Recent Posts

NOLA 2012

Posted on April 23,2012 by agareaumspp

Hello Everyone! Sorry that I have been out of the loop for a little bit, but I just got back this past weekend from my trip to New Orleans. As I previously have written about, I was one of eleven students going down to New Orleans through MSPP’s C.A.R.E (communities assisting relief efforts) team. The trip was incredible and I had an amazing experience! This was my first time in New Orleans and before going down I was really looking forward to gaining an understanding to what it was like for the community when Hurricane Katrina hit and I was also looking forward to being able to contribute towards rebuilding efforts. Not only did I achieve these goals, but the trip exceeded my expectations. So here are some highlights from the week…

On Monday we volunteered with St. Paul’s Homecoming Center and we planted 32 trees in a neighborhood park. We were teamed up with one of the residents from the neighborhood who was in charge of managing the park, and after a hard day’s work of digging, planting, and cleaning out debris through scattered rain storms, we finished the project and all 32 trees brought some life back to the park.

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Counseling Psychology

Building Self-Esteem Through Expressive Therapies

Posted on April 11,2012 by agareaumspp

When was the last time that you took five or ten minutes out of your busy day to check in with yourself to see how you were feeling? With everything that we all have going on these days, it is rare that we find time in the day to look inward and focus on ourselves. As a busy graduate student, I can attest to the rarity of finding such time. Between classes, my practicum, homework, babysitting, and trying to have a social life, I barely have time to cook dinner or do the other household chores that I oh so often fall behind on. However, after presenting my final presentation yesterday for my expressive therapies class, I have learned the importance and necessity of each of us taking this time for ourselves.

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Counseling Psychology

And My Internship Search is Over!

Posted on April 01,2012 by agareaumspp

Two months and four interviews later, I have finally secured an internship for next year! I will be interning in the pediatric behavioral medicine department at the Dimock Center in Roxbury and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m going to be doing individual therapy with children and adolescents in an outpatient setting who are referred from the primary care department. I’m most excited about the opportunity to work in conjunction with the primary care department, as it will be a great opportunity for me to gain experience working in a healthcare setting. As I have previously mentioned, I am deeply interested in health psychology and I am thrilled about the opportunity to gain experience in the field.

Not only am I super excited about my placement for next year, but I am so relieved to be done with the application process! It has been a long journey finding placements, both for this year and next, but I am really happy with how everything has turned out. Just to give you guys an idea of what the process is like, we started researching potential sites last November and had our sites chosen that we wanted to apply to by December. Over break, we wrote our cover letters, gathered our letters of recommendation, and had all of our applications sent out by early-mid January. Then the waiting game began…Some sites got back to students relatively quickly, and some sites are just going through the interview process now.

Read More

Tagged Counseling Psychology

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Posted on March 26,2012 by agareaumspp

Last Friday for my substance abuse class, my group and I gave our presentation on family issues relating to substance abuse. I must say, I think this was one of the best group presentations I have given so far in the program. There were four of us total in the group and we each researched a specific topic relating to the umbrella theme. To start out the presentation, we decided to get a little creative and we role played a mock intervention based on A&E’s popular television show, Intervention. One of my group mates assumed the role of the alcoholic mother, another group mate played her enabling husband, I portrayed the “lost child” daughter, and our final group mate played the role of the interventionist. However, the best part of the presentation was the move clip that we showed first: a homemade documentary highlighting the drinking problem of our alcoholic mother.

As we dimmed the lights, rolled the movie, and the Intervention theme song reverberated through the classroom, I think it is safe to say that we captured everyone’s attention. After the short documentary clip ended, our alcoholic mother came storming into the classroom, fully dressed for the part holding a martini glass, for the long-awaited intervention. As her enabling husband and I read our heart-wrenching letters of why she should get help, she eventually agreed to treatment.

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Counseling Psychology

My Very First Session as a Therapist

Posted on March 19,2012 by agareaumspp

Today I met with my very first client and conducted my first therapy session as an independent clinician. Just as a reminder, I started up my practicum placement in mid-January as my first placement didn’t end up working out. So, I have been spending time at two sites: a trauma clinic for children and a group home for adolescent boys. At the trauma clinic I have been doing co-therapy with another clinician, but today marked the very start of my independent work at the group home. Until now I had been reading through the boys charts and spending time with them in the milieu setting to get to know them and to familiarize myself with the program. Most recently my supervisor and I decided together that I was ready to take on my own cases and I can now officially say that I have begun my career as a therapist!

I must say, I was pretty nervous going into my first session today, but mostly I was excited. After all, this was the moment I had been anticipating since deciding that I wanted to pursue a degree in counseling! I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I felt upon starting the session and I almost immediately felt at ease. As I spent time getting to know my client, the conversation flowed smoothly and my role seemed to come naturally. Overall, I was really pleased with how our session went and I’m really excited to begin our work together.

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Counseling Psychology

Spring is in the Air!

Posted on March 08,2012 by agareaumspp

It is absolutely beautiful here in Boston! 68 degrees and sunny- who could complain! Two days of sixty-degree weather and I feel like a new person. It is amazing how much the weather can affect one’s mood. After a couple of days of warm weather I feel energized, rejuvenated, and my spirits have lifted. After experiencing this warm-weather high I feel as though I have gained insight to what it must be like for people who suffer from seasonal depression. Of course, after having just finished psychopathology and in lieu of my recent mood change due to the warm weather I find myself wondering, do I in fact suffer from seasonal depression? You know what they say…once you take psychopathology you find yourself self-diagnosing left and right. While I don’t think that I have seasonal depression, I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the correlation between weather and mood, and I feel such a relationship between the two is normal, especially at the start of a new season.

