I had the pleasure of working with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir to complete my dissertation and while writing a grant proposal during my postdoctoral fellowship. Organizing myself to write was a struggle that delayed my ability to complete my dissertation within my desired timeframe. However, working with Rebecca, helped me learn how to work efficiently for fewer hours a day (3-4) to wrap up the dissertation in time and without feeling burned out. Because I had such a great experience with Rebecca during my PhD as I wrapped up my dissertation I reached out again to help me get organized as I drafted a grant proposal and went on the job market. Again, Rebecca was wonderful! I was able to reach every goal I had and could talk through difficulties and discuss solutions. I would highly recommend working with Rebecca as a coach!
Kathryn is a highly skilled dissertation coach who not only is generous, creative, and compassionate. Her background in creative writing was a gift for me as a science writer. Her perspective as a writer helped me face my writing with less fear and intimidation. Kathryn is a great listener and sensitive to struggles that come up during the writing process. She gently and consistently guided me through the challenging process, from proposal to a successful defense
I couldn’t have done it without Kathryn Peterson! She showed up for and believed in me while providing sound advice and encouragement. I am so grateful for her coaching. She saw me through the end of a project I thought I would never finish!
Anononomys , PhD, Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience
I reached out to The Dissertation Coach after attending a free seminar with Alison where her nonjudgmental, positive, encouraging leadership felt groundbreaking after coming from an academic environment of low affirmation. It helped me realize that perhaps my writing process could be different if I just had the right type of support. For years, I struggled with intense avoidance of writing that I attributed to severe imposter syndrome and loads of negative self-talk and self-doubt. Even though I was very tight on finances as a grad student, I decided it was worth the money to see if The Dissertation Coach program could help me create a new relationship with writing. Alison matched me with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir for dissertation coaching. Rebecca is the absolute best and my experience of her was warm, understanding, funny, lighthearted, and smart. She was strategic with her coaching and tailored it to my particular challenges, helping me learn how to set reasonable daily goals and how to use rewards and self-compassion to motivate me to approach the writing and rejoice in my accomplishments, no matter how small. She provided valuable insight and advice for how to navigate difficult conversations with my primary advisor and committee. I worked with Rebecca for 8 months and at the end, I’d successfully defended my dissertation, but more importantly, I no longer struggle with the severe imposter syndrome and negative self-talk that were making writing so difficult and unenjoyable for me. I now have the tools for how to address my writing avoidance when it comes up and I have a clearer sense of my professional identity. I attribute my decision to stay in academia post-PhD to Rebecca’s coaching services and to her ability to coach me to a new relationship with myself as a writer and academic. I strongly endorse The Dissertation Coach and their services!
I had a wonderful experience working with Rebecca Schwartz. I had been spinning my wheels with the dissertation for several years before seeking out the Dissertation Coach. Rebecca helped me learn how to manage what felt like an insurmountable project. She helped me set goals, talk through difficult committee situations, and learn how to work with myself rather than against myself. When I began working with Rebecca I had started my dissertation over from scratch and completed one chapter. While working with her, I finished and defended the project in less than a year. She was a great leader and also gently held me accountable when I needed it. I highly recommend working with her.
Nicolas, Ph.D. in Educational Studies
I highly recommend both this company and Melinda Valente as a coach. I sought a dissertation coach after defending my dissertation proposal and because I was having trouble managing my time. My initial meeting with Alison alone left me with the impression that I had chosen the right company. She suggested that I work with Melinda and I am very thankful for that recommendation. Over the months that we worked together, Melinda helped me think about how to break down larger parts of the dissertation project (e.g., writing a chapter, completing a portion of my analysis) into smaller tasks, as well as how to break down the time that I could spend on my dissertation in a given week into specific blocks of time, then map those tasks onto those blocks. She kept track of how I did each day and would offer tips when I didn’t make one of my goals. Her advice ranged from ideas about how I could handle some of my common distractions to ideas about how I could adjust my plan for a given week or overall timeline when needed. She was also very kind: She celebrated my victories and was compassionate when I wasn’t able to make my goals. And, because of all of this, I am now happy to be able to say that I completed my Ph.D.—something that was honestly hard for me to imagine at times, before I started working with her.
Cindy D. PhD Higher Education Leadership
I am so grateful for the support of the Dissertation Coach! My consultations with Alison Miller were helpful and compassionate and she connected me to Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir who was so helpful to me in keeping me going, encouraging me, and helping me stay on track to my goals – my only regret was not contacting them years ago! I also got great assistance from Deirdre Rogers with my stats – her assistance helped me push through questions when I was stumped and helped me stay on track with completing my data analysis. I highly recommend these individuals and the services of The Dissertation Coach – their services were a great help to me in crossing the PhD finish line!
Kathryn Peterson was profoundly helpful in turning my undergrad thesis from an insurmountable burden into an achievable mission. She not only helped me stay on-task, but also provided wonderful support, encouragement, and comfort when needed. I feel so lucky that we got to work together, and I hope that you may be so lucky too!
I would like to encourage others who are struggling to finish their PhD to consider hiring the services of The Dissertation Coach. In my case, it got to the point where I was at a new job far from my grad school and I needed to finish the dissertation. Unfortunately, I had only written one chapter and it seemed to me that I was staring at a dark abyss when I thought about how much I needed to do to finish. Anxiety and imposter syndrome were very common paralyzers when I stat down to write but the coaching helped me get over these.
By reading Alison’s book and working with Kathryn Peterson, I was able to make a work plan and stick to it–most of the time. My coach was there to answer questions and clear doubts. Sometimes, it was just useful to talk to someone through the woes of writing.
It wasn’t easy since I was writing and teaching, but finally, after working with my coach for several months, I was able to defend in June of 2019.
Megan, DMA Music Education
I found my work with Melinda Valente to be very helpful. We worked together to organize my goals in a way that made them less intimidating at a time when I was indeed intimidated! She helped me frame the shape of my work, slow down my brain and create pathways so I could get back to doing meaningful and solid work. Melinda was patient, thoughtful and very encouraging. She understood where I was and her help really made the difference in helping me get to the finish line. I highly recommend Melinda as a coach!
Jinji Donato, M.L.S.
When I found The Dissertation Coach, I was in a vulnerable place with my master’s thesis. I doubted whether completing such a project was possible for me. Seeking out coaching services and working with Elline Lipkin, PH. D was a profoundly empowering experience. Elline thoughtfully reframed the challenges I faced throughout the writing process to keep me moving forward when my self-doubt would have otherwise brought me to a screeching halt. Elline instilled in me the importance of being consistent and kind to yourself throughout the writing process. I know the impact of Elline’s coaching on my philosophy of writing will extend far beyond earning my master’s degree. If I ever decide to take on the PhD, there is no other service I would turn to. Thank you to The Dissertation Coach! Thank you Elline!
Rachel, MA, State University of New York
I highly recommend working with Elline Lipkin. When I called “Dissertation Coach,” I had quite a bit to do, and rather urgently, in order to meet my goals. I chose The Dissertation Coach because Alison called me within a few moments of my inquiry submission. She not only took the time to get to know me personally and learn more about my writing project, but she also thoughtfully chose my coach to align with my working style. Elline helped me to think about the roadblocks that I didn’t see. She encouraged me to anticipate upcoming tasks like writing an abstract and formatting for submission that aren’t top of mind when working hard on a draft. The accountability structure provided was exactly what I needed to unleash my potential. I enjoyed working closely with my coach regularly regarding my progress, a process that kept me consistent in my writing and pushing forward daily. Elline cheered me on at every turn; I appreciated Elline’s kindness and also found it helpful when she pushed me to think differently about the process or find another angle. My situation was unique and my schedule challenging, and Elline made considerable effort to be flexible and accommodate so that we could stay in close touch and achieve my goal. Thank you, Elline! Thank you, “The Dissertation Coach!”
PhD candidate, Biology, The Netherlands
I am forever grateful to Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir for coaching me and making the dream of finishing my Ph.D. thesis a reality. I searched for dissertation coaching because I was making the effort to progress, but I didn’t know how to organize my work and deal efficiently with feedback. Additionally, I was working on my own, away from my university, and I was stuck and lacked support. The regular meetings with Rebecca and her daily feedback on my progress made a difference from the first week. She guided me with compassion, understanding the place I was coming from, while encouraging me to work hard to reach my goal. She also helped me prioritize, overcome perfectionism, and suggested working techniques that suited me. Following her guidance I was able to progress steadily while keeping healthy habits. Rebecca regularly gave me advice about how to interact with my advisors and my university, and as a result I experienced a tremendous improvement in my relationship with my supervisors. All the professional development skills I learned from her will be very important to me in the next steps in my life. Rebecca went above and beyond her duty, and I could count always on her. Alison and the rest of her team also provided support as needed. My experience with the Dissertation Coach was a life changer for me. Thank you so so much Rebecca!
