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Justin Andersen 1
A. Introduction
It is a bright and sunny day in California. Like most book worms, I am sitting in a cozy...
Justin Andersen 2
were mentally traumatic. After coming out and realizing what my mother did, feelings of anger, distrust
...
Justin Andersen 3
focused on self-awareness of his disease. He was experiencing a psychotic episode, he knew that the
symp...
Justin Andersen 4
as a professional psychologist is not in control of which types of clients they will interact with. Havi...
Justin Andersen 5
commonly associated with psychiatric patients (dangerous, abnormal behavior and disheveled
appearance) c...
Justin Andersen 6
around at the assortment of individuals studying, checking their social network feeds or talking with
fr...
Justin Andersen 6
around at the assortment of individuals studying, checking their social network feeds or talking with
fr...
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Grad school admissions essay

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Grad school admissions essay

  1. 1. Justin Andersen 1 A. Introduction It is a bright and sunny day in California. Like most book worms, I am sitting in a cozy coffee shop, sipping on my soy iced-coffee listening to some great music. My plan for the day is to write an admissions essay concerning why I want to study Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. Though my agenda for the day seems simple, I find myself searching deep within; why do I want to study Psychology? What is it about this particular field of study that has me so passionate and excited that during my session breaks in my undergraduate program I would faithfully read chapters out of Freud's “Interpretation of Dreams“? Even now that I am not in school, I still find myself at local bookshops browsing through the psych section. Am I crazy? No! I’m just the person that knows what he wants out of life. I’m the guy that is focused and dedicated, when I set my sights on a goal, I reach it. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words. The actions in the last four years of my life give evidence of my ambitions. Let me share with you the type of person I am. My name is Justin Andersen. I am a 26 year old gay male, Guatemalan-American Jew. I grew up in California with both my mother (Guatemalan, Jewish), my father (American) and two brothers. Needless to say, my childhood was a mixture of cultures and experiences; it is no wonder that I grew up to be a person that likes to immerse himself in new environments, hoping to learn something new about the world through the eyes of another culture. Reaching this place of self-immersion wasn’t easy. I had to work hard to find acceptance: from my peers, friends, family and eventually myself. Being bi-racial is one thing, and being Coming out was the end of the family that I knew and the beginning of a new life. My parents did not only disapprove of my sexuality, they disowned me. All of this happened just as I started my undergraduate program at Argosy University. When it rains, it pours. A flood of troubled times continued to come my way as I found out some information about my childhood that I had suppressed. My mother had keen instincts; she knew that I was gay, at a young age of five took me to Guatemala to meet a sexual healer in hopes to cure me. On several occasions, I remember my mother punishing me if I acted out of the realms of masculinity. Though the punishments never reached sexual abuse, molestation or rape, they
  2. 2. Justin Andersen 2 were mentally traumatic. After coming out and realizing what my mother did, feelings of anger, distrust and worthlessness started to make its mark in my life. Thankfully I had a strong support system in place that came to my rescue and saw that I received mental help. With the aid of a therapist, I started to piece back the once lost memories of my childhood. As painful as it was to bring these lost memories back to life, they gave me a sense of freedom from my pain and abuse. I continued my life as a normal child. I did well in school. Made strong connections with friends. Succeeded at every job I had. I was functional. What my mother did and what she believed did not define who I was or who I could be; rather it made me stronger. Her punishments were a vindication of my personality, that I am someone who can endure pain and be exposed to anger, yet continue in his own journey. While going through counseling, I made the decision that I was also going to continue with my educational goals. I always start what I finish, and in August 2011, I graduated with my Bachelors degree in Psychology. It was a proud day in my life as I had not only put myself through school without the help or financial support of my parents, but that I did not let my hate and anger get the best of me. In congruence with my self-improvement/development and schooling, I continued working at St Joseph Hospital in the Emergency Department. I was working at St. Joseph Hospital for about a year before I started at Argosy. Working in the Emergency Department gave me my first exposure to the psychiatric population. I soon discovered a unique characteristic about myself; I was able to look past the chaotic features of most psychiatric patients that present to the Emergency Department and see a real person who was fighting and struggling for life. Just like the patient that is having a diabetic emergency, the disease does not have to control or limit the person. It was through talking with and learning about psychiatric patients that I really started to have a passion about psychology. Within a few short months, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the psychology field. As I developed in the understanding of my own mental health, I found the benefits of talk therapy to be greater than the pill-popping normalcy that is often associated with psychology. I remember one patient that I encountered at work who was Schizophrenic, off his medication and in a program that
  3. 3. Justin Andersen 3 focused on self-awareness of his disease. He was experiencing a psychotic episode, he knew that the symptoms he was experiencing were delusions. He came into the Emergency Department as a last resort, a place where he knew he would be safe from himself and his thoughts. He did not want to be medicated, he did not want to be put on a 5150; he simply wanted to talk out his delusions and seek help in putting together his thoughts. Unfortunately, the Emergency Department is not a place that is equipped nor prepared to handle his type of emergency. I tried to help him by talking but he was too upset. He ended up leaving the department and going home. I knew that he just wanted to talk, but I felt helpless because I did not know how to approach or talk to him effectively-it was like being in a kitchen full of food and equipment and not knowing how to cook. B. Why CSPP? As I sit here in the cozy coffee shop, I am more confident in my decision to continue on my educational journey. I know that I want my PhD in Clinical Psychology so that I can start cooking in my kitchen. I know that I have the capacity and capabilities to be an effective Psychologist; all I need is a quality education that will prepare me to work in a diversely rich world. An education that is not biased or fluffed with pride, one that is down to earth, and one that understands the uniqueness of the world as well as the needs of the everyday person. Though I have only been out of school for a little over eight months, my search for the best fit graduate school began over a year ago. I’ve talked to friends in the field as well as professionals that I work with, all the roads lead to a school and program that reflects the standards of the California School of Professional Psychology. One thing that attracted me to CSPP was the staff. I attended two informational seminars at the Los Angeles and San Diego campuses and was very impressed that actual professors took time out of their busy schedules to openly speak with potential students. Other schools simply sent out mailers and mass emails, or had a student advisor that has never worked in the Psychology field. These advisors were barely able to answer any questions regarding the actual course load and applications of their programs. I also liked the fact that CSPP has a strong sense of diversity. Growing up in Southern California exposes a person to a vast array of cultures and ways of life. The understanding of multicultural issues is important
