20 Nov 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Professor Kimberly Kinzig

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs. Dr. Kimberly Kinzig, PhD, uses her training as an instructor and researcher at Purdue University. Learn how you can apply your psychology education to a similar career path.

Kimberly KinzigSpeaker: Dr. Kimberly Kinzig, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in behavioral neuroscience. Her research is aimed at understanding the roles of various neuroendocrine signaling pathways in the control of food intake and regulation of body weight, and how these signals and systems go awry in eating disorders and obesity. She has a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati, and did her postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Psychiatry and behavioral Sciences.

Garth Fowler, PhDHost: Garth A. Fowler, PhD, is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

Did you find this webinar useful?

0 0
16 Nov 2017

Melissa Tehee Helps American Indian Students Become Psychologists

Melissa Tehee Helps American Indian Students Become Psychologists
Melissa Tehee
Melissa Tehee is one of fewer than 300 American Indian psychologists in the United States.

Melissa Tehee, PhD, JD, is a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Her cultural heritage as an American Indian is at the center of her life and career. Tehee is one of fewer than 300 American Indian psychologists in the United States, a lawyer, the director of the American Indian Support Project (AISP), and an assistant professor of psychology at Utah State University (USU) in Logan.

This is a fairly new position for her, one she came to precipitously in 2015, but she's pleased to support Indian students who are defying the odds to become psychologists. She knows the distances they've traveled, psychically and often physically as well, to come to school.

There is some financial support through AISP, but Tehee says, "One of the biggest things we do is provide community," making sure someone is available who understands Indian students' viewpoint and is willing to advocate for them. "That's something I struggle with myself in academia, the individualistic approach to things. My life way is more communal," she says.

Of the more than five million U.S residents who claim American Indian heritage, fewer than 25 percent now live on tribal lands. The majority live mostly in cities. In either setting, though, a large minority of Indians are poor, and they are more likely than the general population to suffer from distress and substance abuse. Only about two thirds of American Indian students graduate from high school, and they are more likely to be expelled, suspended or classified as having "special needs" than are other children. According to the latest available data, Indians graduate from college and obtain professional degrees at about half the rate of other Americans, while those aged 25 to 34 are victims of violent crimes at a rate more than 2½ times greater than that of the population as a whole.

The AISP, which seeks to increase the number of American Indian psychologists, was founded at USU in 1986 in response to the dearth of school psychologists and other mental health professionals on tribal lands. It's the rare psychologist who understands the differences between Indian culture and the mainstream American one, Tehee says. In her job with the AISP, Tehee, by training a clinical psychologist, is on a mission to bring more Indians into psychology.

She has her work cut out for her. USU's latest doctoral cohort in psychology is 11 students, a "huge" class, but even with the AISP on-site, focusing its efforts on recruiting Indians for the field, only two of this group are American Indians. "There's not a lot of awareness" in the community about what working as a psychologist would mean, "but the problem begins long before that," with a student population that has a troubled relationship with school, Tehee says.

AISP is trying to smooth the road for those students who have made it to USU. Doctoral candidates now can get clinical hours by traveling the 80 miles to the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake City, Utah, to do therapy intake, with Tehee supervising. "This is a big step for the AISP program," she says.

Tehee grew up in Nebraska, where her paternal grandfather had settled after serving in the Air Force. He was originally from Tahlequah, Okla., where his Cherokee ancestors were relocated after the infamous 1838 forced evacuation from the Southeast known as the Trail of Tears.  Though he was her only Indian grandparent, Tehee's family identified strongly with his background. "It was who we were, what I heard about," she says. "I always had a different worldview, a slightly different take on things. That difference was pretty obvious for me."

Her parents divorced, and after that, life was often chaotic. The family moved frequently and was even homeless at times. Once, they landed in a domestic violence shelter. School was a refuge, Tehee says, and she excelled there. The first person in her family to go to college, Tehee eavesdropped in high school on other students talking about applying for college, and found out how to apply as well.

As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she sought out Cynthia Willis Esqueda, PhD, also a Cherokee, and was "incredibly fortunate" to work with her on research on domestic violence "and the cultural differences in the way people perceive" those relationships. For a master's degree in psychology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, she investigated mainstream biases toward American Indians with Joseph Trimble PhD. Throughout, she volunteered with domestic abuse hotlines and shelters. The study of traumatic experiences — the coping styles people have or develop, the social support they find, their own resilience and what types of interventions have been shown to help — endures in her present work.

Tehee says she always knew she would be a psychologist, and she was attracted to research from the beginning, but she didn't expect to wind up in academia. "I planned to contract out research projects with tribes," she says. After becoming involved with the Society of Indian Psychologists immediately after completing her undergraduate work in 2005, and attending several of the society's annual meetings at USU, she found herself drawn to the school and the rugged area around Logan, which she came to love.

