We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Janina Scarlet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Janina, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised in Ukraine. As a small child, I was exposed to massive amounts of radiation from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and spent much of mu childhood in and out of hospitals. In addition to my declining health, my family and I were targeted and persecuted against for being Jewish. I spent a lot of my childhood feeling weak, broken, and trying to find my voice. Then, everything changed when I saw the X-Men. The X-Men (and other fictional heroes, such as Captain America, Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, and Princess Leia) have taught me that every person has an origin story, whether it is a story of trauma, violence, or injustice. Origin stories do not define us. Rather, they are our jumping off points from which we get to determine how to live out the rest of our lives. For my journey, I have chosen to pursue my doctorate degree in psychology and now, as a licensed clinical psychologist and an award-winning author, I specialize in incorporating fictional heroes into therapy to help my patients to become the heroes of their own journey.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
One of my life missions is to make mental health fun and interesting to learn about. For that reason, I have written “Dark Agents: Violet and the Trial of Trauma.” It is a graphic novel, which tells the story of Violet, a witch with PTSD who studies to become a Dark Agent – someone who has to fight supernatural monsters. But during the course of her training, Violet has to learn not only to face external monsters, but the very internal monsters of her past as well. Dark Agents is a dark fantasy graphic novel for ages 7 and up. It was published by New Harbinger and illustrated by Vince Alvendia, Wellinton Alves, and Thom Zahler. Through the book, the readers learn to face mental health monsters alongside with the characters, making this journey both educational and fun.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of my favorite restaurants in San Diego is Plumeria – a vegetarian Thai restaurant, which has many gluten-free options and is completely vegetarian. The food is amazing and so is the service. Another great option is Bohn Thai, which is a lovely family owned restaurant with great food and wonderful service. Finally, I would highly recommend Figaro desserts to anyone visiting but be warned! They are too delicious to pass up.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am incredibly grateful to have bene able to come to the US as a refugee. My family and I were able to find safety from violence and find the opportunities that we otherwise would not have had in our home country. Because of that, I am dedicating the rest of my life to helping other people find the support that they need, including fighting for equality, justice, and other people’s rights. I am also incredibly grateful to the mentorship of Dr. Jill Stoddard, a wonderful psychologist and the director of the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, whose never-ending support has allowed me to continue to grow in my career and as a person.
Other: Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Superherotherapypodcasts