This month for our Clinician Spotlight, we spoke with Dr. Paul Schratz, PhD. Dr. Schratz joined our team in 2021 after a long and successful career with the Navy and Veterans Administration. He brings a unique skillset and a tremendous amount of experience with him. His joyful presence and hopeful approach compliment his therapeutic skills. It was a pleasure to interview him, and we’re excited to introduce him to our community.
Background and Education
Dr. Schratz’s interest in counseling began in his 20s. During this time in his life, he was involved in various forms of peer counseling within the Catholic Church. His passion was fueled by a life of faith that blossomed during his time as an undergrad at Vanderbilt University. He continued to foster a genuine care and concern for others, which led him to pursue a Masters in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola in Maryland. He was newly married at the time and with his future family in mind, he switched his degree to Clinical Psychology. He completed a MA in Clinical Psychology from Loyola and went on to earn a PhD from Georgia State University.
After finishing his education, he began serving as a Psychologist with the Navy and Veterans Administration. Dr. Schratz went on to have a lengthy career with the federal service, gaining much depth and breadth of experience, including time spent at sea as a battle group Psychologist. He has developed proficiency working with a variety of specific struggles, including depression, grief, anxiety, phobias, stress and anger management, relationship issues, sexuality, men’s issues, occupational and vocational problems, stage of life transitions (e.g., marriage, divorce, empty nest, job loss, retirement), faith development and spiritual issues, pain management, chronic illness, insomnia, nightmares, tobacco/nicotine cessation, military, veterans, employees with security clearances, and their families and readjustment issues. Most recently, he was embedded within a primary care unit and developed expertise working with the intersection of medicine and mental health.
He has since retired from federal service and has decided to pursue his first love, saying, “As I was anticipating retiring from federal service, I really wanted to return to my first love of pastoral counseling. I explored many Christian group practices. I chose AOC because it was the only practice, I found that fully integrated my Catholic faith with therapy. I no longer wanted to compromise my faith in my clinical practice”. He is excited to use his unique experience to serve our clients at Alpha Omega.
An Uplifting Presence & Authentic Charism
“One of my favorite authors is Father Henri Nouwen, who writes a lot about the Wounded Healer. We have all been wounded. I see my role as walking with other wounded people and helping them find healing in all areas of their lives with humility, and with an openness to how the grace of God can impact our lives.”
Dr. Schratz has clearly found his calling in life. His passion and excitement for therapy are inspiring and uplifting. During our interview, his joyful presence was contagious. We had fun and laughed together as we discussed our shared dedication to improving mental health. As we reflected on this, he said, “I think humor is so healthy. I find myself laughing with my clients as part of the therapeutic process. I really enjoy working with clients and using humor to set them at ease”. It was easy to see how clients could feel at home with Dr. Schratz, even when discussing some of their toughest moments. His down to earth approach certainly provides an inviting atmosphere.
He compliments this warmth with a humble attitude, not taking himself too serious despite his skill and expertise. This came through when he said, “Therapy has helped me be humbler, to see myself as just one more pilgrim on this earth, and to be more open to how God can help me in my struggles”. He truly sees himself as a co-pilgrim with his clients, honoring their humanity along with his own. It’s not unusual for him to laugh or cry with clients as way to support a healthy therapeutic relationship. He elaborated further on the blessing of being therapist, saying, ““Therapy has also helped me to develop a great sense of gratitude for how God has blessed me, and a willingness to give back any way that I can. God is good, all the time!”
Dr. Schratz was very generous in sharing his own experience to encourage others to use therapy as a resource. Attending therapy was an essential part of his training and he believes that this has equipped him to provide better care. He said, “I have been in therapy myself. There is no shame in asking for help. I will do everything I can to help you live your life more effectively, to be the best person you can be, and live your life in a way that supports what you value the most.” He also highlighted how powerful it is to combine therapy with the spiritual resources of our faith, saying, “I have experienced tremendous spiritual healing for myself, and for others as I have prayed with them. I have witnessed many miracles. Many people have not had such experiences, and my hope is that I can guide them into psychological and spiritual healing.”
In closing, I would like to share some hope from Dr. Schratz: “God heals in a lot of different ways. He manifests Himself by various means whether that be spiritually, psychologically, physically, etc. I encourage everyone to expect healing from a lot of different directions and through different people.”
Learn More or Make an Appointment
Dr. Schratz is currently seeing clients virtually and in-person at our Ellicott City office. Learn more about him here or contact Alpha Omega Clinic if you are interested in making an appointment!