MSPP: Offering a Unique Opportunity for Students to Focus Their Studies

Posted on November 19,2010 by jyalofmspp

MSPP is unique in that it offers different concentrations, or tracks, that a student can choose to enter after their second year. Along with General Studies, MSPP offers Health, Forensic, Child, Adolescent and Family, and Latino Mental Health tracks. This can be a unique experience for the individual interested in directing their studies with a certain interest in mind. Personally, I am following the General Studies track because my areas of interest in the field are less directed at this point in time and more broad. I admire those students who are passionate about a certain kind of psychology, or interested in working with a specific population. I interviewed two students who are deciding to enter the Forensic Concentration and Health Concentration in order to better understand what lead them to focus their studies. The first interview conducted was with Meghan Welsh (Health), and the second was with Laura Polhamus ( Forensic). I hope to conduct interviews with students who are a part of the other concentrations mentioned in the near future. A special thank you to Meghan and Laura for their participation and informative responses!

Jen: Why the Health Psychology Concentration?

Meghan: I guess I have always wanted to do work at Dana-Farber with actual medical illness, but knew that I didn't want to go to medical school because I like the psychological aspect. I came to MSPP because they offered a health psychology track.

Jen: Did you have any experience with health psychology prior to your decision to enter the track?

Meghan: At the outpatient clinic where I work, we see kids with certain medical diagnoses and genetic disorders, so I've had some experience doing counseling with their families. In my personal life I've also known very close friends who have gone through intensive medical treatment and I've seen the psychological impact that can have.

Jen: How big of a role did the forensic track play in your decision to come to MSPP?

Meghan: It played a really big role. There were a couple of other schools that had health tracks, but I felt that this school was most connected with hospital sites in the area so I feel like it made a large impact on my decision to come to MSPP.

Jen: What are your future career goals?

Meghan: My hope is that this program will prepare me to be in a health setting and work with families and individuals who are affected specifically with medical conditions. My hope is to do the internship at Shriners or Dana-Farber and work in a setting similar to that.

Jen: Thanks, Meghan.

Meghan: You’re welcome!

( The following interview is with Laura Polhamus).

Jen: When did you realize that you had an interest in forensic psychology?

Laura: I had a teacher in high school who talked to my class about the subject. It was right when the whole forensic craze happened and she presented it to us as a growing field. I love the field because there are so many different ways you can go with it. From the beginning, I have been interested in chronically violent offenders because it is very hard to track the development of their behavior. After reading quite a bit about famous offenders, it always seems as though the people closest to them have no idea about the mental health status of the future offender. Since that first lecture from my teacher, I have wanted to study how this behavior begins and develops.

Jen: Did you have any experience with forensics prior to your decision to enter the concentration?

Laura: Somewhat. I had done two internships that were indirectly associated with forensic psychology. The first was with the United States Secret Service. I worked closely with polygraphists and agents working on threat analysis. Both groups had the very difficult task of deciphering information, and evaluating whether individuals were a danger to themselves or the community. The second internship I did during undergrad was at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore, MD. Sheppard Pratt is one of the leading in-patient psychiatric hospitals in the country, and I was lucky enough to work in their dual-diagnosis unit. Many of the patients had engaged in criminal behavior, and it was my first real experience working with clients in a forensic setting.

Jen: How big of a role did the option of concentrating in forensics play in your decision to come to MSPP?

Laura: It played a huge role. I specifically looked for programs with a forensic concentration. My original intention was to go to school close to home in New York, but when I couldn’t find a forensic program I decided to come to Boston.

Jen: What are your career goals for the future?

Laura: It seems as though my career goals are constantly evolving. Ultimately, I would like to work for the FBI Behavioral Science Unit. Those are the agents that put together profiles of past crimes in order to have information that will help solve future crimes. I would love to be able to meet with offenders and try to track when this behavior first emerged. Past research has been unable to really point to one or a few transformational moments in the perpetrator’s lives. My goal is to be able to gather enough information about these individuals in order to come up with a theory on how these people became the way that they are.

Jen: Thanks, Laura.

Laura: You’re welcome!

If you're interested in any of the specific concentrations, follow the respected links below. They will provide more detailed information about each track:

Forensic Psychology Concentration:

Specialty in Latino Mental Health

Concentration in Health Psychology:


Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology: