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Getting the Internship You    Want:                        How to write APPIC                        essays that get you  ...
Copyright © 2008, 2011                       John T. Carlsen, Psy.D.                      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.EXCEPT FOR U...
Chapter 1: Make Sure You Do Not Sell Yourself ShortHaving introduced yourself as the budding therapist in Essay 1 and desc...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTCan you imagine how this approach comes across to the selection committ...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTtheir interventions to specific individuals.Unfortunately, as our profe...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTwritten applications and interviews. But, instead of telling me how the...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTplan to broaden their knowledge and expertise in working with individua...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT2.        Which cultural backgrounds and which individual differences w...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTunderstanding of your approach to multicultural/diversity issues. The m...
CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTtheir experiences at all. This example demonstrates how appearances can...
Getting the Internship You                          Get the full book        W ant:                                       ...
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Book III: Getting The Internship You Want: How to write APPIC essays that get you noticed . . . without completely losing your sanity (Essay 3: Your Approach to Diversity and Individual/Cultural Differences)

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Book III helps you to describe your experience and training with diverse populations and articulate multicultural and individual differences influence your approach to case conceptualization and therapeutic intervention.

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Transcript of "Book III: Getting The Internship You Want: How to write APPIC essays that get you noticed . . . without completely losing your sanity (Essay 3: Your Approach to Diversity and Individual/Cultural Differences)"

  1. 1. Getting the Internship You Want: How to write APPIC essays that get you noticed . . . without completely losing your sanity Dr. John T. Carlsen Your Internship CoachBook III: How Do I Incorporate Cultural and Individual Differences into My Clinical Work?
  2. 2. Copyright © 2008, 2011 John T. Carlsen, Psy.D. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.EXCEPT FOR USE IN A REVIEW, THE REPRODUCTION OR USE OF THIS WORKIN ANY FORM OR BY ANY ELECTRONIC, MECHANICAL, OR OTHER MEANS,NOW KNOWN OR HEREAFTER INVENTED, INCLUDING PHOTOCOPYING,RECORDING, AND IN ANY INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMIS FORBIDDEN WITHOUT THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE WRITER ANDPUBLISHER PRODUCED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR ORDERING INFORMATION, CONTACT: John T. Carlsen, Psy.D. (773) 975-4297 DrCarlsen@PDI-online.com www.PDI-online.com
  3. 3. Chapter 1: Make Sure You Do Not Sell Yourself ShortHaving introduced yourself as the budding therapist in Essay 1 and described howyour in-born theoretical orientation helps you understand and treat your clients, youare now ready to show how you tailor your approach to working with particularclients.This essay invites you to show how you have not only learned the importance ofrecognizing and acknowledging multicultural differences, but demonstrated howapplying this knowledge can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your work asa clinician.Unfortunately, in writing this essay, many internship applicantssell themselves short - as they did with Essay 2. Withoutspending enough time to read the question carefully andunderstand what it is asking, they simply launch into ahistorical description of the diversity classes they have takenand start listing the racial/ethnic backgrounds, ages, sexualorientations, and socio-economic circumstances of the clientsthey have seen. Or, having stopped after reading the firstsentence in the question, they simply summarize theirexperience and training with diverse populations and move onto the next essay, thinking they have provided what selectioncommittees want. As a result, they wind up squandering oneof their best opportunities to promote their qualifications.If only life were so simple.If you stop long enough to read the entire question, you will see that it actuallyaddresses two rather sophisticated issues: 1) how you incorporate diversity factorsinto your understanding of clients and 2) how this understanding influences thetreatment you provide them.Instead, it seems that many applicants take a much more haphazard approachbecause either they 1) failed to read (and comprehend) the entire question or 2)they find the question so complex that they rationalize simply answering the partthey do understand and moving on to the next question, hoping for the best.Having waited until the last minute to write their essays, many of them simply wantto get through the essay questions as quickly as possible so they can send theirapplications by overnight mail and hope they arrive at sites under the wire, beforetheir deadlines. Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  4. 4. