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Sample Personal Statement for the PsyD Degree, Latina

The XXXX School of Professional Psychology at XXXX University is my first choice for earning the PsyD Degree in Clinical Psychology primarily because of the sheer quality of your program with such a diverse faculty experienced in numerous areas.  I am currently a Masters student in your program in Clinical Psychology and I have grown very fond of the XXXX Program and academic community and would very much like to continue my studies at the doctoral level.

I was diagnosed with a chronic heart condition as a child which made my childhood quite traumatic. Had it not been for the constant support and love of my parents, I would not have survived.  My own childhood trauma goes a long way towards explaining why I chose Psychology as my professional field.  My suffering was not just a physical condition.  My siblings were all brilliant and athletic, super grades, winning awards, while I was branded “the sickly one” so everyone understood and accepted my underperformance.  I had few friends.  While I was born in the USA not long after my parents arrived from Mexico, my older siblings learned English faster than I did.  Nevertheless, my own personal triumph in life will be helping others in similar situations to realize their full potential despite the challenges they face.  I think of the thousands of bewildered children, many of them ill, who enter the USA each year crossing the border with Mexico, some alone, others with parents or other relatives.

Childhood trauma has many sources and for sick immigrant children like myself the psychological hurdles that are often faced are the result of various factors. In my case, the financial instability of immigrants who had just recently crossed the border and were struggling to survive economically or even adequately feed their children. I did not understand the nature of my health problem but I remember the sound of my mom crying as if it were yesterday. At least I could never be sure that she was crying because of my heart condition, or the child that she left buried in Mexico, who died in her arms at the age of 6. I always had a sense growing up that we fled a dangerous and unstable place, especially because I listened at length to my father’s stories of fleeing his home in Mexico after witnessing his father shot dead in a brawl over land in a small village.  Shortly after receiving medical attention for the first time for my heart, my older sister was diagnosed with polio.  Stress, fear, and anxiety radiated throughout my childhood, a time that should ideally be free of these debilitating factors.  My treatment consisted of a device, prescribed medications, and long trips to endless medical visits.  I wore a massive heart monitor, painful to take off and put back on.  Later, however, I would develop a sense of self-worth as a result of being an “a helper,” helping to get legal residency for my mother and my older siblings are “Dreamers.”  

I sat on the bench during recess with a broken heart, holding my monitor in my hand throughout my early school years, doing nothing and merely watching classmates play and have fun. I needed support to make sense of my life experience; and I was most pleased that teachers and counselors did take an interest in me. This was my only salvation and I will always be most grateful for the emotional support that I received from professionals. It took tremendous effort for many years for me to develop a healthy sense of dignity and the ability to achieve great things; and it will all be worth it if I am to have the privilege of helping individuals with mental health needs in similar situations, for the rest of my professional lifetime. 

My parents always taught me that our unique experiences of pain, struggle, and triumph are always worth the sacrifice and that happiness is always a result of great effort. Overcoming my own weaknesses and unfortunate circumstances has allowed me to discover and cultivate my greatest strengths, my compassionate heart and perseverance; I never give up.   

My goal for continuing graduate school has less weight or emphasis on a lucrative and/or prestigious career.  For me, however, money and the many things that it can buy mean very little.  I hope to earn the doctoral degree in my field as part of my quest for meaning and fulfillment in life, attaining the kind of sheer joy and inner peace that I now know derives from helping others to enrich their lives and find happiness.  For me, going to graduate school is about many things, a sort of triumph for my family (la familia), extended family, and community as well as myself – in addition to preparing myself to make my maximum contribution to my profession.

