Points of Pride

Clinical Psychology Student Benefits from Postbac Program

Posted on Tue, Aug 18, 2015

By Marianne McCarthy

David_Alaniz_IMG_7637David Alaniz was accepted into the Clinical Psychology PhD program on his second attempt, and he’s really glad he wasn’t granted admittance the first time around.

“I thought I had what it took to do doctoral work,” said Alaniz, who knew he wanted to be a clinical psychologist but didn’t fully understand everything that’s involved, such as the importance of research, statistical analysis, and critical thinking.

“I didn’t know how a course like psychopathology would be delivered and what we might learn,” he said. “I was surprised that a course in critical thinking was really about writing critically.”

A case manager for Mental Health Systems, Alaniz works with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation helping reintegrate and re-socialize parolees who were incarcerated for anything from petty theft to murder.

Before he was accepted into the program, Alaniz enrolled in Fielding’s new Postbaccalaureate Clinical Psychology Certificate program to help him sharpen his skills. His first semester included multivariate statistics, and he had doubts he could do it.

“I had Dr. Bush for statistics, and he really explained the basics in a way that resonated with me,” said Alaniz, who immediately saw how statistics could benefit his work. He took what he learned back to his boss at Mental Health Systems and showed him how they could measure behavior. Now they are using a Likert scale system with support and risk factors to predict behavior of recently incarcerated felons.

 “What I love about the faculty is how they work with students and give them opportunities,” said Alaniz, who participated in research for the program lead faculty member, Kristine M. Jacquin, PhD. “I was a lead author for a paper that was presented at a conference, and that was my first authorship. I’m also a certified research assistant now.”

All this gave Alaniz more confidence when he applied to the program the second time. Even faculty saw it.

“There was a change in David’s professional demeanor when he applied the second time,” said School of Psychology faculty member Dr. Debra Bendell. “He was realistic about his options and how difficult the program would be.  However, he was optimistic based on what he had accomplished in the postbac program.”

“When David entered the certificate program, it was clear he had the passion for helping others, intelligence, and motivation needed to become a clinical psychologist. However, he was not familiar with the scholarly side of the field,” said Dr. Jacquin. “In a relatively short time, David gained the critical thinking, scholarly writing, and research skills needed to enter a doctoral program. I’m really proud of him. He will be a great clinical psychologist.”

Alaniz is the first in his family to pursue academics higher than an associate’s degree. He’s working full-time as well as helping raise a teenager as he continues his doctoral studies.

“I know that it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready for the journey,” he said.

Learn more about the Postbac in Clinical Psychology

Tags: adult learning, clinical psychology, fielding graduate university, education

Media Psychology Student's Documentary Premieres in NYC

Posted on Wed, May 06, 2015

Catherine Seo's Research is Creating a Model for Patients to Collaborate with Their Doctors

By Marianne McCarthy

Last month, Media Psychology student Catherine Seo debuted her documentary film, “The Disease They Call FAT,” at the 1st International Symposium on Lipedema in New York City. The film was part of a two-day event in which top medical researchers, surgeons, and other medical professionals from around the world gathered in support of finding a cure for the often misunderstood (and misdiagnosed) disease.Lipedema TheDiseasetheyCallFAT

Lipedema is a fat disorder characterized by irregular fat distribution under the skin. Typically, fat is disproportionately located on the legs and hips. Painful and debilitating, it can result in immobility if left untreated. An estimated 17 million women in the United States are afflicted with Lipedema; 11% worldwide.

Driven to discover the root of her struggle with unexplainable weight gain and constant pain in her legs, Seo stumbled upon the Lipedema diagnosis in a book by Prof. Dr. Etelka Földi. When she shared her findings with her primary care doctor, who knew nothing about the disorder, he encouraged her to learn more.

“He told me I’d have to help him so he could help me,” said Seo. “I was going to learn what I needed to learn, and do whatever I had to do, in order to find out what was going on with my body, and so, that’s what I did.”