  4. 4. Justin Andersen 4 as a professional psychologist is not in control of which types of clients they will interact with. Having a solid educational understanding of diversity is essential in today’s multifaceted world. Diversity is one of the core values at Alliant University, and that value attracted me the most to the CSPP PhD Clinical Psychology Program. What also made the CSPP PhD Clinical Psychology Program stand out was the overall realness of the program. Visiting the various campuses, talking with the staff and the reviews of the program give the sense that CSPP is a unique school that meets the students individual needs and prepares them for success. Unlike other programs that leave the student idle in the classroom and library, the scholar- practitioner model is used in which the student simultaneously applies what is learned into a practicum. Being eager to start cooking, this educational model excites me as it promises a quality, hands-on education while in attendance at CSPP. C. Explore Possible PhD dissertation Working at St. Joseph Hospital placed me in a position in which I was able to get a glimpse of what the psychology field is about. I am well aware that I’ve only just begun, and that there is much more to learn and experience. I have asked several questions, went to conferences regarding mental health, and sat with Doctors and Social Workers as they spoke with patients. All of this preliminary exposure has led me into seeing a real need in the policy and procedures of patients that present to the Emergency Department. The current practice is to keep the patient safe so that a Psychiatrist can later see them in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. However, the stabilization process is nothing close to therapeutic. When a patient presents to the Emergency Department, they are not met with a level of compassion that fosters a trusting relationship between the clinical staff and the patient. Rather, the negative (often times hostile) attitude that the psychiatric patient is met with results in a distrust of the clinical staff, thus making the patient more resistant to the therapeutic treatment that comes much later in their care. In 2011, a study done at the University of Utah examined the relationship that Emergency Department Nurses had towards psychiatric patients. In their study, Bullock et al suggest that the stigma
  5. 5. Justin Andersen 5 commonly associated with psychiatric patients (dangerous, abnormal behavior and disheveled appearance) creates a sort of barrier that prevents appropriate care towards the psychiatric patient (Bullock, 2011). In other words, everyday Emergency Department Nurses do not see the psychiatric patient as just another patient; rather they tend to see and focus on the patient’s messy hair, dirty clothes and missing shoe. Their behavior towards the patient is notably different in that they put on face masks, wear extra gloves and gowns, making the patient look like they are infected with a nuclear substance. This practice would make any one of a sound mind feel unwelcome and dirty, how much more a patient that is depressed, manic or in psychosis? When the time comes to start on my PhD dissertation, I would like to explore possible solutions to the stigmatization of psychiatric patients. What is the overall current practice throughout the country? What would Psychiatrists and other crisis interventional specialists say about this problem? As a future PhD student in psychology, I have already asked myself these questions as well as others that I work with: what can we do to better serve our psychiatric patients and community? D. Concentrative Studies Once accepted into CSPP PhD Clinical Psychology Program, I would like to concentrate my studies towards a melody of practical and theoretical approaches of general psychology that would include psychodynamic elements, analytical, existential and cognitive psychology. In addition, I have a firm belief that as a society we could do more towards educating ourselves about the food we eat, the medication/drugs we take, and the ways in which we cope and manage stress. As a future Clinical Psychologist, I plan to work with Primary Care Doctors in helping them assist their patients that struggle with their over-all mental wellbeing. Also, I plan to work with individuals that have imbalances with their mind/body relationship. Taking advantage of CSPP elective tracks and emphasis would greatly prepare me for a career as a Clinical Psychologist in the Public Health spectrum serving as Psychotherapist. My soy iced-coffee has been replaced by hot tea. The sunny day in which I started writing has passed. I have had plenty of time to think about my future and where I want to be. Although I am not sure of the exact details of the next several years, what I do expect is to walk back into this coffee shop, look
  6. 6. Justin Andersen 6 around at the assortment of individuals studying, checking their social network feeds or talking with friends, and I will smile. The education that I have earned has prepared me to not only work with a multitude of individuals; it has given me further understanding into the various psyches of the everyday person. My smile will turn into pure joy, knowing that all my life experiences, all the ups and downs, fears and tears, setbacks and set forwards have lead me here, as Justin Andersen, PhD. Clinical Psychologist. Reference: Bullock, R. A. (2011). Stigma and Identity. The Symbolic Meaning of Serious Mental Illness in Healthcare Interaction: Towards a Transformative and Transactional Theory. The University of Utah. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/887890046?accountid=34899, on March 6, 2012.
  7. 7. Justin Andersen 6 around at the assortment of individuals studying, checking their social network feeds or talking with friends, and I will smile. The education that I have earned has prepared me to not only work with a multitude of individuals; it has given me further understanding into the various psyches of the everyday person. My smile will turn into pure joy, knowing that all my life experiences, all the ups and downs, fears and tears, setbacks and set forwards have lead me here, as Justin Andersen, PhD. Clinical Psychologist. Reference: Bullock, R. A. (2011). Stigma and Identity. The Symbolic Meaning of Serious Mental Illness in Healthcare Interaction: Towards a Transformative and Transactional Theory. The University of Utah. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/887890046?accountid=34899, on March 6, 2012.

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