UNT Alumnus Holly Hutchins Presents TED Talk on Imposter Syndrome | Communication Studies

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November 26, 2019

UNT Alumnus Holly Hutchins Presents TED Talk on Imposter Syndrome

Holly Hutchins secured her Bachelors of Arts and her Masters of Arts in Communication Studies in the mid-1990s. She then went on to get her PhD at UNT and pursue a career in academia. Now, she is a researcher, professor, and department chair at the University of Houston. Most recently, she presented a TEDx talk in Sugar land about imposter syndrome, an area of research and a personal experience for her.

In the TED Talk, she explains that she struggled with imposter syndrome throughout her career and felt very alone because of it. "When we suffer in silence or we suffer in shame it becomes almost unbearable. But its actually fairly normal," she explained. "The bad news is that if experienced feeling like an imposter you're probably going to feel it again. But the good news about that is that you're not alone."

Her research doesn't only focus on the effects of imposter syndrome; instead her research also includes potential ways to cope with the intrusive thoughts that imposter syndrome embodies. Her solution is something she calls cognitive processing therapy. Similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, CPT connects thought processes with deeper narratives that exist in our minds.

The main objective in CPT is identifying and challenging stuck points. "Stuck points are really old stories we tell ourselves about who we are and why we aren't successful, or accomplished. When we could identify those stuck points we could figure out why that imposter was becoming so ingrained in their memory." She goes on to explain that the best way to challenge those stuck points is to investigate the if/then structure that they usually embody.

At the end of the TED Talk, Dr. Hutchins reminded the audience that they should be working against those negative narratives whenever they can. She asked the listener "what are some of the new frontiers that you are missing out on by limiting yourself, by telling yourself a very old story?"

You can view her TED Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow4UIZrR4V0