Thoughts from India

Posted on December 29,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

I have been in India for the holiday break, currently in Hyderabad, a major city in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. As you may have heard, India has been in an uproar in reaction to the violent sexual assault and death of a 23-year-old female student in Delhi. Despite the somber circumstances underlying the pandemonium, I have been inspired and even empowered by the extent to which the people of India have raised their voices in reaction to this tragedy.

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility

"Never Worry Alone"

Posted on December 14,2012 by sthurstonmspp

Today’s tragedy stuns the nation. It generates conversations even as it breaks hearts. Facebook is plastered with personal statements. Statistics. Most of it is about guns, and gun control.

There is another important aspect to this tragedy: the access to mental health care.
We need to continue to cultivate a culture of acceptance around mental health services. And we need to have access available to all who need it.

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Tagged Social Responsibility, School Psychology

Gettin’ Jilly wit It (Na na na na na). Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Jill Bloom

Posted on November 19,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth, Social Responsibility

"Americans don't have hairdos" and Other Cultural Insights

Posted on November 19,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

My absurd roommates! Melissa #1, a non-profit employee from OH; Guillermo, a photography student from Spain; Melissa #2, an interior-design student from PA; my partner Kishore, a biology post-doc from India; Laura, a biochem grad student from Colombia; and me, a psych grad student from DC!

I asked a friend of mine from Croatia, an Advertising grad student at BU, to share his biggest "criticism" of American culture, and he vehemently responded with, "Americans don't have hairdos." While I am very open about critiquing American culture, I was slightly shook up by this "complaint" (probably because I was sitting there with wet hair). But then I smiled and thought to myself, "How did I, a Psychology student from Washington, DC, ever end up in Boston talking with an Advertising student from Croatia about the 'hairdo status' of Americans?"

Boston, given its unique "academic" culture, represents a hotbed of robust learning and intellectual activity, thereby attracting a diverse population of students and workers - whether you're among roommates or at a bar, cafe, library, or school, chances are that you're surrounded by people representing a variety of professional, academic, ethnic, racial, geographic, and overall cultural backgrounds who foster and nurture a range of interests and insight (for instance, if you're interested in meeting a Croatian Advertising student who is fond of flamboyantly coifed hair, I know just the person for you).

Therefore, MSPP is a school that exists within the broader "campus" of Boston - this city provides you with, not just an opportunity to learn about your specific field at your specific educational institution, but to learn from the diverse network of people living around you. So if you're in or just moving to Boston, I recommend putting yourself out there, whether by participating in Boston cultural activities or searching for roommates on Craigslist or going to pubs or cafes or bookstores. By reaching out to and engaging with a variety of people, you can develop a richer understanding of other lenses through which to view and interpret the world around us. Such exposure not only informs my psych work, but also facilitates a more well-rounded, open-minded, creative, and enriched "self"... and maybe a better hairdo?

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Around Boston

What happens now?

Posted on November 14,2012 by sthurstonmspp

Sometimes all I think about is helping kids, teachers, and their families. Finding the right resources, creating the correct plan, marshaling a team of caring adults to foster a young student’s academic and emotional success. But what happens when an assessment reveals a student to be failing due to what is colloquially referred to as “being a teenager.”
Now, there are times when adults claim this to be true and there is in fact an underlying issue that interferes with the evaluation of the situation. However, there are also times when the student is simply unwilling to put forth the effort to achieve his or her potential. And, in “economically advantaged suburbs”, sometimes that can be a very difficult thing to accurately portray in a report and in a team meeting.
Personally, I am blunt. I believe in being direct and in holding people accountable for their actions. School systems can create an atmosphere in which the politically correct and strength based terminology that is required can cloud the real issue and allow for students to escape looking in the mirror. News reports of elementary school soccer teams that no longer keep score makes me cringe. Hours of assessment to develop a report on a 16 year old student who is not progressing when she is in fact refusing to access the accommodations already in place and wanders the halls during class time instead of coming to the psychologist’s office seems a waste.
I want to sit this student down and speak to her. Girls with cognitive profiles that are in the Superior range should not be getting Fs in the most basic level of math class. Find out if something is preventing her access, but then to outline some consequences! If these services are not being utilized, then they go away.
Sigh. Rant over. On the upside: I will not be doing a cognitive assessment for this re evaluation. I will be doing a Functional Behavioral Assessment. And I will write up my results in a strength based manner, but in terms that hold the student accountable for her own choices.

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, School Psychology

Judgement-free servings of potatoes

Posted on November 06,2012 by abrigovmspp

Most Sunday afternoons this semester have been a combination of pre-Monday jitters in anticipation of the busy day and a mad dash to finish x, y, and z assignments and readings. These afternoons are typically fueled by my most recent foodie obsession: hot green tea with truvia. Okay, maybe that's not true foodie talk, but I try to get some actual cooking in there on Sundays, also. At least something yummy and nutritious that will add to the aroma of food smells wafting from the microwaves at lunchtime.

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Experiential Education, Counseling Psychology

Holla' BARCC, Young'n (Hooo Hooo!)... The Annual Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Gala!

Posted on November 01,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

The amazing Medical Advocacy team at last night's annual BARCC gala!

One good thing about Boston is its availability of volunteer opportunities. Given my interest in social-justice-oriented issues, I chose to get involved with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center in an effort to play a role in challenging the gender-based power dynamics in our culture that cause and perpetuate sexual violence. As mentioned previously, I've been working as a Peer Supervisor for BARCC's Medical Advocacy program for about five months, having volunteered as a Medical Advocate for three years prior to that. Our work is tough, involving late-night trips to emergency rooms to support rape survivors and two-to-three monthly meetings during which we discuss our cases and are provided with further training and support.

Despite the often somber nature of our work, the annual gala, which took place last night, provides us with an opportunity to just deck out and mingle with fellow BARCC supporters, as well as listen to powerful guest speakers over a fancy-shmancy dinner. I, unfortunately, missed this year's featured talk as, given that I was on shift as supervisor, I had to step out in order to field a case. Despite this unfortunate burst of reality amidst clinking wine glasses and swanky jazz music, it was nice to return from my supervisory duties to a banquet hall full of people committed to ending sexual violence and supporting sexual-assault survivors, just like the one I had been serving minutes prior.

Luckily, not only was I surrounded by fellow Medical Advocacy team members, as well as accompanied by my partner of five years, I also got to experience some MSPP pride at the gala - BARCC represents one of MSPP's amazing second-year practicum sites, and my good friend Nadia serves as its current practicum intern. Given that my BARCC work involves serving sexual-assault survivors in a hospital/medical context immediately after the trauma has occurred, I have gained, through my conversations with Nadia, a richer perspective concerning the long-term psychotherapy-based "recovery" process. It was awesome to unite with Nadia - in our sexy dresses, toting our fine wine - to celebrate our and others' active commitment to this significant cause.

Overall, I'm so glad to have found this amazing organization - for all those new to or planning on relocating to Boston, I recommend exploring and establishing a niche for yourself within the volunteer community of Boston! If you're particularly interested in getting involved with BARCC's services, proceed to for further info.

(P.S. If you didn't get my throwback hip-hop reference in the title of this blog, as many of my twenty-something-year-old friends sadly did not, then you were not cool in 2001. Either that or you were very cool...)

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Around Boston

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.

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, 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.

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, 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:

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Counseling Psychology