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PsyD Personal Statement Sample

XXXX University if my first choice of graduate study towards the PsyD Degree for a variety of reasons, principal of which is the sheer excellence of your program and the alignment of my professional aspirations and interests with those of your distinguished faculty. I also have sentimental reasons for wanting to attend XXXX since I grew up going to all of the XXXX basketball games. My father has always been a season ticket holder and I was a designated “ball girl” for the Rutgers team. My hometown and family are close by XXXX, providing me with the support base that would allow me to give my all to Psychology 24/7.

I keenly look forward to a professional lifetime of both research and practice. After earning my PsyD at XXXX, I see myself serving as a school psychologist in the public-school system for at least several years. Eventually, I plan to open my own practice specializing in psychological services and assessments for children with ADHD or other behavioral issues. I really look up to organizations like The Child Mind Institute who are exemplary at integrating research and practice and I look forward to starting my own non-profit at some point, related to the cognitive and emotional development of special needs children.

I especially admire the work of Dr. XXXX, the Chair of the Psychology Program at Rutgers, particularly his work in the area of Self-Regulated Theory (SRL) along with his Self-Regulated Empowerment Program (SERP). Educating to achieve self-regulation is fundamental, as I see it, to the successful socialization of children and adolescents and would be especially helpful in my current position as a Psychosocial teacher. It would also be a special privilege for me to study under Professor XXXX, since he has a special interest in the assessment and treatment of children with ADHD. I currently work at a school for gifted children who are twice-exceptional learners. This concept of the “twice-exceptional learner” is relatively new and we are in need of research with respect to this specific population. A twice-exceptional learner is a child who is gifted and has a form of a disability(s). Most twice-exceptional children are gifted and diagnosed with a learning disability or ADHD. I think my experience working with this population will help me to make contributions to future research into effective therapy for ADHD children and adolescents.

During the Fall semester of 2015, I was enrolled in Psychology of Personality, where I first learned that I am most drawn to child psychology. I remember my professor asking the class to think about what Erik Erickson meant when he said: “You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what's wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever's in them rises to the surface in free play.” The professor shared a clip about play therapy and how psychologists investigate the function of a behavior through free play and imagination. Since then, I knew I wanted to work with children. As I learned more about psychology through my undergraduate courses, my focus kept bringing me back to children, to apply what I was learning.

In the summer of 2016, I participated in Boston University’s Summer Study Internship Program, where I was enrolled in two summer courses chosen from the Psychology Research and Practice Track. For the final six weeks of the program, Boston University arranges for students to work in professional internships that meets your professional interests. The paid internship I worked at was the Summer Enrichment Institute at XXXXr Children's Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, working as an Undergraduate Counselor. The Summer Enrichment Institute (SEI) is a five-week day program based on Summer Treatment Program (STP) that teaches children ages 6-12 effective ways to manage ADHD and other behavior issues. I learned to effectively implement an evidence-based positive reinforcement treatment program with a focus on positive reinforcement, effective commands, and immediate consequences. Using token reinforcement and response-cost methods, children received points for appropriate behavior and lost points for inappropriate behavior as they engaged in activities throughout the day. In addition to the point system, time out, social skills training and problem-solving training, children received daily report cards used as a means of targeting a child's individual behavior problems, providing daily feedback to parents and providing rewards at home for meeting their goals.

