Match Day 2018: The Forecast is Looking Good!

As your APAGS Chair, I wanted to reach you on one of the most important days of the year for the psychology training community. The 2018 Match Day is upon us, and the forecast is looking good for students. We continue to make advances toward resolving the internship crisis, and we are always excited to see students progressing in their training. For those that did not match, we continue to be your ally in this struggle, and aim to support you through our advocacy efforts to ensure everyone has access to the training opportunities they deserve.

Let’s Talk Data

Here is today’s APPIC data about applicants seeking a 2018 internship:

  • 3,779 applicants participated in the Match, of which 3,727 were from accredited programs. A smaller student pool is likely because APPIC is now using stricter accreditation requirements for doctoral programs that send students into the Match.
  • 3,163 applicants matched in Phase I: An 88% overall match rate.
  • 85% of applicants who matched got one of their top three choices.
  • This is the first time there were fewer applicants than internship positions available (i.e., 3,906 positions available), which is a promising trend for future internship cohorts. For the 432 students that remain unmatched, 457 APA/CPA-accredited internship positions remain open. 

Although many students are celebrating the opportunities that await them on internships, many today remain unmatched, and we hope that the number of APA/CPA-accredited sites available in Phase II provides ample opportunity to secure a quality training experience this summer. We also hope that the 184 students who did not submit a rank list or withdrew their applications for reasons related to site availability advocate for their best outcomes and fare well.

I know that the pains of not matching can be personally burdensome, and the uncertainty about the coming year can be equally as draining. Be reassured that, just as there are terrific training opportunities available in Phase II, there are many terrific applicants that sites will be ecstatic to recruit. I know many high-quality, well-trained colleagues who matched in Phase II to terrific training opportunities, and I wish you all the best of luck as you continue the application process for this cycle.

Change is on the Rise

The internship crisis has improved over the years, and many more stakeholders are beginning to call it an imbalance. In its advocacy efforts, the APAGS Committee is always mindful of the training opportunities available to students. In our 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, we aimed for an APA/CPA-accredited internship for every student from an APA/CPA-accredited program. We are close to reaching that goal.

My belief is that greater emphasis will need to be placed on specialty training opportunities in the coming years. The substantial increase in APA/CPA-accredited internships has helped to resolve the internship crisis, but many students miss out on specialty training opportunities when they match to sites that are not the best fit for their training goals. Certain fields such as school psychology have fewer APA/CPA-accredited programs. Although many sites offer neuropsychological training at the internship level, when applicants fail to match to a site with such training opportunities, they become less competitive when securing postdocs within that specialty. Rehabilitation, health, forensic, and more — specialty tracks and training opportunities at the internship level are becoming increasingly prevalent, and we as a field should be aware that the crisis is about both supply and fit.

Our Advocacy Efforts

For those in the student community concerned about advocacy, the APAGS Committee has been actively working with the internship crisis at the forefront of our minds. Our past advocacy efforts have pushed for a $3 million internship stimulus package approved by the APA Council of Representatives, which  has been highly successful in the development of new training sites. Medicaid reimbursement for internship services has also helped to secure funding for additional training sites. We also produced an informative video and resource page on the internship crisis to spread awareness of the impact that not matching has on the lives of students. The APAGS Committee continues to focus on graduate and internship training opportunities for our constituents. If you have any perspectives on additional advocacy efforts, we are always appreciative of your input. Contact your APAGS Committee officers for additional information. Further, if you would like to have a place at the table, we encourage all APAGS members to consider applying for positions on the APAGS Committee.  Students of all backgrounds, subfields, and interests are encouraged to apply. These positions are the most effective way to advocate for your student peers within APA, as we strive for the highest quality training experience for all psychology graduate students.

Sincerely,

Justin E. Karr, M.Sc.

2018 APAGS Chair

How well are psychology programs addressing diversity training? National survey reveals results

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) Committee on the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED) and Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (CSOGD) recently finalized a mixed-methods study that explored the impact of diversity on the program and training experiences of APAGS members. Graduate students from programs across the United States, shared their perspectives on diversity and inclusion issues in their clinical and research training, courses, mentorship, and everyday interactions in their programs. The accompanying infographic presents a snapshot of some of the most relevant findings. The final page  provides some additional resources in addition to specific recommendations provided by students for how to improve programs’ diversity training and better support students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. For more information on the study or its results, please contact J. L. Stewart.

