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Homework as Self Care from Socializing

Posted on December 02,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

Given that the semester is winding down, all of my activities are picking up. At this point, between my practicum work at the counseling center, my Boston Area Rape Crisis Center supervisory duties, my work for MSPP's Student Coordinating Committee, my book-chapter editing gig, and my schoolwork, doing anything else that requires any form of energy is just tiring... and that sadly includes socializing. Don't get me wrong: socialization with, for instance, my roommates or partner or super close friends is a great source of self-care as such interaction allows for pajama-wearing and nonsense conversation and slumped positions in chairs and sassy comments. But going out out - you know, having to meet people and mingle - feels just exhausting, at least for the time being.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth

Let's Dance

Posted on November 29,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

One of my students/clients at the counseling center has recently been learning how to play a musical instrument, finding that music-making serves as a powerful coping mechanism for her. For our last session, given that she has been going through some tough life circumstances, she brought this instrument into our session and sang and played three songs for me. I said nothing - just listened, pretty amazed by her talent.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth

My Big, Fat, "Geek" Thanksgiving

Posted on November 26,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

Me and my best friend Steph, a medical resident, holding up our responses after having administered the Rorschach to each other.

For my Thanksgiving vacation in DC, I originally had these grandiose plans to spend the four days exploring museums, going out for drinks, and shopping for dumb-dumb stuff like ornaments to give as Christmas presents to aunts and exotic-sounding teas I'll never actually remember to drink. But of course, as always, I ended up just eating non-stop, watching my mom's free cable, and doing homework.

As I'm taking Projective Methods this year (Professor Jampel, straight up), I had a big Rorschach assignment to complete. For each assignment, we're instructed to score, via the aid of the corresponding inkblots, a series of Rorschach "responses." Every assignment takes me forever to complete as I read and over-analyze the responses over and over again, referring to our textbook and our sample responses/scores for guidance (sometimes I've referred to Dictionary.com...).

So over break, I was sitting at the kitchen table, doing my homework, keepin' it real, when my mom and best friend Steph entered the room and surrounded me and my homework like zombies, bombarding me with questions about the Rorschach's validity and use. For the next couple of hours, per their request, I attempted to administer the entire test on them, which concluded with some pretty "crazy" results (As Steph is an OBGYN medical resident, she kept seeing "unorthodox" images in every ink blot; my mom, having surrendered herself to holiday silliness, kept responding with giggles and naughty Italian words). Afterwards, Steph tried to administer the test herself with me as the participant, so the geekiness continued for another couple of hours. Meanwhile, the wine remained unopened, and my "going out" clothes remained folded in my suitcase; I spent the whole Friday night wearing pajama pants, a shirt that says "Costa Rica," and one sock.

I finally finished my homework on the ride back to Boston, and all I know is that the next time I look at a butterfly, an animal pelt, or two beavers climbing a mountain, I'm gonna see an inkblot.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. :) 'Til next time.

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Tagged Forensic Psychology, Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth

Gettin’ Jilly wit It (Na na na na na). Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Jill Bloom

Posted on November 19,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth, Social Responsibility

"Americans don't have hairdos" and Other Cultural Insights

Posted on November 19,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

My absurd roommates! Melissa #1, a non-profit employee from OH; Guillermo, a photography student from Spain; Melissa #2, an interior-design student from PA; my partner Kishore, a biology post-doc from India; Laura, a biochem grad student from Colombia; and me, a psych grad student from DC!

I asked a friend of mine from Croatia, an Advertising grad student at BU, to share his biggest "criticism" of American culture, and he vehemently responded with, "Americans don't have hairdos." While I am very open about critiquing American culture, I was slightly shook up by this "complaint" (probably because I was sitting there with wet hair). But then I smiled and thought to myself, "How did I, a Psychology student from Washington, DC, ever end up in Boston talking with an Advertising student from Croatia about the 'hairdo status' of Americans?"

Boston, given its unique "academic" culture, represents a hotbed of robust learning and intellectual activity, thereby attracting a diverse population of students and workers - whether you're among roommates or at a bar, cafe, library, or school, chances are that you're surrounded by people representing a variety of professional, academic, ethnic, racial, geographic, and overall cultural backgrounds who foster and nurture a range of interests and insight (for instance, if you're interested in meeting a Croatian Advertising student who is fond of flamboyantly coifed hair, I know just the person for you).

