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

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

New Books by Fielding Students, Faculty, and Alumni (December 2014)

Posted on Thu, Jan 22, 2015

The following books, authored by members of the Fielding community, were published in December 2014.

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Magic of Mentoring, by Barbara Perkins (Evidence Based Coaching alumna)

The Magic of Mentoring: Pearls of Wisdom is a collection of short stories written by 47 contributors, or “Pearls,” who believe that mentoring is the key to success for young people today. Each contributor’s story shares a personal journey on how their lives were changed for the better because of mentoring. According to Perkins, there is an overwhelming need to find perfect matches for children in cities across this nation in need of all the benefits that positive mentoring will bring to their lives.

The Psychotherapy Relationship: Cultural Influences (Fielding Monograph Series: Volume Two), edited by Sherry Hatcher (Clinical Psychology faculty)

This second volume in Fielding’s Monograph Series features six articles on the cultural ramifications of the psychotherapy relationship, based on recent dissertations by Fielding graduates. Edited by Sherry L. Hatcher, the studies explore unique socio-cultural aspects of the therapy relationship.Monograph Vol2

• Jessie Whitehorse Lopez’s article, co-authored by Robert L. Hatcher, tells us about Native American psychotherapy clients: how they evaluate standard measures of alliance, and which criteria they propose to add in order to foster trust in the therapy relationship.

• Christine Mok-Lammé reminds us to avoid stereotyping. Her article illustrates common expectations about what Chinese American psychotherapy clients want from their therapy, in terms of either cognitive or emotion-based interventions.

• Arielle Schwartz takes us into “new age” culture by asking what psychologists think about embedding mind-body methods in their work, such as the use of relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, and more. She discovered interesting discrepancies between the mind-body techniques that psychologists value personally, and those that they are disinclined to incorporate into their professional work.

• The article by Shanna Jackson looks at parallel cultures of abuse and what happens when therapists, who have themselves suffered abuse and trauma, treat clients with a similar history. The potential for “vicarious traumatization” suggests that methods that typically promote therapist empathy may instead have the potential to unwittingly retraumatize some therapists.

• Chaya Rubin and Comfort Shields explore the culture of therapists’ judgments, based on archival data from a study published by the editor of this issue. They investigate the question of whether the perceived culpability or vulnerability of a psychotherapy client may affect a therapist’s ability to empathize with that client.

• Michelle Horowitz introduces the reader to an exponentially expanding culture of social media and, in particular, how the delivery of electronically-mediated psychotherapy may positively and/or negatively impact the therapeutic relationship.

The monograph series is available for purchase on Amazon.com

New Directions in Media Psychology (Fielding Monograph Series, Volume Three), edited Karen Dill-Shackleford (Media Psychology faculty)

Monograph Vol3In this third volume of Fielding's Monograph six articles broaden the boundaries of Media Psychology, a field that Fielding introduced as a doctoral discipline in 2003. This volume illustrates the range of topics that the media psychology discipline can encompass, as illustrated by the recent dissertation research of six media psychology alumni.

• Gordon Goodman’s study examines one medium of entertainment long ignored by psychologists, namely the stage. An accomplished actor and director in his own right, Dr. Goodman asked whether stage fright, popularly associated with young and inexperienced actors, continues to vex accomplished, veteran actors.

• The article by Jennifer Johnston summarizes her groundbreaking study on childhood exposure to pornography, a dominant genre in virtually all media, and the effects of such exposure on sexual satisfaction in adulthood. Dr. Johnson’s findings show that early exposure to pornography can increase sexual satisfaction when mediated by sexual experience.

• Jonny White addresses the realm of storytelling. Based on five in-depth interviews with accomplished authors of fiction, augmented by additional case study material, Dr. White concluded that authors benefit from stepping outside of their societal narrative conventions in order to develop new perspectives for storytelling.

• In her article, Bernadette Chitunya-Wilson underscores the enduring power of one of our culture’s most important legacy media: television. Her inquiry probes the question of whether frequent viewing of reality TV shows involving cosmetic surgery actually fosters a desire among viewers to undergo cosmetic surgery themselves.

• Alicia Vitagliano turns our attention to another legacy platform, namely, print journalism covering the field of professional sports. Given that the number of female sports journalists has grown in recent decades since the adoption of Title IX in 1972, she wonders whether a reader’s gender and internalized sexism would affect his or her views towards a sports article written by a female journalist.

• Ivone Umar examines the role of the Internet in an area largely overlooked by American scholars: the ability of students born in Latin America to integrate within an American college community in the United States. Dr. Umar’s data show that the use of the Internet in the host language—English—was a positive factor in the acculturation process, whereas the use of the Internet in the student’s native language was correlated with a slower acculturation on an American English-speaking campus.

The monograph series is available for purchase on Amazon.com

Do you have a book that’s publishing soon? Send us your information and we’ll include your book in next month’s blog.

Tags: Media psychology, psychology, fielding faculty, clinical psychology, fielding graduate university, coaching

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

'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

Psychology Program Director Specializes in Addiction Issues

Posted on Mon, Apr 06, 2009

By Marilyn Freimuth, PhD, Program Director, School of Psychology

After many years in private practice, I discovered that I had been overlooking addiction issues in my psychotherapy patients. Subsequent research revealed I was not alone. I have since published two books. Hidden Addictions: Assessment Practices for PsychotherapisMarilyn Freimuthts, Counselors, and Health Care Providers helps health care providers become more adept at recognizing substance and behavioral addictions. Addicted? Recognizing Destructive Behavior Before It’s Too Late is written for professional and lay audiences and explores addiction as a continuum rather than a disease you either have or you do not. I also provide trainings to psychologists and other health care professionals and maintain a private practice.

At Fielding, I chair the School of Psychology and run the Addiction Study Group for students doing research on this topic. Six members of this group co-authored an article on co-addictions, while other members are studying the effect of client characteristics on psychotherapists’ ability to recognize substance use disorders.

WHY FIELDING?

After receiving my doctorate, I taught undergraduates at a school that valued individual mentoring, self development, and their relationship. The work was rewarding but difficult because undergraduates had so little background or life experience. Fielding follows a similar educational model, but students have experience and knowledge, so interactions are more collegial and rewarding. I also like Fielding’s openness to the full range of perspectives, compared to other programs that adhere to a specific theoretical orientation.

ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS

Prospective students are excited to be in an adult learner environment, but nearly all underestimate the self-discipline needed to balance the demands of life and school in a program that does not require them to show up weekly in a classroom. Yet when students endure, Fielding supports them in becoming scholars and practitioners who think from different approaches. Our students learn that there are no right answers, only great questions and explorations.

Tags: mental health services APA, psychology, clinical psychology

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