I am so grateful to Rebecca Schuman for helping me cross the finish line of my Ph.D. It would have taken me at least an additional semester, if not longer, had I not had her support and guidance. To contextualize my situation a bit, I was in a one-year Assistant Professor position in a remote area, applying for jobs, living on my own, and struggling with depression. I planned to defend my dissertation in four months but my data wasn’t analyzed, my first three chapters needed to be revised, and the last two needed to be written. The weekly sessions I had with Rebecca were a lifeline. She was kind, compassionate, and gave me tools to help me work when I felt it was just impossible with everything else going on in my life. She provided that weekly boost and encouragement that my advisor simply could not. And I finished in four months!
I highly recommend working with Rebecca Schuman! Her sense of humor, organizational skills, and ability to problem-solve are fantastic. Thank you, Rebecca!
I am so lucky to have found Alison’s company online and to have had Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir as my coach. Just when I was about to quit dissertating, she coached me to communicate well and form functional relationships with advisors, committee members, the DGS, the Graduate School, my editor, other students, and even unthoughtful or ignorant friends, acquaintances, and family members.
Rebecca is practical and encouraging, and she even predicts and foresees obstacles. Among the many effective strategies Rebecca taught me, my favorite ones are (1) to reward myself even with something small such as a pat on my shoulder after some hard work was done; (2) when feeling stuck, to move to other libraries or spaces to work; and (3) when feeling anxious, jog or run. “Movement in one area leads to another,” she said. It’s so true!
Rebecca is warm, supportive, sympathetic, and genuine. Her voice is very calming. She knew how to cheer me up and keep me working during difficult times. Within 1 year, Rebecca transformed me into a positive and confident writer so that I could remove the road blocks on the way and run fast toward the finish line. I really appreciate Rebecca’s energy, profession, and perspective.
Bridget L., PhD in History, Claremont Graduate University
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be completing my PhD program this semester if it were not for Dr. Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir. She helped me stay focused on my dissertation while being a mother, wife, and full-time employee. I worked with Rebecca for a year and a half. In that time she helped me get past my anxieties surrounding writing. She provided me with writing tools and strategies as well as relaxation techniques. Rebecca is a kind, compassionate, and highly intelligent person who empowers others to reach their full potential. I relied on her heavily throughout this process and miss her weekly Skype calls.
Anonymous in California, MS, PhD
I am a scientific Postdoctoral Scholar and I worked with Dr. Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir to prepare a paper for submission. She coached me through a time of isolation in an unsupportive work environment when I was considering quitting my post-doc. Rebecca is a compassionate, holistic, and dedicated coach. She worked with me to develop personalized strategies to overcome limiting beliefs and blocks. Some strategies included spending 15 minutes a day editing a running set of slides, resetting after a stressful interaction, and rewarding myself at the end of every day. Rebecca compassionately and gently supported me in using these strategies such that they are now integrated in my daily workflow. As a result of working with Rebecca, I am consistently productive, and I work with a joy that I had forgotten. My paper was awarded a talk at an upcoming conference and I will submit the paper in the next month. My work environment is more supportive as a result and I am confident that I will complete my post-doc. In addition, my family told me that I am more present when I am with them, and I am more fulfilled in my personal life. I wholeheartedly recommend working with Rebecca to anyone who is having a challenging time publishing or who wants to find a new level of work and life satisfaction.
I have benefitted greatly from working with my coach, Dr. Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir, who has seen me through from nebulous parts-of-chapters to the conclusion. She provided crucial continuity, allowing me to stay connected with my own work even when I was drowning in teaching responsibilities. I particularly appreciate her ability and willingness to tailor our working methods. When a process stopped working for me, she could suggest another way. In some cases, she drew on her significant coaching experience, recommending techniques that have been successful for other writers. In other cases, she researched or invented out-of-the box solutions specifically for me. She was very aware of my immediate research challenges, and was also able to provide the bigger picture of my progress and growth. She is unfailingly kind, encouraging, realistic, and professional. Highly recommend.
PhinisheD (affiliation: The Johns Hopkins University)
Thank you to the team of professionals at TDC for your mentoring. I worked primarily with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir who helped me speak up for myself and boosted my confidence; both necessary skills to survive in academia. She also provided day-to-day strategies and hacks to work through PhD-related anxiety. When it was necessary, I worked with other TDC coaches including Alison Miller, who were also great at helping me navigate funding and administrative complications. I was impressed with the professionalism of each of the coaches in resolving problems quickly and effectively… but most of all I appreciated the genuine sentiment of “doing what is best for the student” that guides their work. Thanks for guiding me through the finish line!
Elline Lipkin came to the rescue! I had been “nearly done” with my dissertation for several years, only progressing in occasional bursts, and in the end always receding as I approached completion. Somehow I couldn’t make writing a regular and enjoyable part of each day. Elline showed me how to build a detailed plan, track progress relative to the plan, and best of all, how to get myself into a state of flow. I wrote more and often better in the last nine months than in the preceding years. Thank you!
Kristen Chamberland, PhD
Dear Alison, I just want to be sure you know thankful I am and how special your coaches are. And while plenty talented on their own, I only ever see this level of commitment when there is a great employer involved. From the few times we’ve spoken, I’m sure of it. I truly can not say enough good things about my coaching experience. I found the guidance I needed to recover my project when I was floundering in both my academic and personal life and felt like I was at a dead end. I only wish I had known about the service from the start; I would have had a much faster and smoother experience. Coaching not only saw me through to my paper’s completion, but gave me insight into my own habits and patterns, and ways to work through a number of challenges, internal and external. It helped me hone my writing as well as develop lasting valuable time and project management skills. From the start, Rebecca Schuman did not have an easy job. I was emotional and discouraged and needed help from the ground up. I had just been through a major life crisis and had no idea how to proceed. She introduced me to a fundamentally different perspective of myself and my relationship to my work, and helped me realize that not only was I working in a way that was self-defeating, but that I had other options that were far more likely to be successful. She encouraged me to uncouple my academic work from my identity, and re-frame the project into something I could do, rather than be. By the time she went on maternity leave, and Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir stepped in, I was a completely different kind of graduate student, one far more prepared to take on everything I needed to do. Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir saw me through the rest of my project, which was not an easy task either, but she was more than prepared. She is one of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve met, and an extremely calming influence. Even her voice is lyrical! No matter my state of mind going into a session, I was revived and confident by the end. She was engaged and unfailingly supportive and encouraging, but knew when I needed some tough love, too. She always had suggestions about how to tackle different parts of the process, but encouraged me to try different methods to find what worked best for me. I learned how to set goals and timelines, when to push through and when to be flexible, and how to forgive myself and move on when things didn’t work out as planned. Without a doubt, I could not have finished my dissertation without help from my Rebeccas. But beyond the degree, coaching set me up with the kind of life skills that I already use in my professional life, and will stay with me through new challenges. Thank you all for everything!
NT, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Suffolk University
My experience with Dr. Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir was exceptional and I am truly grateful to both her and Dr. Alison Miller for their support in completing my dissertation. It was a very difficult decision to seek out coaching, but I recall my initial phone call with Allison as immediately helpful. As we talked about my experience, for the first time in years I began to feel confident that I could finish my document in a reasonable time frame. She helped me organize my thoughts about why the dissertation process had been so painful and overwhelming, and importantly, clarified for me that what I was experiencing was not so unusual among graduate students. She then paired me up with Rebecca and assured me that she was a stellar coach and would likely be a very good fit. Over the course of about 6 months, I went from only having drafts of a few major sections of my dissertation to successfully defending my document. It was still a stressful process, as I was working full time in a demanding post-doctoral position, raising two cats, and I wanted to hit a particular deadline. Rebecca helped me through it with expertise and kindness. She proved to be a very experienced coach with excellent advice and process, which she balanced with a genuine interest in meeting me where I was at and tailoring our approach to the work to fit my needs, situation, and own discoveries about what worked best for me. I can not speak highly enough about Rebecca and the impact she has had on me. I learned a great deal while working with her including lessons about work and my own psychology that I will bring with me well into the future. She’s a very good human, disarming, full of wisdom and humor, immediately likable, and able to walk that fine line between goal-oriented problem solving and supportive, curious listener. I am grateful I was able to work with her and that I had such support during a difficult period in my life. I would enthusiastically recommend both her and Alison to anyone struggling with the culture of academia or the process of completing a dissertation.