Armed with her Handycam and her research skills, she traveled around the world to interview patients and medical specialists. Her efforts culminated in the documentary film and also a website, Lipedema-Simplified.org, which is a compilation of her research and her personal experience with this disabling disease. She’s even hosted a series of online symposia with doctors that she’s met from around the world.catherine surgery3

In a system that blames obesity on the individual, her goal has been, in part, to raise awareness so that those with Lipedema can stop blaming themselves. Through a partnership with Dr. Mark Smith, director of The Friedman Center for Lymphedema Research & Treatment at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, they created The Lipedema Project, which helps patients form collaborations with their doctors to learn more about their health and what treatment options exist.

“I’m hoping that my experiences provide a model for empowering people to take control of their own health in a way that they can get the kind of collaboration and partnership that they need with their health care providers,” said Seo.catherine photo

She believes that people with any kind of disorder have a lot to contribute to the understanding of it.

“We have a very top-down autocratic health care system. The idea of a patient group being able to collaborate with professional health care clinicians and researchers is unheard of in the health care system,” she said.

During her research, Seo began to realize that the anti-fat bias is deep-rooting in the health care system.

“People are blamed by the media. They are blamed by their health care providers because there’s an underlying assumption that it’s controllability—that the reason that you’re overweight is because you eat too much. Well, it’s much more complex than that,” said Seo.

For her dissertation research (expected completion January 2016), she is exploring how deeply women's lives are impacted by cultural distortions of women and their bodies. She admits that she was also quick to blame herself at first, even though she was doing all the right things. Healthcare professionals either explicitly or implicitly reinforced her self-assessment. 

As Seo finalizes her dissertation on media’s influence on women and the idealization of body image, she is exploring self-compassion meditation as an intervention because “so many of us try so hard to change ourselves to meet some external value structure.”

Her work won’t stop there though. She and Media Psychology Faculty Member Karen Dill-Shackleford have submitted a research grant proposal focused on improving body image dissatisfaction.

“Understanding the psychology of how media is projected, how it’s consumed, how it’s integrated into our culture, is the leading edge of what’s happening,” Seo said.

A preview of “The Disease They Call FAT” can be view at http://lipedemaproject.org/premiere2015. The full version will be available in June 2015.

Click to learn more about Fielding's Media Psychology program. 

Tags: Media psychology, women's issues, adult learning, fielding graduate university, healthcare

Col. Porter: First Psychologist to Command an Army Health Care Facility

Posted on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

By Marianne McCarthy

col porter

Rebecca Porter entered military service for much the same reason many young people did in the 70s—to help pay for their education.

“As it turned out I was not eligible for a scholarship because I had really bad eyes. But I was already enrolled, and I liked it, and so I stuck with it,” said Porter, now a colonel in the US Army with 20 years of service.

After her ROTC program, she was assigned to the Military Police Corps, but her real interests lie in psychology. So, she transferred to the Army Reserve and started on her master’s degree in counseling. That’s when she and a fellow student learned about Fielding’s doctoral program in clinical psychology.

This was back in ’91—before the prevalence of the Internet. She was pregnant with her first child, and her husband had just been deployed to Desert Storm. But Fielding’s distributed learning model made it all doable.

“With my husband being on active duty, I didn’t know how long we would be at any one location,” said Porter who re-entered active duty herself and applied for the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship. She joined the Reno cluster and graduated four years and three months later.

After his tour of duty, Porter’s husband was transferred to Hawaii, and she began her internship at Tripler Army Medical Center. Immediately following, she directed the chronic pain program there. Later she returned for a postdoctoral fellowship and then directed the fellowship program. (Porter is shown below in Hawaii with her mentor, Jerry Nims, PhD, JD, several years after her graduation.)

Hawaii to NY 075

Like many in the military, Porter’s career in the Army is characterized by a series of shifting assignments that span the country. When in the Army, you go where they tell you to.
For Porter, it was the Pentagon. She was first called to the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison where she received a different kind of education.