In 2015, Tehee completed a dual JD/PhD program, with a certificate in Indigenous People’s Law and Policy, at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She did her clinical internship in San Diego, where she worked with couples dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on their relationships. Then Carolyn Barcus, EdD, the longtime director of the AISP, decided to retire, and Tehee says, "I got a phone call," one that changed her life. Barcus and USU asked her to take over her job at the AISP, and "that's how it all came about."

She had to scramble then to come up with a career plan. Tehee had worked as a graduate teaching assistant, so she was prepared to teach. However, the Logan area was not home to any Indian tribes. At that point, she says, "I knew my research would have to be on a national scale."

The road to success so far in that regard, Tehee says, has risen out of a network she has found of researchers, not all psychologists, who are working with American Indians.

There's a lot of work to be done, Tehee says. Some tribes have "zero data," but others have been collecting information about their members, and need help putting it to use in a meaningful way — perhaps to get funding for things they're already doing that are working.

Tehee loves the idea that her research projects can give something back to the tribes. "That value, of giving back, is immersed in our culture," she says. "The goal is for all my research to be tribal participatory."

Did you find this article interesting?

4 0
07 Nov 2017

Special Report: 10 Trends to Watch in Psychology

Special Report: 10 Trends to Watch in Psychology
Monitor on Psychology, November 2017
Monitor on Psychology, November 2017

More than ever before, there is a growing appreciation for psychologists’ expertise, including the research they do to illuminate human behavior and the treatment and insights they provide to improve health and well-being.

But of course the field’s capabilities go far beyond research and practice—psychology’s ever-multiplying subfields touch on every facet of life. Today’s psychologists are the innovators improving American products and services, from self-driving cars to the health-monitoring apps on our cellphones. They are the trailblazers steering efforts that improve health outcomes and enrich the performance of teams in workplaces nationwide. They are the thought leaders advocating for critical causes, from women’s rights to science-based public policy.

In this special APA Monitor report, “10 Trends to Watch in Psychology,” we explore how several far-reaching developments in psychology are transforming the field and society at large.

Did you find this booklet interesting or useful?

0 0
27 Sep 2017

How to Tackle Tough Topics in the Classroom

How to Tackle Tough Topics in the Classroom

In an age of polarized opinions, psychology educators are amplifying their efforts to promote more understanding

The day after the 2016 presidential election, assistant psychology professor Evelyn Hunter, PhD, knew she had to be prepared for different types of discussion in the three classes she was teaching that day at Presbyterian College, a small, mostly white liberal arts college in Clinton, South Carolina.

"I realized it was going to be hard for me to concentrate on just lecturing, and that students would be activated by the results, too," says Hunter, who is African-American and says that she was concerned about how the election results might affect people of color.

Fortunately, Hunter was armed with techniques that allowed her to safely introduce the topic of difficult dialogues for discussion, which she had gleaned from co-writing a paper on the topic as a graduate student, and later watching others conduct difficult dialogues and then conducting them herself. She grouped the students in circles, first emphasizing the importance of respecting and valuing everyone's opinions, then inviting them to air their thoughts and concerns. A biracial student said she felt hated by other students and that no one seemed bothered by that. White students revealed they felt that others unfairly viewed them as racists for voting for Donald J. Trump.

The conversation appeared to enlighten some, while leaving others uncomfortable—and that is part of the process, says Hunter, now an assistant professor at Auburn University. "Earlier in my career, I thought that a good dialogue meant everyone left happy and feeling great about it, but that's not always realistic," says Hunter. "If the dialogue is truly difficult and it's really a necessary conversation, maybe it's not the best thing if we all stay in our comfort zones."

Leaving things unsaid does not mean they do not exist, she adds. "I believe we give things more power to do harm when we allow them to remain unexposed."

Hunter's approach to such discussions is just one of many ways that psychology educators are helping students address tough social issues. Known by terms like "difficult dialogues" and "challenging conversations," the work can take myriad forms, including brief discussions about current events, classes dedicated to key themes, and planned events that focus on hot-button topics within local communities. The work isn't easy, but it's highly rewarding, says Sue C. Jacobs, PhD, a professor at Oklahoma State University and fellow of APA Div. 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), who has been training others in difficult dialogues since 2009.

"We live in a world of bullet points," Jacobs says, "but to have truly difficult dialogues, you have to go underneath the bullet points and listen to other people."

Preparing students

For two main reasons, colleges and universities are key places to hold such exchanges, adds psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, president emerita of Spelman College and author of "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race," slated for a 20th-anniversary edition this year. For one, universities are one of the few places that young adults from diverse backgrounds come together and share the same spaces. For another, they're settings where these dialogues can take place in a safe and structured way, with positive, educational outcomes as the goal.

"From an educator's viewpoint, it seems a shame not to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to prepare the next generation for effective leadership"—in this case, by fostering the ability to successfully engage with a wide range of people, Tatum says.

