As September approaches, my summer work at the Behavioral Health Partial Program at McLean Hospital is coming to a close. I have accomplished a lot this summer and was involved in some incredible projects. As I reflect on my learning goals, I realize that I managed to fulfill all of them. My main goal was to form a greater understanding of research in the realm of clinical psychology and within a treatment setting. Throughout the summer I was involved in many research projects where I learned how to research a topic, form a research idea, organize data, and write up results in a publishable research paper. For my main project, I was able to research the predictors of suicidality in patients with psychosis. This project is ongoing, but I have completed the introduction and am currently working on the methods for this paper. This project has provided me with immense insight into the research process. However, I am not only grateful to be involved in this project, but I am also grateful to have worked at the BHP where the research is focused on treatment outcome in a naturalistic setting. Last week, I had a chance to observe group therapy, where group leaders teach patients skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). I had the task of completing fidelity scales, or scales I created based on group protocols. After selecting a specific set of therapy groups, we created fidelity scales from the important aspects of the protocols. Then, I sat in on these groups and marked when the group leader spoke about an important topic necessary for the patients’ understanding of the specific skill. Having a measure of treatment fidelity ensures that the patient is provided with the intended treatment. These scales can also be used for research purposes, allowing the BHP to confirm that the patient is really being taught CBT and DBT skills. Sitting in on therapy provided me with a greater understanding of how CBT and DBT are extremely important for the rehabilitation of those batting a range of mental illnesses. Watching patients’ engagement and listening to their stories and ideas made me realize how important this treatment is to their overall well-being, and I am extremely lucky that I was given the chance to witness patients’ learning and healing. Therefore, besides my research projects, I was really able to understand the therapy provided to the patients at the BHP, which helped to broaden my clinical knowledge.
I will use all of my research knowledge I have acquired at the BHP as I begin my thesis project as a senior at Brandeis. This knowledge will not only help during the rest of my time at Brandeis, but as I continue in a clinical and research career. During this internship, I have recognized that my passion lies within the clinical field of psychology. I am eager to learn more about different types of therapies and treatments for mental illnesses, and I am excited to learn more about clinical research in the future.
As a student with a passion for clinical psychology, I encourage other students interested in this field to explore and learn as much as possible about different illnesses, treatments, and research. I highly recommend pursuing an internship, since it allows students to narrow their interests. An internship will help confirm whether or not clinical psychology is the right career path. It may also provide insight into whether or not the student is interested in conducting research, providing treatment, or both. I would highly suggest looking into an internship at McLean Hospital. Not only is it the #1 psychiatric hospital in the nation with the best treatment programs and incredible research, but it is also a place to meet and connect with so many people with a strong passion for clinical psychology. I have learned so much from working with the clinicians and researchers at McLean, and they have inspired me to keep working towards the career I want- a career in clinical psychology.
This summer has been full of exciting new research at the Behavioral Health Partial Program at McLean Hospital. I have accomplished a lot since the beginning of the summer. My main learning goals consisted of acquiring knowledge about the process behind writing a publishable research article, and I am certainly forming an understanding. I learned how to complete a full literature search and formed a database of all of the articles relevant to our research paper, which will address the predictors of suicidality in patients with psychosis. Based on past research, we chose what predictors to include in our model. Upon doing so, we assessed the chosen factors for significance and found those that relate to suicidal ideation. I learned about the statistics behind the analyses used in our study. Thus, I have already learned how to complete a literature search, hypothesize and formulate a model, and understand statistical analyses. Recently, I completed a rough draft of the introduction and methods section of the paper.
These have not been the only projects I have completed. I am also working on completing a bigger literature search for a cognitive biased modification (CBM) experiment that is ongoing, along with nearly completing a visual timeline of BHP measures. I have read widely about CBM, and am continuing to learn more about the effect of this type of treatment on mental health. From the timeline of measures I learned and understood the current and past surveys administered at the BHP. This timeline will also provide comprehensive information about the surveys for other researchers who are using BHP data. The timeline will visually show how long certain surveys were administered to patients and how many patients have completed the surveys. Overall, I have learned a lot about forming a study, analyzing data, and writing drafts. I have also been involved with other studies within the BHP and have gotten the chance to help make data more organized for others to use.
I recognize my growth in research knowledge as I read studies for literature searches, which are becoming easier to complete. It has become easier to understand other papers’ rationale and methodology. When starting the rough draft of the paper, I found it easier to write than my past psychology papers.
I am most proud of the work I have completed on the suicidality and psychosis paper, and it is exciting for me to begin the process of drafting and re-writing. It took a lot of work to get everything completed and to begin writing. So far, I feel like I have gained a better understanding of the research process, which will be useful if I am involved in research in the future. I have also gained a sense of what research is like in a treatment setting, which has given me the opportunity to better understand the field I hope to pursue. Besides understanding, I have gained focus and persistence, along with skills in maneuvering SPSS, Excel, BHP databases, and online databases.
The Behavioral Health Partial (BHP) Program is a treatment center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, for those battling a wide range of mental health issues, varying from mood and anxiety disorders to thought and personality disorders. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), the BHP offers group and individual therapy sessions to reduce patient’s symptoms and improve their functioning. On average, patients attend this day program for around 7-10 days and are often transitioning from inpatient care to outpatient treatment.
The BHP conducts extensive research in order to study different mental illnesses and the effects of CBT and DBT. Each day, patients complete self-report questionnaires. This data is then used to assess treatment outcome, symptom severity, and many other factors. These questionnaires, along with clinical assessments, are essential for research at the BHP. Currently, I am helping with many research projects, including improving research databases and co-writing a research paper.
I secured this internship a year ago, spending only two months at the BHP last summer and mainly working on a treatment fidelity project. This summer, however, I am co-writing a research article that explores the predictors of suicidality in those with psychosis. Currently, I am working on completing the literature search that will provide the background information for the article. I am researching the suicidality predictors that researchers have used in the past. From this, we can choose a number of predictors from our database to form our own model. These predictors will then be assessed for significance to see if they are notably correlated with suicidality in patients with psychosis. These predictors are taken mostly from clinical assessments and self-report surveys.
I am also working on a visual timeline that displays all of the measures ever administered at the BHP. In order to do so, I have to navigate the BHP database to find the dates of when these measures were administered and terminated. I am also involved with running depressed subjects in a cognitive biased modification (CBM) experiment. It is our hope that this CBM task will improve the automatic negative thoughts that often accompany depression. With this internship, I am gaining experience in a clinical setting by interacting with patients and clinicians.
In the first week, I have been working closely with the research coordinator and a post-doctoral fellow. I have learned how to navigate SPSS, databases, E-prime, and Excel while also learning how to begin a research project and complete a literature search. I am excited to continue with these projects and I am learning something new every day. I am hoping to deepen my understanding of the research methods used in psychology as well as experiencing the implications of such research in a clinical setting.