2022 Student Paper Award Winners
Mathilda B. Canter Education and Training Student Paper Award Winner
Jolin Yamin is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She recently finished her doctoral internship at University of Chicago Medicine and will soon begin her post-doctoral fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Her research interests include studying interventions for trauma- and stressor-related conditions, as well as developing and testing effective clinical training approaches. She is also interested in the dissemination of experiential and emotion-focused therapies.
ABSTRACT: Experiential Training in Disclosure Elicitation and Emotional Awareness and Activation: A Randomized Test
Effective exposure and emotion-focused interventions for trauma and psychological conflicts are underutilized. This study developed and tested an experiential training condition that integrated deliberate practice, live supervision, and feedback to improve therapists’ skill in: a) eliciting patient disclosure of stressful experiences, b) responding to defenses against disclosure, and c) finding and encouraging patients’ adaptive emotions. Mental health trainees (N = 102) were randomized to experiential or standard training (interactive lecture) conditions, both of which were single, 1-hour individual sessions administered remotely. Participants responded to videoclips of actors portraying challenging therapy situations before and after training and at 5-week follow-up. Responses were video recorded and coded for the three skills using a structured manual. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated all of the skills increased from baseline to post-training for both conditions, and improvements were largely maintained at follow-up. More importantly, compared to standard training, experiential training led to greater improvements in the skill of eliciting disclosure (baseline to post-training time x condition interaction η2 = .05, p = .03), which was maintained at follow-up (η2 = .05, p = .03). Experiential training led to comparatively greater increases in the skill of responding to defenses from baseline to post-training (interaction η2 = .04, p = .05), although this difference was not maintained at follow up (interaction η2 = .01, p = .28). Experiential training also led to comparatively greater increases in the skill of finding and encouraging adaptive emotions from baseline to post-training (interaction η2 = .23, p < .001), although this difference was not maintained at follow-up (interaction η2 = .01, p = .34). A single, brief experiential training improves mental health trainees’ exposure- and emotion-focused skills compared to traditional didactic training. More extensive experiential training may strengthen and prolong such skill retention.
Donald K. Freedheim Student Development Paper Award Winner
Marisol Meyer is a fifth-year doctoral student in counseling psychology at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. She graduated from Dartmouth College, earning honors for bachelor’s degrees in psychology and anthropology. During her time as a doctoral student, she has been a proud member of the Challenging Racism and Empowering Communities through Ethnocultural Research (CRECER) lab in which she conducts research related to community-based, culturally responsive mental health interventions. This research specifically focuses on how unique community strengths and evidence- informed/evidence-based practice can be coalesced and leveraged to promote psychological wellness. Marisol has coordinated and co-designed interventions and curricula addressing community-selected topics such as trauma-informed mental health support, emotion socialization, and ethnic racial identity development. These programs have reached community-leaders, teachers, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and youth. Her experience engaging with community needs through research and intervention have given her experience in program manualization and adaptation. Relatedly, Marisol’s clinical work has focused on the implementation of culturally responsive, empirically-based intervention with ethnically, racially, and socioeconomically diverse clients in community-based mental health centers, academic health centers, and forensic settings. For more information about Marisol and her work, please visit: https://marisollmeyer.wixsite.com/blog.
ABSTRACT: Best Practice Recommendations for Psychologists Working with Marginalized Populations Impacted by COVID-19
Psychologists are in a unique position to collaborate with marginalized individuals navigating the intersection of physical and mental health concerns directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as systemic inequity, discrimination, and oppression exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current paper reviews three areas of evidence-based clinical practice and provides recommendations to improve the relevancy of these areas for work with marginalized individuals impacted by COVID-19: The three areas are as follow: (a) developing self-awareness with consideration for how one’s social identity interacts with the sociocultural consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, (b) improve knowledge regarding the interaction between the social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and long-standing forms of systemic oppression, and (c) identify interventions that are responsive to both client culture and contextual limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychologists that engage with these recommendations may improve their ability to accurately recognize the interactions of the COVID-19 pandemic and enduring systemic oppression, while collaborating with their clients to promote psychological healing in a culturally responsive, physically safe, and accessible manner.