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTCan you imagine how this approach comes across to the selection committees whoread their applications? What kind of impression do you think they make whenthey fail to answer the question as written?What might this approach suggest about their attitude toward thoroughness andaccuracy?Fortunately, after reading this chapter, you are very unlikely to make the samemistakes. You do not have to follow their lead. Instead, having made thecommitment to use this guide, you can take the time you need now to make themost of this opportunity for distinguishing yourself from the crowd of otherapplicants.Ultimately, by investing the time and energynecessary to find some worthwhile things tosay about your background and experience inworking with diverse clients. . . and sayingthem concisely within the limited spaceallotted. . . you can make a very strong, andsolid, impression on your readers.From my perspective as a writing coach, thisquestion goes far beyond asking you todescribe your superficial exposure to diversity/ individual differences. It asks youto do more than simply reiterate the importance of using the multicultural/diversitytheories that you read for your cross-cultural issues class. Specifically, it invites youto demonstrate how you have tak en ow nership of your knowledge andexperience so you can apply them in practical - and meaningful - ways. In short,it offers you a very powerful way of gaining a competitive edge in the competitionfor quality internship training. By describing some actual examples of how youhave used these theories to understand your clients and plan your treatment, youcan easily stand out from among your more-scattered, less-motivated peers.As a Caucasian male psychologist with many years of direct experience in bothproviding and supervising cross-cultural clinical assessment and treatment, I havevery strong feelings about the importance this essay in your application forinternship. Having graduated from a program that emphasized cross-culturalawareness and sensitivity (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), I knowhow easily therapists (especially training clinicians) can “pay lip service” to the ideaof diversity - by simply learning the theories and applying “cookbook” approachesto working with clients different from themselves - rather than actually tailoring Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  5. 5. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTtheir interventions to specific individuals.Unfortunately, as our profession has paid increased attention to awareness ofindividual and cultural differences, most psychology students have only learned touse “cross-cultural” as a “buzz word” to gain a listener’s attention. Yet, very fewinternship applicants actually know how (or, at least, take the time) to discuss theircross-cultural treatment experiences in-depth. (For a better understanding of whatI mean, I invite you to read the following essay. Avoid Paying Lip Service to Individual Differences“Let’s take this from the top so you can show me what you are capable of doing.”“You’re just paying lip service”.For those of us playing in George Regis’ Stillwater High School jazz band, this wasthe ultimate humiliation. As he took off his black-framed glasses, set them on hismusic stand, and stared straight ahead, we all felt our muscles tighten and ourcheeks flush red.For the benefit of non-musicians, let me explain that “paying lip service,” is anexpression directors use when band members simply play the notes on a piece ofsheet music as written. Rather than injecting their own creative passion into themusic - and using the notes and pauses to create aunique interpretation for their audiences - theperformers simply follow the literal musicaldirections. In other words, they settle for a routine,mechanical, by-the-book performance.Under a director who got his start during the Big Band era in New Orleans, we hadno such luxury. Instead, we learned early how to gauge the authenticity of amusician’s performance - to know when someone was truly playing “music” - and totake our instrumental practice seriously enough that we would never be accused ofimpersonating a Real Musician. The musical standards in our band program weretoo Old School to risk that kind of ridicule and damage to our school’s publicreputation.As a supervising psychologist, I frequently have an internal reaction that is similarto that of our esteemed director. As I listen to applicants’ discussing their interestin individual and cultural differences. They make sure to sprinkle the buzz words"culturally-diverse population" and "individual differences" liberally throughout their Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  6. 6. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTwritten applications and interviews. But, instead of telling me how they apply whatthey have learned in their work with clients, they simply start doing the equivalentof playing scales and calling them “music”. In other words, they act as if culturally-sensitive assessment and therapy is something they know they are “supposed todo" rather than something they have committed themselves to learning by plungingin with both feet. And most of them have no idea how naive they sound,especially when they come from a background of cultural privilege and cannotmove beyond talking in cliches.Fortunately, you can take a different path. “Singing Scales with Well-Intentioned Student Therapists”As I mentioned earlier, many graduate programs these days require that studentstake one or more courses in cross-cultural psychology or diversity studies. The well-intentioned students then buy a book or two on doing psychotherapy with the“culturally-different" or "racial and ethnic differences in family therapy" and thinkthey have developed a solid foundation for their competent clinical work.But, as a supervisor (and writing coach) I want more.That is, I want to hear how these applicants have startedusing their scales to play a concerto or a waltz with theirclients, even improvising a jazz solo that is based only onchord changes rather than a written melody line. (For younon-musicians, improvisation is the ultimate expression ofmusical talent because it shows the performer’s masteryof the music and catches everyone by surprise - thelisteners have the experience of hearing music as theperformer is actually creating it from scratch. Can you see how exciting it would be for your therapy clients if you spontaneously started framing their problems and solutions in terms that they found personally-relevant? And, imagine how proud much you would impress your supervisor.) Moreover, I want to know, specifically, what challenges they have faced in the process of learning to work across cultures. I want to imagine how they Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  7. 7. