February 29, 2012

Clinical Term bridges college, community through therapy

This past term, psychology students had the opportunity to deeply delve into their field of study through Knox’s Clinical Psychology Term.

Professor and Chair of Psychology Tim Kasser came up with the idea for Clinical Term from the Department of Theatre’s Repertory Theatre Term, a term in which theatre majors are immersed in a professional-level theater production. Kasser wanted to bring the same idea of professional immersion to the Psychology Department.

Through such immersion, participants not only get into the community, but they also get a good idea of whether they want to continue on with psychology.

“By the end of the term, you’ll know whether or not you’ll want to [go on to grad school],” Kasser said.

In its sixth year, Clinical Term places applying students (both psych and non-psych majors) in internships at social service agencies around Galesburg while they are enrolled in clinical psychology classes at the same time. This year, eight students were placed, according to their preference, at the Galesburg Rescue Mission, Safe Harbor Women’s Shelter, St. Mary’s Square, Heartland Health Care Center, Lutheran Social Services and Salvation Army.

The students’ internships are done in correlation with two other psychology classes: PSYC 277: Clinical and Abnormal Psychology, taught by Kasser, and PSYC 367: Theories and Methods of Psychotherapy, taught by Assistant Professor of Psychology Gail Ferguson. Through PSYC 277, students learn about different mood disorders, theories of how they come about and how they are diagnosed, while PSYC 367 emphasizes therapy and basic counseling skills.

The term is known for its demanding schedule and workload. When the internship is taken for a half credit, students are required to work for four hours a week, while a full credit demands seven hours a week.

“The amount of work is verging on ridiculous,” junior Josh Hosmer-Quint, who works in a weekly group therapy session at Safe Harbor, said.

In addition to working in therapy sessions every week, Hosmer-Quint also observes and roughly transcribes court cases for abused women. He finds this to be the most difficult aspect of his placement due to the “air of hopelessness” that accompanies the cases.

“It’s sort of a really twisted vicious cycle that I hadn’t really thought about before,” he said. “At least in the sessions, there are some inspiring things that happen.”

Despite the difficulties he has experienced during Clinical Term, Hosmer-Quint’s original goal of it serving as a “litmus test” for his future has for the most part been fulfilled.

“It’s really helping me determine what I want to do with my future,” he said. “I’ve never been in counseling before, so I had no idea what counseling looked like. … It’s helping me really conceptualize what therapy means and how the techniques you read about in textbooks can be applied to real life situations.”

Hosmer-Quint’s experience is not unique. According to Kasser, many alumni of the program have responded positively about how much it prepared them for the professional workplace. That all this preparation takes place in the Galesburg community has made Clinical Term both a bridge between Knox and Galesburg and Knox and the professional world of psychology.

“I’ve never heard anything like [Clinical Term] anywhere else,” Kasser said. “I’ve been really happy how responsive the Galesburg community has been.”

Sam Brownson
Sam Brownson ’12 majored in philosophy and minored in anthropology and sociology. This is his second year copy editing for TKS; he is also currently a post-baccalaureate fellow in music and theater and will be composing the music for two productions as part of Knox’s Repertory Theatre Term. A self-described grammar Nazi, Sam worked as a TKS reporter and as a writer and editor for his high school newspaper before joining the TKS editorial staff. He also manages social media for Brownson Properties in Holland, Mich.

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