Author Archives: Kelly Lee

Self-Care at Convention

yogaIt is easy to be caught up in all of the excitement of convention; who wouldn’t be excited to meet their idol, talk about their research, or learn a new practice technique? While it is easy to get caught up in all of the running around (sometimes quite literally, especially if you do the Ray’s Race 5K), it is important to invest in self-care throughout convention.

Here are a few tips for self-care so you can impress the socks off of your new networks, rock your presentation, and clear your mind to learn optimally:

  • Plan ahead: The best way to combat stress is to plan ahead. Use the convention app to plan out what programs you want to see. Furthermore, reserve time for rest.
  • Build in some down time: Four days of psychology is a lot. Your hard work should be balanced with a little indulgence. Take a nap, watch some Netflix, and explore the city! This will reinvigorate you to be at the top of your game when you participate at convention.
  • Don’t forget to build in time for friends too: Convention for me is an opportunity to bond with my cohort members and new friends I have made along the way. There are a lot of great food options or activities to do with friends. Going solo this year? Stop by the APAGS social to meet other graduate students.

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Why You Should Join the APAGS Convention Committee


The 2016 APAGS Convention Committee at this year’s APA Convention in Denver.

If you have ever been to the APA convention, you know how thrilling it is: the famous psychologists, the innovative research ideas, and the free pens (just to name a few exciting things)! I was completely enamored after my first convention and wanted to contribute. Some of you may be thinking the same exact thing now, and with another convention over, it is time to start considering being a part of the APAGS programming and fervor that is convention.

Here are some reasons why you may be a good fit for the APAGS convention committee:

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Denver, A Beautiful City with Additional Freedoms!

While at the APA Convention, APAGS hopes you enjoy some of the amazing attractions and nature sites available to you while in Denver. For those who enjoy art, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers a range of regional, national and international artists and exhibitions rotate in and out of the museum, typically staying for two to four months. There is no permanent collection. There are, however, lecture series throughout the year on Thursday evenings and there are engaging education programs for teens. Visitors can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a glass of wine on the rooftop terrace and shop for quirky items from around the world in the compact museum shop (, 2016). While we on the APAGS Convention Committee do hope you take in the arts, we also would like to recommend an outdoor activity to take in some of the natural beauty in Denver.

A fine example of some outdoor leisure activity is Red Rocks. For those who enjoy more fitness related entertainment, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre offers a variety of recreation options for everyone. Visitors to Red Rocks are treated to 868 acres of deer, dinosaurs, pines and prairie, geological wonders and spectacular vistas. At 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rocks Park is a unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountains. The diverse environment allows visitors to see plants, birds, and animals of both regions. Whatever your pleasure, enjoy discovering the venue and park (, 2016). While hiking and enjoying the sun can be very pleasurable, there is also something great about taking in a tasty meal. Denver over the years has become a beacon for amazing restaurants and eateries!

After you have spent a long day networking, presenting, and conferencing, a nice dinner may be just what hits the spot. Where better to try than Fruition. Open only for dinner, the Fruition Restaurant offers a menu of upscale comfort food honed by Chef Alex Seidel (Loomis, 2016). What Seidel and Fruition offer the diner is an experience of food sourced from a 10-acre farm. The farm is where Seidel, a hands-on farmer, produces fruits, vegetables, and cheese and raising animals for his restaurant. This hands-on experience has helped Fruition remains very popular, therefore reservations are a must. We hope you get to take advantage of being in Denver and enjoy a dining experience that you may not get in your home state. At the same time, if you are like us (and most graduate students) and are travelling on a budget Denver has many excellent FREE things to do!

There is much to see and do for free in Denver if you know where to look. It won’t cost a penny, for instance, to climb to the 15th step of the Colorado State Capitol building and snap an Instagram worthy selfie standing exactly 5,280-feet (or a mile high) above the sea. Inside, tours of the capitol are also free and reveal some historically intriguing conversation starters (Blond, 2016). It’s also free to walk the city’s many neighborhoods like Lower-Downtown or LoDo, the hip downtown shopping and dining district, where you’ll also uncover the city’s most revered bookstore, the Tattered Cover, where whole afternoons can be lost reading in the shop’s comfortable chairs. Taking in the sites, enjoying a nice dinner, and saving cash on free entertainment are just a few of the things you can enjoy while visiting Denver for APA. However, another part of the Denver experience are the freedoms it offers.