Not surprisingly, this work can meet with opposition. Administrators and fellow faculty may consider such discussions too political or too removed from what they see as the central aim of education, namely, imparting objective information to students. And for their own reasons, faculty may be leery of getting involved—fearing the disapproval of colleagues, a diminished shot at tenure or even ignorance about the subject matter. But in an increasingly complex world where personal aspects of identity are ever more salient at school, work and in other contexts, facilitators believe these difficult dialogues are essential.

"Most of our students have never thought about why they think the things they think," says Oklahoma State University professor and APA Div. 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) fellow Shelia Kennison, PhD, who infuses difficult dialogue strategies into her undergraduate courses. The conversations allow the students to learn about themselves and other people "in a way that is more uniting than dividing," she says.

A starting point

The term "difficult dialogues" was first used in 2005 by the Ford Foundation to support work that would address a national concern: growing racial and religious tensions on U.S. campuses in the wake of 9/11. Through a competitive process, the foundation awarded 27 colleges and universities up to $100,000 to launch relevant projects in the area, for a total of $2.5 million.

That same work continues today, with more relevance than ever, many say. Although the foundation's funding ended in 2008, many campuses have continued to make creative and sustained efforts to address the plethora of challenging social issues that seem to arise on a daily basis. The pros and cons of gun control, environmental versus economic concerns, racial profiling, gender identity and sexual orientation issues, religious versus scientific belief systems, issues related to climate change—almost any charged social topic provides fodder for deeper discussion, says Libby Roderick, who directs the Difficult Dialogues Initiative at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), which received some of the original Ford Foundation funding.

Given psychologists' expertise in human behavior and motivation, they are particularly strong players in this arena, as are sociologists and social workers, Tatum adds. That said, she'd like to see more faculty involved.

"I think every instructor can benefit from developing their capacity to facilitate what might feel like an uncomfortable conversation," Tatum says.

Only by imagination

Educators are incorporating difficult dialogues in a variety of creative ways. They can be a small but integral part of classroom activity, as with Hunter's election-related forum. They may be mandated adjuncts to traditional classes, per an Indiana University initiative called "Community Conversations," developed by psychologist and assistant professor Kerrie G. Wilkins-Yel, PhD. The effort requires students who are taking sections of the same class to meet in small groups once during the semester, and engage for two hours in a difficult dialogues process.

The format has the unique benefit of engaging a large number of students while maintaining the fundamental tenets of effective group dialogue, says Wilkins-Yel. At least two students in each group are of "marginalized identities," ensuring that the discussion is truly diverse, as opposed to simply including one "token" member of a minority group who might feel put on the spot, she says.

In other cases, entire classes are devoted to difficult dialogues. Last year, for instance, the counseling psychology department at the University of Missouri—another institution originally funded by the Ford Foundation—launched a graduate-level program focused entirely on helping students practice difficult dialogue skills and gain the tools to facilitate such discussions.

Other universities, like UAA, have centered on faculty development: Trainers there have taught difficult dialogue techniques to some 150 faculty members who are using the skills in a variety of ways.

These conversations are happening outside the classroom, as well. In Anchorage, UAA's Center for Advancing ­Faculty Excellence hosts a popular annual debate and faculty forum that's open to the public. There, students who are part of an internationally acclaimed debate team introduce a contentious topic—a recent example is whether the state's limited budget should go toward investing in the university or an oil and gas pipeline—and debate it for 40 minutes. They're followed by four faculty members who add their disciplines' perspectives to the conversation. After that, community members are invited to participate. 

"People come out of these things lit up," Roderick says. A common response: "‘This is what we're supposed to be doing; this is what higher ed is for,'" she says.

Stepping stones

Whatever form the work takes, there are several basic guidelines to keep in mind, educators involved in this work say. In general, preparation is key—it can include gaining specific training in the area; learning from manuals and other materials designed to walk educators through the process and its challenges; and attending conference and workshop presentations. At this year's APA Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., for example, Webster University psychology professor Linda Woolf, PhD, chaired a symposium on methods for addressing intolerance and hate on campuses, including difficult dialogues. Also, the biennial National Multicultural Conference & Summit regularly includes material on difficult dialogues. The Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center—created by facilitators to continue the work started by the Ford Foundation—hosts a biennial conference specifically on difficult dialogues; the next is slated for sometime in 2018 (see Resources below for more).

Once educators have received the training to start such conversations, it's important to lay a strong foundation for the discussion at the beginning of the conversation—one that emphasizes students' rights to express their thoughts and opinions and to respectfully disagree, no matter how intense a session becomes, says Wilkins-Yel. She also highlights expectations of how students should behave: They should actively listen to fellow students, talk in the first person and enter dialogues with a spirit of curiosity, for example.

Tiffany G. Townsend, PhD, senior director of APA's Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, urges educators to underscore that everyone has biases—­educators included—a tack that ­lowers defenses and gets students into a more receptive frame of mind for dialogue. To this end, it's also important that educators examine their own beliefs: Doing so "ensures that their biases don't color the conversation or inadvertently instill the very divisions that they are trying to address with the conversation," Townsend notes.

