The Real Housewives of New York City fans got the most unexpected of updates when Andy Cohen revealed on Twitter that Alex McCord "is officially a psychologist" in March. Though the RHONY alum later clarified that she had just graduated summa cum laude with her bachelors degree and is not a licensed psychologist just yet, the news still sent fans a-buzzing.
The Daily Dish caught up with Alex this week during her visit to the United States, and she explained that the career change was all a part of making a new life for herself and her family in Australia, where she, husband Simon van Kempen, and sons Francois, 13, and Johan, 11, moved to in late 2014. "When Simon and I moved to Australia, we both decided that this was a time of midlife reinvention. What had we not done yet that we wanted to do? It's sort of like the world is our oyster. OK, new life, what are you gonna do?" Alex told The Daily Dish. "Simon decided to go to law school, and he's halfway through at this point. And I decided to get a degree in psychology."
But this actually isn't a new passion for Alex. "Back when I was 18 and going to Northwestern, I sort of was up at night figuring, 'Am I gonna do theater or am I gonna do science?' And at the time, I decided on theater, was an actor for 10 years, quit, did the Housewives. I've done all that. Now it's time for science," she said. "I won't age out of it. I don't need boobs or Botox for it. I'm fascinated by the way the brain works."
Alex said she plans on specializing in geriatric psychology, which will include analyzing dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and finding the differences between them. "There's some fascinating research coming out that may really move the needle. I sort of want to be a part of the research, which is why I'm gonna go ahead and try to get a doctorate," Alex said. "But I'm also really interested in helping the people who currently struggle with dementia and how they navigate their family, moving into long-term care, all of that. It's amazing."
Right now, Alex said that the Australian Psychological Society is deciding where her degree fits into their system and if she now goes on to pursue a masters degree or does a bridging program, which will determine whether she receives her provisional license this year or next year. "What I'm doing at the moment since I'm interested in geriatric psychology, I have this amazing job that I love. I'm working for a group of nursing homes as kind of the guidance counselor, the client advocate. I'm the person who's empowered to take the time to sit with them for an hour, but I can also talk to the doctor and make recommendations," Alex explained. "So I don't diagnose. It's more helping them articulate what they need in order to put one foot in front of the other."
After she earns her masters degree, Alex said she then hopes to enroll into a doctorate program. She would eventually like to have a practice of her own and also be able to do research. She has discovered that she loves academic writing, too.
In addition to acting and appearing on RHONY, Alex has pursued many other career paths in the past including design, modeling, and penning a book with Simon about raising their children called Little Kids, Big City. Now Alex is more than ready for her next challenge. "I have always lived my life pushing myself out of my bubble. I think that if you stay in your comfort zone, you're not growing. If you're not moving, you're not growing. And so, kind of when I've been offered opportunities in my life or faced with decisions, I tend to go for the scariest one, because I think that that's probably what will help me grow. In a way, that's how we ended up on Housewives. And it's just been a long process to psychology and what makes people tick because I did try to figure that out a lot while I was doing RHONY," Alex shared. "Ever since then, I've always been interested in how people age. But actually, getting in there and showing up for someone and listening to them and trying to help is terrifying. And so, I think that's probably the way to go."
Check out some vintage pics of Alex, below.