Therefore, MSPP is a school that exists within the broader "campus" of Boston - this city provides you with, not just an opportunity to learn about your specific field at your specific educational institution, but to learn from the diverse network of people living around you. So if you're in or just moving to Boston, I recommend putting yourself out there, whether by participating in Boston cultural activities or searching for roommates on Craigslist or going to pubs or cafes or bookstores. By reaching out to and engaging with a variety of people, you can develop a richer understanding of other lenses through which to view and interpret the world around us. Such exposure not only informs my psych work, but also facilitates a more well-rounded, open-minded, creative, and enriched "self"... and maybe a better hairdo?

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Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Around Boston

This Week's Top Ten (well, ten minus three)

Posted on November 10,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

So I originally wrote a post in which - in normal "paragraph" style - I detailed all of the awesomeness that had occurred this week only to realize, after reading it, that I had written the most discombobulating, all-over-the-place post ever. Too much stuff happened this week. So after taking some major advantage of my computer's delete functionality, I resorted to a "top ten" format. So here we go (in order of chronology)!

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Holla' BARCC, Young'n (Hooo Hooo!)... The Annual Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Gala!

Posted on November 01,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

The amazing Medical Advocacy team at last night's annual BARCC gala!

One good thing about Boston is its availability of volunteer opportunities. Given my interest in social-justice-oriented issues, I chose to get involved with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center in an effort to play a role in challenging the gender-based power dynamics in our culture that cause and perpetuate sexual violence. As mentioned previously, I've been working as a Peer Supervisor for BARCC's Medical Advocacy program for about five months, having volunteered as a Medical Advocate for three years prior to that. Our work is tough, involving late-night trips to emergency rooms to support rape survivors and two-to-three monthly meetings during which we discuss our cases and are provided with further training and support.

Despite the often somber nature of our work, the annual gala, which took place last night, provides us with an opportunity to just deck out and mingle with fellow BARCC supporters, as well as listen to powerful guest speakers over a fancy-shmancy dinner. I, unfortunately, missed this year's featured talk as, given that I was on shift as supervisor, I had to step out in order to field a case. Despite this unfortunate burst of reality amidst clinking wine glasses and swanky jazz music, it was nice to return from my supervisory duties to a banquet hall full of people committed to ending sexual violence and supporting sexual-assault survivors, just like the one I had been serving minutes prior.

Luckily, not only was I surrounded by fellow Medical Advocacy team members, as well as accompanied by my partner of five years, I also got to experience some MSPP pride at the gala - BARCC represents one of MSPP's amazing second-year practicum sites, and my good friend Nadia serves as its current practicum intern. Given that my BARCC work involves serving sexual-assault survivors in a hospital/medical context immediately after the trauma has occurred, I have gained, through my conversations with Nadia, a richer perspective concerning the long-term psychotherapy-based "recovery" process. It was awesome to unite with Nadia - in our sexy dresses, toting our fine wine - to celebrate our and others' active commitment to this significant cause.

Overall, I'm so glad to have found this amazing organization - for all those new to or planning on relocating to Boston, I recommend exploring and establishing a niche for yourself within the volunteer community of Boston! If you're particularly interested in getting involved with BARCC's services, proceed to www.barcc.org for further info.

(P.S. If you didn't get my throwback hip-hop reference in the title of this blog, as many of my twenty-something-year-old friends sadly did not, then you were not cool in 2001. Either that or you were very cool...)

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Around Boston

NYC: Just a Hop, Skip, and a Four-and-a-half-hour Chinatown Bus Ride Away

Posted on October 30,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

With fam in NYC - a little foreshadowing of the hurricane to come.

Being a student in Boston allows you access to all of the amazing resources that the city has to offer: museums, libraries, colleges, restaurants, sports venues. It’s an old city that fosters a quaint, town-ish charm with its many 19th-century-Paris-inspired brownstones (you can tell I took a Duck Tour) and tree-lined streets.

But another good thing about Boston is its proximity to the crowded, loud, concrete wilderness that is New York City. To get away, catch a $15 Chinatown-bus ride to downtown Manhattan. No matter what you do in NYC, I suggest, as psychology students, some good 'ole people-watching. The diversity of NYC makes Boston look like northern Scandinavia. Even diversity of mood - just take a subway ride: you'll find happy people, miserable people, tired people, stressed people, confused people. As it's the "city of dreams," you'll be sitting across from one person who looks like they are just trying so hard in life and across from another who looks like they used to be trying and have since given up entirely.