A Latina in a new and scary land who, in time, learned how to become whole, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to give as much as I can back to the world. I feel that ISPP would be the best place for me to get the finest education available and develop the hands-on skills to fulfill my dreams of becoming a talented clinical psychologist and leave my mark on the world as a healer. I would like to continue to work with underserved populations and give my best to those who are in the greatest need. I take special delight in the fact that many of the underserved who are ill and in desperate need of our support, speak my first language, enabling me to build an immediate rapport.  Although my last name and light olive skin with freckles tend to hide my identity, I am a Mexican woman much like my mother.  My mother and father remain an important inspiration in my life, along with my daughter. I have become a master at the balance of school, professional responsibilities, and my family life. I have been fortunate to be blessed not only with a beautiful, healthy daughter, but also my best friend and significant other of five years, he is also concerned about social issues and fascinated by my psychological explanations of the injustice and suffering that we see in our community. He fully supports my dedication 24/7 to my studies; and my daughter adores him.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for considering me for your PsyD Program at XXXX.

The science of analyzing conversations and how to avoid conflict.

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Great Accomplishments in Psychology

Scientist and author Lyall Watson once remarked: “If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so that simple we couldn't.”

The chaotic networks of billions of electrically pulsating neurons in our skulls have perplexed scientists for centuries, yet in the last 10 years, our understanding of this mysterious organ has exploded.

Prodigious advances in diagnostic and molecular techniques have laid bare some of the brain’s complexity, and scientists are just beginning to find out how these revelations translate into everyday behavior, let alone disease.

“I feel really sorry for the people who retired five years ago,” says Michael Stryker, a neuroscientist at the University of California.

Neuroscience now is a completely different world from how it used to be. Here are some of the most interesting contributions (at least, according to us!) that have been made in various sub-specialties of psychology.


Advances in Therapy

A spate of therapeutic techniques that target the mind–body connection have gained traction in the past decade, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that examines how one’s thoughts and feelings influence behavior and then introduces strategies to nix those maladaptive beliefs.

When CBT first emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, it was mainly used to treat phobias and anxiety disorders, says Mary Alvord, a clinical psychologist based in Maryland.

Yet in the decades since, CBT has expanded to encompass a wide range of maladies: a 2012 meta-analysis of over 100 studies found CBT to be a scientifically sound strategy for combating not only anxiety disorders but also bulimia, anger, stress and mental illnesses that cause pain.

Other behavioral techniques that have grown in popularity include mindfulness meditation, which encourages practitioners to be in tune with the present moment, as well as dialectical behavior therapy.

This latter treatment is grounded in CBT but adds new strategies to address serious mental health issues, such as suicidal thoughts, by emphasizing emotional regulation and other coping methods.

Alvord hopes that these therapies may one day be as effective as pharmaceuticals, which “don’t change your lifestyle or teach you how to get along better with other people,” Alvord says. “[These therapies] are giving people hope.”



To diagnose neurological disorders just two decades ago, doctors performed costly or intrusive procedures such as brain scans, spinal taps and biopsies

The parent and guardians often worried whether they would pass the same genetic abnormality onto their next child, but today, many such evaluations—including those of select degenerative disorders, epilepsies and movement disorders—can be performed with a quick and simple blood test.

These assessments were made possible by the Human Genome Project (HGP), which sequenced and mapped our genes in the early 2000s.

In its wake, a flood of new sequencing technologies allowed scientists to boost understanding regarding the genetic pathways that spawn neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Other research has not yet yielded diagnostic tests, but is nonetheless turning up much-needed insight into several challenging conditions, and scientists have homed in on bits of genetic material that swirl in the blood of patients with schizophreniaAlzheimer’s diseasedepression and autism, among other disorders.

The quick identification of clusters of disease-related genes will likely transform the way we identify and treat brain disorders in the near future.


Brain Mapping


Philanthropist Paul Allen gathered experts in the early 2000s with the goal of understanding how the human brain works.

After the completed HGP, they formed the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2003. This Seattle-based organization began mapping regions of gene activity in the mouse brain and pooling results into online databases, or atlases, which now also include data on human and nonhuman primates.

Free, comprehensive maps of genetic activity helped researchers engineer mice that express specific cell types or discover genes relevant to certain diseases or behaviors.

Today the institute continues to build atlases and it recently launched a 10-year plan to examine not only where specific genes are active, but how these genetic circuits process the vast flow of information that reaches the brain.

