Hello! My name is Bethany Garrison and I’m a senior from Greenville, North Carolina majoring in Psychology and minoring in Medical Anthropology and Creative Writing. I chose to major in psychology because of my interest in mental health treatment, specifically using evidence-based methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. My classes at UNC have only heightened my curiosity regarding the real-life application of these treatments, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity this semester from the Karen Gil Internship to gain clinical experience at 3-C Family Services in Cary. 3-C Family Services is a private practice consisting of two psychiatrists and a dozen psychotherapists. One thing that drew me to 3-C is the diversity of its practice. They do not specialize in the treatment of a particular psychological diagnosis, instead treating a variety ranging from mood disorders to Autism spectrum disorders to anxiety disorders.
As a research assistant in the Penn Lab at UNC, I study and work with data on schizophrenia and social cognition. Because this research is so specific, I wanted to choose an internship site that would give me a broader picture of psychology, and 3-C has certainly provided me that. As a Gil Intern at 3-C, I have conducted literature reviews for clinicians on a wide range of topics, such as Amantadine for ADHD treatment, and I’ve also sat in on therapy sessions with clinicians. I have conducted play therapy with young children and also shadowed my mentor, child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Schweickert, as she does patient evaluations. I also serve as group assistant for SS GRIN A, which is a social skills therapy group for adolescents. In this group I work alongside Aja Cann, LCSW, and from a manualized treatment program the adolescents learn social-emotional competency skills, such as self-respect, responsibility, and emotion regulation. These hands-on experiences have given me the opportunity to apply what I have learned in the classroom to a real life therapy setting.
Additionally, the Gil Internship has allowed me to attend Harvard Medical School’s conference “The Power of Story: A Day of Sharing Among Patients, Caregivers and Providers.” My mentor recommended that I attend a conference at Harvard, as the Gil Internship provides a stipend, and when I saw this one on the list I knew I had to go. I am a Creative Writing minor and currently working on a Senior Honors thesis in poetry writing, and part of my interest in writing comes from its inherent ties to psychology. The conference synthesized my passions of psychology and creative writing, focusing on the therapeutic benefits of storytelling. This field, known as narrative psychology, is a smaller field of psychology. I feel lucky to have been able to attend this conference and learn from scholars, such as Jon Adler, Ph.D., about the links between one’s psychological well being and how one forms meaning through different narratives.
I am very thankful for the Gil Internship. It has bridged the gap between studying psychology in the classroom and applying psychology in real life. Because of this experience, I feel much more confident in my knowledge of psychology, and I hope to carry with me what I’ve learned into the future as I apply to Ph.D. Clinical Psychology programs and work towards eventually become a psychotherapist!