A Day in the Life of a Clinical Psychology Trainee

A Day in the Life of an Extern

Kan Long

My name is Kan Long and I am a psychology extern at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian (CHONY). The externship program at CHONY is unique because it provides a wide range of valuable training experiences across different modalities and treatment approaches as well as the opportunity to work with a diverse population of children, adolescents, and families.

I start my day bright and early with a didactic seminar that is led by the faculty and staff at CHONY and focuses on topics such as risk assessment, psychopharmacology, and educational advocacy. Following didactics, I attend the Department of Psychiatry’s Grand Rounds which features presentations from leading researchers on state-of-the-art treatments. Next, I have individual and group supervision. The quality of supervision and the investment in trainees is part of the backbone of the externship program. After supervision, I start seeing children and their families in the Disruptive Behaviors Disorders Clinic and Children’s Anxiety and Depression Clinic. I end the day by co-leading an Incredible Years group for school-age children as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Each day of externship offers a new and interesting training experience. The incredibly supportive environment and the team-based approach create an enriching and rewarding learning process. During my time as an extern, I have benefited greatly from opportunities to receive training in cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, parent management training, and structural family therapy. Across all of my experiences as an extern, the most meaningful thing about my work at CHONY is that I have been able to contribute to the provision of comprehensive, culturally sensitive treatments for diverse communities of children, adolescents, and families.

 

Naama Sarig

My name is Naama Sarig and I am a psychology extern at the Lieber Recovery and Rehabilitation Clinic, an intensive day treatment program that specializes in psychotic spectrum disorders. The clinic offers a wide variety of evidence-based treatments. Within the menu of treatments that the clinic offers, the specific schedules of the patients are tailored to their unique needs.

As an extern, I benefit from exposure to the varied treatments that the clinic offers. I co-lead manualized group therapies, including Cognitive Remediation using the NEAR model (developed by the Lieber clinic director), CBT for psychosis, Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT), adapted DBT, and Wellness Recovery Action Plan. I also provide individual CBT for psychosis and psychodiagnostic and neuropsychological assessments, which are used to inform the patients’ treatments at the clinic. These experiences are accompanied by comprehensive supervision and many conversations with members of our dedicated and skillful team, which allows me to utilize this externship to deepen and widen my practical experience. It is a privilege to work and learn from talented clinicians, who are experts in their fields, and I consider this to be a significant contribution to my training. Supervision has been a crucial part of my learning this year and the supportive setting helps me develop my professional identity and confidence as a clinical psychologist.

One of the things that I appreciate most about my role as an extern is that it allows me to have a rather comprehensive view of my patients’ recovery process. Lieber is recovery-oriented and therefore part of our work is to help patients pursue goals associated with effective community functioning. All the groups that I co-lead help patients gain insight and develop skills that can help them live successfully. I have seen firsthand how patients who cope with severe symptoms have learned to manage their illness and achieve their goals, such as returning to school or work. Taking part in this process is profoundly rewarding and inspiring.

 

A Day in the Life of a Child Predoctoral Intern

Sarah Maza

My name is Sarah Maza and I am a Child Psychology Intern. Working as an intern in the Child track is a truly exciting and enriching experience.

A typical day looks different for each of the four child interns, as we have the opportunity to choose from different specialty rotations. However, we all start the day early in our shared office, before we begin a full day of supervision, individual and group therapy, neuropsychological testing, evaluations, and meetings. We spend the majority of our time at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (CHONY), working with families from the Washington Heights and surrounding communities. We also work in the adult outpatient clinic, where we see two patients and conduct evaluations. At CHONY, I work with children ranging from 5 months to 18 years old, as well as parents and families. I treat children and families through multiple clinics, including the Anxiety and Depression clinic, Family Therapy Program, and the Toddler and Infant Parent Program. Two days a week, I also work in a local elementary school, through the School Based Mental Health Program. To provide the best care for my patients, I practice a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive behavioral, attachment, structural, and psychoanalytic therapies.

One of the unique elements of this internship is the strong emphasis on training and supervision. Every week, I meet individually with 7 clinical supervisors, who support my clinical and professional development. With their specialized and focused supervision, I tailor treatments to meet the needs of my culturally and clinically diverse patient population.

What I value most about my experience at Columbia is the profound sense of teamwork. Between the weekly multidisciplinary meetings, and the open-door policy of staff members on CHONY, I have the support of a devoted, collaborative treatment team.

The best part of my work has been helping children and parents navigate challenges together. Whether 5 months or 17 years old, fostering warm and secure relationships with caregivers is essential to emotional, social, and academic success.

A day in the life of a child intern is busy, exciting, and rewarding. One of the daily activities I look forward to most at work is laughing with my super team of co-interns, and bonding over ideas, challenges, and a stash of chocolate.