“It was an exciting job and so educational to see how Capitol Hill and the Pentagon work together, sometimes in a point-counter-point way but also in a complementary way,” said Porter.

In her second position in the Pentagon, Porter became a special assistant for the Well Being of the Army where she advised the Army senior leadership on things like how your work environment impacts your affinity to the Army.

“In that role I got another phenomenal education about how the senior leadership of the Army functions—how the processes work to fund programs, to look at evidence and look at the data to inform whether or not to keep a program,” she said.


DunhamPorter later went on to be the Chief of Behavioral Health for the Army Surgeon General and Director of Psychological Health for the Army. In that job she was a leader in Behavioral Health policy for the Army and testified before Congress on various healthcare matters.


Today Porter is Commander of Dunham US Army Health Clinic in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The facility provides primary health care for approximately 12,000 students at the US Army War College and other beneficiaries in the area. She is the first psychologist in the Army to be appointed to head a medical treatment facility, and she’s found her background essential.

“I have relied, almost daily, on my background as a clinical psychologist in doing this job,” said Porter. “I have addressed personnel and morale issues in the clinic through the use of some of what I know about attitude formation, attitude change, and confirmation bias. I’ve set up programs to try to shift peoples’ attention to positive things, rather than negative things.

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“I have always felt like I had the right academic background and interpersonal background to be able to do what I’m doing now.”

This past January, Porter came to Winter Session in Santa Barbara and spoke candidly about military psychology and how policy on post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) has changed since the 1980s. For example, you can stay on active duty with PTSD as long as you can complete your duty.

"PTSD affects the entire family," said Porter, which is why it's important to put counselors in the schools with children of military parents.

 

Tags: adult learning, higher education, clinical psychology, fielding graduate university, army, graduate education, military psychology, veterans

Doctoral Students Stay Connected and Get Things Done!

Posted on Fri, Jun 20, 2014

Anchor Group Stays Close Through Session and Daily Emails

By Marianne McCarthy

There’s nothing simple about graduate school—especially when you do it on as an adult. Our students have busy lives that often include a job, family, and other commitments, not to mention all the activities that come with them!

“It’s easy to disconnect from school. Other things come in the way and they are all huge priorities,” says doctoral student Dohrea Bardell. “To maintain focus, you need people around you to constantly remind you.”

Dohrea, who runs a Seattle-based manufacturing company with her husband, is one of six members of the Getting Things Done (GTD) group. These Human & Organizational Development (HOD) students originally met at a New Student Orientation (NSO) in 2011. Dohrea and the other members of the group have found that staying connected with each other helps them stay on top of their coursework and their degree progress.

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Getting Things Done group members (from left to right): Dohrea Bardell, Holly Bardutz, Trevor Maber, Susan Miele, Don Khouri, and Sam Jama.

The group’s name comes from the book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, a veteran coach whose premise is: productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax.  It made a profound impact on one of the member’s coaching practice, and the group adopted the name because they decided they were going to get things done!

Daily Emails Keep them on Track

At NSO, the GTD members spent a lot of time on the Lifelines component, analyzing each other’s milestones and really getting to know each other.  After returning home, they initiated a system of daily emails at the suggestion of their program director, Dorothy Agger-Gupta. Since then, each member has taken one day out of every week to compose a message to the rest of the group. As a result of this daily contact, they have developed a strong bond, despite their distance.

 “With a daily connection and constant contact with Fielding peers, doctoral work becomes an integral part of your everyday thoughts. You’re constantly reminded about the work that you have to do, but also feel a part of the community via a virtual community,” says GTD member Sam Jama who lives and works in Canada.

Their daily messages comprise something personal or something very practical for the program.

“Whatever you want, even little tips or jokes.” says Holly Bardutz, “I have two kids and a job, but the emails remind me every day that this is part of my life too, and I have to keep going.”

Staying connected with each other has a profound impact on their success, admits Professor Agger-Gupta, who says that students who stay closely connected to others throughout their program benefit from the collegiality and have a greater tendency to complete their program.

