Getting to know Boston

Posted on October 31,2013 by naomimspp

I’ve lived in Boston for just about four and a half years. Well, let me be more accurate: I’ve lived just outside of Boston for just about four and a half years. If you’re new to the area, you’ll find that actual Bostonians find this distinction to be very important. So I’ve lived in the Cambridge area, and I’m pretty comfortable being around here. Downtown Boston is a whole other place, though, one I’m trying to get into the habit of visiting and exploring more often.

And that’s definitely something that all students attending MSPP should do. Get to know your own area, get to know Boston, and for your own sanity – get to know what festivals are happening around you! It's not all Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots and Celtics madness (although, let's face it, Boston stands transfixed beneath the glow of a sports screen)! In and around Boston are some truly fantastic little fairs and festivals, full of great food and shows, and you get to know the culture of the different suburbs and many “squares” of the Boston area.

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Academia is changing...

Posted on October 29,2013 by dirkmspp

Throughout the last several years, colleges and universities around the country have been adding programs and classes to their online rosters, opening university doors to many students who don't have the time or flexibility to commit to a traditional class schedule. In fact, over 6 million students, nearly a third of total enrollment at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, are now taking at least one online course. I am one of those students, faithfully working to balance my professional and personal life, with my academic one.

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Jail Guitar Doors

Posted on October 29,2013 by rio32013

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel back to my alma mater, Georgetown, to do research on musical rehabilitation of prison inmates. Along with having an amazing time and seeing friends and colleagues, I went to a symposium and master class on social justice and the performing arts. The event was geared toward film and music’s application in the prison system. As a musician and student in the forensic program, this might just be the coolest subject I can think of.

Wayne Kramer

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Social Thinking, My Thinking

Posted on October 29,2013 by sthurstonmspp

There are over 400 people in this room, and yet it is quiet. We all sit enrapt and engaged with presenter Michelle Garcia Winner, nodding at the clear and concise expression of what we all know to be common sense in our line of work. Then I hear the scratching of pencils and shuffling of paper as she walks us through a new strategy for developing the social competencies of our children and our groups.
What I have found particularly helpful is the way in which she has labeled and defined the various levels of social functioning and, more importantly, “social executive functioning.” It can often be a challenge for us to develop social goals that feel meaningful: yes, we want Tommy to learn to say “hi” to others, but what we really want is for him to know when it is appropriate to say “hi” or “hello” or some other greeting based on reading the social context. For that to become a SMART goal, we need operational definitions of Tommy’s current level of social performance, and a definition of where we’d like him to be. Enter Social Thinking.
On a personal level, this conference has also highlighted the way that this year of internship has already transformed my thinking from “student” to “professional”. I am listening to the presenters and thinking about how I will use these strategies to change this group, or how next year I will look to use this method of measurement for baseline and monitoring data. I am also thinking in terms of the educator evaluation and the ways in which these tools will enable me to write my own SMART goals for professional practice.
The change was sneaky, but it happened. Maybe it had to do with the fact that, for me, it was slipping back on an old pair of favorite shoes. I’ve been here before, employed and ambitious. This is still my “practice” year, but I am already feeling fully confident in my ability to venture out on my own next year!

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Tagged Personal Growth, School Psychology

Where's Waldo, and Why Should We Care?

Posted on October 28,2013 by snguyen617

During a slight bout of procrastination today I found myself looking for Waldo.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth

The Root of Anxiety

Posted on October 27,2013 by falimspp2013

This past week at my practicum site, Jessica Minahan, a board-certified behavior analyst and special educator, directed a parent workshop on Helping Parents Help Kids with Anxiety. The seminar was aimed at providing parents and professionals with valuable skills and tips to help children with anxiety. This was my first seminar that I attended within the psychology field and it was a very beneficial experience. The speaker brought valuable insight about the matter at hand and was very engaging and funny.

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Tagged Change of Career, Personal Growth, Experiential Education, Counseling Psychology

One more for the mix

Posted on October 26,2013 by naomimspp

Just a little intro to get started...