Diversity Student Paper Award Winner
Adela Scharff is a doctoral candidate at the University at Albany (SUNY) and is currently completing her clinical internship at Northwestern University. Her research interests include exploring the role of identity characteristics such as race, gender, and sexual orientation in psychotherapy, treatment of trauma-related disorders, and naturalistic psychotherapy outcome research. Clinically, she is particularly interested in working with LGBTQ populations and other patients from minoritized backgrounds and in trauma-focused psychotherapy.
ABSTRACT: Supporting Black Clients After Public Anti-Black Violence: Therapist Practices and Perspectives
Racial trauma refers to emotional injury resulting from exposure to racist violence, whether directly or vicariously experienced. One manifestation of anti-racism for therapists is effectively supporting Black clients coping with the impacts of police brutality and anti-Black violence. This survey study investigated N = 91 therapists’ perceptions of a variety of five potential interventions that could be used to support Black clients experiencing racial trauma related to media coverage of violence against Black individuals, along with the potential influence of professional characteristics on these perceptions. Volunteering therapists completed an online survey that included a hypothetical client scenario. Therapists were then asked to rate their perceptions of different intervention types, specifically: emotional expression, value-guided action, coping skills, cognitive restructuring, and self-disclosure responses. Therapists rated the emotional expression response option as the most helpful, followed by value-guided action and coping skills. Self-disclosure and cognitive restructuring were viewed as less helpful, yet non-White therapists rated the use of self-disclosure more positively than White therapists. The degree to which one endorsed being influenced by CBT was significantly and positively associated with positive perceptions of the values, cognitive restructuring, and coping therapist response options. In contrast, the degree to which one endorsed being influenced by psychodynamic therapy was negatively associated with perceived helpfulness of values and coping-focused therapist responses. Additional research is needed to explore clients’ perceptions of the degree of support and helpfulness of varied therapeutic responses in these contexts.
Jeffrey E. Barnett Psychotherapy Research Student Paper Award Winner
Averi Gaines is a fourth-year graduate student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2017, Averi graduated with honors from Haverford College with a BA in Psychology. After graduating, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Center for Psychotherapy Research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. Averi began her graduate work at UMass in 2019, and she was awarded a Graduate Fellowship during her first year. Her research centers on patient, therapist, dyadic, and systemic factors that influence psychotherapy processes and outcomes. Her work has been disseminated at professional conferences and in peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.
ABSTRACT: Patient–Therapist Expectancy Convergence and Outcome in Naturalistic Psychotherapy
Prior social psychological research illustrates that people in close relationships tend to become more similar in their experiences and beliefs over time, which is associated with a number of positive relational outcomes. Given that patients and therapists develop close relationships in psychotherapy, such dyadic convergence processes may play out across treatment and influence therapy-specific outcomes. While some research has explored patient-therapist convergence on ratings of the therapeutic alliance, to date, no prior work has examined the presence and potential utility of belief convergence in psychotherapy. Using multilevel structural equation modeling, the present study aimed to examine whether patients and therapists demonstrated significant convergence on their outcome expectation (OE) across treatment and whether such a process was associated with better symptomatic/ functional outcomes in naturalistic psychotherapy. There was no significant average pattern of patient-therapist OE convergence over the course of treatment (g100 = 0.01, SE = 0.03, p = .690), and when OE convergence did occur, it did not associate with better posttreatment outcome (g020 = 2.37, SE = 10.28, p = .818). However, replicating prior research, higher early patient OE (on its own) was associated with better posttreatment outcome at the between-dyad level (g050 = -0.04, SE = 0.01, p = .007). These findings lend support to OE being more of a facilitative patient factor than a relational process factor.
Student Excellence in Practice Award
Dr. Zoe Ross-Nash (she/hers) is originally from Allendale, New Jersey and earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Service Studies and Dance from Elon University. Dr. Ross-Nash earned her PsyD in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University and completed an APA accredited internship at the University of California, Davis in the Eating Disorder Emphasis. Dr. Ross-Nash believes that the relationship between the client and therapist is a key element to taking steps towards growth. She aims to create a safe and warm space for clients to feel open in collaboratively exploring their vulnerability and be empowered in their strengths. Dr. Ross-Nash seeks to understand what happened to her clients in context of their histories and identities, not what is wrong with them.
One must responsibly wear the letters that come after their name when their title is “therapist.” Clinical excellence extends far beyond the therapy room. Mentorship, leadership, professional and collegial relationships, passion for the field, and authenticity are key qualities of a well-rounded clinician.
