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My name is Grace Porter and I am a senior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina majoring in Psychology and History with a minor in French. During my time here at Carolina, I have developed a passion for research furthering the understanding and treatment of children and adolescents with internalizing disorders.  Specifically, I am interested in the development of treatment plans for children with anxiety-induced or compulsive behaviors. I am fascinated by how the development of these disorders, as well as the resulting behaviors, ultimately influences outcomes.

This semester, I have had the incredible opportunity to develop my research interests as a Karen M. Gil Intern at 3-C Family Services. 3-C is both a private clinic and a research institute and, though I work in the clinic, I often work on projects from the other side of the practice. The practice aims to reduce the stress of mental health on both clients and their loved ones through comprehensive care. The clinicians offer a wide variety of therapies and areas of expertise to children and their parents in order to integrate treatment into all areas of life.

During my internship, I have had the honor of working with my mentor, Dr. Lori Schweickert, who is a psychiatrist in the practice. Under her guidance, I have had the fantastic opportunity to sit in on case conference and consulting, as well as analyze research regarding the association between streptococcal infections and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In addition, I serve as a group therapy assistant to a variety of social skills groups for children and adolescents aged 4-18. Both my hands-on and research experiences at the clinic have reaffirmed my passion for psychology and my commitment to pursue it in the future.

The most unique experience I have had as a part of the Gil Intern Program has been attending a professional training conference. Dr. Schweickert generously granted me the opportunity to go to the PTI Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB) Training in Washington, D.C. As a result of her efforts and funding from the Gil program, I was able to go to a cutting-edge training on the symptoms, behaviors, diagnosis, and treatment of trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) and other disorders. The conference was an amazing learning experience for me, as I was able to meet the leading clinicians in the area. Additionally, I met other clinicians and patients who were able to share their wealth of knowledge with me. From the program, I learned so much about the treatment of a rare disorder, as well as the general functions of professional conferences in the psychological field.

I am so thankful to have received such an opportunity as an undergraduate student, as it has granted me the knowledge and inspiration required to continue developing my interests and ultimately pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. This internship has not only given me insight into the clinical field, but it has confirmed my interests in the clinical field and my desire to eventually work in a clinical setting. I am grateful to the organizers of this program and my mentors for making this experience possible for me. Thanks to the Gil Intern Program I am confident and excited for my next step in the clinical field!



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