And let’s be real. Colorado, much like a few other states, has certain freedoms other states do not. Now as the saying goes, with great freedom comes great responsibility. This responsibility is especially important for those who are in the middle of the internship process. The following are clips from known internship settings:

  • As part of the interview process, applicants must satisfactorily pass a security clearance procedure that includes a computerized Core Values Assessment (CVA), a pre-employment interview, an integrity interview which addresses issues of personal conduct, a subject matter expert interview, and a drug test.
  • Applicants matched to the internship should understand that prior to beginning the internship they will be required to successfully pass a brief medical examination, which includes a drug test.
  • VA conducts drug screening exams on randomly selected personnel as well as new employees. Interns can be required to be tested prior to beginning work, and once on staff are subject to random drug testing as are other staff members.

Each of the clips indicate a common theme for those applying to veteran’s administration settings or correctional facility settings: drug testing. For those who are beginning their placement in August or early September it is wise to note that generally standard urine tests can detect traces of THC several days after use, in the case of heavy users urine tests can sometimes detect THC traces for weeks after use stops (, 2015). It is wise to be aware of your diet before and after marijuana use, your fitness level, and frequently of use. For example, those with little body fat who exercise regularly may have less body fat available to burn off the trace amounts of marijuana in the body. The time it takes for this person to be free of THC may differ and render them likely to return a positive test for THC, and inadvertently lose out on the chance for a valuable internship that she or he has worked very hard to achieve. While others who imbibe in marijuana use more frequently may need additional time then a less frequent user.

Outside of those in the midst of the internship process are those who will be presenting a poster, a symposium, or seeking to network with potential employers or graduate school personnel. For those who are hoping to make a positive public impression in some fashion it is wise to keep in mind the effect of marijuana or THC on your cognitive ability. While most are familiar with the negative effects of alcohol and the headaches which can result from a hangover, less are familiar with the type of carryover effects of marijuana.

For example, Leirer, Yesavage, & Morrow (1991), using a sample of airline pilots found 77% of the sample showed some degree of impairment 24 hours after smoking marijuana, yet only one reported any awareness of the effects of its . This finding is important to note in the event you decide to smoke or otherwise partake in the use of marijuana while at the APA Convention. You may find it helpful to plan your activities accordingly to ensure you are at your best when presenting a poster or a symposium, or talking with a potential internship director, and future employer.

All of this being said, we hope you have an enjoyable time while in Denver and make the most of your Convention experiences! As graduate students and professionals, we spend a great deal of our time caring for the well-being of others as we conduct research, provide therapy and counseling, teach, and participate in many other activities. We at the Convention Committee hope you take the opportunity to not only take in and enjoy the Convention experience, but also to take time to rest and recharge!




References (2016, January 1). Museum of Contemporary Art. Retrieved from


Blond, B. (2016, January 1). Denver free things to do. Retrieved from


Leirer, V. O., Yesavage, J. A., & Morrow, D. G. (1991). Marijuana carry-over effects on aircraft pilot performance. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 62(3), 221-227.


Loomis, C. (2016, January 1). Fruition Restaurant. Retrieved from


National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, May 1). Want to Know More? Some FAQs about

Marijuana. Retrieved from (2016, January 1). The Park. Retrieved from

Starting Your First Practicum/Externship

This is the year! You finally get to move out of the classroom into your first real clinical experience. Congratulations! As you are heading out to your first practicum or externship site, here are a few helpful hints or tricks that may aid you in starting out the semester right. (Disclaimer- this advice is for general consumption and should not be taken in lieu of the practicum site’s rules, policies, and regulations. Always consult your supervisor and/or training director if in doubt.)


Balance your roles– One of the most difficult tasks that new practicum students face is the multiple “hats” they must wear or the different roles they must play. As a new practicum student, you are now wearing the hat of therapist, supervisee, group co-facilitator, employee- and that’s just at that one site! As well, you are also juggling the roles of a student, researcher, and/or teaching assistant. While multitasking may seem tempting (and unfortunately, sometimes necessary), it is better to be in the present moment and fully engaged in the role you are working. If you are co-facilitating group, don’t think about your the client you just saw. If you have free time at your practicum site, consider reading therapy books or researching clinical problems rather than working on schoolwork. Your classwork, treatment plans, and clients will still be there when you return.


Manage your anxiety– I was nervous in starting out with my first practicum, and I think this is a common emotion for first time practicum students. You have made it through the necessary coursework and now it is time to start the next step! Starting anything new can seem daunting; just give yourself some time for practice. Also, processing your emotions regarding therapy is a great topic to broach with your supervisor.


Venture out of your comfort zone– A colleague once told me that in therapy, there are only a few things you can do wrong, but a whole lot of things you can do right. Most students know what the “wrong” things are- just peruse the ethics codes! But there are many interventions that you can do “right” with the client. So be adventurous: do an empty chair technique or try a paradoxical intervention. As long as you stay within the ethics codes and consult your supervisor, this is the time to develop those new skills.