Mentorship while in a training program is one of the most important avenues for development. Finding supervisors who have achievements akin to your goals, and values congruent with your ideals fosters a vital learning opportunity. Study under someone who has a career, reputation, and life that you can see and want for yourself. Professional and collegial relationships are also incredibly helpful. The people in your graduate program are the ones supporting you through the long emotionally and physically exhausting training days, cheering you on through your dissertation, and crossing the stage with you on graduation. Your classmates will turn into referrals, references, and consultants in the future. These relationships during your training years can have career long impacts.
Student leadership can help trainees better navigate delicate power dynamics. It can teach useful skills to approach conflict resolution; those that can be later called upon when managing a therapeutic rupture. Additionally, leadership can be an example of advocacy, such as spearheading efforts to dismantle systems that first brought folks to therapy.
Passion for the field can include engaging with research and applying it to clinical work, having an intellectual curiosity and reading a book about a population you have not worked with, or even providing psychoeducation to peers who are not in the psychology field. Clinical excellence requires sense of self, community, and purpose.
Authenticity is an enormously valuable, but incredibly difficult requirement. Therapy is one of the few occupations where our own histories, thought processes, beliefs, and moods can impact the work we do. Bringing our full self into the room is a scary risk, but it is the same risk we expect of our clients, which can elicit beautiful outcomes.
My work with the eating disorders is an example of embodying these five facets of clinical excellence. Growing up training as a ballerina and having a family of fitness instructors and athletes, I saw how these systems not only maintained, but capitalized on the manifestation of disordered eating. My mentor assisted me in finding a platform to educate communities and incorporate my colleagues to ensure space for voices with identities different than my own. As a leader, I had made presentations with fitness communities to improve the narrative supporting exercise, weight, and food. I showed passion for field by providing psychoeducational resources to other clinicians on providing eating disorder-informed care. My authenticity in my own body was the thread that connected and amplified my relationships with not only clients but also other humans.
As I graduated, I reflected, “what’s next?” Balancing between being a desire for growth and improvement while celebrating how far I have come is a difficult feat. My recommendation is for trainees to remember both sides of that dichotomy are equally as valuable
Student Excellence in Teaching/Mentorship Award- Co-Winner
Nadia Alsamadi is a Palestinian-American clinical psychology doctoral student at Loyola University Maryland. In August 2022, Nadia will begin her predoctoral internship training at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center in Los Angeles, California, and will graduate with her PsyD in 2023. Most recently, Nadia has worked as a supervised psychotherapist in private practice and an adjunct undergraduate psychology professor while completing an externship at the Johns Hopkins Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation inpatient program. She has a wide variety of clinical experiences and most enjoys working with LGBTQ+, first-generation American, and Arab clients. Nadia especially appreciates her work mentoring and collaborating with undergraduate psychology students. She hopes to use her career to continue teaching and providing affirming care from a culturally humble lens
I am quite humbled to be recognized for my contributions to teaching and mentorship. Teaching and mentorship figures have been fundamental in shaping my education and fueling my passion for psychotherapy. Deepening the teacher-student relationship into mentor-mentee allowed me to feel accepted, valued, and affirmed as an ethnic and sexual minority in a field dominated by Eurocentric voices. As a graduate student, I have started developing my own teaching and mentorship practice, drawing upon principles modeled by central figures in my education, my peers, and integrating my own unique values and perspectives.
So much of my teaching practice is an amalgamation of what I’ve learned from these central figures. I drew upon the styles, practices, and energies from my current professors who not only connected students to the material, but cultivated emotional connections within the classroom. My peers are also invaluable contributors to my teaching practice because they share feedback about which methods are the most helpful and supportive in our education, and areas where professors could be more sensitive, accommodating, effective, or engaging. My professors and peers would both agree, however, that multiculturalism and humility should be fundamentally infused into every classroom interaction.
Visibility and celebration of minoritized identities is a foundational aspect of my teaching and mentorship philosophies. I hope that my intentional openness about my Palestinian and queer identities shows students that diverse voices are valued and deserve to take up space in psychology and academia. Some of the most meaningful classroom moments happen when students feel safe to connect with each other through shared vulnerability in discussing their cultural and social identities. In particular, witnessing the passion and connection of two queer students who were assisting with my dissertation project that focused on Black lesbian women, was an incredibly special and vitalizing experience. I’ve also learned from my students’ and their practice of vulnerability about the importance of non-defensive and humble discussion of privileged identities, oppression, intersectionality, and making mistakes. I still have deep and continuous growth to engage in with regards to cultural humility and must intentionally work towards holding myself accountable in the classroom and beyond.
