Why I Chose Yale

Jessica Armstrong

My Background

My name is Jessica and I am a Psychology Fellow at the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit (SATU) with a secondary placement at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) on an outpatient team. I am a first generation college student. I grew up in several major cities in the US, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York City. While studying forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I completed an internship at the Addiction Institute of New York and found my passion in working in the addiction treatment field. During this time, I worked with many people who used substances to cope with the negative consequences of trauma. I was inspired by the resilience of the people that I worked with and was drawn to understanding the role that trauma served in creating and maintaining addictive behaviors. This led me to continue my studies in clinical psychology at Clark University.

Why I Chose Yale

In my research on internship sites, I discovered that Yale was committed to providing high quality care to underrepresented populations with an emphasis on cultural competence. At SATU and CMHC, person-centered recovery values are prioritized in clinical work, and I was excited for the opportunity to work with individuals with serious mental illness from this perspective. During interview day, the members of the faculty at SATU were very warm, and it was clear that quality care was a priority at this site. As I interacted with Drs. LaPaglia, Steinfeld, and Kiluk, I felt that my perspective was valued and respected, and that they were truly interested in learning about and supporting my training goals for internship. Further, at the overall introduction to interview day, Dr. Hoge discussed the community of New Haven and life as an intern outside of the specific rotations, which conveyed concern for our full experience on internship. This was something I had not encountered at other sites to which I applied.

In addition to the welcoming atmosphere of SATU, I appreciated the clinical and research opportunities that were available there. I would have the opportunity to meet with clients individually and to co-facilitate groups at SATU. Further, I was excited to learn that I would receive training and became certified in auricular acupuncture by the National Association for Detox Acupuncture. At CMHC, I would have the opportunity to work with individuals with serious mental illness from a recovery-oriented perspective, many of whom had complex trauma in their backgrounds. These experiences, in addition to the strong culture of the program, made me choose Yale.

My Professional Activities

I work Monday through Friday, approximately 50 hours per week. I have 12 adult clients at SATU and six adult clients at CMHC whom I meet with once or twice per week depending on the need. I also attend weekly team meetings for both SATU and CMHC. Six supervisors oversee different aspects of my clinical work; I meet with five of them weekly for supervision and one as needed, and have group supervision at SATU focused on the experience of co-facilitating groups. I also attend the internship core seminar on Tuesday afternoons, weekly case conference seminars at SATU and CMHC, and the Division of Substance Abuse seminar that meets on Wednesday mornings at the West Haven VA. I also dedicate a significant amount of time to case management and consultation, which includes collaborating with treatment teams at higher levels of care, members of the legal system, and other systems that impact the lives of my clients. The rest of my time is dedicated to activities such as writing notes, treatment plans, testing reports, and scholarly project activities.

My Favorite Things to do in/around New Haven

In my free time, I enjoy yoga, cooking, and spending time outdoors. There are places to hike nearby (Sleeping Giant, Guiffrida Park), as well as within a short driving distance. There are a number of great restaurants. Some of the fellows in my cohort and I have taken turns choosing different restaurants to try together. Being connected with Yale means there are always interesting talks, shows, and other activities to attend, not to mention access to many renowned libraries and museums in New Haven. I have also attended concerts at the Shubert Theater and College Street Music Hall. Finally, as someone who was living in NYC and Worcester for many years each, I appreciate that there is easy access to both. It’s a quick drive to Worcester, and it’s easy to take the train right in to NYC from New Haven, too.

Final Thoughts

I have been very pleased with my experience at Yale. While it has been a demanding and busy year, I have grown in ways I could not have predicted. I am happy to have formed great relationships with each of my supervisors, as well as several other faculty members at Yale. Bonds formed with many of the fellows in my cohort have enriched my year and made it more enjoyable. I have had the opportunity in a supportive and intellectually rich environment to develop my professional identity. Moreover, I am refining my skills working in outpatient settings from a recovery-based perspective with individuals who have high levels of acuity. I am thrilled to have matched here and feel that this combination of placements and supervisors really was a great fit for me. I hope you find your dream placement too!