 

A Day in the Life of a Postdoctoral Fellow

Jared O’Garro-Moore

My name is Jared O’Garro-Moore, and I am a first year Postdoctoral Clinical Fellow in the Psychiatry Department of the Columbia Doctors Midtown clinic. My day-to-day is unique in that I spend time between three different Columbia University Medical Center sites -- 3 Columbus Circle, 51 W. 51st Street, and the main medical campus. Each of these sites offers me a different experience, which affords me an amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge of mental health issues, and their treatments.

I decided to apply to this postdoctoral position because I wanted to have the opportunity to provide services to patients who are struggling with various complex diagnostic conditions. The prospect of working on a multidisciplinary team also drew me to Columbia. These settings encourage complementary perspectives to work together for a more holistic conceptualization of cases. So far, Columbia Doctor’s has not disappointed. While working with a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, I have had the chance to stretch my comfort zone by considering alternative points of view; challenging my beliefs about processes that may affect treatment. Specifically, this has influenced how I conduct psychiatric intakes, individual psychotherapy, and co-facilitate group psychotherapy. Coming to Columbia, I have a background in using an integrative approach to fit each patient’s needs. And, while I have had the flexibility to use the therapeutic modalities with which I am comfortable, I relish the chance to learn from my supervisors and colleagues to improve my skills.

Another amazing feature of the postdoctoral program is the educational component. On Wednesdays, I travel uptown to the main campus of the medical school. There, I attend psychiatry grand rounds. Not only is there a new and exciting talk each week, there is also space provided where I can discuss my own research interests with some of the best minds in the field. After grand rounds, I attend didactics. Along with learning new ways of conceptualizing psychological conditions, and expanding my knowledge base of therapeutic interventions, these meetings encourage a healthy exchange of ideas about how we can improve our patient care. Finally, I also look forward to my weekly supervision with Dr. Erin Engle and Dr. Elizabeth Loran. During these meetings, my supervisors always foster a collaborative relationship that makes me feel like a valued member of the team. They also push me to consider how I can enhance my professional competence as well as the evidence-based interventions that I employ.

All these experiences are helping me to develop in ways that I have envisioned, and in ways that I had not. So far, my time with Columbia Doctor’s has been a rewarding and exciting journey that is preparing me for a career as a Clinical Psychologist. After all is said and done, I can often be found exploring the city, playing sports with a few friends, or perusing local record shops.

 

Steve Mazza

My name is Steve Mazza and I am a first-year postdoctoral fellow in clinical psychology at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CUCARD) in Columbus Circle. CUCARD is a clinic that specialized in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults diagnosed with anxiety and mood disorders. Treating anxiety disorders using exposure therapy is a passion of mine, so CUCARD has been a great fit with excellent training opportunities.

I typically start the day with a young adult session, since my afternoons are reserved for children and adolescents. Working with this population is interesting due to high levels of patient motivation but significant and impairing anxiety. Helping young adults relate to their anxious thoughts differently and respond to their anxious feelings more effectively is a challenging but rewarding process.

After a session or two in the morning, I often administer the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule, Fifth Edition (ADIS-5) as part of the intake process at CUCARD. I have been administering many ADIS evaluations recently as I build my caseload. This has provided me with a lot of diagnostic assessment training. When I’m not conducting and ADIS-5, I often am writing intake reports. The report-writing process helps me to consolidate the information and conceptualize my cases. All of this diagnostic assessment experience has bolstered my interviewing and case formulation skills.

In the late morning or early afternoon I often have supervision or staff meetings. I meet with Dr. Anne Marie Albano, the director of CUCARD, once a week to receive supervision on my caseload. I also have the opportunity to supervise two psychology externs once per week. I’m fortunate to have supervision from Dr. Ali Mattu on the supervision that I provide. Whether I’m in meeting with Dr. Albano, Dr. Mattu, or with my two supervisees, I’m learning and developing my clinical acumen as an early-career psychologist.

Other enjoyable mid-day activities include the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) team that I participate in, weekly group supervision, full-staff meetings, and intermittent discussion groups about theory and practice. The diversity of meetings and training opportunities make this fellowship a well-rounded learning experience for me.

After picking up lunch from a local restaurant or from the café on the 3rd floor of our building, I begin to see my child and adolescent patients. These cases are particularly interesting because they require a combination of parent training and one-on-one individualized treatment with the children. Building rapport with both the parents and child has proven to be essential in our work together, as has integrating the parenting practices and individual skills.

At the end of the day, I finish my notes, pack my bag, and (if I’m mindful enough) I’ll reflect on my experience. My favorite aspect of my postdoctoral fellowship at CUCARD, other than the top-notch training, is the warm, supportive, and nurturing training environment. It is such a fun and pleasant experience working with this group of open-minded, fun-loving psychologists. I am very grateful for all that CUCARD has offered me and I look forward to the remainder of my training here!