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wenty-nine-year-old Lisa Andrade speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English, works full time as a school psychologist for the Fall River Public Schools and has completed all her course work toward a doctorate in School Psychology at MSPP. Lisa recently won the “Intern of the Year” award at Community Care Services (CCS) in Attleboro, MA where she completed her practicum and served an invaluable role of being able to work with non-English speaking clients, thanks to her foreign language skills. Her experience at CCS, which included working with clients ages 10-74, allowed her, she insists, “to keep expanding my skills.” To call her highly disciplined is to grossly understate her ability to juggle several major responsibilities at the same time, and do it all superbly.
Lisa’s parents came to the U.S. from Portugal and she is the first generation in her family to attend college, let alone graduate school. “My parents had a very strong work ethic,” she says. “They drove me and my sister to be successful. Getting a doctorate is my way of thanking them.” Lisa has paid her own way through MSPP, from which she will graduate in 2014. Her program, designed for those who want to continue working full-time while attending classes in the evening and during the summer months is demanding, according to Lisa, but she is quick to say her faculty and supervisors have been very understanding, flexible and supportive. She is thrilled to have learned to be a more knowledgeable and effective school psychologist. When people ask her if her demanding schedule is really worth it, “I always say yes. It’s a financial investment; it takes a lot of time; and I have to work hard, but I love it. I’m so glad I chose MSPP; I’ve had great field experience, great faculty and I have learned to feel so good about myself and what I’m able to do.”
Some MSPP students are captivated by systems' issues and, with a myriad of academic and business and organizational field sites, MSPP accommodates a wide range of preferences, passions and placements. At the Oliver Wyman consulting firm in Boston, Rachel Kriete trained groups to orient and support new employees. “It’s an internal team,” she explains, “that provides practice case studies, valuable feedback and hands-on skill building to people at the start of their employment.” Rachel developed interview protocols, interviewed employees to ascertain what worked and what didn’t in their orientation, and provided the valuable perspective of an outsider, enabling people to be more honest and open in their responses to her questions.
“MSPP prepared me well,” says Rachel, who graduated in June 2012 with an MA in Organizational Psychology. “I learned to foster healthy cultures in organizations, to create good places for people to spend their days and enjoy their work.” Rachel says the experiential education component is what drew her to MSPP. “You get to put into practice what you’re learning in the classroom,” she says. “It’s a real-life setting, even though you’re still a student, still learning, still getting important supervision.” She especially singles out Dr. Kathryn Stanley, Director of Field Education, for the Organizational Psychology program and faculty member, for giving her helpful feedback as she worked on the job. Like others at MSPP, the program enabled Rachel to continue working part-time. Her academic work was completed online and during monthly weekend residencies on the MSPP campus. “I valued the flexible delivery format of MSPP’s Organizational Psychology program that allowed me to take courses fully online and in a “blended” onsite/online format. I also valued the opportunity to make the personal connections that are important to our professional growth.” She praises the fact that MSPP faculty are also practitioners who know the real world of work. As for the field placement, “It was an invaluable learning experience,” she says, “and at the same time I felt it was also a way to give back to the community. I knew the data I presented was really being taken seriously. It wasn’t just a random exercise; it was real.”
Paul Doolan, a 23-year-old Clinical PsyD student and a graduate of MSPP’s MA program in Forensic and Counseling Psychology, loved his placement at the Federal Medical Center Devens so much that with 3 or 4 years still to go before he’ll complete his doctorate, he says a full-time job at the Bureau of Prisons would be his idea of the perfect job. Paul led several inmates’ groups on drug education. He and his supervisor created a treatment plan for a patient who was shot by the police during a drug smuggling incident. The man was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and over an 18-week period, Paul could see real change. “His symptoms diminished greatly,” he says. “Nightmares, fear of loud noises, and panic attacks had plagued him and now the guy is happier, has a better relationship with people at home and feels more under control. He thanked me,” says Paul. “That’s very rewarding.”
During his experience working with inmates, Paul says the staff helped him see their crimes as just one aspect of these incarcerated men. According to Paul, “They taught me to individualize the person and remember that each is a person with different challenges. I learned to compartmentalize.” Paul treated men of many ages. One man, 79, who’d been involved in a Ponzi scheme, was having a tough time being imprisoned for the first time. Asked how he managed not to be judgmental, Paul says, “It’s tough not to be, but we talk about that in supervision.” Fort Devens supervisor and MSPP faculty Dr. Diana Schoeller worked with Paul on not letting his personal judgments interfere with useful therapy. “You can’t always stop yourself,” says Paul. “But you need to be aware of what you’re doing.”
