Psychotherapy Bulletin

Psychotherapy Bulletin

Clinical Impact Statement: This reflection on the Student Excellence in Teaching/Mentorship Award highlights meaningful experiences related to the award, with a brief focus on where the recipient would encourage other students to attend regarding their own development of skills related to teaching and mentorship.

I’m deeply honored and humbled to receive the Division 29 Student Excellence in Teaching/Mentorship Award. Teaching and mentoring students has been one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had as a graduate student. Yet, as a student, it still feels incredibly odd to be asked to write about my teaching/mentorship experiences. As graduate students, I think that we are constantly reminded of how much we don’t know, which can make it difficult for us to feel qualified to teach and mentor others. With this dilemma in mind, I decided to focus in this article on some of the ways in which engaging in teaching/mentorship activities while still a student can bring unique benefits in the hope that it might encourage other students to pursue additional teaching/mentorship activities, even if they don’t feel like an expert on anything yet.

In this vein, if I had to distill my experiences thus far into something like advice, it would be to figure out what makes you passionate about teaching and mentorship and to pursue opportunities that fit with your interests, even (and perhaps especially) if it means that you have to “learn on the job” so to speak. For me, one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of teaching and mentorship is in helping students develop a scientific mindset. Consistent with this, I have pursued opportunities to work with graduate and undergraduate students in the areas of research design and statistical analysis. Some of my favorite experiences in this realm have included mentoring honors students as they complete a project in which they test their own questions about psychotherapy, running graduate and undergraduate lab sections on research methods and statistics, and working as a statistical and methodology consultant to help students and faculty develop and test empirical research questions.

All of these experiences required me to continuously push myself to learn new things, sometimes right alongside my students. Although this can certainly be scary, I’ve found that it has benefits too. For example, I tend to understand concepts on a deeper level when I teach them to others. This experience also seems to be valued by students, which fits with my own experiences as a mentee and student; that is, I have always found it more useful to have a mentor/teacher who models the process of continual learning than one who assumes the role of the established expert. As students, I think that we are especially well-situated to engage in this kind of modeling, and teaching students what to do when they don’t know something may actually be one of the most valuable things that we can teach our students and mentees. Thus, my final advice to other students about teaching and mentoring would be to try to embrace the overlap between your student and teacher roles. Perhaps the best form of this is akin to the effective integration of research and practice in psychotherapy; the two can be considered truly integrated when they are almost completely confounded.

Dr. Alice Coyne is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at American University. Dr. Coyne completed her PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and completed her postdoctoral training at Case Western Reserve University. Broadly speaking, Dr. Coyne’s research program aims to identify and develop ways to capitalize on patient, therapist, and dyadic characteristics and processes that can enhance the effectiveness of mental health care (MHC). More specifically, she studies personalized pathways to therapeutic change through answering the broad questions of how, for whom and in what contexts, and when delivered by whom does psychotherapy work? Across these interrelated foci, Dr. Coyne draws on diverse research designs and methods, including longitudinal process-outcome research, experimental comparative effectiveness trials, meta-analyses, community-based research (with diverse MHC stakeholders), and qualitative studies. She has conducted this work in the context of various treatments (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and prolonged exposure), for a broad range of conditions (e.g., depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder). Across these treatment-patient contexts, Dr. Coyne is keenly interested in bridging the science-practice gap by increasing the effectiveness and precision of therapeutic interventions, including when delivered in routine practice settings that can reach historically underserved and marginalized populations.

Cite This Article

Coyne, A. E. (2018). A reflection upon teaching and mentorship. Psychotherapy Bulletin, 53(3), 52.



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