In reflection, teaching the course subject and lecture material is not necessarily the only rewarding aspect of being a teacher and mentor. These topics are perhaps a conduit to the most fulfilling part of teaching—the vulnerability, emotional connections, and interpersonal learning that occurs within student/professor relationships. For any graduate students entering the classroom as a professor, I invite you to consider the ways your own mentors instilled passion, motivation, confidence, openness, and the safety to be vulnerable within you. Harness that energy and pair it with your own unique strengths and knowledge to create a classroom environment that nurtures connections and celebrates diversity.
Student Excellence in Teaching/Mentorship Award- Co-Winner
Judy is a sixth-year counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Maryland (UMD). She is currently completing her internship in the Counseling Center at Pace University in New York City. During graduate school, she has worked as an individual therapist at the University of Maryland Counseling Center, the Catholic University of America Counseling Center, and the Maryland Psychotherapy Clinic and Research Lab, and as a group therapist at the Eating Recovery Center. Judy has taught Basic Helping Skills: Research and Practice and The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships to upper-level UMD undergraduate students. Her research interests include the process of therapy for religious/spiritual clients, training therapists, the impact of clinical supervision on client outcome, the role of attachment in the therapeutic relationship, and the ways in which therapists work with dreams and meaning in life in psychotherapy. Judy hopes to pursue a career that integrates therapy, teaching, research, and supervision. In addition to her professional interests, Judy enjoys playing with her nephews and nieces, waterskiing and kayaking, and cheering on UMD’s basketball teams!
Thank you to Division 29 for the Student Excellence in Teaching and Mentorship Award. I want to express my sincere gratitude to my teachers and mentors who have led by example and empowered me to work with the next generation of mental health professionals.
I believe that the heart of teaching involves developing a relationship with each student that invites them into deep curiosity and critical analysis. I encourage my students to take ownership of their learning so that they can continue the learning process beyond the classroom and after the end of the semester. I also try to open them up to the possibility that their learning can deeply influence the ways in which they interact with the world. And just as I believe they will be profoundly changed by the learning process, I also witness how their unique contributions meaningfully change the field of psychology.
In the classroom, I work to cultivate an environment of mutual respect and reciprocal feedback, with clear expectations and a balance of support and challenge. I center my students’ experiences and aim to provide and receive consistent and thorough feedback. When appropriate, I use class time to process the feedback, discuss group dynamics, and develop a plan for improvement. I strive to establish transparency through a comprehensive syllabus, a strong rationale for course activities, and frequent communication of updates. I have found that students not only benefit from understanding how each concept connects to the broader learning outcomes, but also from intentionally reflecting on how the material relates to their personal lives. I work to provide a balance of structure and flexibility, and strongly encourage students to discuss their particular goals and needs with me throughout the semester. Lastly, I value empathically guiding students through the inevitable tension that can arise in any learning environment.
As a counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Maryland, I feel fortunate to have served as a teaching assistant and an instructor of record for several courses. My favorite course to teach is Basic Helping Skills: Research and Practice, as it truly combines my passion for teaching with my love of psychotherapy. Students appreciate actually practicing helping skills, implementing theory and conceptualization for perhaps the first time. They often develop intimate connections with their classmates and lab leaders, allowing them to experientially engage in the helping process as both “helpers” and “clients.” In addition to classroom teaching, I enjoy teaching and mentoring graduate students in my program, undergraduate students working at the Maryland Psychotherapy Clinic and Research Lab, and graduate psychology students through Division 29’s Mentorship Program.
For those interested in teaching, I encourage you to seek mentors who support your teaching interests, speak to graduate students in your programs who have incorporated teaching into their schedules, and use your networks to attain further resources and connections. Try to gain a variety of teaching experiences and, if possible, learn about teaching methodology. May we all merit the privilege of learning from our students!
International Research Grant Winner
Akansha Goyal is a MPhil Clinical Psychology Trainee at ABVIMS & Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, India. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Amity University and a Bachelor’s degree in Botany from Delhi University. She has been awarded a meritorious scholarship during post graduation. She has cleared the National Eligibility Test and also cleared the exam for Junior Research Fellowship. She is keen to work on the psychological concerns faced by LGBTQ+ populations and develop treatment plans in this area.