“You could go through this program and have little to no contact with anyone else,” says Canadian Trevor Maber. “Some people are great at that, but I like to socialize. I need that connection. I need that sense of belonging.”

Group Collaborates on Coursework

GTD members contracted, designed, and executed several of their Knowledge Areas (KAs) together. Deciding that it’s better to go through courses together than apart, they leverage resources, take turns interviewing faculty, and collectively select the literature.

Susan Miele is raising a teenaged daughter and managing a human resources team at a technology company while working toward her doctorate. For her, working on coursework together was beneficial. “It’s easy to get distracted when you have your own individual deadline versus when you have five other people who are committed to the same timelines.”

“I wonder how people without the support network do it,” says Don Khouri, an executive coach for the technology and healthcare industries in New England and New York. “I’ve talked to other folks who struggle because they don’t have some of the logistical and process knowledge about HOD that we gained from someone in our group.”

Session Has More Meaning

Summer Session is just around the corner and all six members are slated to meet in Chicago this July.

“I don’t think I would come as often as I do if I didn’t know these people,” says Holly. “Knowing that they will be there is what motivates me to come here, and I’m more comfortable.”

GTD group members use their collective bandwidth to capitalize on all the opportunities Session presents. They attend different workshops, then come back together and share what they learned.  They benefit from discussing and debating these concepts and ideas from within their various viewpoints.

“In some ways we are a very divergent group and that brings a lot of richness to our experience in that we bring different perspectives and backgrounds,” says Trevor.  “It challenges us in other ways. If the six of us all lived in Phoenix and agreed on everything, I don’t know if we’d have the same experience.”

Group Provides Emotional Support

GTD group

 “Most people don’t know what it means to get a PhD, not to mention what Fielding is like,” says Susan. “As much as my husband and daughter are supportive they have no idea. They just know I’m busy all the time.”

“I view GTD as a group of lifelong friends. We have really built that bond. It’s not just Fielding stuff we’re talking about on a daily basis; it’s life stuff,” says Don.

The GTD Group of Six” is in the midst of an amazing learning journey, and I know that the strength and insight they each bring to this group will enable them to thrive when they all become the “GTD Group of Six PhDs!” says Professor Agger-Gupta.



Tags: adult learning, Distributed education, national session, graduate education, human development, distance education, learning

Alumna Recounts Earning PhD at Fielding while Raising Small Children

Posted on Wed, May 07, 2014

ErickJacob13SummerSessionGraduate Education + Motherhood = Possible!

By Kari Newbill Lannon, PhD (PSY ’13)

Special thanks to guest blogger, Kari L. Lannon, PhD, who shared her personal experience of earning her PhD while starting a family. This article celebrates all Fielding students who combine motherhood and scholarship. We applaud and honor you! Happy Mother’s Day!

Fielding Graduate University is an amazing place! I chose Fielding for two primary reasons: the high quality APA-accredited program in clinical psychology and the flexibility offered by the distributed learning model.

My husband’s industry was on a three- to four-year cycle of geographic moves, and I wanted to start a graduate program that I could finish if I was unable to stay in the same city. Little did I know, that my journey of becoming a psychologist and mother were about to begin! Three weeks after starting at Fielding, I discovered I was pregnant and the adventure intensified. Because of the incredible support of Fielding faculty and students, family, and friends, I successfully completed my first year while in the midst of severe morning sickness, months of working on my laptop in bed while on bed rest, and a breastfeeding baby who attended clusters and sessions. I cannot imagine being able to accomplish this at any other school.

EC4The flexibility and support of the Fielding community continued as subsequent years brought a second baby. My children have always been welcomed and included into Fielding events. I arranged my practicum schedules to spend the first year of each baby’s life primarily with them, keeping my family a priority even as I continued to successfully progress in school. I joined the Fielding LONGSCAN research team while seven months pregnant and on bed rest. Throughout my dissertation process, the team and my committee provided helpful feedback and understanding about the difficulties inherent in parenting two active boys while generating doctoral level research.

