Left to right: Paula Burr '13, Dr. Khiela
Holmes '01, and Kathleen Combs '13.
Paula Burr '13 and Kathleen Combs '13 are interning this summer at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences' Psychiatric Research Institute, in the Child Diagnostic Unit (CDU). Dr. Khiela Holmes '01 offers two Hendrix psychology students a chance every semester to work as interns at the CDU. The Psychiatric Research Institute is the only one of its kind in Arkansas. It provides outpatient and inpatient services for children and adults. It also offers students opportunities to work with researchers and clinicians in a state-of-the-art facility. The Child Diagnostic Unit works with children between 2 and 12. Specialists from a several fields help to diagnose and treat them. The Child Diagnostic Unit offers Hendrix students an opportunity to experience how a clinical psychiatric unit is organized and to interact with and help diagnose children.
Q: Why did you decide to do an internship? How does your internship fit with your possible plans for life after Hendrix?
Burr: I decided to do an internship because I wanted some experience in the field of the child psychology. I also found that it would be beneficial for graduate school. I really enjoy children and I really want to become a child psychologist.
Combs: I decided to do an internship because I think I want to become a child clinical psychologist, but without child clinical experience, how can I really be certain? I decided on the CDU in particular because it provides me with the opportunity to work with children ages 2-12 who struggle with psychological problems and to learn how to diagnose and even treat these problems, all of which I would be doing as a child clinical psychologist. My position allows me to work with kids I would be working with as a child clinical psychologist and to spend time with actual child clinical psychologists to learn what they do and how they do it.
Q: How did you find out about your internship?
Burr: I found out about the internship through the Psychology Department.
Combs: Dr. Holmes, one of the psychologists at the CDU, accepts two students from Hendrix each semester (or summer) to be externs, so she sent out an e-mail to the psychology faculty about the experience and what students had to do to apply and the faculty then forwarded it to all of the psychology students. I was studying in London at the time, but I applied and interviewed over the phone and ended up with the position!
Q: What are your responsibilities as an intern? What have you been doing?
Burr: My responsibilities are to edit and insert data into the computer. I also get to perform behavioral observations on the children in order to help the psychologists diagnose the children. I also get to interact with the kids, during the occupational therapy group, and to keep them occupied.
Combs: I have two primary responsibilities.... First and foremost, I work on a database entering and checking information about every kid who has ever been a patient at the CDU. That way, the faculty and staff will have a record of it all and will also be able to use it as a tool to refer to if needed. Second, I help with diagnoses of current children on the unit. I do this by conducting behavioral observations, which sound cooler than they really are. Basically, what I mean is I spend time with the kids either playing with them or talking to them or both and pay special attention to negative and positive behaviors they exhibit while I am with them. I also assist with diagnoses by doing research to learn more about symptoms children are showing and why they might be showing them.
Q: What's been the greatest or most eye-opening part of your internship so far?
Burr: Watching the admission and discharge meetings, I get to see how the parents deal with their children who have disorders. Growing up with a younger brother who has severe ADHD and the learning disabilities that we mostly treat, it's intriguing to see how other families like mine deal with the same or similar issues. I also am very interested in the ways that families interact. My family has been and most like always will be very supportive of my siblings and I, encouraging us to chase our dreams, no matter what obstacle, and it shocks me how some families do not have the same mindset. It's just looking at life or problems through a different scope.
Combs: Hmmm, the most eye-opening experience (I don't know if I would describe it as great) has been realizing how hard it is to work with some of these kids. I've babysat and worked at daycares for as long as I can remember, but most of those kids usually come from stable homes with families who love them and take good care of them, whereas most of these kids come from completely different situations where they've been mistreated in some way. Naturally, then, they're angry and upset and playing with them and talking to them can often be really difficult. I think it's going to take a lot more practice and dedication to become a child clinical psychologist than I thought, but this internship will certainly help me decide whether or not it's worth it!