I completed my undergraduate studies at Pace University in New York City, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Art. During my Junior year, I served as Vice President of Psi Chi, an international honors society. This position helped me to cultivate my leadership skills. Fully convinced that a career in Psychology is my destiny, I set about exploring all facets of the field, acquiring research experience in three different labs at Pace. I found the Mind, Movement, Interaction and Development (MMID) lab especially stimulating during my senior year. I enjoyed feeling challenged to articulate my observations and interpret data, especially when the lab collaboratively developed the proxemics scale in preparation for MMID's poster presentation. During my time as an undergraduate research assistant for the MMID lab, we developed an observable reliable proxemics scale by coding video recorded data of mother-infant dyadic interactions. While observing a parent-infant interaction, more distance can reflect a secure-base exercise of autonomy and independence, or it could reflect a lack of comfort in close proximity. Similarly, more closeness (less distance) can reflect heightened warmth and closeness, or it can indicate greater need, fearfulness, and dependence. The cumulative and sequential flow of interpersonal distance could result from factors as diverse as the infant’s temperament, parenting style, parent personality, and the emotional availability (EA) maintained between them. Hence, the labs need for a reliable proxemics scale to apply to video-recorded data. I was able to present our coding system and findings in a poster format at the Pace Psychology Conference 2017.

To get another perspective on working with children diagnosed with learning disabilities, this past summer I interned as a psychosocial teacher at The Quad Manhattan’s summer camp for children ages six to eight who are twice-exceptional, in New York City. Often referred to as 2e students, the children are gifted, and have some form(s) of disability. I supported the head teacher while fostering optimal psychosocial development through academic curriculum and activities. I was trained in Dr. Ross Greene’s collaborative and proactive solutions (CPS), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Michelle Garcia’s Winner’s Social Thinking. I learned how to effectively use collaborative proactive solutions, PCIT, and Social Thinking with twice-exceptional students throughout the summer. I also supported my clinical supervisor by taking on the role of a cogmed coach for a child at the summer camp. Cogmed Working Memory Training is an evidence-based, computerized training program designed by leading neuroscientists to improve attention by effectively increasing working memory capacity over a five-week training period. A cogmed coach provides support and motivation to ensure growth throughout the training period. I noticed that using PCIT’s PRIDE skills was successful for getting the child to participate and serve to enhance their self-esteem. In addition to getting applied experience working with the children in a school setting, I was grateful to learn about each child by reading Individual Education Plans and neuropsychological assessments as preparation before the start of summer camp. Similar to my previous internship in Boston, psychosocial teachers were assigned 3-4 students to track goals on the child’s daily report card and the data tracking sheet. At the end of camp, teachers write a final report with extensive information about strategies that were used and proven to be successful, goals that were addressed, and recommendations for the future. Thankfully, I was hired within the Quad community to work as a 1:1 psychosocial teacher for the 2017-18 school year at The Quad Preparatory School, where I now have the opportunity to learn more about this sensational population. I currently work in a third-grade classroom of 9 twice-exceptional students, with a range of diagnoses like Specific Learning Disorder, ADD, ASD, ADHD, DMD, ODD. My extensive experience in research labs, serving as Vice President of Psi Chi International Psychology Honors Society, crafting an engaging research poster presentation, and taking the initiative to seek applied opportunities in addition to my academic efforts, have all prepared me to hit the ground running at Rutgers and throw myself into my studies. 

As someone who is very much looking forward to at least several years serving as a school psychologist, I could not be more convinced of the importance of staying abreast of the literature in our field, especially as applied to practice.  I am prepared for and committed to begin training as a school psychologist. I believe that my interests in children with learning and behavioral difficulties makes me a good fit with XXXX where numerous investigators are engaged in this and closely related areas. Finally, I appreciate the sense of community and school-spirit which for me XXXX has come to symbolize.

I thank you for your consideration of my application to your PsyD Program.


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The Humanitarian Side of PsyD Counseling

There are upsides and downsides of doing humanitarian work. Have you considered them all? As a PsyD Counseling student, applicant or graduate, you have the knowledge and skills to make a huge ripple in the world. So let´s make sure you´re well prepared.

The Pros

A Job with Meaning and Aligns with Your Values

It´s not a case of being lucky enough to find a job with meaning, a job that aligns with your values and who you are. It´s a choice. Almost any profession can be made humanitarian.

A lot of people have made peace with the idea that work is something that is separate from your values, from your passions and from your interests – something that fills the work day and pays the bills.

