Mentoring Profile: Ivonne Hobfoll, PhD, Rush Medical College

May 19, 2017

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Ivonne Hobfoll, PhD, associate professor and clinician in the Department of Behavioral Sciences, Rush Medical College, joined Rush in 2008.

Tell us about your background

I have been a psychologist for 40 years. I am a graduate of Stanford University, and I worked with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton at Harvard. I was a captain in the U.S. Air Force, from which I retired as a major. I have worked with children, adolescents, couples and adults who have experienced traumas. I have taught undergraduates, psychologists and psychiatrists at different hospitals, universities and medical schools, including Tel Aviv Medical School in Israel, University of Beer Sheva in Israel, Kent State University, Summa Health Care Systems in Akron, Ohio, and now here at Rush University. I am the wife of a wonderful man who has been my life partner for thirty-nine years. I am also the mother of three wonderful children who are all good, hard-working professionals now. My newest role is being the grandmother (GG) of our first grandchild, Eddie.

What inspired you to get into your field?

My family! I wanted to understand what makes some people be absolutely wonderful and what makes others difficult troublemakers!

What excites you about your work at Rush?

Rush is a very supportive institution. It functions like a large family. There is great support when needed, be it from colleagues, attorneys or other educators. I love being here and being involved in making people’s lives a little better. The interest in diversity and inclusion is very important to me. I am trilingual; I speak Spanish, English and Hebrew. This is an important tool for me. I conduct trauma therapy most of the day in Spanish. I feel very good that I am making a difference in people’s lives by providing trauma-focused therapy. By doing so, this helps to reduce health disparities. My work helps to reduce the medical complications and effects of trauma on patients’ bodies, be it obesity, pain, high blood pressure, cardiac problems or blood sugar problems. Many of my patients are women.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

I believe that we all need mentors. I found mentors through my colleagues and my husband, who happens to be in the same field as I am; however, this last year was a difficult one for me because of health problems. I have only been able to meet with my mentee a few times because both of us have been very busy. When we have met, it has been good to talk about the areas of success and also of the challenges we face in our respective fields. Having been at Rush for nine years, I have been able to share my positive experiences and to provide some support for the new faculty who have recently joined Rush.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Yes. Make sure that you have already gone through your own personal therapy because this will help you to keep your issues out of the therapy room. It is not always easy to hear horrible stories about what human beings have done to children and women. Therefore, you must be able to do something totally for yourself. It could be art, exercise or time with friends. Also, try to limit the amount of violent TV shows that you watch. You will hear about enough trauma in your work.

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

I paint and sculpt on a weekly basis. (Not to sell it. I only do it for fun.) I enjoy the other artists in the class who come from different careers. We discuss music, exciting adventures, travel adventures, kids, grandkids, etc. I also have regular weekly dates with my husband, and we often spend time with friends.