It’s been nearly a month since I finished using your dissertation coaching service and I’ve been meaning to send you an email to let you know just how helpful the process was. Kathryn Peterson was a great coach and with her assistance I successfully completed a draft of my dissertation in 6 months. Her assistance was invaluable and reaching out to you was one of the best decisions I have made during my PhD program. Kathryn was extremely supportive, her suggestions were detailed and uniquely tailored to my goals, and she took a real interest in my overall well being. In short, she was awesome. So thanks again. I will definitely be recommending your service in the future.
In the final year of my PhD, I hired The Dissertation Coach to help me cross the finish line. Kathryn Peterson helped me to set achievable goals, and to develop a system to track my progress. The simple act of a phone call with my coach was enough to motivate me to work, and talking through my plans with her really helped. My coach helped me overcome academic and personal setbacks. I successfully defended my dissertation in April and will be graduating in May.
I recommend the services I received for anyone struggling to write their dissertation. Thank you Kathryn!
Diana, Ph.D. Candidate
After having deeply struggled during the proposal phase of my dissertation, immediately after my prospectus defense I found myself falling into old habits and decided to seek help. I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir. Her compassionate approach and varied techniques helped me progress quickly all while experiencing my first pregnancy. While I am not yet done with my dissertation, my committee and I are pleased with the substantial progress made thus far. In just under 8 months, I completed my IRB application, traveled for nearly two months conducting interviews and collecting data, wrote and presented my first conference paper and have written over 100 pages of dissertation writing. The structured work system and the supportive and positive accountability helped change my attitude towards my work. I would highly recommend the services provided by The Dissertation Coach and Rebecca in particular.
Anna Jensen, PhD
I would recommend Kathryn Petersen to anyone who needs to work efficiently. Through her coaching, I was able to come to a task-based approach to my work, which alleviated my anxieties about my writing style. Focusing on writing rather than stress about writing, got the dissertation done! Kathryn helps identify my blocks as well as what I did that worked! She is very responsive and made me feel like I had an ally in the process.
Douglas Lecorchick, Technology Education
Melinda is the ultimate dissertation “therapist.” She is very articulate and encouraging. It’s very easy to see that she enjoys coaching doctoral candidates while they are dissertating. I have learned so much that will apply to my writing ability and organization skills far after the dissertation is complete. Thanks again Melinda!
My experience working with this service was fruitful and gave me the accountability I needed during the process of earning my doctoral degree. My coach Elline Lipkin was encouraging and helped me organize long and short term goals that enabled me to complete my dissertation. I would recommend this service.
E.W, PhD, University of Kansas
The previous semester before I started working with my dissertation coach I had been stuck in paralyzing writing anxiety and had only written 10 new pages that entire semester. I started working with Kathryn Peterson in December 2013. To say that I had a lot of pressure and anxiety was to put it mildly. I was able to use very little of my previously written work, so I was basically starting my dissertation from scratch. My university was going to kick me out of my program if I wasn’t graduated by May of 2015. Over the course of a year working with Kathryn I got engaged, got married, moved across the country, moved again, and bought a house. And I still was able to write a 250 page dissertation with Kathryn’s help and guidance! Kathryn was with me every step of the way. She was my “academic therapist” talking me though my writing anxiety and helping me break a huge project into bite sized pieces so that it was not so overwhelming. I was able to graduate on time with my Ph.D. degree! After my graduation I worked with Kathryn for a few more months and she helped me put together a headline speaker talk and gave advice and encouraged me on my job applications. I know that I will call Kathryn again if I ever get stuck in paralyzing writing anxiety and plan to work with her in the future on turning my dissertation into a publication. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Kathryn!
Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir, PhD. is a deeply compassionate, thoughtful, insightful coach with a tremendous range of academic and coaching knowledge and expertise. She offers academic expertise at the highest standard. At the interpersonal level, Dr. Schwartz-Bishir is truly a remarkable human being. Her empathy, listening approach, and academic feedback helped me at many levels in each and every coaching session. Sessions were richly detailed in an exchange of ideas and concepts that helped me to ‘think ahead’ on a daily basis and forge a weekly plan for my work. Every session helped to provide a new set of skills and strategies for surviving the dissertation! The personal approach that she provides offers the chance for dialogue that furthers insight into one’s learning styles, pacing, and schedule, along with grappling with feeling overwhelmed at times. Dr. Schwartz-Bishir understands the multiplicity of issues that can a rise when working on a dissertation, from illness, to family dynamics, to self-imposed existential dilemmas! She works patiently and thoroughly in providing extraordinarily ‘ on point’ feedback and help with staying on the dissertation path. At times when I thought I would never be able to complete my dissertation, she helped me to remind myself of my larger goals, and my strengths. The forest for the trees can be quite difficult to see when one is immersed in the tiny details of citations, paragraph contents, thematic focus, overall organization. It is easy to lose sight of the daily goals and markers that are the paths towards progress and completion. Dr. Schwartz-Bishir helped me every step of the way. I absolutely could not have completed my dissertation without her compassionate expertise as a coach. I have been transformed beyond any expectations, in an entirely positive fashion, by the coaching experience.
When the Ph.D. is completed, and one looks back, it is often hard to believe that the process actually took place from start to finish and that the document is out the door! Rebecca helped me to ground myself in everyday deadlines and in forging a weekly Action Plan. She encouraged me to celebrate milestones, to treat myself in a healthy fashion, and never once offered a superficial response to the issues at hand. She helped me to develop a detailed and workable set of tools to approach such a large and significant project. I am ever grateful to Dr. Schwartz-Bishir and to Dr. Alison Miller for helping me to ‘find’ Rebecca, and also offering me supportive confirmation and feedback along the way. This is an academically sophisticated, highly intellectual, deeply skilled team that is dedicated and committed to the success of each individual on the dissertation path. I extend my highest praise and kudos to Dr. Schwartz-Bishir, and to the entire team, for your extraordinary work. Thank you. I am now proud to add Ph.D. to my academic signature.
Patrick Whitaker, PhD, Instructional Technology, The University of Alabama
My experience with The Dissertation Coach was beyond exceptional. I can say, unequivocally, that without the support of my coach (Alison Miller) and consultant (Carrie Petrucci), I would not have completed my PhD. I worked with Carrie for over two years and very sporadically at times. She was able to pick right up at any point that I needed her. She was very fair about hours charged and extremely knowledgeable about all types of statistical analyses. She even helped me work through some things while she was off taking care of personal business on the other side of the country. When I was about to throw in the towel, I talked with Alison first. She not only convinced me that I could complete my doctorate but provided critical strategies to help me overcome ADHD, procrastination, and writer’s block (among other things). Any time I felt like I could not continue, Alison was there with an adequate solution to my problem. The Dissertation Coach provided me with detailed feedback on my writing that we all hope our chair will provide. Unfortunately, that fails to happen all too often. This was a bargain compared to tuition and it was exactly what I needed – when I needed it. I checked out several coaches before committing to TDC. Though there are many good ones, the value provided by Alison and her team is hard to beat. If you are overwhelmed by frustration and confusion, The Dissertation Coach can help you deal with it and move forward to a successful conclusion of your degree. I recommend them without reservation. You will not be disappointed!
Nicholas R. Brown, PhD
When I first contacted The Dissertation Coach I was stuck in the middle of writing my dissertation and had hit a significant road block. Discouraged and distraught I turned to Kathryn Peterson and she instituted a work plan that yielded immediate results. Thanks to her excellent coaching and encouragement I regained momentum and was able to successfully complete my dissertation and even did so with distinction.
Kevin, PhD Candidate, Chicago, IL
When I started working with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir last fall, I was stuck. Overwhelmed with trying to finish up my dissertation, go on the job market, and publish an article, all while trying to teach two classes, I was getting nowhere, and feeling terrible about myself because of it. Rebecca snapped me out it. Her structured, straightforward strategies for writing helped me to reverse habits that had been in the making for years. She got me working after our first meeting, and I haven’t stopped since. A scholar herself, she understands the pressures and complexities of academic work. More than her talent as a writing coach, however, Rebecca is an exceptional person. Warm, supportive, funny. She helped me to take pride in my daily work, rather than judge myself by all the things I hadn’t done. It’s spring now: the dissertation is written; I’ve had a number of job interviews; and my article is almost ready for submission. Working with Rebecca has made me a better writer and a happier person. I cannot recommend her highly enough.