Going through the APA match process was complicated because I was trying to balance family and educational goals. My mother and children traveled to interviews with me as I was still nursing my second baby. I was incredibly blessed to match at an APA-accredited site, Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago, part of the Chicago Area Christian Training Consortium that provided outstanding and diverse clinical experiences and training opportunities. My family and I relocated from Dallas to Chicago, where I worked in an environment that was congruent with my values of social justice, faith, and family.


Summer2011BoysSchoolSessionI cannot adequately describe my sense of thankfulness, accomplishment, and excitement when my Final Oral Review was scheduled for Summer Session 2013, and I registered to walk in graduation. I made plans for my husband, parents, in-laws, and children to attend as they have all been integral parts of my education along with Fielding faculty and students, practicum and internship supervisors, and colleagues. My education at Fielding will always be measured by the age of my oldest son, Erick, and my dissertation research by my younger boy, Jacob.

As I stated in my dissertation acknowledgements: It takes a village to earn a PhD as a mother!

Tags: APA, gender empowerment, psychology, women's issues, adult learning, clinical psychology, graduate education

Dr. Latisha Webb (ELC’13) Wins Entrepreneurial Award

Posted on Thu, Dec 19, 2013

Empowers Others through Multiple Ventures

By Marianne McCarthy

Dr. Latisha Webb ARWEY Award winnerDr. Latisha Webb, a January 2013 graduate of the School of Educational Leadership for Change (ELC), likens her ability to manage multiple projects as similar to an octopus. Last month when she received an American Riviera Woman Entrepreneur of The Year (ARWEY) award, however, it was not for her physical ambidexterity. Instead she received accolades for her entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to multiple innovative endeavors that focus on empowering others.

"The ARWEY awards recognize and celebrate women and the accomplishments they have made in communities throughout the world. We applaud the efforts of women dedicated to creating the best possible environments in the workplace and improving communities using "new business" models,” said Tia Walker, ARWEY Awards executive director.

A true entrepreneur, Dr. Webb has her arms in several different ventures—nonprofit and for-profit businesses, as well as her own personal brand, On B.L.A.S.T.

“On B.L.A.S.T. stands for Being and Living my Authentic Self Today, which is a derivative of my Fielding dissertation, Discovering the Authentic Self: The Concurrent Processes of Being and Becoming.” said Dr. Webb. “It’s about defining and understanding the authentic self and then loving and embracing our very Being now while becoming who we inspire to be in the future.  We as individuals should align our core values, thought processes, actions, relationships, and every aspect of our lives so we can become who we're destined to become.”

She and her pastor provide weekly On B.L.A.S.T. conference calls that lead listeners through a six-dimensional self-discovery process of the physical, spiritual, psychological, emotional, social and sexual aspects of the authentic self.

“Sometimes we focus so much on the physical, but then we don’t take care of our psychological.  Or we concentrate on the social and neglect the spiritual.  From a systems theory perspective, On B.L.A.S.T. provides a way for us to understand that we as human begins many parts and those parts are all interdependent to make us who we are,” explained Dr. Webb.

She developed the curricula Demystifying Sexuality and the Impact of Trauma (DSIT) and Survivors of Trauma Educational Program: Stepping into My Authentic Self (STEP) based on several research projects while at Fielding. Her book, The Authentic Love Experience: Pillow Talk Topics for Couples who Desire a Holistic Relationship, addresses the six dimensions of the authentic self for couples and singles who desire to be in a committed relationship.

Named a Worldwide Network for Gender Empowerment (WNGE) fellow for 2011-2012, Dr. Webb presented at the United Nations on "Empowering Women through Demystifying Sexuality." A victim of sexual abuse herself, her mission is to empower women all over the world who have experienced sexual trauma to discover, be, and live their authentic selves.

Dr. Latisha WebbDr. Webb is also a committed human service professional. In her 13 years as a practitioner, she has served a myriad of populations: survivors of sexual trauma, the homeless, people living with HIV/AIDS, people in recovery, returning citizens, and neglected and abused children. She is currently the Director of Operations and one of the founding partners of OpportUNITY, Inc., a nonprofit organization which provides a myriad of educational and employment opportunities to disenfranchised populations, specifically targeting returning citizens, women, veterans, and people in recovery.

