Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Cheryl Arutt — Our Star Psychologist
Dr. Cheryl Arutt is the perfect example of someone who, through their CSPP journey, turned their experience into expertise, and their expertise into leadership.
Dr. Cheryl Arutt became a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) at age three. She was on the screen through her early twenties and is on TV more now, as a psychologist, than she was as an actor. She often lends her psychological expertise to news media, documentaries, and lifestyle shows. Her connection to television also extends beyond her own public appearances, she is known as the “psychologist to the stars,” working with creative artists, writers, and actors.
“What you already know and your life experience can provide a niche— I thought I was leaving the business, but the entertainment industry found me. And I’m now doing more television as a doctor than an actor, but this time they care what I think. And it brings psychology to people who wouldn’t walk into a consulting room,” said Arutt.
As an actor, Arutt found that analyzing and discovering her characters was the most intriguing part of her work, and began to hear a calling toward psychology. When an old friend started attending a “fabulous psychological school in California” Arutt found that her friend’s textbooks were far more interesting that the scripts she was reading. So, she decided to leave acting to pursue a career through CSPP.
But, before making her way to CSPP, there was one thing left for Arutt to take care of, finishing college. So she headed to a state university, where she discovered the importance of a professional education. “All of these kids had to fight to get any clinical training at all, and it was a place for those who wanted to research and publish, not be a practitioner,” Arutt said. With her goals of practicing cemented and her undergrad work completed, Arutt came to CSPP and was a member of 1997’s graduating class.
In the late 90s, Arutt was one of the few psychologists to have a website, so when news media needed an expert to comment on current affairs, they found Arutt’s site and invited her on air. When they asked if she had ever been on television, she could not help but smile.
In her practice, Arutt focuses on self-regulation, trauma, and creativity. As a SAG scholarship recipient, she often gives talks to groups of entertainment industry professionals. As Arutt puts it “There are certain psychological issues that are native to the creative mind. Normally, when people have unhealed wounds, they want to lose access to that; but artists need full access to that pain and full access to every part of themselves, because they are their own instruments. They are sometimes afraid to let go of their pain because they believe it is what makes them creative. They are afraid that if they let go of that pain, it will make them mediocre or complacent.” Arutt works with these patients and many others to overcome trauma and begin a path toward recovery, healing, and self-regulation. Her latest endeavor, Rewire to Thrive uses the latest brain science to show survivors how to rewire their brains and master their triggers so they can thrive even under stress.
Arutt’s experience has come full circle. She serves as a perfect example of what one can accomplish when they use their education to help and serve their communities while advocating for those issues that matter most, not only to their communities but to the whole of society. CSPP’s very own star psychologist serves as an example of what you can achieve when you turn your experience into expertise, and your expertise into leadership.