Gone Fishing: Making Sense of Your Options for Graduate Study

Posted in Advice, Graduate School, Training Issues

If you’re fishing for a graduate program in psychology, the sea is plentiful. But how do you know which one you want?

At times, it is not clear how programs differentiate themselves from each other. Many applicants are not provided the tools to evaluate programs based on data that is available. Applicants might not know what makes one program a great fit for their professional goals, and another a not-so-great one.

APAGS understands that the choice to go to graduate school in psychology is very significant. We’re trying to take the guesswork out of helping you find your own ideal, high quality training. We’ve blogged about it before and presented about it locally and at regional psychological conferences. (In 2015, we’ll be presenting at EPA in March and RMPA in April.) Now we’re upping our game and making it even easier for you to get on-demand access to our best resources and professional perspectives on the graduate school selection process!

Recorded in November 2014 with the support of Psi Chi and our colleagues in the Education Directorate, the following APA webinar workshop helps you navigate the process of applying to graduate school in psychology as an informed consumer. You will learn (1) the similarities and differences between various degrees and psychology subfields; (2) how to evaluate schools based on several objective and subjective criteria; and (3) how to potentially afford and repay the cost of your graduate education in psychology. Questions and answers follow the formal presentation.

You can also view just the slides (PDF, 2MB) of this workshop, or slides and workshop transcript together (PDF, 1MB). For more resources on applying to, affording, and eventually repaying your graduate education in psychology — including some of the worksheets referenced in the recording —  please visit our APAGS resource page.

Happy fishing!


His Love of Advocacy Made Him a Guardian of Psychology

Posted in Advocacy, Graduate School

Gary HowellI am Gary Howell, an early career psychologist licensed in Florida and Illinois. I am truly honored to receive the inaugural “Guardian of Psychology” Award from the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team.  While I have so many varied interests in our field, I have found my niche working with the LGBT community.

As an openly gay psychologist and professor, I have committed to making the world a better place for students, psychologists, community leaders, as well as clients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

My love of advocacy began as a college student in a very rural town north of Dallas.  I attended an honor society convention and saw Jeanne White deliver a touching keynote address highlighting her pain and loss of her young son, Ryan White, who died while battling HIV/AIDS following a blood transfusion.  Her story hooked me in and led me to volunteer at a local AIDS Service Organization that served 7,000 square miles in Texas.  I served as president of a student HIV/AIDS advocacy group on the Austin College campus around the time Matthew Shepard was beaten to death.  The anger and pain we all felt as we huddled around the television in the Student Union building to hear if he survived or not ignited my passion for social justice.

The path to graduate school

Prior to entering graduate school, I spent two years teaching at a therapeutic day school. I was settled in and comfortable with my job, but I felt as though a significant part of me was fading away. I was informally looking at graduate schools and was scheduled to interview at one in NYC around the time of the 9/11 tragedy. As I sat helplessly in Dallas trying to help my young students make sense of the tragedy, I knew it was time to make a change in my life and find a way to reconnect with advocacy.  I interviewed at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and knew it was a perfect fit for me.

I was settled in and comfortable, but I felt a significant part of me  fading away.

By the time I left graduate school, Adler began to infuse diversity and social justice throughout the program. I found my footing again and quickly got as involved as I could in all things related to advocacy, social change, and public policy – a course I later taught at Adler. My mentor Dr. Gregory Sarlo urged me to get involved with the Illinois Psychological Association, so I did. It changed my life, gave me a new platform, and truly catapulted my career in ways I had not imagined for an early career psychologist. I served two elected terms as the chair of IPA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section. I was able to advocate and secure support of IPA to publicly endorse the removal of Gender Identity Disorder and Gender Incongruence from the DSM-5 in its early stages of development. I am very grateful that Drs. Armand Cerbone and Randy Georgemiller also noticed my passion for advocacy. Their mentoring was and continues to play an integral role in my pursuit of leadership within Division 44 and other divisions.