It helps to infuse relevant research into these conversations as often as possible, says Woolf. For instance, if a topic involves sexual orientation and gender identity, a discussion host can showcase research demonstrating the misinformation about and the effects of discrimination and violence against LGBTQIA people, which can help expand students' viewpoint on the topic.

To meet fellow educators who want to foster more of these discussions, psychologists may want to contact Div. 17's Subcommittee on Social Action, Jacobs recommends. Educators can also form groups with other interested faculty on their campuses.

Those who teach difficult dialogues say the work is like planting seeds—it may not ­produce immediate results, but it eventually bears fruit. "Students tend to come back long after the fact and say these dialogues were a formative experience for them," Kennison says. 

Resources

Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center 
Holds a biennial conference on difficult dialogues. www.difficultdialogues.org

University of Alaska's Difficult Dialogues Initiative 
Free handbooks and other information. www.difficultdialoguesuaa.org/handbook/landing

Promoting Student Engagement: Vol. 2, APA's Div. 2 (Teaching of Psychology) 
Chapters on infusing diversity, peace-related and other relevant material into difficult dialogues. Free download. http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/pse2011/vol2/index.php

By Tori DeAngelis


This article was originally published in the September 2017 Monitor on Psychology

Did you find this article useful?

0 0
24 Aug 2017

Sian Beilock Wants to Help People Perform at Their Best

Sian Beilock Wants to Help People Perform at Their Best
Sian Beilock
APA Fellow Sian Beilock is the new president of Barnard College in New York City. (Photo: Jason Smith)

Sian Beilock, PhD, a psychologist, fellow of the American Psychological Association and the brand new president of Barnard College in New York City, sees her move into the top job at a "stellar" liberal arts college for women as a natural progression in a career that has focused on "helping people perform at their best."

Beilock was previously at the University of Chicago for twelve years as a psychology professor and the principal investigator with the Human Performance Lab there. By the time she left, she was an officer of the university as well. As a researcher, Beilock says she will "continue to collaborate with folks in Chicago. I'll always be a cognitive scientist."

She has written two popular books on the mind–body connection, Choke (2010, Free Press) and How the Body Knows Its Mind (2015, Atria Press). Her work has explored questions raised by her own early experience with "choking" during important performance events, and now represents a whole array of investigations into how to help people — from small children to parents to elite athletes — harness their potential to learn and excel.

In 2014, Beilock took on the additional role of vice provost for academic initiatives at Chicago, moving up last year to executive vice provost, a "high-striving leadership role, and I loved it," she says. In that role, in 2015, she created UChicago Grad, which offers graduate students and postdocs a variety of programs, events, workshops, and one-on-one coaching on presentation skills and interviewing, with an eye to helping them find good jobs not only in academia, but also in industry, nonprofits and government. Last year, she was named  the Stella M. Rowley professor of psychology.

"There's this false dichotomy, this idea that students need one set of skills for an academic career and another for industry,” she says. “They're a lot of the same skills, which we work to help our students acquire — to articulate a viewpoint, listen, take in new information and adjust their thinking based on what they've learned, to write and understand data — skills that are important no matter what endeavor they pursue."

Beilock says the same is true for undergraduate students like her new charges at Barnard, which was founded in 1889, one of the original Seven Sisters, elite women's colleges associated with the once all-male Ivy League. Barnard, with about 2,500 students, is affiliated with Columbia University.

"The liberal arts span across the humanities, the social sciences, the biological and natural sciences, and what this type of education gives students is the ability to think. The world is changing, and our role is to get them out with the tools they need in their first job, second job, eighth job, and graduate school," she says.

Beilock thinks her background in psychology will help her. She received her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates in kinesiology and in psychology from Michigan State University in East Lansing. Success in life depends, she says, "not just on knowledge or skills in a particular area, but also on having the psychological tools to put your best foot forward when it matters most. I hope that idea has influenced some to think about not just the math lesson but also how you feel about that lesson, and not just how you're practicing that swing on the golf course but how you're training your mind. That's what I've tried to work on throughout my research career, and I think a lot of those lessons will be helpful in the next chapter."

She has "always been interested in women and girls" in her research, "in understanding some of the psychological barriers that keep them from achieving up to their potential," she says. Research shows that seeing women in leadership roles encourages girls to be optimistic about their own chances to succeed in those pursuits, and that's something Beilock says she will be happy to represent and foster at Barnard.

"Barnard is the best of both worlds, a stellar, small women's liberal arts college working in tandem with a large research university,” she says. “Our women take classes with Columbia students. Our faculty members are tenured" at both institutions. "Students have the ability to choose the path they want to take. It's really a singular experience."