On this trip, I met up with friends for a mimosa-filled brunch in Manhattan and did some street-strolling in Brooklyn - that's a fancy way of saying that "I ate a lot." Then I had to go to a big Italian-style wedding, after which I got caught in the Hurricane Sandy hoopla, catching the last bus back to Boston. Storm or no storm, at the end of the day, my "vagabond shoes" have had enough "stray"ing, and I'm ready to stray right back into the two-skyscraper skyline that is Boston. 'Til next time, NYC.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD, Around Boston

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Wheelock College Counseling Center

Posted on October 24,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

Me with the amazing Emily (BC), my fellow Wheelock intern, in front of our Maslow-themed bulletin board

My second-year PsyD practicum is at Wheelock College, a program that complements my first-year practicum work at Newton-Wellesley Hospital's Psychiatry Unit. I went from diagnoses, formal titles, and overhead lighting to psychotherapy, first-name bases, and Bed Bath & Beyond lamps.

When I first started interning here, the idea of engaging in 50-minute psychotherapy sessions intimidated me. What would happen if the client and I ran out of stuff to talk about? I could just imagine it: an awkward pause - I panic... and continue panicking as the awkward pause extends into an awkward minute... after which I frantically blurt out something - anything ("So, um, what's your favorite candy? Do we really need any more half-hour cop dramas? What are your thoughts on US foreign policy in Libya?").

Everyone starts out nervous when first performing psychotherapy, but, as a student here, your education, experiences, and personality will smoothly get you through. I've been able to recruit knowledge gained through my coursework and past and current practicum trainings - from CBT and motivational-interviewing techniques to psychodynamic and attachment theories - to help foster comfortable, engaging, and productive sessions. Amidst my crazy, hectic schedule, Tuesday is my most hefty-duty day as I tend to have up to seven sessions, but I'm no longer nervous - in fact, sometimes I wish the sessions could be longer than 50 minutes, but I might feel different about that in a couple months or so... I'll keep you updated!

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Tagged Clinical PsyD

Removing the "shmindfulness" from "mindfulness shmindfulness"

Posted on October 18,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

Recommended book if you're interested in learning about mindfulness.

When I first heard about this "mindfulness" business, I thought to myself, "Bologna." I don't even think that I cared enough to give it a full "bologna" - I think I thought "Bolo -" and then my cat walked by or something and I just lost interest. The mindfulness literature I had read (okay, when I say "literature," I probably mean someone's peace-earth-love blog posted on their facebook page) felt vague and hard to grasp. When it came down to it, however, mindfulness - the idea of living non-judgmentally in the present moment through meditational practice - was just too incongruent with my fast-paced, hyper-stimulating reality for me to have even imagined, much less experienced, its efficacy.

After having joined the SCC Feminist Committee, Dr. Fran Mervyn, our amazing Dean of Students, hooked me up with Dr. Janet Surrey, a feminist-identifying psychologist who teaches at Harvard, to help her type out and edit her book chapter on relational mindfulness. Serving as the editing sidekick of this amazingly insightful woman forced me to commit myself to learning about mindfulness practice, as well as the robust scientific literature corroborating its viability. I was won over.

Given that my second-year practicum site, a college counseling center, also avidly promotes mindfulness, I have now been able to actively recruit mindfulness as a means to support some of my clients, providing them with take-home meditational techniques and overall relevant psychoeducation regarding its physiological impact (It's hard to get someone excited about, for instance, staring at a candle flame for ten minutes unless you explain what the heck it's doing). Most of such clients are now reporting a reduction in feelings of stress, attributing their autonomic shift, at least in part, to mindfulness practice.

Anyways, even though it took me like three hours to write this post because I got distracted by "binders full of women" blogs and some youtube video where this guy pets a real-life liger... I'm having fun trying to incorporate a lil' more mindfulness into my life, whether to benefit myself or my clients. A big grateful shout-out to all of those, especially Dr. Surrey and my practicum-site supervisors, who have educated me about and encouraged me to further explore this mindfulness shmindfulness.

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Tagged Clinical PsyD