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Applying to MSPP

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Posted on October 26,2013 by aliatmspp

Mid-fall is my favorite time of the year. It’s sweater and boot but not yet shoveling weather. The leaves light up the sides of streets and pathways, but the trees are not completely bare yet. But even more wonderful than warmed caramel apple cider is the fact that at this time of the year, on this very year, it is the perfect storm for Boston sports fans. Yes, the Red Sox are chasing late October victories. The Patriots, for better or worse, have begun playing with my heartstrings again. The Celtics and Bruins are kicking into high gear, previewing what promises to be an exciting winter (and hopefully spring) full of green and white, black and gold. For a girl who grew up planning weekends around games of my own and my beloved Boston teams, this is pretty close to heavenly.

With all of these games, the demands of my practicum, and my coursework, sleep has become a cherished resource. Some nights, I’m not going to lie, I find myself crawling into bed whispering in a Sméagol (Gollum) voice, “my precious …” before conking out. Others, I am on the edge of my chair, adrenaline pumping as my former athletic competitive spirit is awakened. Unfortunately, this occasionally results in using the snooze button a little too liberally the following morning. This past Thursday morning, the day after the first Red Sox-Cardinals game of the series (which started at 8:00 pm – Fox, you’re really making it tough for us), it was clear from peers’ arrival times for our 8:30 class that I was not the only one mumbling, “just another minute” to my annoyingly cheery alarm. And while this may have been an irritating side effect of Boston fandom for our instructor, she handled it the way that most instructors do at MSPP – with understanding.

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Comin' Home (sorta)

Posted on October 24,2013 by rio32013

One of the best things about living in a city like Boston is the ease with which you can go to other major cities on the East Coast. I’m going to be taking advantage of this a bit this semester. I’m finalizing my plans to spend Thanksgiving in New York, and this weekend, I am going on a trip to Washington, DC to do research on musical therapy of prison inmates (how cool is that???). I love Texas, but realistically, making trips to other cities is pretty difficult back home. Drives from Austin to El Paso regularly take about eight hours - if you drive fast and don’t take breaks - and going to Dallas or Houston takes even longer.

Getting to New York from here is considerably easier. Thanksgiving is going to be exciting for me because I have never been to New York City. I have friends who have convincing me to check out the big city since I moved to DC for college. It’s also really accessible by driving or via train or bus from Boston (you can find tickets for five bucks between the two cities!). DC is only… ok, so DC isn’t that close to Boston. But it’s definitely easier to get there from Boston than from Texas (hence, why this is my first return to the hilltop since graduating two years ago). I’m going to be taking the train this time around, but I did consider driving.

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Eid Mubarak!

Posted on October 22,2013 by falimspp2013

Eid Mubarak everyone!!

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The Ride of a Lifetime

Posted on October 22,2013 by sthurstonmspp

I am afraid of heights. I think, though, that what is really going on is a fear of falling- and a perfectly reasonable fear of the resulting test of my mortality. Roller coasters, therefore, are off the menu for me. With one very special exception: I love Space Mountain. First of all, Space Mountain is at Disney. What better place to put you in the trusting mind frame of a young child? And, even more importantly, the Space Mountain roller coaster is in the dark! I can’t see what is coming, and am so busy being rushed forward that I get to experience the thrill without the anxiety.
This year has felt like an incredible roller coaster: I feel as though if I stopped to think and acknowledge everything on my plate I may panic. But, given that I am in the aura of safety and support provided by MSPP and that I can continue rushing forward, adding things to my docket as they come, my momentum is carrying me to places I would never think to go by myself with eyes wide open. And, I am enjoying it.
I am finishing up my M.A./C.A.G.S with a full time internship at an elementary school. I am doing psychological assessments, running lunch groups, attending a myriad of meetings, doing counseling, and generally putting out fires all over the building. Some days I forget to eat lunch! The work is keeping me on my toes, reminding me how to think on my feet, and is presenting me with many situations that require careful planning and collaboration. I am taking the associated Internship Seminar, and have also begun my journey into the PsyD program. I managed to knock out 4 classes over the summer, and have squeezed in one more this fall. I am already thinking ahead to the job hunt that will begin in a few months, and taking on any extras I can: this week I will help to put together and facilitate an Anti-Bullying night for community members.
I am, in all honesty, looking forward to when the ride will stop and I can catch my breath. But, in the mean time, I am enjoying the ride!