Sandra, Doctoral Student
I have to say that Melinda Valente really saved my sanity! I had been stuck on my dissertation for over two years, not knowing where to begin. I had just one summer to submit the completed proposal in order to continue in my program. I was panicking! When I finally found the dissertation coach they paired me up with Melinda and literally within a couple of days I started making noticeable progress (Starting with opening up a word document!). With all her support and awesome tips and tricks to get something done every day, I was able to complete the proposal in just three months! From start to finish!
Her tips don’t just work the dissertation. I use them every day to get things done I just don’t want to do. It is exactly what I needed to know I could do it. I will definitely contact her again if I ever need help getting unstuck in the final part of my dissertation.
Grace Phelan, PhD
I had hit a wall with my dissertation and felt demoralized but after researching dissertation coaches, began working with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir weekly. I immediately felt better having made the decision to get help, particularly because I was at quite a distance from my advisor and was quite isolated. Rebecca helped me see that completing small, daily tasks in the project actually got me more motivated and kept me rolling, even though I had little time during the week because of a full-time job. This seems so simple but along with Rebecca’s encouragement and persistent reminders to stay on task, it got me writing again. I am happy to report that I completed my dissertation last week and it has been accepted! Rebecca is a great coach and I highly recommend her.
D. Mitchell, Ph.D. Candidate, Interdisciplinary Humanities, New York
|Have you ever heard or experienced the signature “RRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrRRRRrrrr” of a car that won’t start? That was how I felt writing and researching for my dissertation. I considered quitting my dissertation because I was just cranking away on my “starter” ideas and nothing ever sparked. Then I discovered The Dissertation Coach where I was perfectly matched with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir. Her patience and motivational expertise helped me manage the anxiety that prevented me from “starting” and moving forward. It turns out I already knew what I needed to do, but I lacked the confidence to trust myself and as a result, would quit tasks halfway through or create tasks that were too huge to tackle. Rebecca helped me weave patience into my daily writing routine and I am now in the home stretch to completion. Thank you Rebecca and Alison, I’m well on my way!|
RJ, PhD, Business
I just wanted to let you know that I successfully defended my dissertation and I am now a PhD. Thank you for getting me started on the right path and helping me through this process. Your direction in terms of the project management and psychology of completing a large work such as this were absolutely invaluable to me. Thank you for your coaching!
Lily O’Hara, PhD, Public Health, Health Promotion and Critical Weight Studies, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
“Help, I’m stuck.” These were the first words I communicated to The Dissertation Coach, and from that point on, I was in good hands. I had been enrolled part time in a PhD program for 8 years at that point, and had to submit my dissertation within 4 months. I couldn’t see how I could possibly finish in that time, but knew that it just had to be done. Working with Kathryn Pattrson, I developed a work plan that in theory at least, would get me to the finish line on time. For a while, I didn’t actually believe that my work plan would actually work, but Kathryn did, and over time, so did I. I was astonished to realize one day that I was actually ahead of the work plan schedule. With Kathryn’s structured approach, I was able to get unstuck and get going, and submit my dissertation on the scheduled day. Her kind and gentle manner, together with her skills in project and people management, were exactly what I needed. I highly recommend working with a dissertation coach at any stage of the process.
Anonymous, PhD in Psychology
For about two years I struggled to write my dissertation on my own, barely making any progress. My supervisor wasn’t supportive, didn’t know my research area well, and was living in a different city from me. Also, my committee members had differing opinions about what to include in my dissertation and I didn’t know who to listen to. Things were a mess. But then my husband found the Dissertation Coach for me and I started working with Melinda Valente. Melinda helped me turn things around so that I could move forward and finish my dissertation. I still had a long journey to the finish line, but with Melinda’s help, I was moving forward instead of backwards or nowhere. She had lots of suggestions to help overcome my procrastination tendencies like making weekly plans with tasks broken down to manageable pieces, using the pomodoro technique, and preparing everything I needed the night before if I was going somewhere to work the next day. Melinda also helped me deal with my supervisor and committee issues that continued to plague me until the end. She listened to my emotional complaints, guided me to see feedback more objectively, and suggested ways in which I could communicate better with my supervisor. Throughout coaching, Melinda gave me the support and encouragement that I wasn’t getting from my school, as well as the strategies I needed to overcome all the hurdles along my dissertation path. I couldn’t have finished without her help so thank you!
Anonymous, PhD, Literature
After working on my dissertation for a year, I was hardly advancing. I started to feel very anxious and began contemplating quitting my PhD program. I had read “Finish Your Dissertation Once and For All,” but I hadn’t been able to put its principles into practice on my own. I felt completely demotivated, and without anyone I could trust to talk to about my work and my progress.
Working with Kathryn Peterson from the Dissertation Coach helped me overcome a lot of the anxieties I had about my work, and helped me make substantial steps forward immediately. Our frequent discussions about what exactly had to be done day by day helped me clarify what I needed to do for each chapter and what sequence it needed to be done in so that I could finish on time. Kathryn was incredibly understanding and supportive throughout the process, and even offered me guidance as I went on the job market. I don’t think I would have finished without her, and I certainly wish I had worked with her from the very beginning of my PhD!
I was struggling to put my thesis together and I was in deep need of someone who would provide me guidance on getting it done. I was helped by one of the coaches who helped me put a plan together and kindly held me accountable to the plan until I finally completed the thesis. I completed my thesis and graduated, an indescribable achievement. I wish someone told me about this The Dissertation Coach and their staff from the beginning. I would had completed the thesis much earlier. Thanks a lot!
Michelle Fuentes, PhD
Today, I passed my defense with flying colors! And, I really believe that my coach, Rebecca Schuman, was essential to helping me develop skills necessary to finish successfully. The day before my defense, my advisor and I had a meeting where he told me “you should be in a place where you can produce 10-20 pages a day,” “if you had another year to work, this document would be in great shape,” and he switched a committee member! Yes, the day before the defense. Thanks to Rebecca, I was absolutely able to handle all of this with grace. Coaching helped me to manage my time and to interpret my advisor’s words! (They really do mean well!) Rebecca really did a wonderful job teaching me time management skills so that I can apply them to many different parts of life. The project management skills I learned through coaching will help me in future endeavors! The Dissertation Coach system really helped me to make my dissertation manageable!
KBB, Ed.D. Candidate, Organizational Leadership
Like many other graduate students, I struggled with anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed when it came to my dissertation. I knew I needed to write, but just didn’t feel like I had what it took to take the next step. Enter Elline Lipkin, PhD. Elline was a very supportive coach who took the time to get to know me, and familiarize herself with my study – although it was vastly different from her expertise. Elline was an encourager, yet stayed on me about accomplishing the goals I set for myself. I appreciate her, and am thankful for the contribution she made to my doctoral journey.
Laura G., Instructional Design, Capella University
After I finished my coursework, the idea of writing my dissertation had left me terrified and paralyzed. I did not know that anything like The Dissertation Coach existed, however, so I set out to do it on my own. After a month had passed and I had made absolutely no progress, I found the website and got in touch with Alison. She immediately paired me up with Rebecca Schuman, Ph.D., and that’s when things started to change. Rebecca has taught me how to combat my perfectionistic tendencies and to plan for the short-term. Using the weekly plans that we put together, I have been able to get more done than I ever imagined, and if all goes according to plan, I may be graduating earlier than I had originally thought. Working with Rebecca has been nothing short of a miracle. Every week I am able to make more progress, and even when I have setbacks, she is there to offer help and support. I would recommend The Dissertation Coach to anyone who is working on a dissertation. I am now confident that my work is good, I can deal with the criticism of my committee, and I know that I have someone who believes in me and really wants to see me succeed.
Anonymous, Ph. D. Literature
When I contacted the Dissertation Coach, I was in a panic. I wanted to finish my dissertation desperately, but I was working full-time, and I had a committee that just wasn’t helping. I thought I’d never get the project done. However, once I started working with Kathryn Peterson, I was able to develop a writing schedule that worked for me and kept me making steady progress, despite a 6/6 course load at a community college. With Kathryn’s guidance I gained confidence, momentum, and pride in my work. I finished my dissertation, graduated, and shortly thereafter was offered a tenure track job. It took a lot of hard work on my end, but the support provided by Kathryn made all the difference. I would highly recommend this service to any candidate who needs help establishing a writing routine and finding support and motivation.