Another initiative she worked on in the provost's office at Chicago was the oversight of UChicago Urban, a pan-university effort that seeks to enhance engagement between the academy and the city that surrounds it. Beilock, whose role at Barnard also carries the title of dean at Columbia University, hopes to reflect that experience in her new job as well — investigating "how research around urban education is actually implemented in urban schools, and what we learn from teachers and others in urban schools about the types of research questions we should be asking. That was fascinating work for me. I'm thinking of Barnard too as a part of the great city of New York."

She is also excited about her own research over the last few years on how to cut through young students' math anxiety. As a researcher, she uses "converging methodologies" in her work — behavioral performance measures like reaction time and accuracy, concrete stress markers like salivary cortisol, and neuro-imaging.

Parents who are anxious about math can transmit those anxieties, she says. "Anxious parents also tend not to want to do math with their children, and don't talk about it as much. We've published work over the past couple of years that shows that giving parents opportunities to do math in a fun and interesting way with their young children — maybe not just bedtime stories, but also bedtime math — can change how much children learn in math across the school year. It's especially true for parents who tend to be most anxious about math. I think it's really exciting that we can provide tools for children, and for parents to support their children in achieving up to their ability," Beilock says.

Did you find this article interesting?

29 2
21 Jul 2017

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

In this 3-part web series, you'll learn the fundamentals of servant leadership, a leader or an organization that seeks first to serve others. The presentations cover effective communication, managing people and processes and positively transforming people and organizations. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

Each program runs about 1 hour:

Leadership and Communication

No communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively.

Leading and Managing People and Processes

In order to accomplish a mission, establishing a process is important. However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Learn the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

It takes strong leadership to help people and an organization transition in order to make a change. Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Learn what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

Did you find this web series useful?

0 0
20 Jun 2017

Psychology Offers Many Options When It’s Time to Take a Different Direction

Psychology Offers Many Options When It’s Time to Take a Different Direction
Patricia Arredondo, EdD, had been working as an assistant professor for three years at Boston University when she realized she had to re-route her career plans. Even though she had a strong track record of publications and was leading a three-year federally funded grant, a professor told her she was not going to get tenure.

The news rattled her confidence, but also fueled her motivation to seek out alternatives. So, she attended career planning workshops and evaluated her interests and skills. At a guided meditation at one of the workshops, Arredondo imagined what she wanted to be doing in 10 years, and envisioned a job that would allow more creativity and interaction with the public.

That reflection led her to launch Empowerment Workshops Inc., a consulting business focused on helping companies create and implement a diversity strategy in the workplace, often working to increase the presence of women and ethnic minorities. "Each time it was like working with a new client in therapy because every organization had a different narrative to tell, and the variety gave me an opportunity to be creative and adaptable," she says.

Arredondo later returned to academia when she was ready for another transition, and eventually moved into administrative roles at several universities. Her latest position was president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago campus.

Arredondo's story is just one example of a psychologist who for one reason or another decided to make a career change.

"We all experience some type of work transition whether we choose it or not," says Patrick Rottinghaus, PhD, an associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. "The occupational landscape is different now than in the past. Most people shift careers multiple times."

Some are forced to make changes involuntarily when there are layoffs, an organization closes or senior workers are asked to retire, says Nadya Fouad, PhD, chair of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Some make subtle changes by, for example, moving from one practice specialty area to another. Others retire and take on psychology-related volunteer work. Others voluntarily opt to revamp their careers when they start feeling restless or want to gain new expertise.

"Most people who choose to make a change voluntarily have been thinking about it for a long time," says Sue Motulsky, EdD, associate professor of counseling and psychology at Lesley University in Massachusetts. "They may start noticing signs of burnout, such as loss of interest in what they're doing, mistakes and lack of judgment or increased impatience."

Whatever the reasons may be for contemplating a new direction, the prospect of making a career shift can be daunting. Here's some advice from experts in vocational psychology and psychologists who have successfully navigated a transition.

See a career counselor

The process of career transition is not easy, and it is especially difficult to do in isolation, says Motulsky, who maintains a private practice in career counseling in addition to her work as a professor. "This is almost impossible to do by yourself, and a counselor will help you start the journey of exploring your options."

A counselor can provide self-assessment inventories that will tease out vocational interests, skills, values and life roles, which all come into play when making a career change, explains Rottinghaus. Motulsky also encourages psychologists to consider seeing a career counselor who has a doctorate because he or she will understand what is involved in earning this degree and how that investment of time and money can influence career decisions.

Listening to your frustration can be good

Sherry Benton, PhDSherry Benton, PhD, felt overwhelmed by the demands of directing a university counseling center, but her frustration took her in a different direction.

"I really liked doing therapy and working with students, but I found it intolerable that we didn't have the capacity to treat everyone who needed help," says Benton, who directed the Counseling & Wellness Center at the University of Florida. "If we made students wait a month for an appointment, that could have a significant impact on their well-being."