APAGS Diversity Infographic_Page_1APAGS Diversity Infographic_Page_2

 

APAGS Diversity Infographic_Page_3APAGS Diversity Infographic

Editor’s Note: This infographic was developed by the following APAGS members (listed alphabetically): Klaus Eickhoff Cavalhieri, Lincoln Hill, Kiet Huynh, J. L. Stewart, Joelle Taknint, and María D. Vázquez.

 

This is Why Social Media is the Secret to Success in Student Engagement

Blog 1Over the last few years as a School Psychology doctoral student, I have begun to experiment with various social media and technology platforms with hopes to improve efficiency and service delivery. I have found that the attention and information consumption of youth are structured into small but high-volume increments of time. Each social media platform serves its own purpose in the lives of our youth and as educators we must utilize this knowledge to bridge the educational gaps that exist.

This has sparked my interest in how social media can be used effectively in the classroom and it has influenced my career choices for the future. Our ability to receive information is becoming more accessible with advances in technology.  As technology begins to affect different areas of our lives we must take charge and change our approach of receiving and presenting knowledge.

For those of us in the field of school psychology, a portion of our responsibility is to assess and evaluate each student’s ability to learn and acquire knowledge. Just as technology grows and develops, our understanding of how students learn must follow.  When we think of education, most of us picture a teacher lecturing from a PowerPoint or a carefully outlined agenda with minimal student interaction. In the traditional sense, educating students has been viewed as a way of transmitting information from an all-knowing source (the teacher) to students waiting to be enlightened. In most cases this idea still resonates, but the way in which students are engaged has vastly changed over the last ten years.

A vast amount of social media platforms have been created over the past decade; Vine, SnapChat, Instagram, and Periscope to name just a few. With the use of these platforms, more people are using social media as a means of communicating, business, entertainment, and yes, even education. More students are engaged by what they can see or interact with, on an individual or group level. This type of environment promotes a more positive outlook on learning and presents a parallel between how students learn and how they use technology.

Research suggests that when technology and social media are used appropriately student engagement and overall learning are enhanced (Lvala & Gachago, 2012). Due to such findings, researchers and educators have questioned how these findings can promote positive learning environments for students. Is technology friend or foe? The emergence of social media has also increased the rate of information exchange both socially and academically. It has grown more common for individuals to use social platforms to exchange knowledge and create safe spaces for self-expression. With social media becoming a highly used platform, educational uses have been deemed to show positive signs of academic engagement (Lvala & Gachago, 2012).

It is my belief that technology and social media are friends to the classroom. I encourage all readers to investigate the positive impact of social media and digital technology in the classroom. Also, we must understand the difference between educational technology and general digital technology. Social media is a common virtual space that most individuals understand, especially the youth.  If one can properly utilize the key elements of social media, students will become more engaged with course content. If you are a non-believer ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you uncomfortable using social media in your academic curriculum? If so, why?
  2. Have you been trained to use technology as an educator?
  3. Do you use social media in your personal life?
  4. Do you believe that social media and digital technology are a distraction? Why or why not?

References

Lvala, E., & Gachago, D. (2012). Social media for enhancing student engagement: The use of Facebook and blogs at a University of Technology. SAJHE , 26(1), 152-166.

Cross-posted with the American Psychological Association’s Office of Public Interest and APA’s Psych Learning Curve.

Biography:

Blog 2Dwayne Bryant is a fourth-year doctoral student at Howard University studying School Psychology. His research interests are social media and digital technology. Most recently he gained experience in providing psychotherapy at a behavioral health clinic in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This experience provided him with a sense of confidence in his field of study.  Over the last two years he has worked on research projected gear towards the advancement of women in STEM fields. He is currently working as an intern in the APA Public Interest Directorate on the issue of women and STEM. He has a passion for advocacy and fairness for all people. In the future, he plans to open a private practice and a learning and recreation center in his hometown of Oak City, NC.