F. H. Ethnomusicology
Finishing a dissertation is all about remaining un-stuck! Having someone to help me work through the knots of my dissertation and hold me accountable was invaluable in my determined quest to submit the final draft of my dissertation. My dissertation coach helped me diffuse the angst and rediscover my interest in the work I was banging my head against the wall to finish!
I recommend Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir, PhD and The Dissertation Coach without reservation!
Anonymous, Ph.D., New York University
I had felt for a long time that my progress on my dissertation was at a near-standstill. I came to The Dissertation Coach in order to give my research and writing process more structure, in the hopes of making more forward motion. Working with Stephanie Latkovski, PhD I was able to develop a system of weekly and long-term goals, which I learned to meet as well. This structure and sense of regular achievement reenergized my commitment to my project and restored my confidence in my ability to finish it.
To any student out there who is not progressing as you would like, whether you are in a short-term slump or on the verge of giving up altogether, I urge you to give dissertation coaching a try. With the proper support, you can graduate.
Lindsay, PhD Candidate, Chicago, IL
Since I started working with The Dissertation Coach — and with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir more specifically — I’ve been more productive than I have in a decade. After years in a confidence-shaking PhD environment, I had nearly forgotten what it was like to feel capable, energized, and smart. Coaching allows you to feel this way on a daily basis. Really. Coaching isn’t a miracle, but it definitely helps you to feel less terrified, less behind, less overwhelmed and, to put it bluntly, less like a “failure.” When I entered my PhD program, the lack of confidence I experienced caused me to neglect my writing and spend most of my time finding creative (if somewhat subconscious) ways to avoid my work.
As the two year “writing period” for drafting my dissertation began to approach, I noticed the familiar feeling of avoidance/dread/loserdom settling in, and knew I couldn’t spend two entire years continuing to feel anxious and awful. That’s when I found The Dissertation Coach and set up a conversation to learn more about the program. I felt better immediately, not because I was promised a miraculous turn of events, but because I was now doing something about my situation rather than simply complaining about or avoiding it. I began working with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir in August of 2013, and I’ve found her to be one of the most organized and disciplined people I’ve ever interacted with. Rebecca has helped me to break my overwhelming dissertation project into smaller pieces, pushing me to do at least a little bit of work per day (or occasionally, a lot!) in order to make the progress I need to make. Rebecca’s rigor is matched only by her kindness, warmth and genuinely supportive nature: even if I’ve had a bad week and have made little progress, Rebecca is encouraging and forward-looking: she listens carefully, lets you know you haven’t failed — and that you won’t fail — and immediately helps you see what manageable steps you can take to get back on track. Endless thanks to The Dissertation Coach and Rebecca for helping to change my graduate school experience!
Anonymous, PhD, Education
I sought help from The Dissertation Coach after months of spinning my wheels in a vicious cycle of perfectionism and unproductivity. Kathryn Peterson immediately guided me in establishing reasonable daily routines that fit my life and work style and in creating actionable work plans so I could make progress one work period, one day at a time. With her unconditional support and positivity, I learned to celebrate effort as much as outcome, to value continued growth over short-term achievement. A warm and kind listener, she normalized the anxiety I often felt about my dissertation and taught me to face my fears not with judgment, but with self-compassion and courage. The skills and perspectives I learned from Kathryn not only helped me to complete a dissertation that I am proud of, but will undoubtedly serve me well in future endeavors. I am eternally grateful.
BLB, DMH, Medical Humanities, New Jersey
My experience with Dr. Stephanie Latkovski was absolutely incredible! When I first began working with her, I had already begun writing my dissertation. However, I stopped abruptly after my beloved husband passed. This was the worst time of my life. I knew he would want me to complete my work and graduate, but understandably, I was depressed, unmotivated and “stuck.” I knew that I had to find the strength to finish. Enter Dr. Latkovski! She was sensitive to my needs. I loved how she helped me to find “my own” words. She has a way of helping you bring out your own thoughts and feelings. I would also like to add that many of us are not huge fans of criticism of our work. Dr. Latkovski explains how you could do better without sounding negative. It was very clear to me that she cares how successful her clients are. Although I believe I would have “one day” graduated, I know it would not have happened as quickly without Dr. Latkovski’s assistance. I would recommend her to anyone!
CM, PhD Candidate Social Work, Toronto Canada
I just wanted to write to let you know again how helpful my dissertation coaching with Stephanie Latkovski, PhD has been. We have just recently ended our work as I feel that I am well on my way to understanding the steps ahead for me to be successful. She was patient, kind and understanding, particularly of my own anxieties. What was extremely helpful was that through her coaching, I discovered things about my working style that needed adjusting. They weren’t necessarily large adjustments but having Stephanie guide me to help me notice them, as well as how to work through them, has changed my approach and attitude towards my dissertation. Stephanie was accommodating to my schedule and I always looked forward to talking with her. She was flexible and incredibly kind. The payment system was easy and I felt like I could really focus on what was important: moving forward. I was pleasantly surprised that even though Stephanie and I were from different fields, I still found everything she said to be incredibly helpful and relevant for my own work. In my final call with Stephanie, I confessed how sad I feel not to be continuing for now, but that I am sure that I will be consulting with her through The Dissertation Coach again in the future.
Jeff Wetzler, PhD, Education
Thank you for all your help. Your coaching provided me the encouragement, structure, and concrete help to manage through this ambitious project on top of a busy full-time job and personal life. I would recommend your coaching to anyone in a similar situation!
Anonymous, PhD, Religious Studies
Working with Kathryn Peterson was a true game-changer for me. Her coaching pushed me through a crossroads and provided the accountability I needed to graduate. She helped me to move forward methodically and to create a schedule that addressed competing demands. And, with her encouragement, I learned to trust my ideas and the writing process. By the time I hit revisions, I was confident enough and had the good habits to finish independently. I continue to use her techniques to both organize my work and coach others in my organization.
Jesse, PhD, Los Angeles
I worked with Alison for several months during the crucial period between data analysis and the writing of my dissertation. She helped me navigate this transition effectively because she understands that dissertation writing isn’t just intellectually demanding; it is also emotionally challenging. Alison listened deeply, offered acute psychological insights, and helped me develop a personally-suitable working method that made a once unwieldy project feel manageable.
Anonymous, PhD, Literature and Religion
I had the good fortune to work closely with Dr. Stephanie Latkovski during the dissertation stage of my doctoral program at Boston University. It was an extraordinary and deeply gratifying experience that, without a doubt, made possible a strong final paper and successful defense. Stephanie’s academic background, intellectual bandwidth and seasoned grasp of the dissertation process were evident at every turn. From the outset, I knew I was in the hands of a coach and guide I could trust, and someone with integrity and a genuine commitment to my success. Her technical feedback on my writing and the structural aspects of my argument were on target and yet always respectful of my voice and vantage point on the material. When we booked a session, I knew that Stephanie would be online on-time and fully prepared to discuss whatever obstacles or challenges I was facing. She held me accountable and kept me solidly on track with good advice and good cheer, always urging me to my best work. Stephanie “gets” the art and science of dissertation writing and is surely one of the top coaches in the business.
DJW, Ph.D., Classical Studies, University of Florida
I entered a Ph.D. program over 15 years after failing to complete another one in the same field, in which I had reached the dissertation stage but hit a wall I couldn’t get through. I needed to make another attempt because I was teaching full time at the college level, and my department made it clear that if I wanted to keep my job I needed to finish the Ph.D. In addition to the usual difficulties and frustrations of finishing a dissertation while working full time, I was also carrying the burden of my previous failure and was beginning to repeat my previous pattern of counterproductive habits and spinning my wheels. I was reaching the point where I really needed to get cracking if I was going to finish the degree, or be close enough to completion, by the time of my job review. This was compounded by the fact that I was working at a great distance from my adviser and committee, so I had little active supervision. My wife, seeing how frustrated and defeated I felt, found The Dissertation Coach online and suggested that I contact Alison Miller. Alison matched me with Kathryn Peterson, with whom I worked for two months. This was exactly what I needed to kick-start my work and set me on a path to completion. Kathryn helped me organize my daily work schedule and find ways to break a large, overwhelming task into smaller, more manageable chunks. In particular, she taught me the importance of scheduling regular breaks into my daily workplan, so as not to get exhausted and frustrated. She also taught me how to use smaller chunks of time in productive ways, and to approach thesis-writing as a job rather than as a measure of self-worth. Kathryn and I kept in touch daily through Google Docs, where we monitored and tweaked my daily workplan, and through weekly phone calls. My work with Kathryn helped me set a pattern of working productively which enabled me to finish a draft in time, get the promotion at work, and complete the degree. I highly recommend The Dissertation Coach to anyone working on any kind of long-term writing project. One of the hardest parts about writing a dissertation is that one feels very alone and not understood. You are not alone, and there are people who understand and can help. Please don’t hesitate to contact The Dissertation Coach and ask for the help you need.
