The New School for Social Research is pleased to announce the Statue Foundation Fellowship Program in Clinical Psychology. The goals of the program are to increase the availability of culturally competent mental health services and to increase scientific knowledge of issues related to sociocultural diversity, social justice, and mental health. The fellowship provides funding to incoming or current doctoral students in clinical psychology who are committed to contributing to culturally-engaged research, teaching, or practice that addresses the needs and concerns of underserved communities. These communities are identified as immigrants or refugees; other racial, ethnic, or cultural minorities; low-income individuals and families; sexual minorities; individuals with disabilities, etc. In addition, all students interested in academic and/or clinical research that has clear relevance to such populations are also encouraged to apply.
The award covers annual tuition costs for one year. Recipients of a Statue Foundation Fellowship contribute to the education of both their fellow students and faculty of the New School clinical psychology program about issues and concerns relevant to populations that are often underrepresented or marginalized in mainstream clinical psychology, e.g., acculturative stress, racism and prejudice, survivor guilt, the effects of torture, the impact of poverty, disparities in mental health care, culturally adapted treatments, etc.
Preference is given to applicants who have previously demonstrated a commitment to working with the populations and/or issues described above. An announcement calling for applications from NSSR psychology students will be issued in January, with a February 27, 2015, deadline for submission. Please visit the scholarship page.
Today, I consider myself to be many things – a student, a researcher, a feminist, a Puerto-Rican American, a social justice activist. I do not see myself as being more or less represented by any one of these things. I conceptualize and experience my identities as complex and composed of meaningful parts that communicate and evolve. Growing up with a bicultural identity prompted me to practice perspective taking and regularly negotiate incongruences within my worldview. Grappling with my own narratives of diversity and identity has provided me with a critical lens and guided my research interest toward the examination and development of culturally sensitive clinical interventions for underserved ethnic minority populations.
My primary research interests focus on intergenerational transmission of trauma and the effects of early childhood experiences throughout the lifespan. In collaboration with Dr. Miriam Steele, Dr. Howard Steele, and Dr. Anne Murphy, I seek to support treatment development for hard-to-reach families living under oppressive conditions, some of which include neglect, household dysfunction, domestic or community violence, child maltreatment, poverty, low social support, and inadequate access to medical and mental health services. My Master’s thesis explores parents’ experiences of group attachment-based intervention to further supplement researchers’ and practitioners’ strategies for conceptualizing, assessing, and modeling clinical training and treatment with underserved, ethnic minority populations. My dissertation work focuses on how early childhood experiences shape adult regulatory abilities, which get transmitted from parent to child through the attachment system. It specifically investigates sensory-perceptual and cognitive functions involved in the processing of affective stimuli in a sample of mothers living in the Bronx that experienced a high number of aversive childhood experiences. This work aims to expand upon existing literature and propose new insights with regards to how to effectively treat adults who have suffered abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, and break patterns of abuse and maltreatment. I am continuously motivated to explore individuals’ stories in layered ways and I intend to continue along this research trajectory, with the goal of cultivating the skills and knowledge necessary for responsible and innovative clinical practice.
As a Statue Foundation Fellow I will work diligently to further the department’s burgeoning mobilization toward social justice. In order to uphold the continuity of critical diversity efforts in our community, I plan to continue the informal brown bag discussions led by Jessica Joseph last year. In addition, I intend to pursue funding opportunities that will enable us to bring social justice-oriented speakers to NSSR and work with the Psychology Department Diversity Committee to support capacity-building and cultural competence opportunities for faculty and students.
For questions, comments or ideas for promoting diversity and social justice at NSSR, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflecting on myself as a psychology student, I have adopted specific lens when grappling with the world around me: one that simultaneously obliges me to examine how various points of diversity intersect to produce unique experiences as well as acknowledge the importance of personal perceptions over assuming universal truths. This framework, has been the basis for understanding of my own lived experience as a queer, brown, able-bodied, and educated woman. Through my education, professional support network, and personal history, I have learned that not only is such a framework necessary in producing responsible research and providing competent mental health care but that without such a lens, various diverse populations will continue to be marginalized and stigmatized.