OpportUNITY’s programs are designed to foster economic empowerment, advancement, achievement, and self-determined homeownership. For example, the organization offers the welfare-to-work population hands-on experience through its PAATHS (Practical Application And Training in Human Services) program, which trains volunteers in the field of human services by providing opportunities to participants in the other programs who are returning citizens. Their flagship program is a 16-week residential construction-training program which provides homeless men, women, and others to learn a skill set and become gainfully employed. Willam and Latisha Webb at work at OpportUNITY, Inc.

“We have a great relationship with the South Philadelphia EARN Center who places public assistance recipients at job sites.  We train our volunteers from the EARN Center in the fielding of human services, in hopes to spark an interest and desire to apply for an entry level position in the field,” said Webb.

“Dr. Webb represents the new paradigm woman leader and business person, leading with her heart and creating economic empowerment for women which is at the core of the ARWEY Awards,” said Walker.

“In order to be a change agent, first you must go through a change process.  Having bought into the vision of Fielding and what it represents for world changers, I am lifelong learner and scholar-practitioner,” said Webb. “The more I learn, the freer I am. As I move in liberation, the freer I am to teach, free, and liberate others.”

Tags: change agent, educational leadership, trauma psychology, adult learning, fielding graduate university, authentic self, entrepreneur

Alumnus Uses Organizational Skills to Improve Quality of Life for Native Americans

Posted on Wed, Feb 22, 2012

Dr. John CastilloI come from Apache heritage on my father’s side. I grew up in Compton, but my family moved to Orange County during the Watts riots when I was in second grade. I went from a black community to a white community. This transition was a defining moment in my life, influencing my choice to use my organizational skills to help the Native American community.

John Castillo (HOD '00) is the Executive Director of Walking Shield Inc., a non-profit organization based in Lake Forest, CA that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for American Indian families.

"While I was a graduate student, Fielding’s unique learning opportunities supported my efforts to create and sustain these successful collaborations—and continue to influence my work at Walking Shield," said Dr. Castillo.

John's goal is “to work on a statewide initiative to build a pipeline for Native American students to attend college.

"For Native Americans, there is a 50% high school dropout rate. My vision for the future is to improve that statistic and work on a statewide initiative to build a pipeline for Native American students to attend college," he added.

Dr. Castillo, works closely with tribal leaders to develop and sustain programs that provide shelter, healthcare, community development support, educational assistance, and humanitarian aid to Native American communities.

Walking Shield is collaborative effort that engages American Indians and the U.S. Military in a unique partnership. Through a special program called Innovative Readiness Training (IRT), military personnel applWalkingShieldy their talents to rebuild and strengthen American Indian communities through healthcare assistance and infrastructure support. Since IRT’s inception in 1994, Walking Shield has provided training missions for the military on American Indian reservations where conditions often mimic those in third world countries.

True collaboration is a unique art form. All partners commit to common goals and objectives, work together to achieve these goals, utilize each other’s expertise, and create a win-win situation for all. Our collaboration meets these criteria. Before efforts begin, all parties agree to the goals and objectives to be achieved. Throughout the military deployment, members of the tribe work side by side with the troops, combining their efforts to achieve success. Walking Shield mitigates any problems that arise.

All partners use their talents and skills to meet the goals within a predetermined time frame. Most importantly, everyone wins. The tribe may get new roads, homes, water wells, electrical lines, or much needed healthcare assistance.

The military gets to utilize its skills and talents, which enhance deployment readiness and promotes retention. Walking Shield wins by meeting its mission—to improve the quality of life on reservations.