She searched for models to increase access and capacity, and discovered a tool in Australia that used brief phone contact with a therapist and online educational modules to teach cognitive behavioral strategies. She created her own version of the program, which included interactive online education and a dashboard that enabled therapists to track a patient's progress. For example, therapists could see details of patient entries in the interactive exercises and how patients were rating their behavioral health at different points in time. She tried the new model at the wellness center, and it was so successful that she started a business to market the product.

Benton hired four employees, and TAO (Therapist Assisted Online) officially launched in July 2015. TAO offers online tools for client education, interaction, accountability and progress assessment. For example, the modules include animation and real actors portraying situations that clients can relate to as well as interactive exercises.

"It's really scary and completely worth it," Benton says. "It's satisfying to pursue your dream and make it happen, but it's not easy. I would describe it as a mix of elation and terror."

Be honest with yourself

Robert Youmans, PhD and familyRobert Youmans, PhD, started his career as an assistant professor specializing in applied cognition, but he slowly discovered that the world of academia what not what he had envisioned. Although he enjoyed teaching—first at California State University, Northridge, then at George Mason University in Virginia—it was difficult to find funding in his area of interest, design thinking and processes.

Living on a faculty salary was also trying, and he started consulting on the side to supplement his income. He founded Human Factors Design Consulting and worked with companies that needed his expertise in user experience research. The work was lucrative, and he enjoyed building new products. "It was an odd experience," he says. "On one hand, I had more work offers coming in from companies than I had time to accept, but at the same time I had trouble getting funding to study those areas within academia."

He made numerous contacts through his business, and they would often suggest that he apply for full-time positions at their companies, but he wasn't ready to leave academia. Finally, in 2013 he was open to a career change. He and his wife were expecting their first child, which elevated his sense of financial responsibility. In 2014, he accepted a position as a user-experience researcher in a product area called Streams, Photos and Sharing at Google.

"When I was younger I had these romantic notions of what it meant to be a professor, but the day-to-day of being a professor wasn't always what I had hoped it would be," Youmans says. He knew he would miss teaching, and was nervous about leaving his colleagues and job security, but he hasn't looked back. "Now I'm doing interesting and rigorous science research—and I earn many times what I earned in academia," he says.

Be open to change

Andrew Adler, EdD, had worked as a school psychologist in Nashville, Tennessee, for 28 years when he started considering retirement. He was surprised when a recruiter called to see if he was interested in a job as a mental health clinical director contracted to the Tennessee Department of Correction. He had experience working with students whose parents were incarcerated, and had previously consulted as a psychologist in the Tennessee prison system. So, recognizing he had the right background, he accepted the job in 2012.

"School psychology set me up well for working in a prison," Adler says. "Prisons, like schools, serve all of society and have people with a range of social problems and diagnoses. Inmates are ripe for remedial and rehabilitative support."

Like Adler, Joyce Jadwin, PsyD, started working in the prison system a few years ago. Unlike him, it was her first full-time job as a psychologist. She managed a program for female sex offenders in Ohio, but after a year in the role she realized the work was not a match with her interests.

"I wanted to use skills beyond being an individual provider," says Jadwin, who had worked as a college administrator before she earned her doctorate in psychology. "I was used to making independent decisions and influencing policy and procedure."

Jadwin applied for a role as assistant director of faculty development in the medical school at Ohio University, and got the job. "My psychology training allows me to bring a clinical perspective to my role, which gives me credibility with physicians because I understand what they are going through in the medical world."

Start now

Although it's natural to implement many of these strategies when a job transition is imminent, Rottinghaus urges psychologists to take time to nurture career development each year. He often uses Jane Goodman's "Dental Model," which advises people to conduct a career check-up annually, like a regular visit to the dentist. Taking time regularly to evaluate job satisfaction and reiterate long-term goals can reduce the chances of frustration later, he says.

"Strategically engage with mentors over time, even when times are good," Rottinghaus says. "Once you get out into the workforce, nurture those mentoring relationships so you can articulate your professional objectives. Mentors are there to provide support, and they may have connections if you need to transition into another role or setting."

Without such strategies and an overall plan to guide them, people are at risk of letting others define their career trajectories and reacting to events rather than defining their own future, he says. In fact, most people who make a career transition wish they had done it sooner, says Motulsky.

"If you let yourself explore different options that you are drawn to, you may discover something that will make life more satisfying and meaningful," she says. "I've seen many people go through the career process and find a job that makes them far happier, which is important because most people spend a lot of time at work."

Ready for a change?

  1. Talk to a career counselor to guide you through self-assessment.
  2. Listen to your frustrations since they can lead you to new paths.
  3. Do a gut check. Is this really what you want in your life?
  4. Don't wait. Most people who make a switch wish they had done it sooner.

By Heather Stringer


This article was originally published in the September 2016 Monitor on Psychology

Did you find this article useful?

1 1
23 May 2017

A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles Booklet

A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles Booklet

Psychologists working in the field of education study how people learn and retain knowledge. Their research unlocks clues about the way people process information that can help every student learn.