Most people think that what you really want to do happens on the weekend and evenings. And that leads to frustration and unhappiness, of course. They feel a real lack of fulfillment and purpose.

Mission driven organizations provide one way to reconcile these two elements: seeking professional fulfillment, and paying the bills. But being a humanitarian aid worker is a lifestyle, not just a job.

There is often no real distinction between work and the rest of your life, your interests, passions, and job description! This can be one of the most positive things about doing humanitarian work.

You Can Make a Difference

On the good days, working in this field can feel so good. Like you have the best job in the world. You might not be able to imagine anything else being as interesting, challenging, exhilarating, and rewarding.

Every now and again, you walk away feeling that, for some people, in some places, the world is a better place because of something you did.

That’s tremendously powerful and motivating, and what keeps you going when things get tough. It doesn’t happen every day, and the degree to which you feel a direct link between what you do and change in people’s lives depends on where you sit in the organization. But most people feel that what we are doing is contributing to making the world a better place. And it is, because you are part of the solution.

You Join A Community of Great Co-Workers

The people you meet in this line of work may be among the most wonderful friends and colleagues you´ve ever come across. The bonds that are formed working together in intense situations are very powerful. Friendships formed over even a few days can be long lasting.

Being a part of a community of people who share similar values and aspirations is hard to find, and definitely a very positive aspect of the job.

The Extra Challenge and Responsibility

It is likely that you will have more responsibility and authority earlier in your career than you would have in the corporate world. This can be a double edged sword, but it is possible that you´ll be given responsibility for multi-million dollar programs and hundreds of staff with comparatively little experience.

This can put you in a sink-or-swim kind of situation! But if you swim, people will give you more and more responsibility.

You might try to explain that you are new, and don’t know how to do something. But you will probably be told that you will have to figure it out, because no one else can do it!

There may be support and training, but you need to be ready to step up to challenges and expect to be given tasks that are overwhelming. It’s part of the nature of the work. The problems you will face may be enormous and extremely challenging! And there is often no choice but to attempt to address a problem, even though the skills and resources available are not sufficient. You can only do your best, but you may surprise yourself a lot!

You´ll See the World And It´s Many Cultures

Living and working in cultures other than your own can be very fascinating and rewarding. It is not like tourism—working in this way lets you get to know a society and understand it, sometimes on a very deep level.

There are few other careers that give you such an opportunity to experience a range of different countries than relief and development work. You will also see things that no one else will see. You´ll have unique experiences that you might never forget.

You’ll be there alongside the best and most inspiring examples of people working to overcome apparently impossible odds. You’ll find yourself constantly inspired by the determination, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people you work with.

The Pay

Okay, let´s face it, this isn´t really a plus—while there is a huge range of salaries and benefits, ranging from agencies that only really ‘employ’ volunteers and send them to organizations that pay extremely well, the pay even at the top end with the United Nations and some contractors is generally less than the equivalent in the corporate world.

Saying that, most of the larger international NGOS have pay-scales that allow their employees to live comfortably, and if you are working overseas, the cost of living usually goes down considerably, depending on where you are. Plus:

  • Many ex-pats are able to pay less income tax in their home country while they are living overseas (consult a tax advisor on the specifics and to keep up with changes). This can make a huge difference to your take-home pay. Get professional tax advice to make sure you take full advantage of it.
  • While it is possible to live extremely expensive lifestyles in capital cities like Jakarta and Nairobi, many postings are in more affordable locations, where the currency you are earning in will go a long way. If you´re in a very remote area, there may simply be nothing to spend money on!
  • Many international organizations have generous packages for housing, insurance, education for dependent children, etc, reducing expenditures further.
  • There are sometimes ways to get some student debt deferred or forgiven if you work for a non-profit. Look into the specifics of your loans and your university.

While you probably won’t make the kind of money you could in the private sector, it is perfectly possible to do very well and not be on the breadline if you are working for a relatively large agency. It is very possible to make a very good living with the UN or by contracting.