“Some guys are really grateful for psychological treatment,” says Paul. “They feel listened to. Some guys came to the groups just to get a certificate and were disruptive. Those days were frustrating. Still, there’s a high demand for individual therapy, despite the cultural stigma and fear of being labeled crazy,” Paul admits, but he feels his experience at Devens was so good he couldn’t possibly have learned more anywhere else. He credits the overlap of supervisors and faculty like Dr. Shawn Channell, at MSPP who also does that kind of work at the prison. “Experiential education is invaluable,” says Paul. “In fact, I can’t say enough how important it is.”
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A Year After Graduation, Their Careers Are On Track
argaret (Maggie) Scofield and Owen Wyatt share many things, including a three-year marriage, a home and a dream for their future. They also share a passion for helping people, and, since May 2011, an MSPP degree, which they believe has jump-started their careers in the field they love.
“I wake up every morning and can’t believe we both have great jobs,” says Owen, who is a counselor in the student counseling center at Northeastern University. “This is exactly where I wanted to be at this point,” he says. “In fact, I really thought it would take at least five years to get this kind of position.” Owen, who found the job in November 2011, works with five to eight clients a day, and believes every encounter is helping him grow as a person and a therapist.
The same is true for Maggie who was hired six weeks after graduation as a clinician at South Shore Mental Health. She carries a case load of about 80 people suffering from chronic and severe mental illness. “This kind of intense individual experience is giving me the foundation for a private practice, which is my ultimate goal,” she says.
Maggie and Owen entered MSPP’s MA in Counseling Psychology Program in 2008, a year before their wedding and shortly after they moved to Boston from Chicago, where they had met while working at a residential treatment program for severely disturbed adolescents. Both were dorm supervisors. Maggie, the daughter of a psychologist, was already planning to go on in psychology. Owen, who had been pursuing a life as an artist, decided, with Maggie’s encouragement, that he, too, was attracted to the profession. “I could see that he had a real talent for working with those kids,” says Maggie.
“After the open house at MSPP, we never looked anywhere else,” says Maggie. “Even then we had the sense that the faculty were dedicated to creating not just good students but good clinicians and that they were there ‘for the students,’ not for their research or their own importance.” “MSPP felt like a family, a community. It just felt right,” agrees Owen.
When it came time for job interviews, “The staff at South Shore saw me as someone with experience, not yet a seasoned clinician, but someone who had a skill base who knew what she was doing, definitely someone who was ready,” says Maggie, who credits immediate immersion in field work and deeply knowledgeable and supportive faculty for preparing her so well for her first job.
According to Owen, Northeastern was looking for someone who already knew the lay of the land and could hit the ground running. “College counseling centers are very busy environments. They wanted someone who had ‘been there’ before, and I had been there during my second year internship at Berklee College of Music in Boston.”
Ironically, the Berklee experiential education placement was something else the couple shared. “We applied separately, and were each accepted,” says Maggie, who adds that they did warn the admissions committee that they were married. “
At Berklee, we both got the experience of sitting one-on-one with clients and began to see ourselves as therapists,” says Owen. “We were treated like staff, like professionals, and, at the same time we were surrounded by great people who were non-judgmental,” adds Maggie.
For Owen, “It has all been a life-altering experience. I never pictured myself in this kind of role. MSPP recognized that I had talent and gave me the opportunities and support while I explored it.” Maggie adds, “I feel that we have a lot more to learn, but we are definitely on our way.”
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MSPP Fosters Personal & Professional Growth
For JESSICA GARCIA coming to MSPP was a life-changing event. Despite being in the first generation of her family to attend graduate school, she feels an internal drive propelling her to seek more, do more and experience more than her parents and grandparents ever dreamed. “They’re supportive,” she says, “but don’t really understand.” From a close family that lives within a few miles of each other in Arizona, Jessica hopes to “make a name for myself.” She credits MSPP for giving her the opportunity. “I want to be able to make a difference,” she says. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish these goals if I stayed in Arizona.”
MSPP, according to Jessica, has enabled her to look more closely at herself, to understand who she is, what she wants and what she hopes to do with her life. “Even my course work,” says the Clinical PsyD student, “requires self-reflection. My faculty and supervisors have made me feel at home, feel safe, feel so much less alone. MSPP has made me feel like a whole person. I didn’t have to feel split between my past and my future. I didn’t have to reject my family or feel guilty wanting what they couldn’t give me. For me, our slogan, Meeting the Need...Making a Difference is as personal as it is professional.”
CHARLES ALLEN is also the first generation to go to college and graduate school. Raised by working class people in Brooklyn, his parents pushed education and wanted their kids to do well. An Organizational Psychology MA graduate of MSPP, Charles praises MSPP’s program for allowing him to work full time while in school. A recipient and now employee of the Posse Foundation, Charles works with hundreds of Posse students, helping them find jobs. His training at MSPP, he insists, has enabled him to be successful. Charles is now enrolled in MSPP’s four-year Leadership Psychology PsyD Program. “I get a lot of attention at MSPP,’’ he says. ”My supervisors and faculty are invested in me. I’ve received a lot of individual time with them.”