Dr. Castillo has taught graduate courses in social work as well as undergraduate courses on Indian Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He has published several articles about American Indians and is a sought out speaker at functions across the country. With decades of experience in program coordination and a Ph.D. in Organizational Development (Fielding), Dr. Castillo is fully dedicated to improving the quality of life on American Indian reservations. For more information about John's work, please visit www.walkingshield.org

 

Tags: social justice, multicultural, adult learning, healthcare, human rights, graduate education

'Being A Psychologist Means Being A Healer'

Posted on Mon, Apr 06, 2009

By James G. Schiller, PhD (Clinical Psychology ’08)

I began serving the New York City HIV community at St. Clare’s Hospital in 1990, I was one of the early hospital-based case managers, counseling people suffering from the stigma of Karposi Sarcoma, an HIV-related cancer that left visible marks. In 1993, I co-founded an intensive HIV case management program at Argus Community, Inc., a not-for-profit in the Bronx serving people who are HIV-positive and their loved ones. I now oversee all outpatient HIV and substance abuse mental health services for 1,000 people each year. I am a recipient of the New York Statedescribe the image Department of Health’s Dr. Nicholas Rango Award for Development of Quality Case Management Services and former co-chair of the New York State AIDS Institute Department of Health Technical Assistant Group. I have lectured at Hunter College and continue to provide local and state patient care training.

I have a bachelor’s degree from St. Anselm College and a master’s degree from Hunter College. I served as Fielding’s student body president from 1998-1999.

WHY FIELDING

When I applied to doctoral programs, I was accepted to both Fielding and another school. I chose the more traditional route but, a year later, was unhappy with the large anonymous classes, extreme competition, and minimal student or faculty interaction. I reapplied to Fielding and was accepted. My initial instinct that Fielding faculty members are scholarly, supportive, available, and genuine was correct and kept me focused until I obtained my doctorate. 

FIELDING’S IMPACT ON MY LIFE

To me, being a psychologist means being a healer. Fielding helped me to expand and clarify how I can use my day-to-day assessment and treatment skills for healing. My dissertation attachment research continues to impact my perspective on the bilateral interpersonal dynamics that exist between patients and providers in our field, informing my current research and professional mental health staff training. Fielding provided the venue to both enhance my clinical skills and acquire professional credentials, inspiring me to make more significant contributions in the fields of both mental and HIV health. 

Tags: HIV, psychology, AIDs, adult learning, clinical psychology, healthcare, graduate education

It's Never Too Late to Change Careers

Posted on Tue, Oct 07, 2008

By Joyce Clifford Burland, PhD (PSY ’88)

I am lucky to have led a double life: one as a practicing psychotherapist and then another as author and trainer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) peer education programs. In the past eight years at NAMI, I have written several educational programs for family caregivers and behavioral health providers. The Joyce Burlandprograms utilize trained family members and people with mental illness as peer teachers and are offered free in their home communities. The center I direct now oversees nine training programs, numerous community support groups, and 10,000 volunteer teachers across the country.

I began my career in politics, but after a devastating election loss, my career was over at age 44. With a forced career change looming, I decided to pursue my other interest: psychology. Thanks to a Fielding Graduate University faculty member who encouraged me to apply, I was able to complete the coursework to obtain my doctorate.

WHY FIELDING

My daughter has had schizophrenia for 25 years. I am grateful to my husband of 35 years, and my two sons and their wives, who long ago formed a family support group to help her recover. Fielding helped me leave politics to serve families with mental illness, including my own, and offered me the chance to find my way without the restriction of traditional programs as I cared for my daughter. The intellectual freedom and superb training at Fielding supported my life change and it never occurred to me not to finish, though I was sorely tried by my daughter’s need for care.

FIELDING’S IMPACT ON MY LIFE

Fielding taught me that learning is a lifelong process. I remember the moment that I realized there was nothing I couldn’t take on or learn on my own if I truly wanted to. One night, in my previous life as a politician, I dreamed I was hosting an election victory dinner. In the midst of glad-handing, I suddenly noticed there was no food on the tables—no real sustenance. That dream was leading me to my current life in service, and Fielding opened the door.

Tags: psychology, adult learning, clinical psychology, mental illness