As a major participant in the White House BRAIN Initiative announced by Pres. Barack Obama, the National Institutes of Health just granted the project $8.7 million to plot the trillions of neural connections in mouse and human brains, which has the ultimate goal of revamping the way we approach brain diseases and disorders.


The Malleable Brain

Scientists long viewed the adult brain as a relatively static organ, says Stryker. As recently as 15 years ago, they believed that the brain was highly malleable in infancy and early childhood, but resistant to change afterward.

Although the brain is the most pliable early in life, “what’s really new this decade is the widespread appreciation, realization and exploitation of adult plasticity,” Stryker says.

Brain training software developed by companies such as Lumosity and games such as Nintendo’s Big Brain Academy Wii Degree have penetrated popular culture.

R. Douglas Fields, a senior investigator at the NIH, credits the emergence of better imaging techniques and new ways to label cells to make them fluorescent for the progress. They have made it possible to observe the brain as it learns new information. “The ability to see brain cells operate live inside the brain of an experimental animal is what has revealed the mechanisms of plasticity,” he says.


Funny Things with Memory

One of the great mysteries of the brain is that we still cannot pin down exactly what a memory is—how neural circuitry stores a given recollection.

Yet in the last decade we have learned a lot about memory’s limitations: memories are not necessarily written into our brains like ink on paper—think of them instead as inscribed in clay, suggests André Fenton, a neuroscientist at New York University’s Center for Neural Science.

Every time you access a memory, the message can get smudged, just as a clay tablet might if you were to pick it up and run your fingers over its surface; ongoing biochemical processes cause memories to shift over time. Furthermore, our mind sets and emotions can influence what we pay attention to and therefore remember. Scientists are tinkering with experimental chemicals that—when injected—can interfere with memory-forming proteins and erase certain types of maladaptive feelings, like an addict’s desire for drugs. Researchers have even managed to make mice form entirely false memories. Memory formation and recollection is an evolving, active and plastic process that involves many different working parts of the brain—and scientists are just beginning to piece together how they coalesce into such a complex machine.

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Sample First 2 Paragraphs PHD Degree in Clinical Psychology

In addition to having completed my undergraduate studies in psychology with honors, I feel that I am a strong candidate for your distinguished program leading to the doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology because of my professional experiences, first with a woman’s center and now with a homeless shelter. From September of 2012 through September of 2013 I served as a certified youth advocate after completing an intensive 8 week course. I had the profound privilege of leading community outreach projects in XXXX County that included raising teen dating awareness, mentoring at risk youth, and laboring to cultivate higher levels of self esteem for my clients. Since this past August, I have been deeply immersed in the day to day affairs of our homeless shelter in XXXX, and I am now serving as a case manager while building a special emphasis and knowledge bank in the area of crises intervention. It is a profound honor for me to serve this highly diverse and vulnerable sector of our society. Most importantly, I now have direct experience with precisely the vulnerable groups that I hope to build a specialty studying in graduate school and then serving professionally for the balance of my life.

I have now been Homeless Services Center in XXXX continuously shapes my experience that prepares me for a successful completion of graduate school. Working with one of the most vulnerable populations in my community I have had exposure and involvement helping families and individuals experiencing numerous hardships including crisis situations, multiple forms of trauma, psychopathology, suffering from addiction(s), as well as physical and learning disabilities. I have been given the opportunity to practice forms of case management by providing support and resources during highly sensitive times. I have also had the ability to work very closely with the children and families living in our six-month emergency shelter.  I plan to continue the rest of my AmeriCorps service term by being a catalyst for change in my community by advocating for the populations I am working with, spreading education and awareness to others, and continuing to provide direct services to the families and individuals I am serving. While my time serving in AmeriCorps is hardly halfway through, I have been able to reflect a great deal about the positive impact I have been able to make so far on my community and the clients our center serves. I am certain that becoming a clinical psychologist is the road I want to take. 

Statements of Excellence in Psychology & Mental Health Counseling

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Degree sought, field, or place of origin!

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