Among the many features about MSPP he praises is the opportunity to apply in the workplace what you learn in the classroom. But there’s more. “People here taught me how to think. They are more empathetic, more positive, and more strategic. I’m very appreciative. They’re like family. I’ll always stay connected and loyal to MSPP.”
LAURA MORRISON, MSPP Clinical PsyD student, found her career path at a beautiful overnight camp in California for families struggling with high-conflict divorces. Initially going with the hope of doing some good qualitative research for one of her faculty on the benefits of the program, she came home committed to seeing more children and families able to participate. In a short period, Laura watched with amazement as parents came to realize the difficulties their children were facing because of their behavior around the divorce. Through a variety of psych-savvy exercises, games and therapeutic interventions, parents and children who had entered the program angry, hostile and belligerent came to see themselves and their situations in a new light. “I was skeptical going in, but saw magical changes in only four days. I saw parents focused on what’s best for their kids,” she says. “The experience was life-changing,” she says.
Laura, 27, was impressed. She will be doing her doctoral project about the camp and her research will continue with three and six month follow-up interviews. She passionately hopes to convince other therapists to utilize this intensive short-term model where the freedom to speak and express submerged thoughts and feelings is encouraged by the camp’s therapeutic environment. “People began to realize there were two sides to every story,” she says, “and parents began to realize they’d been hurting their kids unintentionally. It was transformative for everyone,” she says. “I never imagined it would have such an impact on me. I can see my career moving ahead based on this positive model. It has the potential to help so many.”
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Adventures Near and Far Reflect Students’ Powerful Sense of Mission
It’s called the “New Youth Children’s Development Society,” but the truth is, it’s a home for 50 young people ages 3-18 in Bhaktapur, a remote town outside Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Some children are left there by their parents because they are too poor to care for them. Eden Gudonis, School Psychology MA/CAGS student, spent last summer being “doctor” for the children she describes as having nothing. “The experience absolutely changed me. I take nothing for granted now,” she says. They live without regular electricity, water, food or even parents. Consistent with her own parents’ influence and lessons learned at MSPP, Eden is eager to continue to help those who are less fortunate. Her desires to travel, to serve and to nurture power her eagerness to return to Nepal. “I want to do more work overseas,” she insists, and hopes to return to the children in Bhaktapur next summer.
Eden Gudonis, MA/CAGS School Psychology student with children from Bhaktapur, Nepal.
“I really tested myself, my independence and my limits. The whole trip was overwhelming and I’m so thankful for my loving parents and the support of my faculty. I feel like I can do anything now.” Eden especially credits faculty Vega and Ecker as “inspirational models who do good work.” On a steady diet of only rice and cabbage, with milk, meat and eggs only once a week, along with contracting an unknown illness that brought on hallucinations, fatigue, fever and diarrhea, Eden lost 30 pounds, but it didn’t dampen her enthusiasm one iota. “I love working with children,” she says. At a farewell ceremony, one child extracted his own molar, hoping it would prompt her to stay and take him for treatment. “I’ll never forget it,” she says.
Many MSPP students are eager to become skilled professional psychologists, trained to change people’s attitudes and outlook. Stephanie Matos-Tabashneck, Clinical Psychology PsyD student, likes to work at changing the system. Having won a Rosenblum Fellowship from the Massachusetts Psychology Association, Stephanie learned how to influence policy and advocate for patients’ entitlements. Working specifically on the Continuity of Care Bill designed to enable patients to stay with their therapist even if their insurance changes, she gathered supporting stories from psychologists. “The relationship with a therapist is too important to interrupt,” she explains, “you could switch eye doctors or dermatologists, and the end result might not change, but in therapy the therapeutic relationship is integral to the success of treatment.”
Next year, Stephanie will work on an APA internship at Spring Grove Hospital in Baltimore, MD with people who have major mental illnesses. “I want to work with a forensic inpatient population,” she says, “and also work on policy. This past year, I gathered background information for risk assessments, used by those determining what privileges patients should get and their danger to themselves and to society. In the future, I want to be the person who makes those decisions,” she says. “I like working at the intersection of law and mental health.” Stephanie prefers the fast, unpredictable pace of psychiatric hospitals. “The setting challenges me. You have to adjust your sense of change, see their humanity and consider things like maybe it’s a person getting out of bed in the morning or just showing up for therapy. You learn to value the little steps.”