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTplan to broaden their knowledge and expertise in working with individual andcultural differences by having them describe the challenges they have already facedin their training. I want them to make their training needs and interests explicit intheir applications and interviews and to hear how their chosen training programcould help them make progress in this important domain.To gain maximum exposure and experience with diversity in clinical work, Iencourage you to choose settings and populations that differ from those with whomyou have previously worked. And, to consider choosing populations that wouldprovide you with new cultural awareness and opportunities to broaden yourunderstanding of the influences of culture and individual differences on mentalhealth.Before you begin writing applications and while preparing to conduct yourinterviews, clarify in your mind what you already know and what you still need tolearn. Be specific with selection committees about how they could fill in the gaps ofyour knowledge and experience. Because you have been fore-warned by thischapter, I hope you will be different from these applicants. Please:Stop and think.Take some time to reflect on your own actual experiences. Make sure that you findways to describe them that create the professional impression you want to make.Even if you do not use this material in your essay, it will enable you to approachwriting your essay with stronger self-understanding and greater depth.Ask yourself:1. What kinds of diversity interest me? Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  8. 8. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT2. Which cultural backgrounds and which individual differences would challenge personally and stretch me to develop my best skills?3. What are my personal and professional interests in gaining experience with these particular populations?While they are not directly related to the question in Essay 3, the responses youcome up with after considering these questions will help you to have a much better Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  9. 9. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTunderstanding of your approach to multicultural/diversity issues. The morespecifically you answer these questions, the more likely you are to come across assomeone who has considered this question in depth. And, the more likely you willappear as someone who takes the issues of individual difference seriously - ratherthan as someone who knows simply how to do w hat is ex pected of you. Start Carving Out Your Own Professional Values and ExperiencesRemember, you are training to become an independent professional. So, now isthe time to start actually thinking more independently about why you have theinterests you have and value the approaches you choose to take in yourprofessional work.Remember, also, to pay close attention in how you define diversity. Most applicantsthink about diversity primarily in terms of clients’ racial/ethnic cultural backgroundrather than recognizing the wide range of individual differences that can influencehow a particular client experiences emotional or behavioral problems. You wouldbe wise to remember that the term actually refers to many characteristics beyondthe racial and ethnic origins, including socioeconomic status, spiritual/religiousbackground, gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability, and age. Furthermore, itapplies to differences between you and each of your clients. So, for example, as anAsian-American lesbian therapist working primarily with Caucasian heterosexualmale and female clients, you - rather than your clients - would be in the culturalminority group according to our society’s current makeup.As a result, you would benefit from considering issues related to diversity in yourwork with every client, since the majority of them would be different from you interms of your both racial/ethnic background and your sexual orientation .An excellent example of this comes from oneof my previous internship coaching clients, aCaucasian male who grew up in a primarilyAfrican-American neighborhood. For him,cultural differences were a way of life in away that is very atypical from the growing-upexperience of most Caucasians. As the onlymember of the societal majority population inhis neighborhood, he grew up understandingcultural minority experiences very personally from his daily interactions. Yet, fromoutward appearances, many African-Americans might not expect him to understand Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  10. 10. CHAPTER I: MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORTtheir experiences at all. This example demonstrates how appearances can be verydeceiving - that our ability as therapists to have empathy for our clients might notbe obvious to others - yet still be very strong and deep. It also illustrates how we -not only our clients - might need to consider our own multicultural/diversitycharacteristics and their effects on how we understand the treatment relationshipand choose the appropriate interventions.In short, as you prepare to write this essay on multicultural/diversity issues, takesome time to think of specific examples that illustrate your experience withindividual and cultural differences. Use illustrations from your practicum trainingand from your other life experiences. This habit will help you avoid speaking ingeneralities - and coming across sounding like every other internship applicant.And, as a result, you will no longer risk “paying lip service to cultural differences”because you will have shown that you know how to play real music, and that youinsist on playing it every time you perform publicly. Copyright © 2008 by Dr. John T. Carlsen. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited.
  11. 11. Getting the Internship You Get the full book W ant: (or the entire set) at: The How to write APPIC essays Internship Resource that get you noticed . . . without Center Store completely losing your sanity Dr. John T. Carlsen Your Internship Coach Book III: How Do I Incorporate Cultural and Individual Differences into My Clinical Work?About the bookFinally, for a generation of doctoral students who are dedicated to becoming highly-competent psychologists but facing unprecedented competition for internshippositions comes Getting the Internship You Want, Dr. John T. Carlsen’s provenapproach to distinguishing yourself from your fellow applicants. A completelypractical approach to marketing your qualifications that not only tells you what todo, but also shows you how to do it.

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