Dr. Nathaniel Stewart Jr. has been a psychologist for over 35 years. Stewart, a New Jersey native and son to a minister, knew early on that he wanted to be a psychologist.
He left New Jersey after high school to attend Central State University, a public, historically Black University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he received his undergraduate degree in psychology.
Stewart later received his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Counseling Student Personnel Psychology Program. Since then, he has owned his private practice Psychology & Rehabilitation Services in St. Paul. He has worked in the areas of worker’s compensation, rehabilitation, and real estate therapy. In his early years as a working psychologist, Stewart was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; a disease that has had a profound impact on his career.
The MSR spokewith Nathaniel Stewart (NS) about his life’s work and mission to help people.
MSR: Why did you become a psychologist?
NS: My dad was a minister and I loved how his work helped people. I always wanted to do the same thing but in a different forum and that is why I chose psychology.
MSR: How did you find out about the master’s program at the University of Minnesota?
NS: My brother-in-law worked at the University, and he told me about a program the University had started to recruit Blacks that were interested in psychology. I applied and got into the program. I have been in Minnesota since.
MSR: You have had your own practice since you started working professionally, why is that?
NS: It is important for me to not deal with politics or bureaucracies when dealing with people. The politics of putting a monetary value on a human being before seeing a person is something I cannot do.
MSR: What is your practice mission?
NS: The primary objective of Psychology and Rehabilitation Services is to maximize mental improvement. We translate research into the practical application of human growth potential. Our overall approach maximizes every opportunity to improve the overall quality of life for each client and to achieve measurable outcomes that are identified in the early phases of treatment.
MSR: How have you been able to help people through your own sickness?
NS: When you get hurt or sick you become very angry. Often times you don’t know how to control that anger. You initially start to blame everyone or everything for your anger. Eventually, I learned to accept my disability, that acceptance inevitably got rid of my anger and through that process, I started to understand and feel a great deal of empathy. Empathy has been instrumental in how I see, hear and serve my clients.
MSR: How are you able to feel empathy for your clients without taking on their issues?
NS: One thing for sure is, as a psychologist, you have to know your limitations. There are some questions I have been asked that I simply don’t know the answers to and that is OK. My job is to listen and help people find the answers that already lie within. Being aware of limitations and my moral compass has helped serve my clients in a proper way.
MSR: Why do you think that people come to see a psychologist?
NS: Most times people feel stuck or depressed. They often times just want to talk their feelings out. They find themselves in a certain situation or emotional state that they can’t seem to get out of. Often times they have tried many options to get out of those situations and they are still stuck. When they have run out of options they come to see me.
MSR: Black men experience higher rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). How would you appeal to them to come speak with a psychologist?
NS: Right now is a scary time for African American men in America and so many people are angry. My appeal would be for them to talk out that anger and frustrations with someone.
MSR: What advice would you give someone who is interested in becoming a psychologist?
NS: I would ask someone how well do they know and understand themselves? Knowing yourself is essential as a psychologist because you have to be aware of your moral compass. You must have boundaries and limitations.
MSR: What is some general advice you would give to someone on how to navigate life?
NS: Set the stage for your life. It is important to engage in understanding what makes you happy. It is also good to search for what will make you happy. These steps are very important because most people don’t even know what makes them happy. Lastly, I would say find someone to do life with.
Nathaniel Stewart, Jr. Psychology and Rehabilitation is located at 1535 Laurel Ave. in St. Paul. For more info or to make an appointment, call 651-645-0645.