Organizing for psychology and LGBTQ youth

While serving this role, the entire country began to see the ugly face of homophobia, bullying and suicide surface with the September Kids in 2010. I could not sit by and watch our community wait for others to take the lead again. I organized an emergency call to action and town hall discussion for psychologists, graduate students, religious leaders, and community organizers. I took the talking points from the evening and organized a full-day symposium on anti-gay bullying, homophobia, and suicide among the gay youth population, and created the LGBTQ Youth Taskforce to begin a grassroots initiative to make the journey from the schoolyard to home safer for gay youth.

Teaching and leading by example

I moved to Tampa, Florida in 2011 to begin teaching as a core faculty member at the Florida School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University.  I am proud of our accredited program because we keep it relatively small, with great student-faculty ratios for all courses.  I am able to mentor students, get involved with extracurricular research projects with my students, and share my passion for advocacy. My students and colleagues know that I will do all I can to recruit others in supporting advocacy. I convinced a group of students to do the Smart Ride from Miami to Key West last November, and we are doing it again this year.  I ride for those I have lost to HIV/AIDS, for those who are still very much living the reality of HIV/AIDS, and to prevent some from having to live with HIV/AIDS. I aim to lead by example and wholeheartedly believe all psychologists should.

We can do so much more than just provide psychotherapy and assessment services. Graduate students have the world ahead of them to create their own path in our field. There is a look I see in my students’ eyes, one that truly warms my heart, when they connect the importance of advocacy and the opportunities it affords us as clinicians.  I see in them a sudden desire to ‘do’ or be a catalyst for social and systemic change.

Graduate students have the world ahead of them to create their own path. There is a look I see in my students’ eyes when they connect the importance of advocacy and the opportunities it affords us as clinicians.

I am terrified when I occasionally encounter ignorance and intolerance among psychologists — especially their lack of awareness regarding diversity and its pervasive impact on clients they see in practice. Sometimes we have to make easy choices, but many times we have to make difficult choices in our profession.  For me, sitting silently by and watching opportunities to affect broken systems disappear is not an option.

Editor’s note: This is an invited blog post. Before Dr. Howell knew he had received the Guardian of Psychology award from the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team, he appointed his advisee Krista Kovatch to a leadership role in the Bay Chapter of the Florida Psychological Association, where she will serve as the Social Responsibility Chair. Dr. Howell noted, “This same talented clinician and student nominated me for this amazing award.”

Teachable Moments about Policing from Ferguson, Missouri

Posted in Advocacy, APA

FergusonBy Tom Tyler, PhD (Professor of Law and Psychology, Yale Law School)

Ferguson represents another step in the escalating failure of the “broken windows” view of crime that has gained ascendancy during the past generation.  Under this approach, the police seek to maintain order by focusing upon arresting those who are committing minor crimes. This justifies the widespread practice of repeatedly stopping, questioning, frisking and often detaining and arresting members of the community, in particular the African-American community, and leads to the same type of hostility toward police officers that has become so visible in New York City in recent years.  Worse yet, it seems the police in cities like Ferguson have moved beyond the original broken windows model which focuses upon arresting people committing life-style crimes and have dropped any pretext of stopping only those who are actually involved in criminal activity.  Instead the police repeatedly stop innocent community residents on the streets to create feelings of fear, which they believe deters criminal behavior.  Why is this bad?

How can the police build trust?  I have conducted a number of studies of popular legitimacy which examine why people do or do not trust the police in their community.  These studies consistently show that the most important issue to public evaluations of the police is whether they believe that the police are exercising their authority fairly.  This means that they are not making decisions about who to stop based upon race; that they are willing to listen to people when they stop them; apply the law consistently and without prejudice and take time to explain the reasons for their actions.  Most importantly, the police need to treat people in the community respectfully and with courtesy.  When the police do these things they build trust.  In other words, we know how the police can build trust in communities, White or minority.  If people see the police acting with justice, they respond with trust.