With Dr. Lisa R. Rubin's mentorship, my research examines pregnant and postpartum individuals' experiences, including how they perceive their changing bodies and child feeding decisions while residing in specific socially constructed environments. I am also actively involved in gender diversity issues and fat studies. By approaching my own graduate coursework with a critical lens along with her peers, I began exploring critical, feminist, and queer theory-based understandings of gender and how this social construction related to and varied from sex and sexuality. Outside of academia, I have begun self-initiated training in gender diverse sensitivity as it applies to psychotherapy by attending multiple professional workshops. Collaborating with Dr. Rubin, I have also explored the tensions within the "eating disorder" and "obesity" prevention fields, questioning the pervasive stigmatization of fat bodies within our society and psychology as well as how such stigmatization negatively reflects on minority populations such as African American women- and girl-identified individuals. By no means is this a popular opinion. Indeed, as the American Psychological Association continues to pathologize, medicalize and stigmatize fat bodies, I feel personally called to act as a voice of opposition to mainstream psychology's conceptualization of fat bodies.
Throughout the year, I plan on continuing informal discussions of privilege and nonviolent communication initiated by last year's fellow, William Somerville. Additionally, I will be working to bring the students, faculty, and community professionally applicable conferences and workshops that expand our understanding of the diverse and unique embodiment(s) of our patients, clients and participants. Please feel free to contact me with questions, comments or suggestions at email@example.com.
Although the roots of social justice run deep in my family—my father joined President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" in the 1960s and served as a community organizer in rural West Virginia for many years—it has been my experience at The New School that has led me to confront my own privilege and embrace the role of ally.
Like so many other educated, middle class White men, I assumed that the advantages I enjoyed were earned rather than unearned. At the New School, and especially under the mentorship of Dr. Doris Chang, I have developed a critical view of this powerful myth. This has been a slow, deliberate, and affectively-charged process. The work is ongoing.
My master's thesis research on unconscious racial bias in psychotherapy has led me to reconsider what it means for a clinician to become culturally competent. "Cultural competence" is a training goal for virtually every clinical and counseling program in America, but it is also a buzzword that can breed a false sense of security. The next generation of clinician-allies cannot rely on old, encyclopedic approaches to cultural competence. We cannot assume that intellectual knowledge of a patient's culture will promote deep, empathic understanding. Instead, we need to look within. If we are brave about rooting out implicit bias when we find it, we can be hopeful about becoming the allies we want to be. An exciting body of social psychology research shows that these kinds of changes are possible--but only if we are willing to do the work. This is my journey, and I am excited about the opportunity to exercise leadership in this area during my tenure as a Statue Foundation Fellow.
In the 2012-2013 school year I will be hosting a series of informal "conversations" for students about privilege, implicit bias, cultural competence, intersectionality, and other issues related to social justice in clinical practice, teaching, and research. For updates on other fellowship activities, or to share your own ideas for promoting diversity and social justice at NSSR, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My own interest in immigrant and refugee issues dates back to my childhood; as the daughter of British and Iranian parents, who grew up traveling between Bangkok, Nairobi, and New York, the interplay of culture and migration has been a fundamental aspect of my experience as well as a driving force behind my academic and clinical interests.
As a doctoral student, I am interested in understanding, from both an academic and clinical perspective, how current clinical methods and techniques (which have for the most part been developed in the West and are grounded in Western cultural values and assumptions) can best be adapted to meet the needs of those from other cultural traditions.
I have been fortunate to learn more about taking a culturally sensitive approach to both research and clinical work with Dr. Joan Miller and Dr. Doris Chang. While completing my MA coursework, I assisted in analyzing data Dr. Chang had collected from an ethnic-specific center serving Asian and Pacific Islander victims, and I am currently involved in analyzing data from a national survey of Asian American immigrants, specifically studying factors related to family violence, for my MA thesis.
As far as my current and future projects are concerned, I recently attended a workshop at the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre on Psychosocial Programmes in Emergencies, and am interested in working to develop the evidence base for psychosocial interventions. I am also interested in the development of interventions to increase the therapeutic alliance between clinicians and clients who may be of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and in developing the evidence base in general for culturally informed mental health treatment.
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