L.S., University of Colorado.
I was a little skeptical the first time I visited the dissertation coach website: sure, they helped all these people, but I don’t think they can help me. I had tried everything else and was running out of time, so I decided to give it a shot. I had just started a teaching job in a new city and was still trying to finish up my PhD remotely. I had a hard deadline, so in ten weeks I had to finish my research (which consisted of simulations that were not working at the time), and, of course, write my entire dissertation. It sounded completely impossible.
Alison Miller, PhD put me in contact with Kathryn Peterson, PhD and immediately things started to move forward. I had a lot of trouble sticking with the plan, but just the fact that I was talking to Kathryn and telling her what were the next steps made me have a really clear idea of what I had to do. When I was getting anxious about not having enough time to finish everything, she would always make me realize that I could do what I needed to do if I just worked on it for a few hours. She was very encouraging and made me feel I could do it, even when it really sounded impossible.
I ended up writing over 100 pages of my dissertation in the last 10 days and, surprisingly, except for the last three days, I was still living a normal life: fulfilling my teaching obligations, watching TV, having dinner with my friends, sleeping enough. This is what surprised me the most, because I always thought that the only way I was ever going to finish was to stop doing anything else! Kathryn taught me that it is better to take time off and work when I’m more productive than trying to work when I’m too tired. She also made me realize that I could get a lot of things done in 15-20 minutes. I still can’t believe all the stuff that got done with Kathryn’s help! And now my PhD is DONE!
PhD Candidate, Australia
My PhD journey was the delight of my life until about nine months ago. I was about halfway through writing my first draft when suddenly I found that each time I sat down to work on it I had a mild panic attack and would get up and walk away. After about three weeks of this pattern, I decided I needed some help. I wasn’t winning on my own. My university supervisor was excellent in the content of my study but I needed a different kind of help – someone to help me with the everyday psychological battle. I was fortunate enough to secure Alison Miller’s help for 6 months. It was exactly what I needed to break-through that tough spot and get me back on track. With Alison’s guidance, I was able to identify how the stress of my home situation was infiltrating my study. I learned how to separate the issues, and allow myself grace when I needed time to cope with things at home and not feel like my PhD was losing. Alison taught me to replace the guilt and panic about the PhD, with peace, acceptance and success. It was about making my whole life work, so that my PhD could work. Then on top of that, I learned how to deal with those specific feelings of panic, and how to keep moving forward instead feeling like I was trapped and helpless. The best thing was being held accountable. It meant every single day I had to look consciously at how I coped or didn’t cope and what to do next time. I couldn’t hide in denial any longer. Thank you, Alison. Your wisdom and insight was exactly what I needed. You made a difference in my life.
Anonymous, Ph.D., Psychology
After struggling with my dissertation for many months with little help from my dissertation committee, I felt frustrated and lost. I had no idea how to tackle such a huge task with so little support or direction. I remembered that a friend had previously mentioned how helpful a dissertation coach had been to her, so I searched online and found The Dissertation Coach. Melinda Valente helped me formulate a plan of action, find ways to stick to it, and identify obstacles. She provided the emotional support and encouragement that was so lacking in my program. Melinda and I communicated daily through a Google Doc/Task List, and the accountability and structure that she offered were key to helping me stay on-track. In just under a year of starting my work with Melinda, I successfully defended my dissertation. What a great feeling! Thank you so much, Melinda!
Sam Herbster, MBA, MA
I had all my course work complete when I ran into a huge brick wall, which was writing my thesis to complete my program. I new what I wanted to do and what I wanted to write about but I didn’t know where to start. The task was daunting and humongous and even when I tried to start writing I couldn’t get very far. I didn’t have much tome left and I knew I needed to do something. When I did quick Internet search I came across the dissertation coach website and gave them a call. They got back to me right away and I was able to get into contact with a coach named Rebecca within the next few days. I can honestly say that if it were not for Rebecca’s help I would have not finished my thesis in a timely manor. I suspect that it would have taken me at least another semester or year if not longer to complete my thesis on my own. It was very helpful to have daily feedback from someone that was on your side and for someone that wanted you to complete the task as hand just as much as you did. Rebecca gave me multiple writing tips and techniques to help get me started and to help keep me going once I was on a role. She helped me to get rid of my fears of the enormous project and take it one step as a time. She helped me put a weekly plan in place and I looked forward to seeing her comments and speaking with her every day and week. She understood the difficulties I was having and helped me to get through them. She also did a great job at lifting my spirits and helping me to look at things from a different perspective that didn’t cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Without my thesis coach Rebecca I am sure I would still be writing my thesis today and I will be forever grateful for her help and dedication because without I would not have my two masters degrees today.
Doctoral Student at the University of California
After a decade hiatus from my dissertation writing, I heard about The Dissertation Coach at a friend’s birthday party. His wife was completing her doctoral degree and using the support of a coach. I called Alison Miller and she put me in touch with Curt Preissner, Ph.D. We have been working together for the past year and as a result I have written several major chapters. There is simply no way that my writing would have started up again and continued without his support and specialized experience. He has taught me how to make a realistic plan for each chapter, maintain contact with it on a daily basis, and see it through to completion. Curt is an excellent instructor; his advice and incisive observations have helped ensure that this project keeps moving forward: this really has changed my whole approach. Now I am engaging the long-stalled project as a creative challenge. Indeed, Curt’s insights and commitment to teaching have provided me with tools for striking a healthy balance between inspiration and perspiration in my work in general.
HJJ, Ph.D., Evanston, IL
I found myself in a unique situation – with a job, without an advisor, and without a completed dissertation. My first advisor left academia after my proposal defense so one of my committee members stepped in as an “adopted chair.” Unfortunately, this particular member was stretched too thin to give me the kind of support I needed and he was going on sabbatical…overseas. On top of that, I had two young boys at home and accepted a job in another state. I moved my family and started my job assuming that I was months away from finishing. But, I found myself in a holding pattern with my dissertation work at this very hectic time: I did not know how I should approach my analysis; I was confused about the story I wanted to tell; I had limited time to work with my new job. After almost six months of spinning my wheels and only one conversation with my chair while he was overseas, I remembered a talk Alison Miller gave at my university and I pulled out her book. I started to believe I was making excuses for myself – allowing myself to fill my time planning for courses, or giving enormous amounts of feedback to my students, or saying I could not work on a piece of the dissertation until I talked to my chair. The dissertation was not getting done and I needed help – I had to finish to keep my job. I put in the call… and Alison connected me to Kathryn Peterson. Kathryn was what I needed. She agreed that I was in a challenging situation – but not an impossible one. She worked with my schedule to squeeze in times to get work done – and checked on my progress during these work sessions. She pushed me to be more assertive with my chair so we could connect more often and move forward. She helped me break down my overwhelming tasks into reasonable goals that could be accomplished within the timeframe I had allotted. More than anything, Kathryn was a weekly conversation that I could count on. It helped me see that I was making progress – even during the times when it was difficult to reach my chair. This reinstated the motivation and confidence I needed to continue working. I am so happy to say that she brought me all the way to the end. I can now say the dissertation is behind me and I can put my time and energy back into my family and my job!
Doctoral Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
I was in the sixth year of my PhD program and hadn’t written a single word in months when I received an email announcement that someone called “The Dissertation Coach” would be speaking on campus. A bit grudgingly, I pulled myself out of bed — where I had been spending most of my time suffering from chronic depression — and went to the talk, where I heard Alison Miller describe the experiences of graduate students who, like me, were overwhelmed by the process of writing a dissertation. A few days later, Alison set me up with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir, who has been my coach for the past three months. At a time when I was ready to quit altogether, Rebecca reminded me why I had come to graduate school in the first place: to learn, and to share my ideas with others. In just a few short weeks, I went from writing nothing at all to writing every day. By breaking down what seemed to be an impossibly huge project into manageable 30-minute tasks, Rebecca showed me how to use my time and energy in a healthy and productive way. I now feel confident that I will complete my dissertation this year, and I truly believe that I would not be where I am today without Rebecca’s guidance and support.
