to the study of mental health, scrutinizing current trends in psychology in order to find a balance between data-driven science and human science psychology. Ben feels that questioning and expanding upon the current status quo of psychology will allow him to adapt to a quickly-changing field and will make him a better psychologist.

It's no accident that the Clinical Psychology program is nationally renowned: it is demanding and intensive. A critical priority is finding enough time to sleep, which can be difficult to fit in alongside working 60+ hours a week, a full course load, and recently becoming a stepfather. Despite the grueling expectations of the program, Ben is doing his best to find a balance between work, school, and domestic life. He stays positive in the face of an often-overwhelming schedule.

"I get a lot of satisfaction by being and working here. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed. It's a good place to be."

Ben hopes to have a flexible career that includes seeing patients, teaching, and conducting research. He wants to utilize his knowledge to help those in need.

"I don't usually feel driven by ambition. I just feel driven by the idea that this opportunity is presenting itself - there's people in need and I have a certain skillset. So I'm there."

Ben believes in the alternative approach to psychology that he's been learning here at Duquesne. He believes that the research being conducted will help misunderstood or marginalized communities better understand themselves. He believes that giving mental health a second chance was worthwhile.

And we believe in Ben.