Sample 1st Paragraph for the PsyD Counseling, Sexology

My long term goal is to become a distinguished sexologist. Still only 26, I look forward to spending many decades to come studying mental health issues as they relate to sexuality, especially among communities of color, and the way in which it tends to perpetuate itself across generations in those communities. While completing my undergraduate studies in Psychology at UXX, the single most important experience that I had in terms of the development of my career interest and vocation was working as a Crisis Coach, informing women with unplanned pregnancies of their options, providing them with non medical education, an overview of what happens to the body and baby during pregnancy. I always offered words of encouragement, especially to those who were most distressed. Most of my clients in this program were the same color as I am, black.

The Cons!

The Conditions

You might have some amazing pictures on your Facebook wall, but the reality is that a lot of relief and development work takes place in some of the more challenging locations in the world.

In emergencies, you may occasionally be called on to live in a tent or share a small room with co-workers. Or you might be shacked up in insecure environments with colleagues.

Most importantly, you may not have reliable access to the normal amenities of the western world on a regular or permanent basis. This usually includes electricity, a hot and cold water supply, reliable heat and cooling facilities, and the freedom of movement to explore at your leisure.

While aid agencies very rapidly find solutions to these kinds of problems, using generators, water purification systems, etc.), the conditions in some postings can be pretty primitive.

How big a deal this is to you will determine how long you want to spend in some of the more remote and inaccessible locations, that´s for sure. Think seriously about how you feel about access to reliable medical care, social life with people from your culture, specialty or international food and drink, and other creature comforts, before you go. Pick your postings accordingly.

Bear in mind that, when you are starting out, you have far less choice as to where you go. A very informal system of seniority tends to exist in many agencies and organizations, which rewards those who have ‘paid their dues’, and those in more senior positions are usually based in regional headquarters offices in more connected capital cities with better amenities.

The Workload

The flip side of a values and passion-driven business focused on changing the world is that the employees are often expected to work hard and make a personal sacrifice regularly.

Long hours and unpaid overtime are often the norm. Many jobs in the field are also emotionally and physically exhausting. People tend to ‘burn-out’ in a few years.

This is not to say that organizations themselves are always unreasonably demanding of their staff. But they often have cultures and work-ethics that are very demanding.

This is particularly true in emergency postings. The first few months can be especially hectic and sleep-deprived. Some organizations try to mitigate this by providing additional vacation time or rest and recuperation (R&R) for their teams. Be sure to make the most of them! You are personally responsibility for managing your workload and stress levels.

The Disturbing Things You´ll See

Many people want to work in this line of business because they want to help people and feel good about what they are doing. There’s nothing wrong with that—but it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not always a feel-good job.

In places with high levels of need and suffering and where resources are insufficient, neither you nor the beneficiaries of your work will probably feel very uplifted by the amount you are able to do.

You may have no choice but to spend a lot of your time refusing requests because of inadequate resourcing. You may have to deal with donors who are unsympathetic, officials who are uncooperative, or combatants who are unwilling to help.

Don’t expect to get a high level of recognition or praise for your efforts. You proabaly won´t be able to solve all of the problems you will encounter.

The Challenge on Relationships

While working in the humanitarian world creates intense bonds between colleagues, the business can place enormous strains on marriages and relationships. The pace of the work, the upheaval of constant and unpredictable travel, separation from loved ones, and other stressors can make stable relationships difficult.

Go into it with open eyes, talk early and often about what is going on. Think seriously about the strains that this kind of work will place on your family relationships and friendships. You may be away for long periods of time. Your experiences will change you. It may make it more difficult for you to fit back into old relationships. It’s not impossible, by any means—but go into it with your (and your partner’s or family member´s) eyes open.

So, there are the pros and the cons. If you are ready for the challenge, go for it! We fully support PsyD Counselling and other academics in their journey into this field. So if we can help you with a personal statement of purpose, a CV touchup or any other assistance, please let us know! Good luck!