RDK, PhD, Biology, Pittsburgh
I was simultaneously tasked with writing my dissertation from scratch, continuing laboratory research, and teaching. I needed to complete my dissertation in six months, leading me to feel depressed and overwhelmed. When I searched for dissertation help, many places focused on the writing only and not the underlying challenges inherent in finishing a laboratory-based dissertation. I specifically requested Dr. Curt Preissner because of his laboratory background. He gave me the tools I needed to focus my energy and complete my dissertation on time. One month before the due date, my advisor told me to add a whole new chapter on a new research topic. Armed with skills suggested by Curt, I tackled the new chapter. I was able to submit, defend my dissertation, and respond to the suggested corrections within a week and a half of the original submission. I now have tools that I can use whenever necessary to reduce stress and increase my focus.
E.B. PhD, Literature
When I contacted the Dissertation Coach in September 2011, I was in despair. My department was putting pressure on me to finish within the academic year. I had a draft of one chapter, and half a draft of a second one (out of three), and I was going to teach full-time for the first two quarters. And I had to find a job. To crown it all, I was battling with chronic depression and I had developed crippling procrastination habits. I simply could not figure out how I was going to finish the dissertation within the little time that was allotted to me. Alison Miller promptly called me back and put me in contact with Kathryn, who coached me for 6 ½ months. Kathryn really helped me build a realistic writing schedule and taught me that I could work on my dissertation even if I only had 30 minutes to spare. She was an incredible source of support and empowerment, and was there for me every single day, commenting on my progress and cheering me up. Less than a year later, I can proudly say I successfully defended and got a new job. Kathryn has a special place on the acknowledgements page of my dissertation. Being able to work with her was a blessing that made my Ph.D. come true.
Anonymous, PhD in Social Work
When I first sought out Dr. Alison Miller for Dissertation Coaching I was becoming increasingly terrified that I would never finish my dissertation. I had suffered anxiety related health problems and was getting pressure from my program to finish. My committee was supportive, but getting annoyed with my lack of progress. I was stuck, bogged down in “To Do” lists and becoming increasingly disengaged from a project that I had once been passionate about. I felt like somewhat of a failure because I was seeking help and was worried that I was a person who was potentially “uncoachable.” From the beginning, Alison was calm, positive, genuine and accessible. She both validated my concerns and helped me see how I could become more systematic (and sympathetic) in my approach to my work. The techniques she introduced me to greatly increased my productivity and reduced my anxiety; within a few months I was submitting strong drafts to my committee members. I defended my dissertation less than a year after I started coaching with Alison and she supported me through the process even though we were no longer meeting regularly. I will use the insights I gained from our experience throughout my career. Thank you!
Doctoral Student, Los Angeles, CA
I attended your dissertation workshop about a week before beginning writing my qualifying exam, and some of the things Alison Miller, PhD said were very helpful to me in getting through the process. The two pieces of advice that were particularly helpful to me were:
1. The “warming the pool metaphor” – I was thinking about how to make my work environment and work-time most productive and efficient by planning ahead.
2. Remembering that the process is about learning, not about proving myself. I tried to see the qualifying exam as a time for me to work through my thoughts and knowledge, and as an opportunity to receive feedback from my committee, rather than as a “test”.
When I was working and found myself trying to “escape” from difficult sections, I remembered that I’m facing a challenge, and tried to engage with it rather than escape it. These ideas helped me get through the 10 days of the qualifying exam, and already are helpful in preparing toward my defense – thinking of it as an opportunity to receive feedback and advice, rather than as “being grilled”. Thank you for that, and I hope you keep helping many more students.
Richard LaRocca, PhD, Finance & International Economics, NYC
After hearing a fellow doctoral cohort talk about how she was able to finish her dissertation after reading Dr. Alison Miller’s book, I decided to contact Dr. Miller directly to discuss my dissertation and my lack of progress and motivation.
After my initial discussion with Dr. Miller, I discovered that she not only possessed the ability to guide me through my dissertation, but she could also provide me with the necessary tools to develop a positive strategy towards my goal while also helping me deal with life outside of the dissertation process. This was just what I had needed since I was a single parent about to be married again. Alison helped keep me focused on my dissertation goals while balancing the wedding plans, family and life. She was more than just my dissertation coach. She was an influential life coach who inspired me to succeed not only in academia but in life as well. I honestly believe that if I had not worked with Alison, I would not have completed my dissertation in a timely manner and would not have been able to secure a tenure tracked teaching position. Alison has my highest recommendation, and I am forever grateful to her and her work.
Recent Graduate, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
I contacted the Dissertation Coach at the final stages of writing my first draft. Dr. Alison Miller connected me with Kathryn Peterson, PhD after I explained that I had become obsessed with finishing and felt the dissertation was completely taking over my life. Because I was not lacking in discipline when it came to working on the dissertation, I was somewhat dubious that a coach could help me, but since I was feeling quite miserable and thought I’d try it out anyway. Kathryn did a great job of helping me structure my work even further, put limits on my work, help me determine what was realistic within a given time frame, and establish some balance. She was always cheerful, super reliable and positive. Her encouraging words on my work plan and in emails gave me good energy! I was very appreciative of her flexibility. I’m now done and rejoicing! Thank-you!
Michelle Schladant, Ph.D., Special Education
When I first contacted Dr. Alison Miller, in October of 2010, I was completely overwhelmed and doubted whether I could finish my dissertation while working full-time and managing a busy family life. I found Dr. Miller’s website, after doing an Internet search for “dissertation coach.” I was looking for someone to help get me on the right track and hold me accountable. I was also seeking guidance and support to address the tremendous amount of self-doubt and anxiety I was experiencing about writing. After our first telephone conversation, she related her experience with getting through her doctoral program and I was intrigued by the fact that she too at one time was a student trying to complete her doctoral program. I knew she understood what I was going through. She put into words what I had been experiencing. That is, I was paradoxically in a constant state of either procrastination or perfectionism and this was impeding my ability to write. As soon as we started working together she helped me to develop a reasonable timeline and she also helped me break down the writing process into manageable steps. She taught me tools to be a more effective writer. We set up a system where she could check my progress daily and she communicated with me by phone and email almost daily giving me positive encouragement and constructive feedback. She helped me to work through those internal blocks (fear, procrastination, perfectionism) that were inhibiting my progress and preventing me from finishing and she taught me tangible tools to remove those blocks. I worked with Dr. Miller for 6 months and she empowered me to stay focused and productive. The tools I learned from her not only helped me with finishing my dissertation, but I continue to use these tools in my professional and personal life. I am extremely grateful for her help and I highly recommend the Dissertation Coach for anyone who is struggling to finish.
K.B., Ph.D., History, Chicago, IL
Without the assistance of Alison Miller, I would not have been able to finish my dissertation. Before I began dissertation coaching, anxiety, depression and uncertainty were creating barriers so severe that I was on the verge of abandoning my PhD program. Working with Alison, I was able to remember not only what I liked about my dissertation topic, but also what I loved about my discipline in the first place. The lessons that I have learned are vitally important to my future career, and I recommend Alison in the highest terms to anyone who is struggling with graduate work–from the earliest stages of research to the completion of the dissertation.
Steve Tolley, PhD
Like so many other ABD students, I allowed the frustrations and uncertainties of the dissertation process to permit too much time to elapse and created giant crevices of self-doubt in the path to completion that truly seemed to be unbridgeable. With a looming, non-negotiable deadline, I was fortunate enough to discover Dissertation Coach and, through Dr. Miller, work with Dr. Stephanie Latkovski. Beginning with our first meeting on Skype and continuing through submission of the completed dissertation, Dr. Latkovski was either with me or available to me every step of the way. While her title may be coach, she became an indispensible advisor, supporter, counselor, mentor, teacher, and a bright beacon of light in what began as a very dark tunnel of uncertainty. At the onset of working with Dr. Latkovski, a plan leading to dissertation completion was quickly constructed and composed of manageable components. With the successful conclusion of each bite size component she offered further guidance and encouragement, and I felt more confidence and the ability to see with greater clarity the end of the dissertation process. Dr. Latkovski’s contribution to me achieving my lifelong academic goal of a PhD cannot be adequately expressed in this testimonial and I am forever grateful to her.
