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PsyD Program, PTSD, California

November 2, 2015

I am applying to your competitive PsyD Program at the XXXX because I am convinced that my drive and determination will enable me to excel. I have a great passion for research in psychology, particularly in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now 36, psychology is a career change for me, a new professional beginning. Married and divorced, I spent 10 years in the mortgage business with my family in the small California town (XXXX) where I grew up. After my marriage failed, I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2 ½ years and then sold my home and moved to the city (Tarzana).

I like to think of myself as a compassionate woman; and that my concern for the suffering of others is what has propelled me towards the study of psychology and the completion of both my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in this field. I have found my calling in life helping those who suffer from mental health issues and challenges. Now, I keenly look forward to continuing on in my studies and completing the terminal degree in my field at the XXXX and attaining a cutting-edge foundation upon which I will be able to make my maximum contribution to our discipline. I am especially passionate about therapeutic initiatives centered on the concept of mindfulness, particularly with respect to its potential for evoking positive changes in brain chemistry.

I am also passionately engaged with the issue of how we, as psychology professionals, might best go about helping to erase the stigma that is all too often associated with mental health services, particularly among certain ethnic groups, especially Latinos who figure quite prominently into mental health assessments and services here in California. I am working with my Rosetta Stone for Spanish and I hope to continue to make rapid improvement in my Spanish skills so that I might eventually be able to use this language to some extent in the professional area as well.

I became a member of the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology because I am a thinker who loves to ask questions and a firm believer in the importance of balance between mind, body and soul for optimal health, studying our own past in order to prepare ourselves for the future at the same time that we learn to savor each moment of the present. I am most fascinated with the human mind, its capabilities and limitations, and the debate between dualism and monism. At the center of my focus is the mind's ability to heal the body and the role played by spirituality.

A sense of debt that I feel to my community and nation has also helped to propel my interest in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially but not exclusively among our soldiers returning from combat in places like Afghanistan. The fact that I personally have no military experience or any military family members only reinforces the sense that I have of wanting to give something back to those who have sacrificed so much. For years now, I have invested a great deal of time, energy, and heartfelt reflection in the area of PTSD and I want to build a lifetime focus in this area of psychology, to practice and publish about the great challenge that PTSD represents for our society and to do everything that I personally can to respond to this challenge.

I will be finishing my Master’s Degree in December of 2014 and hope to being studying in your program right away, in January of 2015. The focus of my Master’s Program has been in the area of Marriage and Family Therapy and I also want to remain engaged with this area as a lifetime focus. I feel strongly that mental health issues are best dealt with when one is not alone, and I feel special empathy for those who have to wrestle with mental health issues in the context of a failing marriage often aggravated by the stigma associate with mental health issues. I want to devote my life to helping each individual that comes to me for support to feel less alone in their struggle. If I could help them to save their marriage, this would be ideal.

Several years back I was struck by an image of the “Marlboro Man,” a US soldier in sustained combat in Fallujah, Iraq. He had been firing his canon for about 24 hours when the photo was taken, mud, blood spattered all over his face, a Marlboro cigarette dangling from his lips. A young white man from our state of Kentucky who volunteered to go to Iraq to defend our freedoms as our government saw fit; although he sustained no major physical injuries, he would never be the same. Most importantly, his case is not at all unique; there are 10s of thousands of similar cases in America. He came into the spotlight and attracted press attention to his story only because of the award winning photo. The Marlboro Man returned to Kentucky to pick up the pieces of his marriage to his high-school sweetheart. Within a couple of years she would leave him because of his nightmares where he would sometimes half strangle her in his sleep. Alone now, he keeps smoking and suffering.

After earning my PsyD and beginning my practice, I intend to put the Marlboro Man photo on the wall in my office. I also plan to pay very close attention to the issues surrounding PTSD and substance abuse/addictions. My central, long term goal is to create my own non-profit organization to help our veterans. I have several ideas and I am confident that they will mature as I make progress under your expert guidance towards completion of the PsyD Degree at the CSPP. I have been profoundly inspired by the example set by such organizations as Puppies Behind Bars in New York, which rescues dogs from shelters to be trained by inmates, and then given to veterans with PTSD. I find this model to be especially inspiring because of the broad scope of those who benefit, the inmates, the animals, and especially the veterans and their families. No organization such as Puppies Behind Bars yet exists in California. In fact, here in California there is a huge waiting list of veterans who need trained dogs.

I am particularly passionate about the use of animals in therapy because I believe they reach places that people sometimes are just unable to go, especially when the individual is otherwise all alone. This avenue of research and practice dovetails nicely with my volunteer work with the Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals. Volunteer work is in fact central to my identity and mission. I also serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and participate in numerous events related to the care of children.

Finally, I hope to engage professionally at some point with virtual reality tanks as a compliment to therapy. I see exposure therapy as a most promising resource, allowing the PTSD sufferer to go back and confront their trauma in a safe environment. Sometimes we need to face the monster under our bed in order to make it go away.

I thank you for considering my application to your distinguished program at the XXXX.

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