According to the DSM-IV, a seasonal pattern to mood disorders refers to the onset and remission of major depressive episodes at characteristic times of the year, most often occurring at the onset of fall/winter and remitting in the spring. Also, the DSM reports that younger people are at a higher risk for winter-type depressive episodes and furthermore, such episodes are more common in women than men. I find both of these facts very interesting. Why is seasonal depression more common in younger people? Why is this age group more susceptible to the influence of colder weather and darker days on mood? Furthermore, why is this pattern of depression more common in women? In search of answers to these questions, I find myself wondering if it is a matter of self-reporting. Are younger people and women more comfortable self-reporting that the weather has an influence on their mood? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Feel free to comment!

Read More

Tagged Around Boston, Counseling Psychology

First Blended Course: Complete

Posted on March 05,2012 by agareaumspp

As of last night at 11:15pm I officially finished my Adult Psychopathology blended course. I think I have mentioned this class before, but just as a reminder blended courses are primarily online with the exception of one “weekend-in-residence” where we meet for class all day on Saturday and Sunday. The class was seven weeks instead of the full semester, and I feel like it was just yesterday that I cracked open my Abnormal Psychology book to chapter one to start the class! I must say, I was pretty apprehensive about taking a class online, especially psychopathology, as I really enjoyed all of my traditional classes last semester and I especially enjoyed all of our great class discussions. However, while it took some getting used to the online format, all in all I really enjoyed this blended course.

For the class we had to complete weekly readings in the textbook as well as any related articles and we had to respond to discussion questions online. Responding to the discussion questions was my favorite part of the class, as the questions often incorporated interesting videos and articles that related the week’s course content to present-day issues. For example, as the DSM is undergoing a major revision we did a lot of reading and writing about our opinions on the proposed changes. As clinicians in training, changes in the DSM will have a huge impact on our future work with clients and it was really interesting to analyze some of the proposed changes from the stance that they will someday directly affect us as professionals. Also, we watched some really great video clips about different topics relating to mental illness. The last video that we watched was a presentation by Dr. Xavier Amador, a clinical psychologist who discussed his proposed model of how to work with people with severe mental illness and how to engage them in treatment. I found his presentation to be both fascinating and eye-opening, as it provided me with a great level of insight to the use of motivational interviewing to align with people suffering with psychotic disorders. Dr. Amador discussed how the resistance to treatment demonstrated by such people is purely a symptom of their illness, and through his method of listening, empathizing, agreeing, and partnering a therapeutic relationship is established that provides the necessary trust and support to aid in the process of these patients seeking the treatment they need. I really urge you all to check out his book, as I found it to be very insightful and informative- I included a link below!

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Counseling Psychology


Posted on February 23,2012 by agareaumspp

This April I will be going on a service trip to New Orleans as part of MSPP’s C.A.R.E. (communities assisting relief efforts) team. Earlier this fall I attended an information session about C.A.R.E. and after learning more about opportunities to help a community in need, I decided to apply. I have done a lot of local volunteer work with children, but I have never gone on a service trip. The idea of being able to visit a new community and learn about their culture while helping to rebuild their society sounded incredibly rewarding to me and I am so excited for our trip!

While in New Orleans, we will be volunteering with a variety of organizations to help those in need and to help the community continue to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Even though Katrina hit in 2005, the damage to New Orleans was so severe that the community is still struggling to get back on its feet. Just to give you an idea of how destructive Katrina was, here are some quick facts:

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Counseling Psychology

Busy Bee

Posted on February 11,2012 by agareaumspp

Now that I am over a month into my second semester, I have fully settled into the swing of things and I am finding myself quite busy these days. I thought I would give all you prospective students out there a sneak peak into what my schedule is like as a guide to what life is like as a graduate student. So, here is a week in the life of a first year counseling student…

Mondays I am at my practicum at the group home for adolescent boys from 9-3. I attend staff meetings in the morning and then spend time with the boys in the afternoon. As of next week I will be starting my first in-home therapy case for my other practicum site from 3:30-5. I’ve been paired up with one of the clinicians from the trauma clinic and we will be going out together to work with a family and I’m really excited as I anticipate that it will be a great learning experience. Tuesdays I am at the trauma clinic (my second practicum site) from 8-12 where I attend trainings, staff meetings, and supervision. Then I scoot to MSPP for classes from 1-6:20. I have my seminar and my expressive therapies class. Right now in seminar we are doing practice therapy sessions with our classmates which we will be writing a case formulation paper for at the end of the semester that we will be presenting to the class. In my expressive therapies class this week we focused on play therapy and sand tray therapy- which I absolutely love.

Read More

Tagged Counseling Psychology

My Journey to MSPP

Posted on February 04,2012 by agareaumspp

In my last post I wrote about some of the reasons why I chose to attend MSPP. I thought it might also be helpful to share my journey before deciding to apply to counseling programs, as I can recall the days when I was contemplating what to do with my life and I found it incredibly helpful to read about current students’ experiences. So, without further adieu, here goes my story of becoming a student in the Master’s in Counseling Psychology program at MSPP…

Once upon a time, in a far away land, I was on the premed track and I had hopes of attending medical school after college. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with medicine and I always envisioned myself becoming a doctor. I think this was in large part due to my personal experience with illness, as I endured a very traumatic hospitalization at the age of twelve as a result of a perforated appendix. Ever since then, I was dead set on becoming a doctor to help sick children like I had been helped by the wonderful staff of doctors and nurses at UMASS Memorial Medical Center.

Read More

Tagged Counseling Psychology, Applying to MSPP