HI, Everybody! Happy Weekend! Today I’d like to share with you a comment from a reader of The Rise and Fall of Weight Gain and Prednisone. This article is the most commented-on post on the blog – for good reason. So many people, innocent, law-abiding citizens, get hit with supremely sucky medical conditions that require them to take the most god-awful miracle drug in the world. In the comments there’s a lot of medical terminology thrown around. A reader respectfully asked a question that pops up every now and then about how and when I use the title ‘Doctor’.

Are You A REAL Doctor?

Dr. Aletta,

First, I would like to thank you for creating this website. I find the comments to be both helpful and enlightening to those who have to take prednisone for various reasons.

While not meaning to sound too critical, I would like to suggest that you clarify your title. From the one remark that you posted on February 8, 2018, I understand that you are not a “medical” Dr. I presume that you are PhD?

I believe that some people, (including myself) when first seeing the title “Dr.” in front of a name, wrongly presume the writer to be a “medical” Dr.

You have likely clarified this more than once, however I only saw it one time. I suggest that it would be helpful to the readers if you were to clarify your title by addressing yourself as PhD, rather than just “Dr.”

I recently visited another medical forum where a moderator,also a PhD, did not address himself as “Dr.,” but merely his name, with PhD after it. I do think that this is especially important when one is commenting in a forum that is medically related, so readers do not think they are receiving medical advice.

Thank you for not taking offense at this comment.


Hi, J,

It’s really great to hear that you find the blog, articles and comments helpful. Thank you. I love it when people contribute to the conversation from their own place of experience and wisdom.

About the “doctor” thing: Psychologists get this a lot. We have doctorate level degrees and education. I am a clinical psychologist which means I have training, education and experience as a scientist researcher as well as a clinician who provides clinical, person to person, care. The title “Dr.” is appropriate and descriptive for people with a Ph.D, but I understand where you’re coming from.

Doctors who are M.D.s rarely have to explain themselves, which makes me chuckle, I have to admit. I do my best, here on this blog, and in my other writing and presentations, to be clear about who I am and what I am qualified and not qualified to address. M.D.s and Ph.D.s all have something important to bring to the table while respecting our professional scopes of practice. I can’t tell a person whether or not it’s OK to change their prescription, so I don’t, and I explain why.

As a psychologist, I am able to explain, amongst other things, why that particular medication at that dose may be influencing your mood and quality of life, how to non-medically cope with it, tolerate it and diminish the side effects. Physicians often are not trained or qualified to give advice for the psychological aspects of dealing with illness, just as I am not trained or qualified to cut someone open to take out an aggressive tumor. A good professional of any discipline knows and respects their limits; when to defer and/or refer to another specialty or level of care.

I thought long and hard about how to present myself to the public. I choose “Elvira G. Aletta, PhD” in non-conversational situations, like in email signatures, bios or my online profiles, and “Dr. Aletta” when the communication is more conversational, like on this blog and in these comments. I don’t do the “Dr. Phil” thing because frankly, my first name is a challenge. If I was Anne or Jennifer that would be one thing, but “Elvira” is often mispronounced as el-VI-rah, when it’s actually pronounced el-VEE-dah. Most people don’t know that and why should they?

So it’s Dr. Aletta until we know each other better. Then, please, call me Elvira. Just, I beg you, pronounce it “el-VEE-dah.” Thanks!

P.S. If you or someone you know is dealing with a chronic illness, please pre-order my book:

7 Rules For Living Well With Chronic Illness! 

Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO

Executive & Personal CoachingIndividual & Relationship Counseling

Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.

Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.

Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.

Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.

716.308.6683 | draletta@explorewhatsnext.com

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