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Tagged School Psychology

A walk down memory lane

Posted on October 22,2013 by aliatmspp

Recently, some clients and I were chatting about childhood games and past times. Yes, I realize that this self-disclosure probably dated me, but heck, we were playing Jenga-Unchained, wherein each time a participant pulls a Jenga block successfully, s/he must answer a question about her or himself. So, I taught these youngsters a little something about the prehistoric days: the hours spent fording a river only to lose half my crew to dysentery on the Oregon Trail, the joys of Kid Pix, the accuracy of the MASH game, the dust from sidewalk chalk (and classroom chalk), the familiar sounds of AOL loading up its connection … If you missed that last one, I've included a short reminder:

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Long-time Learner, First-Time Blogger

Posted on October 21,2013 by jeanc2013

Greetings from Dubai, U.A.E.!

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Why Dogs are Awesome (and why we should be more like them)

Posted on October 19,2013 by rio32013

I am a dog person. I am so much of a dog person that I can’t even understand why anyone wouldn’t be. Most importantly, I think that dogs have a lot to teach us about how to be better humans. But for those of you who still need convincing, I have come up with a small assortment of reasons to bring you over to the “bark” side (I should mention that I love terrible puns).

Dogs have great perspective

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Halfway Through- A Review of the First Half of the Semester

Posted on October 18,2013 by snguyen617

The semester is already half over! I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of my observations about MSPP's Clinical Psy.D program up until this point.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Applying to MSPP

MSPPs Support of Veterans!

Posted on October 18,2013 by dirkmspp

Hi –

If you haven’t had the chance, make sure to inquire about MSPPs Military and Veterans Psychology concentration for clinical psych students. Please note that I would be that last person to advocate on behalf of anything that I didn’t strongly believe in. However, MSPP has done an exceptional job in supporting the veteran community, beginning with its ‘Train Veterans to Treat Veterans Program’, and is now building on this with this new endeavor.

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Team MSPP Midterms: Mission Possible

Posted on October 16,2013 by aliatmspp

With all of the excitement around Boston sports teams recently, I was inspired to think about collaboration and teamwork à la MSPP. And no, this is not a post regarding good luck beards or other talismans.

It’s a lovely fall Saturday morning, around 11 am. Some 20 students or so stream out of a classroom where a review session has just taken place. Some are trying to digest the material. Others are thinking about which marathon – ‘Law & Order: SVU’ or ‘Sex in the City’ – to commit to for the day. Curiously, there’s a group of students still in the classroom. No, they’re not refreshing Twitter to see what Miley’s up to. And they’re not just waiting to hit up the coffee machine. Instead, this group is asking questions of each other, working together in continuing to review.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD


Posted on October 15,2013 by dirkmspp

Dear All,

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Gimme Shelter

Posted on October 15,2013 by rio32013

Wednesday, I started my practicum with the Veteran’s Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill. VNOC is a non-profit organization which helps homeless veterans find housing and reintegrate back into society. Some of the veterans served have spent a large part of their lives in and out of shelters, while others are younger veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom.

The goals for the program are the same for both of these groups. First, VNOC provides them with a place to live at one of their centers (apartment-style rooms in houses) and reteach the veterans necessary to keep a house running smoothly (keeping their rooms/shared areas clean). Simultaneously, the program helps the veterans find tools and resources to find their own long-term housing. Most of the residents stay with VNOC for about one year before moving on to their own long-term housing. During the duration of the program, VNOC helps the veterans deal with physical and mental health issues through the VA. This is where I will be primarily helping out.

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Here's to new beginnings

Posted on October 15,2013 by falimspp2013

Hi everyone!

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Tagged Change of Career, Counseling Psychology, Applying to MSPP

Art Therapy at MSPP? The Healing Power of the Arts and Psychology

Posted on October 11,2013 by snguyen617

I was walking to the first floor kitchen to heat up lunch a few weeks ago when I saw some 'action' going on in the first floor lounge. In case you forgot, I'm new here. For all I know, commotion in the lounge could be a daily event. So, I ignored it. I stuck my food in the microwave, hit the auto-reheat button, ate and then went to class.

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Tagged Social Responsibility, Counseling Psychology

Scary Decisions

Posted on October 10,2013 by rio32013

Big life decisions can be scary, especially when you make them on short notice. I moved up to Massachusetts from West Texas a little over a month ago, and – to be honest – I was completely terrified of the idea of the idea of moving 2,000 miles away from home when I found out that I was accepted at MSPP. If you had asked me what I expected to be doing in October 2013 just a few months ago, I probably would have told you that I’d be working in El Paso and “getting ready” for grad school in 2014.

