How did your journey start with the Department of Psychology?
I started a newly created position in January 2015 with a focus on teaching and overseeing the clinical training of our doctoral students. I moved to the University of Michigan from the University of Rochester Medical Center, where I was an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry & Pediatrics. I was excited to continue teaching, supervising, and working with students to integrate their research interests and clinical practice by teaching how to deliver evidence-based psychotherapy and assessment.
What does teaching in the Department mean to you?
My teaching can be summed in the quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” I strive to involve the students by using engaging materials, collaboration with others, and integration with the greater community. When I teach, it is an invitation for students to experience real-life examples, hands-on experiences, and collaboration with others in order to grasp the true impact of clinical psychology in our everyday lives. When students apply the lessons learned in the classroom to daily life, I feel success as an instructor. It is truly an honor to work with passionate, intelligent and creative undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Psychology. When our students make a positive impact on the lives of others through things they have learned in the classroom, we have done our job. I enjoy getting email updates from previous students and hearing of their continued success after graduation.
In addition to teaching, you are the Coordinator of Clinical Training for the Department. Can you talk about that role? What does it entail, and how is it similar (or different) to work you have done previously?
The Coordinator of Clinical Training (CCT) is a unique and vital role within the clinical science area. I collaborate with faculty in the department and the community to advance the clinical training experiences of our doctoral students over 5-6 years of their education. As the CCT, I develop and implement new courses in psychotherapy, provide weekly clinical supervision to graduate students, and facilitate the process for our advanced doctoral students to deliver the highest-quality, evidence-based mental health care in the community. Students provide psychology services in various settings (e.g., Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor VA, Henry Ford Health System, private practices, etc) and I organize this process for our program through various collaborations. Students also learn psychotherapy under my supervision during their 2nd year at the UM Psychological Clinic & University Center for the Child & Family (UCCF). In sum, I work closely with our students for 5+ years to develop their clinical skills in order to apply for a one-year national clinical internship. After years of dedication and hard-work, then our students can become licensed psychologists.
Previously, I worked in an academic medical center, teaching and supervising psychology interns and post-doctoral fellows. I also provided psychology services in the Dept of Pediatrics through integrated behavioral services co-located in general pediatrics and specialty pediatric clinics. I also worked on various research projects, integrating all the roles of a psychologist as clinician, research and instructor. At UM, I am passionate about teaching these same skills to our doctoral students and being a part of their growth over years of their clinical training.
Beyond teaching and administrative work, are there other ways are you involved in the Department? If so, what inspired you to get involved in these ways?
I mentor students in numerous ways outside of the classroom by discussing career options, supporting independent studies, reading honors theses, writing letters of recommendation, and serving on department committees. I also see patients in a small faculty practice to hone my clinical skills and support the community given the shortage of mental health providers and access to high-quality care. I am passionate about the dissemination of high-quality, evidence-based care and access to services in our community.
Because you are so involved with both teaching and internship placements for the Clinical Science area, you have a unique perspective from which to survey changes in the field. In your opinion, what are some of the most interesting or salient trends or movements happening within the evolving field of Clinical Psychology?
Clinical psychologists have expertise in communication, interpersonal skills, problem solving, and facilitating better awareness of self and others all within a cultural framework. We teach and model better emotion regulation skills, self-care, helpful behavioral approaches, and productive ways to think about situations in order to best respond to stressful situations. We can’t change all situations, but we can change the way we respond and how we interpret the stress. Clinical psychologists lead the way in educating society, developing these skills through research, and implementing them on a practical level. Utilizing these skills are vital in our everyday lives as our society continues to face numerous challenges and stressors. Psychologists can model and teach others to respond to these stressful situations with integrity, compassion, and increased self-awareness. One particular area I am passionate about is teaching these skills to youth from an early age. I am excited to see psychology concepts being delivered to children in schools through a social-emotional curriculum. Kids learn self-control, conflict resolution, emotional awareness, communication and social skills, which better prepares them when faced with the inevitable challenges in life. I see so many kids responding to stressors in thoughtful and flexible ways, which offers hope for our future generations.
What advice would you give to people who recently graduated with Psychology degrees and may be wondering where to go from here?
Congratulations on graduating with your degree in Psychology! Psychology is utilized in a wide-range of professions. What areas are you most passionate about? Search for jobs in hospital settings, research labs, community services, human resources, or other businesses. Get a few years of experience and decide if graduate school would be helpful given your career interests. Talk to professionals who are doing your dream job and seek out their practical advice. Keep in touch with faculty from UM after graduation. For example, I have written letters of recommendation for students applying to business school, law school, medical school, masters programs and doctoral programs in the mental health field. Your degree in psychology can open up so many possibilities, don’t be afraid to network with others including the faculty and staff from UM.