Research can be fun, I promise: A guide to getting undergraduates involved in research

We all remember how overwhelming our first few years of our undergraduate studies were. Psychology may have been our major, but there was so much information being presented in introductory courses, it was hard to know exactly what that word really meant. What did psychologists actually do all day? I know when I was a sophomore, I still thought that all psychologists were basically Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs– sneaking into storage units late at night to explore a killer’s wares, examining dead bodies for clues to how they reached their demise, having intimate and revealing conversations with a serial killer through 4-inch Plexiglas. Such action-oriented images defined psychology for me. It pushed any ideas of sitting behind a desk, performing scientific experiments and analyzing data, to the very back of my mind.

Luckily, I had a bunch of very patient, but very direct, mentors who introduced me to the value of research. And I am not talking about just the “oh, now I have another line to put on my CV” sort of value. We all can remember the first time we found a significant effect size with data we had personally collected and pored over every detail of. There comes a shining moment when you realize that you have added something to the field of psychology! My mentors taught me that all the hand-wringing that came before that moment was worth it, and soon “researcher” became a part of my definition of a psychologist.

Now, I am on the other side, working as the graduate assistant for an undergraduate research program. Graduate students have a unique connection with undergraduates in our department – although, like faculty, we are older and more experienced, it is often easier for the undergraduates to connect with us. We are also still in the weeds of academia, often closer in age, and spend a lot of time focused in on the same areas. So for the undergraduates in our lab, in the classes we teach, or just at department events, we can become a major mentoring voice. In essence, we have a choice – we can simply go about our expected duties, or we can push ourselves a little farther. We can reach out to undergraduate students to introduce them to the world of psychological science.

Of course, that isn’t always easy. Undergraduates face a lot of obstacles in regards to research, and no, it isn’t just the obstacle of eating so much ramen that they cannot get into the lab. Undergrads often avoid research because:

  1. “Research” does not fit into their schema of “psychologist”.

Teaching these students, who may think of psychology a solely consisting of clinical work (or, in my case, forensic clinical work) how research can fit into the picture is invaluable. Speak to your undergrads about your work, and connect it directly to clinical experience. Bring current research into the classroom. Discuss with students your own experiences of doing both hands on work with clients and future-oriented work with science. Eventually, the connection will click.

2. They think that they do not know enough and will make too many mistakes

Undergraduate students (and graduate students as well, honestly) may become stuck in the paradoxical loop that they do not want to attempt anything new for fear that they will not do it perfectly the first time, or that they will disappoint their superiors. As a student who has certainly made mistakes yourself (likely in the recent past!), you can be the one to break that infinite circle of passivity. Talk about your own mistakes, even if you are not directly prompted. Use them as teaching moments for that specific task, but also as a general teaching moment that no one is ever perfect. Mistakes often lead to the most valuable teaching experiences. And as for not knowing enough, remind them –  research is for exactly that purpose, when we don’t know enough, we seek out the answer. You are learning as you go along, and this field is all about jumping in and get your hands dirty. The earlier you do it, the more you will learn.

3. It is an ambiguous concept.

Lots of what we learn in undergraduate psychology is concrete; problems are described and solutions presented. In research, you have to identify the problems, or areas of uncertainty, and hypothesize solutions. Simply coming up with these two things – a research problem and a hypothesis – can be arduous enough. And it becomes even more difficult when we realize that even the most well-thought out hypotheses do not always work out.

Encourage undergraduates to draw on what they already know, and then to take a risk. Research requires taking a dip into the unknown, which is inherently risky because it is uncharted territory. Being walked through the less-defined steps for the first time can prove to be a very helpful experience. Ask undergrads to act as research assistants for your projects, and have them do more than just data collecting. Introduce them to how you came up with the research question, the IRB approval process, show them the write-up. If possible, invite them to come to conferences with you so that they can get a taste of it (and get some free vendor pens). Be the guide for the first leg of this uncharted journey, but then step back once the journey has begun. The students will realize that their risk can reap reward.

4. They do not know how to ask for guidance

Often, even if an undergraduate student is ready to integrate research into their life and jump into a pool of potential mistakes and ambiguity, they may not know how to ask for help. As graduate students, you can be an enormously helpful resource. Be inviting to undergraduates that want to come to your labs. Encourage undergraduates in your classes to speak with you after class if they are interested in research, and be willing (or knowledgeable about other labs where you can refer them) to refer them based on their topic of interest.