Of course, there are limits, and even respectful treatment gives way to distrust in the face of repeated police stops of people who are not engaged in wrongdoing.  Two facts emerge from empirical research on the impact of policies involving widespread street stops.  First, such stop, question and frisk policies increase crime by undermining police legitimacy. Jeffrey Fagan and I recently studied young men in New York City and found that those who mistrusted the police were twice as likely to be engaged in criminal activity.  Second they increase hostility and lead to a greater likelihood of conflict when the police deal with community members on the street and when the community reacts to police actions such as the Brown shooting.  Such anger produces precisely the type of unrest so visible in Ferguson.  As so many of the marchers in that community have suggested, if people do not experience justice when they deal with the police, there will be no peace.

This article was re-posted from APA’s Psychology Benefits Society Blog.

Present Your Work at APA Convention in Toronto!

Posted in Graduate School

IMG_2105Psychology graduate students: Now is the time to start thinking about presenting your work at the prestigious 2015 APA Convention in Toronto, Ontario!  The deadline to submit a proposal is December 1, 2014. APA Convention is August 6-9, 2015.

Why submit a proposal directly to APAGS?

  • Gain valuable knowledge and experience for professional development.
  • Have access to a national audience for sharing your ideas and insights, and gain professional contacts.
  • Earn a gem for your CV!
  • Chair a session in your own right, without needing sponsorship from a full APA member.
  • As a first author on a posters or program, all APAGS members have their Convention registration fee waived.

Steps for submitting a proposal:

  1. Choose a topic that has broad appeal to many psychology graduate students. Focus on timely issues and present the most current information.
  2. Develop and refine your ideas by talking to your colleagues and advisors about topics and format. Ask reputable students and/or psychologists to present with you.
  3. Be sure to include contact information and affiliations for all presenters. Review your proposal for clarity and polish, and make sure that your proposal is complete.
  4. Submit your proposal electronically. The first question asks you to “Select the most applicable division for submission of this proposal” from a drop-down menu. Choose “GS- APAGS” to make sure your proposal gets to us.
  5. Submission deadline is December 1 but we recommend submitting early to avoid any last-minute complications.

Proposals will be reviewed and scored by the APAGS Convention Committee and selected presenters will be notified in early 2015. For more information, contact Heather Dade or visit the APA Convention website.

Funding Opportunity for Grad Students! Basic Psychological Science Research Grant

Posted in Graduate School, Research

Are you conducting psychological science research and need additional funding for your study?  The APAGS Basic Psychological Science Research Grant provides financial support for direct costs associated with psychological science research studies conducted by graduate students.

Graduate students in the following science-oriented fields are encouraged to apply:

  • Cognitive,
  • Cognitive Neuroscience,
  • Computational, Developmental,
  • Experimental or Comparative,
  • Industrial/Organizational,
  • Neuropsychology,
  • Neuroscience,
  • Perception and Psychophysics,
  • Personality and Individual Differences,
  • Psycholinguistics,
  • Physiological,
  • Quantitative,
  • Social, and
  • Clinical Science

Students in fields with a practice component are eligible, but they must focus solely on their scientific research in their application materials.

In addition, there is new funding for the grant specifically designated for those conducting diversity-related research.  APAGS is offering up to 3 awards for $1,000 to fund diversity-related research project if you apply for a Basic Psychological Science Grant.  APAGS defines diversity according to APA’s Multicultural Guidelines (2002): Diversity “refer[s] to individuals’ social identities including age, sexual orientation, [gender and gender identity], physical disability, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, workplace role/position, religious and spiritual orientation, and work/family concerns.”

Eligibility caveats:

  • Undergraduates are not eligible to apply for these grants/awards, nor are current or former APAGS Committee members, subcommittee chairs and task force chairs.
  • Former APAGS subcommittee members or ad hoc reviewers who have previously reviewed this grant are not eligible.
  • Previous recipients of each grant/award are not eligible to apply again for a period of five years.

Read more and apply online by December 3!  For specific questions, contact APAGS or Alexa Lopez!