This booklet, A Collection of Educational Psychology Articles from APA Journals, zeroes in on a range of educational issues from student challenges in learning mathematics to improving teacher-student relationships.

If you enjoy these articles, don’t stop here. APA’s Journals Program maintains a database of hundreds of papers on educational psychology. And as an APA member, you enjoy highly discounted access that enables you to explore these and other research topics online at www.apa.org/pubs/journals.

 

Did you find this booklet interesting or useful?

8 1
23 May 2017

Crossing Cultural Borders with Kenneth Wang

Crossing Cultural Borders with Kenneth Wang
Ken Wang
APA Fellow Kenneth Wang's interests include perfectionism, cross-national psychological adjustment, cross-cultural and multicultural psychology, and Asian and Asian American mental health.

Kenneth Wang, PhD, now based in Pasadena, Calif., struggled to navigate two cultures growing up. Born and raised in Taiwan, he spent five years in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as a young boy. Even today, Wang says, "I'm not 100 percent comfortable" in either China or the United States.

From his experience, Wang is convinced that leaving one culture behind to live in another, even temporarily, can shake a person's identity. His sense of the potential impact of that common transition has shaped his work. An associate professor in the School of Psychology at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., Wang specializes in educational counseling, and he does much of his research with students. He also has a private practice.

"I've conceptualized crossing cultural borders as experiencing loss — the loss of relevant knowledge and a sense of belonging," he says. "This is not an original idea, but I draw on my own experience and observations of that."

Wang and his colleagues have specifically addressed the adjustment trajectories of hundreds of international students in the United States, as well as factors that might affect their transitions, like perfectionistic tendencies. He's also studied the constellation of traits that can help students find their feet, which has been dubbed cultural intelligence, or CQ. His research shows that some students fret most before they ever leave home; others are blindsided by culture shock, then adjust. ​​Yet another group suffers psychological distress that's more about them as individuals than their transition to another culture.

"International students are not all alike in the way they adjust" to new situations, Wang says. He'd like to be part of an effort to identify and encourage supports to help students and other visitors, refugees and immigrants achieve "belongingness" quickly in their new societies.

Wang is also known for his work assessing perfectionism among individuals in different groups. These are not necessarily people from other countries; for example, he has looked at perfectionism and identity issues in African-American and religious students as well.​ Still, these people can experience a tremendous amount of stress when mainstream values conflict with those of the subculture they grew up in.

The child of professor parents, Wang lived in Tuscaloosa between the ages of 5 and 10 while his father pursued a PhD at the University of Alabama. Wang was the first Asian student ever to attend his Tuscaloosa elementary school. When soccer teams formed along racial lines, the white kids versus the black kids, it was up to him to decide which team to join. He felt he didn't fit in, and he experienced some bullying, he says. His struggles continued even after his return to Taiwan. While he looked like everyone else, "I felt different. I didn't know the songs or games, and I struggled to learn to read and write Chinese, to fit in, to function in that cultural context. I thought there was something wrong with me," he says.

A number of basic values were different as well, Wang says. "Self-promotion is critical in the United States," for example, but humility is important in Taiwan. And always, Wang was held to tough standards, no matter where he was.

For Asians and Asian-Americans, perfectionism is "not just individual but collectivistic," he says. Instructors in Asian schools tend to "focus on where people have gone wrong, where they can improve," in contrast with mainstream American society, which may try to reinforce "feeling good about yourself," even if a student's performance is below par. Asian students have a "more realistic view" of how they're doing and "where they fit in," Wang says, but the Asian approach can take a toll. Even if the culture views the student's distress as constructive, the individual may not get much satisfaction from his or her own success, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

As an adult, Wang worked for years in business, first in marketing and then in planning, until he noticed he was more interested in a colleague's marital problems than in his work. The most frustrating part of that for Wang was that he wasn't able to offer any helpful advice.

His future wife was taking a counseling class as part of her education curriculum, and introduced him to the idea of empathy, "of being in another person's shoes, and reflecting," he recalls. That changed his life. Wang decided to go into a helping profession and came back to the United States, to Wheaton College, a small Christian school in Wheaton, Ill. Deciding against the ministry, he got a master's degree in counseling. When he finished, he returned to Taiwan and went to work in the Disability Resources Center at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien.

But counseling in Taiwan was not what it might have been in the United States. Wang had few clients and his time was taken up with administrative work. "I might as well have stayed in business," he says. Restless again, looking at various PhD programs, he noticed that at Pennsylvania State University in State College, some professors were studying perfectionism, including Robert Slaney, PhD, who had created the influential Almost Perfect Scale–Revised.

"That resonated with me," Wang recalls. The high standards he had grown up with, the "constant striving and pressure to perform well" made him want "to learn more about how that impacts a person." Wang's first publication, in 2006, was a paper he wrote with Slaney on perfectionism among Taiwanese students.

