Why I Chose Yale
My name is Taiki and I am a Psychology Fellow at Adult Inpatient Services (AIS) at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC). I was born in Tokyo, Japan, and grew up in the suburbs of New York City. It was a combination of my studies in Artificial Intelligence and personal life experiences that led me to Clinical Psychology. My background in Affective Computing provided me with a unique vantage point from which to analyze and conceptualize emotions but it was the stories of loss and suffering, of recovery and resilience, that gave meaning to those emotions that I found myself most captivated by.
Why I Chose Yale
I was drawn to Yale for many reasons but the central focus included the training opportunity, the program’s commitment to diversity, and the philosophy and culture of CMHC. The opportunity to train under the guidance of and collaborate with Yale faculty, many of whom are active leaders in their respective fields, was extremely attractive for someone with a scientist-practitioner focus. The program’s commitment to diversity and embracement of multiculturalism was something that resonated with me profoundly. I was immediately struck by the thoughtfulness and sensitivity demonstrated in the program brochure during the application process, and by the time I had left the interview, I was thoroughly convinced that these were core values woven into the very fabric of the program. With social equity as the foundation for my clinical work, CMHC's commitment to serving the underserved and providing the highest quality of care available anywhere to those in greatest need was a natural fit for me. I came to further appreciate the beauty of the recovery-oriented person-centered framework that was embedded into nearly every aspect of patient care at Yale/CMHC. It challenged me to take a step back and turn the traditional symptom-focused model upside down, which immediately felt right side up.
My Professional Activities
I am at AIS full-time, Monday through Friday. My day typically starts with a morning team meeting (Monday through Thursday), during which we discuss individuals under our care and provide updates regarding treatment and disposition planning. Aside from didactics and supervision, a large portion of my day is spent on providing direct support to individuals in recovery. For me, this involves meeting with them one-to-one and often accompanying them off of the unit and into the community where they might engage in simple activities and tasks that many of us take for granted every single day (e.g., coffee, lunch, shopping, banking, haircuts, volunteering, etc.). These provide individuals with opportunities to test their beliefs about the world, practice various skills in an environment not unlike the one to which they might return, and troubleshoot challenges in real-time. Given the ever-changing needs of the unit, I often work independently and without a set schedule. This allows me to accommodate meetings and other clinical responsibilities on the fly, while minimizing disruptions to care. It also allows me to adapt to an individual’s sleep-wake cycle, treatment regimen, group participation, or family/friend visits and passes. After I have met with the individuals I am working with, I spend the remainder of the afternoon completing progress notes and other paperwork such as treatment plans and intake/transfer/discharge forms.
My Favorite Things to do in/around New Haven
I have found New Haven to be a vibrant city, bursting with diversity and rich with history. As a relatively small city, I have found it to be accessible and manageable by foot, automobile, or public transit. Personally, I enjoy peace and quiet and connecting with nature. Because of its proximity to parks, beaches, and vineyards, finding respite from work and the pace of the city was always a short drive away. I spent time taking in the skyline of New Haven from East Rock Park, climbing the trails of Sleeping Giant Park, and strolling the boardwalks of the Long Island Sound. For kids (and adults), the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Beardsley Zoo, and Stepping Stones Museum are all within a short drive. For grown kids who enjoy motorsports, Lime Rock Park is an hour and a half away. When the weather was less cooperative, the abundance of restaurants/cafes, museums, theaters, and libraries ensured that there was no shortage of alternative options. One of the favorite parts of my week was our after-seminar cohort happy hour on Tuesdays. Each of us signed up for a week to organize something fun for the cohort to do together. It was a great way to get to know each other and sample what the city had to offer. Finally, as a lifelong New Yorker who has pledged allegiance to NY pizza, I will say that New Haven apizza is “pretty good” and that is conceding far more than I was comfortable doing when I initially arrived.
My year at Yale has far exceeded my already high expectations coming in. The training was outstanding and I reveled in the freedom to think “outside of the box” and implement creative ways to empower individuals to achieve their recovery goals. I am certain that my greatest professional growth thus far has come during this fellowship year. I owe it to the entire program, especially my phenomenal supervisors, unit team and staff, cohort of fellows, and everyone that I had the opportunity to work with. I have gained a far better sense of my professional and personal strengths as well as areas for future growth, and it has further reinforced my commitment to advocating for and improving the lives of those in greatest need. It is with immense gratitude and a heavy heart that I will leave behind my team and family at CMHC, but I take great solace in all that we have accomplished together and I will continue to draw on this experience for inspiration as I start the next chapter of my career.