Stephanie, now based in Virginia, loved her MSPP experience and the faculty she says are “phenomenal. My classmates have been wonderful and my personal and professional growth would not have happened without the support I received there.” She is eager to continue her advocacy work, she says, because “psychologists should be advocates for the policies that directly affect our profession.”
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Remembering Dr. Harriet Berman beloved teacher, mentor and friend
Dr. Harriet Berman with her granddaughter, Nora.
ou really raise the bar for all of us,” someone at work recently told MSPP alumna Nancy Gaulin, PsyD. “That’s because I was trained by the best,” Nancy thought at the time. And, by “the best” she meant Dr. Harriet Berman, her teacher, mentor, and, ultimately, her colleague and dear friend. Harriet died in May this year, leaving an indelible legacy for Nancy and many others in Boston’s therapeutic community.
“Some people are part of the roots of who you are as a person and as a professional and others are part of the branches,” says Nancy, who graduated from MSPP in 2006 and is now a staff psychologist at McLean Hospital and co-founder and staff psychologist at Facing Cancer Together. “Harriet is in my roots. She honed me as a clinician. She was there when I began to understand that this is my life’s work and she is always there with me now as I sit with clients.”
Harriet, who was married to Stanley Berman, PhD, MSPP’s Vice President, Academic Affairs, earned her doctorate in psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in 1983 and began teaching at MSPP in 1988. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, she had an enhanced perspective on her work at the Wellness Community of Greater Boston. More than Director of Training and Clinical Vice President, she was also a cancer patient. When the Wellness Community had to close their doors in 2008, Harriet and five colleagues founded Facing Cancer Together: A Community of Hope. Harriet served as the new organization’s first Executive Director. Both organizations are dedicated to supporting cancer patients. Harriet continued to be a teacher, friend, colleague and mentor at MSPP until she was too ill to continue in her multiple roles.
“I am still learning from Harriet,” says Quinn Pertman, PsyD, “Things she told me years ago that I didn’t understand fully at the time, I now see as true.” Quinn often uses the word “trust” in describing her beloved former teacher.
“Harriet had the insight, wisdom and skill to trust that I would find my own way of helping clients,” says Quinn. “She didn’t want me to do it her way. She wanted me to find something within me. She knew it was there and helped me trust myself as a therapist. She had the ability to keep an eye on the client’s needs and allow me to find my bearings at the same time.”
“And, I knew I could trust Harriet to support me even as she was going through difficult times herself. She never forgot what I needed,” adds Quinn, who graduated in 2011 and is now doing post-doctoral work at Facing Cancer Together. “Even after she was too sick to work, she was there at my doctoral colloquium presentation. It meant a lot to me.”
Karen Fasciano, PsyD, feels Harriet’s impact in every dimension of her life. “In class, she taught me about women’s development, which enhanced my clinical skills and personal growth. As my supervisor, she gave honest, direct feedback, but, at the same time, it was always deeply compassionate and thoughtful,” says Karen, who graduated in 1996.
“I feel like Harriet and I spoke a common language and that my professional life was modeled by her. She inspired me with her passion for helping people, especially people who were ill or dying from cancer. ‘You are not going to fix the situation’ she would say, ‘but you can try to give some insight that may help a person adjust a little better.’ I learned that from her and use it every day in my work.”
Harriet was passionate about her work in health psychology, especially psycho-oncology, and about teaching the next generation of psychologists at MSPP and at The Wellness Community of Greater Boston. “My students,” she wrote, near the end of her life, “…the awe of starting a new career, their need for connection and their incredible urge to serve and to heal.”
When Harriet was confronting her own death, “She taught me at her most vulnerable time, through her honesty, what it was really like to have cancer,” says Karen, who has chosen psycho-oncology as her specialty. She is now the director of Young Adult Mental Health at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
“We all have a few people who have been important to us in more ways then they will ever know. For me, that person was Harriet Berman, and I am sure that is also true for many other people as well.”
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The following are highlights from the FY2012 audited Financial Statements.
2012 marked an extraordinary year in the history of the school. MSPP signed a 15-year lease with an option to purchase at its new campus in Newton, MA in March 2012. After signing the lease, the school immediately began an $8.3 million renovation project for classroom and office space. To fund the project, MSPP obtained $4.5 million in tax-exempt financing. Here are the details of the financing which closed in April 2012:
$3.5 million tax-exempt bond
$1.0 million tax-exempt lease
The move to our new campus was actually more cost-effective than making incremental changes and moves over the next five years. The cost of renovating our new campus was only $10 more per student than the cost of doing a series of incremental changes over the next five years to our old space.
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Look for our next issue of the MSPPrapport in the Spring.
If there are topics you would like to read about, please contact Katie O'Hare at email@example.com.
Vol 9. No. 2