**

Today’s undergraduates will be our future lab partners, classmates, and eventual colleagues. It is important that we begin to build their foundation of science from the very beginning – science is an integral part of moving psychology from the past into the present, to make treatments more effective, and to make lives better. After all, Clarice Starling may have had all of the action sequences, but she may have never solved the case of Buffalo Bill without the scientists identifying the moth.


Editor’s Note: Fallon Kane is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at the Derner School of Psychology. Her research focuses on personality pathology and interpersonal relationships, and personality change with age. 

 

How college students can tackle common psychological problems

ThinkingCompleting a college degree can be a hard ball game and not everyone can hit it out of the park. I think we all can agree that college life often brings up tough challenges that can break even the strongest of students if they are not able to handle them well.

Besides academic pressure, students often have to juggle various other psychological pressures such as unfavorable family conditions, infatuations, peer pressure, insecurities, bullying, health issues, etc., that can make it even harder to cope.

All of this can affect one’s psychological well being and can contribute to a lack of focus and potentially losing sight of ultimate life goals.

 Common problems

Around 43.7 million American adults were diagnosed with mental health conditions in 2016. Fear, stress, loneliness, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, emotional troubles, self-loathing, addiction, sexual tension, etc. are some common psychological problems among students.   

While severe cases of depression and anxiety topped the list, a significant section of young adults also suffered from illicit drug abuse and alcohol abuse. In some cases, conditions were severe enough that patients showed suicidal tendencies.

What to do?

It’s typically easier to treat psychological conditions at an early age, between 16 – 24 years old. After some online research, I have summarized a three-step plan to help deal with and conquer mental health issues while pursuing your degree:  Admission, Analysis, and Consultation.

The Plan:

  1. Admission

A good first step to addressing psychological problems is admitting that you have a problem and determining that you are willing to face it head on. It certainly takes some amount of bravery to admit that something’s wrong with yourself. Remember, you’re not alone.  As I stated above, there are 43.7 million adults that also have some type of mental health condition. There is no shame or weakness in admitting that you have a problem.  It is easier to treat and improve your mental health condition if you report signs as early as you see them.

What to look for?

According to Mental Health America, there are several warning signs and symptoms:

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance use

2. Analysis: Studying the Connection and Consequences

Most psychological problems are connected to another or lead to another, or they may be a result of one another. For example, loneliness can cause fear, and fear can cause stress and anxiety. Emotional tension can lead to sexual trouble, which in turn can result in addiction and sleep deprivation, etc.

Taking a look at these connections not only helps to identify the problem but can help you identify a pattern, which can prevent an minor illness from branching into more serious consequences like self-injury, drug addiction, depression, bipolar disorder, or in worse cases, causing harm to yourself or others.

To prevent such consequences, you need to understand your problem and know what led to this condition. If you want to read up, there’s enough research on mental health and psychological disorders and papers that you can find on the internet. Be informed.

3.  Consultation

It sounds very obvious but yes, consulting a professional or speaking to a student counselor can be a tremendous help. If you don’t know where to start, try going to the campus counseling center or look for a student support group on your campus. The university health clinic can also refer you to a mental health professional. If you prefer to find someone off campus, do an online search for “mental health professional” in your city or town.

A recent survey by Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) revealed that 72% of students surveyed have felt positive results after consultation. Sharing your problem with a professional will help you get proper guidance, medication, and rehabilitation that’s suited to your condition.

Final words

Recovering from psychological turmoil is a hard battle but it is important to persevere. Remember, you are not alone. It may be difficult to pull yourself out of a depression or overcome anxiety without obtaining professional assistance. Talk to someone that can  help you.

Try to avoid temporary fixes like self-medicating and don’t ignore your symptoms. It takes strength to identify that you have a problem and seek help. Love yourself enough to make sure that you are in the best mental state possible, and do whatever it takes to maintain that healthy mentality. Remember, you want to live your best life. Stay safe, stay fit and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Author:

Ethan Miller is a private ESL tutor and apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write. When he is not teaching or writing his book, Ethan loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. Follow Ethan on Twitter, and his blog.