Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Educational Background: Graduated from the Honors Psychology Program at Temple University
Career Background: I spent seven years working in a mental health agency, and prior to that I worked for eight years in the customer service department of a pharmacy benefit management company. I currently work for a nonprofit mental health agency as a staffing coordinator and trainer.
Specializations/Concentrations: Child and Family, Trauma
Why Arcadia? I wanted to have the opportunity to examine a situation from different points of view. So if I wanted to have a humanistic, or interpersonal perspective, or if I needed to use cognitive behavioral therapy or a multicultural or feminist theory, I would have the tools I needed. Other programs I looked into seemed rigid, but Arcadia had the fluidity I was seeking. Also, it’s around the corner, and I had always wanted to check out the school with the castle!
What have been some of your key experiences during your time at Arcadia? Definitely the research. The professors are very accessible, they want the students to take part in it, and they treat you like an equal. It’s more like we’re colleagues, and it’s refreshing. When Dr. Angela Gillem asked me about getting involved, I naturally assumed as a graduate student I’d be doing odds and ends to assist her in the process. I was surprised when she said, “No, if you’re going to be on this paper, you’re writing this.” It was humbling and fascinating at the same time. When you research with them, you get to know a different side of them. I got an opportunity just through the research to see them put their blood, sweat, and tears into a paper, then give it to someone else to review. It really gives you a more human perspective of your professors because you see their vulnerability. This inspired me when I would doubt myself. Many times I would think, “But I don’t even know if my assignments are good enough,” and then I’d end up presenting my work on a totally different stage.
I got to participate at the Pennsylvania Counseling Association (PCA) with Dr. Gillem, Dr. Eleonora Bartoli, and another student in the program, Sheila Meisky, and that was great. Later, a guest speaker at Arcadia told me he recognized me from the PCA conference and complimented me on my presentation. It’s things like that, when you get these opportunities and you can leave an impression on people who have been in your field for years, that are great for professional opportunities, additional academic opportunities, and networking. I’m really glad that Dr. Gillem and Dr. Bartoli saw something in me and invited me to work with them, and I’m looking forward to attending another conference with them in Atlanta in January 2015.
It’s been a great experience, but this program is challenging. The professors challenge you academically and they challenge your level of self-awareness. A lot of us don’t like to look at our stereotypes and biases, because a lot of us go into this field, even while secretly looking for what’s wrong with us, just to point out and assist others with their struggles. So, you have to be ready to meet yourself again, along with having all of this work, and you have to be ready for how life as a whole will be impacted as things become undone and relationships are not as maintained. Once it’s done, you have an appreciation of the understanding, you see the benefit, and you see the value.
Research: I am working on the Multicultural Counseling and Psychotherapy Test (MCPT) designed for counselors with Dr. Gillem, Dr. Bartoli, and Sheila. The theory of multicultural competency, as authored by Columbia University counseling psychologist Dr. Wing Sue and his colleagues, had three main parts: knowledge, skills, and awareness. Most assessment tools deal on self-report and perception. So, in a situation where a person is dealing with someone culturally different, questions might be, “How do you perceive you would act?” or “How would you view the situation?” A lot of times when people answer questions like that, they answer how they know someone would like to hear them answer: they share what they would like the answer to be, rather than what it actually is. The responses take on a more positive spin, especially from counselors who have taken a lot of classes that incorporate multicultural competency, advocacy, etc., who know what the right answers are supposed to be. The premise behind it when you’re working with self-reporting is social desirability. So, socially, how would you desire to be presented comes across, not the truth.
What makes the assessment tool created by Dr. Gillem and Dr. Bartoli different is that it is a straight performance-based knowledge test. Either you know the information or you don’t. And that directly tests the knowledge part of Sue’s theory. It’s not something that a person can provide an answer for in the hopes of being accepted socially…it’s either a right or wrong answer. And that’s why I like it!
Career Goal: To become a therapist in either a school-based program or private practice.