Fred Kiser, D.M.A, Iowa
I had let my thesis work slide over a period of years and was coming up on a couple of very important deadlines, both for the thesis process and for a job application. My wife strongly encouraged me to get help in moving past my mental roadblocks and she located Alison and her services at the Dissertation Coach. Alison did an outstanding job at giving me a structure and approach to writing my thesis and she had the right balance of encouragement/accountability to get me past my mental blocks. I know this is going to sound odd, but I actually had a heart attack about a month after I started working with Alison. Through my recovery, she was a source of strength and inspiration and helped me manage getting my life and work back together. With the tools she gave me, I was able to finish my thesis and defend. If your life has gotten in the way of your research or you find it impossible to move the “boulder” of a dissertation, I highly recommend the Dissertation Coach.
Melissa Smith, PhD
The dissertation writing journey has been a long road for me. I had reached a point where I was completely overwhelmed. Even worse, I didn’t believe in myself as a writer. When I received dissertation coaching and consulting as a birthday present, I was relieved to feel that someone would be there for me. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was tired of feeling I was on my own to figure it all out. Working with Dr. Stephanie Latkovski was an amazing gift. She reminded me to celebrate small accomplishments, helped me keep things in perspective by maintaining a sense of humor, and offered empathy and encouragement when I needed it. She held me accountable, yet she was compassionate when I didn’t meet my own expectations and deadlines. Stephanie worked with me to break the task into manageable chunks and create an action plan. At the end of each phone meeting, I had insightful feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of my argument, as well as very tangible steps toward improving the overall logic and coherence of my writing. I am especially grateful that Stephanie somehow always found the time to talk or be in touch with me when I had to make a critical push to meet a deadline. She made me feel like a priority. When giving suggestions about what needed improvement, she also reminded me of what I had done well. It was nice to feel like someone was really on my side. She believed that I could and would get my dissertation done and that it would be good. Most importantly, working with Stephanie has restored my confidence as a writer. Thank you so much for the support and collaboration.
Gina Mieszczak. Doctoral Student, Chicago, IL
I was in the depths of ABD for several years. After dealing with frustration and procrastination, I decided I needed professional help to guide me through the dissertation process. It was such a relief to find a dissertation coach. My coach worked with me through scheduling, recognition of time restraints, and process development of the work involved. I went through several years of thinking “I can finish my dissertation this weekend.” My coach’s approach of gently developing and guiding my current way of working was incredible. His coaching results in so much more than completion of milestones in my dissertation. It gave me a reality check in what I needed personally to work more efficiently and effectively. I cannot recommend a better service than what my coach provided. His efforts are directly related to the work I have accomplished. I am so grateful that I found his services and cannot thank him enough. He was instrumental to my dissertation proposal submission. The methodology that my coach provides ensures success.
Catherine Mariani Partamian, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology
I began working with Alison Miller in Feb. 2008. I was at the stage in my dissertation where I had defended my proposal, collected my data, done some preliminary statistical analysis and written up the beginning of my methods section. In short, enough work that I thought I did not have that much to do and should certainly be able to keep going on my own, but enough still that I felt completely overwhelmed and uncertain of how to begin to take the next step forward. I began to toy with the idea of a coach after a friend in another city had used one with successful results (a degree) and when I began to take an honest, hard look at how long I had been at the point of “only have to run the rest of my stats, write up the results and the discussion” going on a couple of years! Recognizing I was stuck and acknowledging to myself that I did really want to finish was the first step. The hardest part, for me, was overcoming the shame I placed on myself for needing extra help when my friends and colleagues did not need this help to finish their degree. One of the many wonderful aspects of working with Alison is that she helped me address this block to completing my dissertation project as much as she helped with the block caused by my lack of stat knowledge needed to move forward. As a result of working with Alison I defended my dissertation and received my degree in August 2008 (and in all fairness it probably would have been May except for outside committee circumstances), but not only do I have the degree, I have more knowledge and awareness of personal, self-inflicted “road blocks,” organization, scheduling and creating a daily structure that make me more successful in all areas of my life. She gave me many “tools” throughout the process of completing my dissertation which definitely have made me a better person and mother today than I was before working with her! She is incredibly supportive, timely, persistent, practical, non judgmental and knowledgeable about what it takes to complete a dissertation, and, for me, more importantly, what can get in the way of completing any large project and how to effectively deal with those impediments, large and small. I have no shame now in sharing with anyone that I used a dissertation coach, and in fact, am quite pleased to publicly share how rewarding the experience was (obviously).
Marta Rusten, psychologist, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
My coach at The Dissertation Coach helped demystify the dissertation experience for me. My coach has helped shift my perspective from viewing it as an overwhelming and anxiety-provoking process, to seeing it as a series of manageable tasks with a visible end (and reward) in sight! Working with my coach has also helped me develop valuable time/task management skills that will be of great help to me in my future professional and personal life.
Janine M. Jurkowski, MPH, PhD, Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of Illinois at Chicago
The skills and weekly support I received from my coach helped me complete my dissertation close to schedule while still maintaining balance in my life. The time and task management skills I learned from her are valuable and transferable to my postdoctoral work. She has a great sense of humor and she provides excellent perspective, both of which made some of the toughest moments of the process more manageable.
P. S., PhD, Linguist, Chicago, IL
My experience with Alison was exactly what I needed to reach my goals. I met Alison in late May 2005, and went from feeling hopeless to handing in a final dissertation draft by December, and I had my degree in hand by March, 2006. I basically worked with Alison for 8 months. I had been ABD for a year, hadn’t made much headway on my dissertation, and was in a true funk. I had projects piling up, teaching demands and a few part-time work schedules to juggle in addition to my Ph.D. program and upcoming nuptials. I felt that everything was too daunting to finish, and I did not know where to begin. I was also losing faith in my ability as an academic researcher, and was in a pretty dark place-largely due to the pileup of work I had accumulated. Alison basically gave me two things: organizational structure and moral support. She helped me organize and prioritize my projects into smaller, more manageable due dates, made me feel as though it was possible to reach my goals, and validated my feelings. Her style is straight to the point, firm but kind- exactly what I needed. She is not the type of “life coach” one usually hears about- she has her PhD and works with intelligent professionals who are looking to keep sane as they reach their goals. She helped me come up with a schedule for my projects, and then checked up with me throughout the week, via email and by phone, to keep me accountable as well as to give me someone to talk to throughout the process. It was nice to have someone who understood what I was feeling/going through help me through the process. Thanks to Alison’s help, I finished my dissertation (running all subjects, all data analysis, write-up, and defense) and graduated in March 2006. I was also able to successfully find employment and successfully plan a large wedding. I am now a married, employed woman with a PhD, who has much more confidence and faith in her abilities than I did before I worked with Alison.
Tina Curran, PhD in Dance, NYC
Alison brings her experience as a writer, her ongoing research in psychology and personal growth, and her open heart to her clients. As my dissertation coach, Alison has helped me to develop practical skills including project management and writing strategies to keep my work flowing. More importantly, she generously shares her expertise and support to help me navigate the emotional and psychological landscape of the dissertation writing experience. As a dance educator, I appreciate the ways that Alison has “danced” with me to continuously find ways to support me and to guide my work.
Amanda Flagg, PhD in Nursing, San Antonio TX
I have had the privilege of Dr Miller’s dissertation coaching and I can truly state that without her expertise, I would never be so close to finishing as I am presently. I hope to defend my dissertation late this year. The key struggles that would have perhaps delayed me indefinitely in this endeavor have been the following: 1) procrastination, pure and simple and 2) fear. Dr Miller was able to and continues to help me overcome these two major obstacles by first addressing those two items head on using a kind and compassionate but firm approach. Secondly, she acknowledges that I am not alone in these concerns, by allowing me to vent in a safe environment, and then assists me by engaging in the use of excellent strategies that have enabled me to succeed and to move on to being close to finishing. Her excellent use of coaching skills, encouragement, organization skills, strategies for not only writing but communicating with dissertation committees and leadership, along with countless other forms of interactions have been invaluable to me. She has my highest recommendation as one of this nation’s top dissertation coaches!
K.B., PhD candidate, Northwestern University
I was mired in the “writing” phase of my dissertation for three years before I began working with Alison meaning that’s how long I had been unproductive, anxious, and increasingly depressed. I was on the verge of quitting my PhD program because I believed that I was incapable of completing the degree. But before giving up on my academic career, I decided to try out this mysterious service called dissertation coaching something no one I knew had ever done. Four months later, I had analyzed thousands of pages of documents, outlined the entire dissertation and written nearly 100 pages. More importantly, I have developed the skills I need to progress on my own and if at some point I do find myself struggling again, I know that support will be just a phone call away. Alison’s approach to the coaching process has done more than put me well on the road to finishing my dissertation. The skills I have learned have spilled over and improved how I live the rest of my life.