For Wang, his present job at the seminary affords him the opportunity to continue to explore cross-cultural differences, but with the added benefit of being able to travel to China several times a year. Fuller has strong ties to China and Taiwan through its China Initiative ministry, and that connection offers research and other collaborative opportunities.

Wang says, "Psychology encourages us to be who we are, and accepting of who we are. I've come to accept that I'm a cross-cultural person."

Did you find this article interesting?

101 2
28 Apr 2017

Untenured and Untethered: Replacing Tenure-track Faculty with Adjuncts

Untenured and Untethered: Replacing Tenure-track Faculty with Adjuncts
Susie Sympson, PhD, began her career as a grocery store clerk. When an injury forced her to quit and she returned to school, she began dreaming of getting a PhD and becoming a professor. She achieved her goal, earning a University of Kansas doctorate in clinical psychology and becoming an academic.

Her dream didn't turn out as expected, however.

Sympson has been an adjunct psychology professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, for the last 11 years. With an annual salary of just $21,000 for three classes a semester plus one in the summer, she hasn't put a dent in the principal of her $500-a-month student loan debt. And with such low pay, saving anything for retirement has been impossible.

"There's a lack of respect for our training and for us as colleagues," says Sympson. "The administration acts like adjuncts are a dime a dozen."

Sympson's case is far from unusual. Non-tenure-track professors now represent more than 70 percent of the academic workforce, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). As tenure-track jobs give way to what some call higher education's "adjunctification," it isn't just adjuncts who are suffering. The trend also has ramifications for student learning, research and even academic freedom.

Set up to fail

While many assume that economic factors are forcing schools to use adjuncts, the contingent workforce has grown fastest during boom times, says AAUP. Instead of investing in a tenured workforce, AAUP says, schools have invested in technology and facilities. Noting the low pay, long hours, long commutes, instability and lack of benefits, professional support and opportunities for advancement, a 2014 report by the U.S. House of Representatives describes adjuncts as "the working poor."

What happens when students are taught by professors struggling to make a living? A 2014 review of the evidence by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation cites lower graduation and retention rates and decreased transfers from two-year to four-year institutions. Those outcomes aren't the fault of adjuncts but of the last-minute hiring decisions, lack of office space and other supports and other working conditions adjuncts typically face.

That inability to perform to their highest potential can weigh heavily on adjuncts, says Gretchen M. Reevy, PhD, a lecturer in psychology at California State University, East Bay, who credits her union for making adjuncts like her some of the country's luckiest.

In a study of non-tenure-track faculty, Reevy and co-author Grace Deason, PhD, a University of Wisconsin La Crosse assistant psychology professor, found that adjuncts most committed to their school were more likely to suffer stress, anxiety and depression (Frontiers in Psychology, 2014). Other risk factors included low income, inability to find permanent positions and coping mechanisms rooted in denial or giving up.

And being adjuncts renders faculty less able to influence their institutions' administrations, adds Reevy. Adjuncts are typically excluded from governance bodies, so the growing preponderance of adjuncts means faculty have less sway.

"A lot of people aren't involved in curriculum decisions and so forth," she says. "The power is shifting from faculty to the administration."

Research suffers, too, according to an AAUP report. Doing research requires stability and continuity—luxuries many adjuncts lack given their year-to-year or even semester-to-semester appointments, the report emphasizes. In addition, adjuncts often cobble together jobs at multiple institutions or take on extra classes to make ends meet, so they have little time for research. Plus, institutions may not grant adjuncts access to laboratories or even libraries and often exclude them from professional development opportunities.

"Most people with PhDs want to do scholarly work," says Reevy, who has been teaching 10 to 13 classes a year for more than two decades. "It's a waste of their talent."

Realistic expectations

It's hard to know how many psychology professors are adjuncts, says Eddy Ameen, PhD, who heads APA's Office on Early Career Psychologists. For many, especially practitioners, being an adjunct is "a helpful but minor secondary source of income," he says. Ameen himself is an adjunct professor, a side gig that allows him to keep a hand in academia.

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) is trying to determine how many recent grads are struggling as adjuncts, says Joanna Streck, a University of Vermont clinical psychology graduate student who serves on APAGS's Science Committee. She invites adjuncts to email her about their experiences at apags@apa.org.

Although advocates are working to change the system via living wage campaigns, unionizing efforts and calls to create teaching-oriented tenure-track positions, being realistic about your prospects is key, says Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, associate executive director of APAGS. "Students are being trained for positions that just don't exist anymore," he says.

Instead, he urges academically minded students to consider what used to be called "alternative" careers that will allow them to use their research skills in nonacademic settings. "When half of doctorates may not end up in academic settings anymore, they're no longer 'alternative' careers," he says.

Sympson agrees. "There's no way this represents any kind of a future," she says.

By Rebecca A. Clay


Did you find this article useful?

3 0