Personal Experience Term Paper

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Education: Is there additional information you would like us to know in order for us to evaluate your undergraduate record?

My family never gave me advice, discussion, or thought about college. They felt that it was not their role to decide what I was to become; without their input I was left to decipher the world with my own eyes and to decide myself what I was to become.

A never realized in the earlier grades how important high school success, measured by GPA, would be in my future life. As a result of this oversight, I was unable to attend a university immediately. My undergraduate career began at a community college and was completed at Arizona State University. These years were a time of great personal growth, but I was unprepared for the pressures of college life. I did not excel as a student during the first few years of college. Although I enjoyed my independence, I had low self-esteem and no clear goals. After failing two courses in the first semester of my freshman year, I suffered mentally and emotionally.

Beginning the second semester of my freshman year, I embarked on a personal journey. I began to acquire knowledge of a different kind and to understand who I was from the inside out. In pursuit of this knowledge, I entered psychotherapy. Through therapy I developed a sense of enthusiasm and an understanding of how my past experiences affected my ability to function emotionally and academically.

In my junior year, I made an earnest effort to improve my grades. Dedicated to this goal, I was finally able to transfer to Arizona State University and complete a Bachelor (of XXXXXXX Arts/Sciences) in four years.

My undergraduate education base is broad and includes research in several interrelated areas of study, including communication, psychology, and sociology. Exposure to these fields led me to complete my Bachelor's degree in Communication. Effective communication is crucial to all aspects of life, and is requisite for therapists. Communication skills are essential to a therapist's success: by being sensitive to the needs of clients, a therapist can foster growth and healing. The opportunities I have had to develop interpersonal and public speaking skills are directly relevant to helping me be a better clinician. Coupled with my personal challenges and growth experiences, my undergraduate studies led me to the rewarding field of clinical psychology. Although I initially wanted to pursue my Bachelor's degree in psychology and took many classes in the field, a weakness in math and statistics forced me to reconsider my options.

Your graduate study: please describe any formal graduate work you have completed (what, when, where) and how relevant it is to your application to this program.

In 1999, I began my graduate studies in counselling psychology at San Francisco State University. I entered the program to become licensed as a Marital and Family Therapist. I completed two semesters of the program. I was introduced to developmental foundations of counselling, including theories of family, home, and social dynamics and their implications for therapists. I also gained exposure to the psychological foundations of counselling, which applies a knowledge and use of the DSM to treatment plans. Other graduate coursework I took at San Francisco State included field counselling, an overview of issues concerning specializations, licensing, therapist roles and functions, and legal and ethical issues. This tract of study has obvious practical application to the field of psychology. Finally, coursework in counselling theories provided me with an overview of the most established theories of psychology and their relevance to clinical practice. My two semesters at San Francisco State provided me with a solid foundation in these useful areas of study, which can directly carry over to a Masters of Clinical Psychology and specifically to the Marital and Family Counselling Track.

Why should we accept you into this program?

Wanting to become a therapist is not a recent or frivolous desire of mine, but results from a lifetime of experiences. My willingness to examine myself while persevering through difficult and demanding situations, coupled with my ability to relate to others, will enhance my capacity to contribute to society as a therapist. My desire is to impact others and their relationships with family, peers, and culture. My enthusiasm plus my strong academic background make me an ideal candidate for the Masters of Clinical Psychology.

Educational Experience

As early as high school I served as a peer counsellor. That experience initiated my thinking about how abuse, divorce, and familial discord can interact and affect children's social interactions, worldview, and self-esteem. During my undergraduate studies at Arizona State, I gleaned a working knowledge of the importance of communication and its application in the field of psychology. I completed a Bachelor's degree in communication, which led me to explore further the field of counselling psychology. My graduate coursework at San Francisco State solidified my desire to pursue a Masters in Clinical Psychology in the specific field of marital and family counselling. Through my formal studies, I have been introduced to a variety of theories and practices. I learned to develop awareness of individuals' cultural backgrounds and its relevance to therapy. I also gained a great knowledge and practical understanding of adaptive/maladaptive behaviors via use of the DSM. Finally, I was introduced to therapy modules and learned basic listening and attending skills. This served as an introduction to the actual functioning of therapists in a clinical environment.

Non-profit experience worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association a District Director, leading support groups for families of children living with Muscular Dystrophy. This experience enabled me to better understand how individuals deal with disease.

I am also a longstanding volunteer with the AIDS Foundation, which has enlightened me about many outreach programs including needle exchanges and "meals on wheels." I also volunteered at the free testing clinic. I discovered that frank discussion about HIV and getting scary words out in the open helps people to release anxiety about the disease.

My several years working for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) offered me rewarding experiences in dealing with minority populations and with people who are subjected to extreme prejudice. This altered my perspective on life and fostered my interest in counselling and psychology.

Life Experience

From years of work in therapy, I gained insight into and reconnected with earlier parts of my life. Learning how my childhood relates to my present situation sparked my interest in psychology as a tool for helping others. Furthermore, I have direct experience with paranoid schizophrenia, as my brother suffers from that illness. Personal life experiences like these directly relate to my decision and ability to be a successful psychologist.

How would the completion of this program contribute to your personal development, to the profession, and to society?

Completion of the program in clinical psychology will utilize my character, beliefs, and experiences to their utmost potential. For example, through my graduate research at San Francisco State, I was introduced to the issues surrounding adolescent substance abuse. I found myself becoming interested in both the specific issues of adolescent substance abuse and the significance of family, peer, and environmental context. I have been exposed, through classes and independent study, to work in risk and resilience. Not only has this exposure elucidated for me the role of the psychologist in all realms of life.

I am also familiar with specific child and adolescent problems of aggression, delinquency, depression, suicide, and eating disorders. Each of these clinical issues has interesting causal mechanisms and pathways that frequently have much in common. How so very many different developmental pathways can result from subtle differences in both context and learning history fascinates me and makes me eager to explore the professional application of psychological studies.

I am starting to see that many clinical issues are…[continue]

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