Start developing your theoretical orientation– It will come back to haunt you during internship applications, so start early! Most students don’t have a formulated theoretical orientation starting out; therefore, this is the time to experiment and try different conceptualizations and interventions. You might find that you gravitate towards the same orientation again and again, or you may conceptualize with a different theoretical orientation than the intervention you choose. The main point is to explore and see what feels right for you.


Most important: utilize your supervisor– You will be working under your supervisor’s license, so it is wise to establish a positive professional relationship with them. They have years of clinical experience and will be able to guide you when you get “stuck.” Don’t be shy to start conversations with them about clients and other professional development issues; that’s why they are there!


In conclusion, this is a wonderful and exciting time in your professional development. Although the prospect of starting practicum may be daunting at first, I have typically found that things click quickly. Hang in there, be bold, and consult if necessary.


*Again, this is general advice and should not be taken ahead of the policies and procedures of the practicum site and/or your clinical supervisor.


Navigating Convention for Introverts

Networking2One of the best reasons to go to APA Convention is to meet new people and share ideas. Whether it is speaking to a psychology role model, sharing your own research, or starting a new collaboration, sometimes APA Convention can seem daunting, especially to those who consider themselves introverted. Convention seems to be geared towards the social, outgoing extrovert, but introverts have a lot to offer too. We have gathered advice from other fellow introverts to help your through Convention without feeling too overwhelmed.

  • Set small goals– Goals may include talking with three different people, approaching your research idol, or staying at a social event for 30 minutes. Whatever the task, set a goal and stick with it. Afterwards you can feel free to excuse yourself from that setting and feel accomplished in your task (of course, if you are enjoying yourself, you can stay too).
  •  Attend events with a friend or identify a “safe” person – With networking, it is nice to have a familiar face to make you feel more comfortable. If you go with an extroverted friend, they can introduce you or start conversations. If you go with an introverted friend, you can enter into a conversation together with others so it is not as intimidating. And if you go solo, you can identify someone you have already interacted with as a “safe” person to go chat with if you feel uneasy.
  • Avoid being a tag along– Related to the previous point; if you socialize/network with a friend or safe person, make sure that you are engaging and not just blending into the crowd. By setting a goal to talk to a certain number of people, this shouldn’t be a problem. Another way to avoid being a tag along is to observe the crowd and find others who are shy or not engaged; they may be introverted as well and may be looking for someone to talk with. Helping out a fellow introvert can make you feel more confident and comfortable (plus the shared experiences of being an introvert can be a great conversation starter).
  • Take advantage of organized sessions– APA convention has several speed-mentoring sessions that are more structured networking activities as compared to socials. By engaging in these activities, the purpose is clearer and networking may be easier for introverts. Also, these speed-mentoring activities are usually time limited, giving you a realistic goal for socializing.
  • Get creative with networking– There are a ton of different socials to attend during the APA convention, but if that’s not your style, find what is right for you. Knowing your own introversion-style is important in making decisions on how best to proceed. Poster sessions are a good place to talk to others one-on-one about research, but it can be overwhelming with the amount of people and information. If you are good at introductions you can introduce yourself after someone’s presentation and strike up a conversation. Conversely, if you are not as forward, consider pre-coordinating a meeting at convention through email.
  • Plan ahead– By preparing a bit before attending convention, you can make those social opportunities less anxiety-provoking. First, have your elevator pitch ready (including your research interests, clinical interests, and long-term goals). You can also think of two or three questions/topics to start conversations at posters or after presentations.  If there is someone you are really interested in meeting or talking to at convention, send him or her an email expressing your excitement (another great conversation starter when you see him or her at a social).
  • Have an exit strategy– Some introverts may feel over-stimulated during convention. If this is a possibility, you can safeguard yourself by strategically placing yourself near doors and restrooms. If you start to feel over-stimulated, just excuse yourself to the restroom or out in the hall. You can also mention in your conversations that you have a previous engagement and that you need to leave in a few minutes. This way, the person you are talking to already knows that you will be excusing yourself (even if you don’t really have a previous engagement).
  • Pace yourself, know your limits, and self-care– Make sure to secure your alone time and reboot. It can be tempting to load your schedule full of presentations and socials; however, this can be really draining, especially if you feel you are “on” all day. The time off needed is individual to each person, so know your limits. Also make sure to follow healthy habits – getting enough sleep and hydrating are important for everyone when at convention.
  • Don’t feel guilty about being an introvert– Embrace your introversion and strength to talk to people individually and be reflective in your thoughts. By knowing and accounting for challenges, you can really shine and stand out as an introvert!