Thanks to MSPP’s rolling admissions, I had the opportunity to apply to a school late into the summer and was accepted into an excellent program that is already changing my life. The MSPP faculty is simply amazing, and my advisor has constantly been available to help in this process. In the span of a week, I was able to take care of everything from admissions, to registration, to financial aid, all without ever feeling like anything was out of my reach. Part of me still doesn’t understand how everything got taken care of, but it did. Now I’m doing well in my classes, and nothing about what I’m doing feels “scary,” or even intimidating.

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2nd Star to the Right

Posted on October 10,2013 by sthurstonmspp

This week I have been thinking a lot about “normal” or “typical” kids. It can be hard to tell the “typical” from the “unusual” these days: everyone wears tiaras and tutus to school, wears the Ninjago sweatshirts and seems to have trouble listening in class. But in other respects, I am remembering how much effort needs to be put in to recognizing what a “typical” kid looks like, talks like, and learns like. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the students who get sent our way that the definition of a baseline 3rd grader starts to shift.
So I am hitting the library- the children’s section- and checking out the books that the kids are reading. I have played many an hour of Poptropica. Occasionally I will flip on the television at home and watch an episode of the show that the 2nd grade boys are acting out on the playground. I may even suffer through an episode of Sofia the First for my kindergarten girls. And as I’ve caught up on who the good guys and bad guys are to today’s elementary school students, I’ve realized how much more I have been able to understand, guide, and contribute to the conversation that bounces around the lunchroom.
Pull up a chair! Check out Jake and the Neverland Pirates (totally watchable) or even a little Spongebob Squarepants for your kindergarteners and watch how excited they get to have an adult who has been a part of their world, even if it was only for a half an hour. And it just may make you feel younger, too.

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Tagged Personal Growth, School Psychology

From Français to Field Placement

Posted on October 07,2013 by aliatmspp

Hello! I’m Ali, and I’m a first-year Clinical PsyD student at MSPP. I grew up a dozen miles or so from MSPP’s campus. Actually, my grandparents used to live within a ten minutes’ walk from Wells Avenue. I went to Amherst College for undergrad, where I majored in two departments that are not widely regarded as traditional foundations for a career in psychology: French and Political Science. Eager to start doing “meaningful” work after graduation, I took one of the first jobs I came across, which was working as a teaching assistant at a residential treatment center. At the time, I had no idea what a “residential treatment center” really was, whom it was intended to serve, and what the academic goals would be for these students. But the combination of kids, counseling, and teaching seemed like a good one.

I was there for a short time in a variety of roles, from educational advocate to frequent participant in crisis management. However, the one-on-one and group teaching moments made me curious about teaching. There was a school nearby that needed a French teacher to cover for one semester. It was a match made in online job posting heaven. That one semester of teaching turned into eleven semesters; I taught languages for five and a half years, teaching every grade from first to eighth – except for second. While teaching, I also had the opportunity to coach, to mentor and to advise students. And I was fortunate to learn a lot about the ABC Family television line-up and songs from the Top 40. All the while, I found the most fulfilling aspects of my job to be getting to know my students as people outside of their French personae (each student picked a new francophone name like Fatima, Jacques, or Boubacar) and helping them navigate the bumpy terrain of middle school life.

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Tagged Change of Career, Clinical PsyD

From Austin to Boston

Posted on October 06,2013 by rio32013

Howdy ya’ll!

I’m Bobby from El Paso, Texas. I am a first year student in MSPP’s Forensic and Counseling program, and absolutely love the school and what it stands for. A quick summary of me: born and raised in Texas, I played music all through high school and ended up going to Georgetown University for my undergraduate studies. I double majored in Music and Psychology while at Georgetown, then moved to Austin for two years. While there, I managed a restaurant and played in a garage band. After two years of not becoming a rock star, I had the opportunity to hang out with my infant godson in Nebraska for a couple of months and realized that it was time that I applied for graduate school and started working towards a career in my field of study, which is how I ended up at MSPP (more on that in my next post).

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NKOTB: Quick Self-Introduction

Posted on October 04,2013 by snguyen617


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Posted on October 01,2013 by sthurstonmspp

What does it mean to you? More importantly, what does it mean to the kids in our schools? I can remember when I was little it was something that was demanded of children. And I do mean that in the very best way.

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