Hi! My name is Alex Pettus, and I am a senior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina majoring in Psychology and minoring in Neuroscience. I currently work in Dr. Eva Telzer’s Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab, which studies social influences on neurobiological development in adolescence, as well as the connections between adolescents’ online behavior and brain development. I have also worked with Dr. Mitch Prinstein’s Peer Relations Lab, which studies social relationships across adolescence and biomarkers of suicidal behavior. As a clinical intern, I am interested in learning about the ways in which clinical psychologists act as scientist-practitioners, translating research into effective treatment.
Over the last two months, I have had the pleasure of working with AHB Center for Behavioral Health and Wellness, a private practice mental health clinic in Durham. AHB is composed of over a dozen clinicians with a variety of backgrounds and specialties, who together provide a full complement of mental health services for children, adolescents, and adults. Beyond connecting clients with resources in the community and conducting psychotherapy and psychoeducational testing, many clinicians also engage in forensic psychology, playing a role in ongoing court cases. In working with local courts, clinicians at AHB frequently perform forensic evaluations, child custody evaluations, and parental competency evaluations. The variety of services offered and the diversity characterizing the team of clinicians were what first sparked my interest in working at AHB, and those factors have significantly enriched my experience thus far.
My mentor at AHB is Dr. April Harris-Britt, a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked in private practice since 2003. Dr. Harris-Britt engages in numerous activities at AHB and typically juggles her roles as a therapist, a researcher, and a Parent Coordinator on a daily basis. She is frequently involved in the court system, providing forensic services and intensive intervention services for high-conflict court-involved families. Through meeting with me regularly and providing me with a variety of interesting tasks to dig into, Dr. Harris-Britt has taught me a great deal about the work of a clinician. I have been able to learn about her ongoing cases and, through my work, directly aid her in managing those cases, which has been quite rewarding.
I have engaged in a wide and continually changing variety of tasks at AHB. On some days I have scored and written up psychological assessments for clinicians, on other days I have conducted literature reviews and various other research tasks to aid ongoing cases, and on still others I have shadowed clinicians during forensic evaluations and psychological assessments. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work directly with several clinicians and speak with them about the work they do on a daily basis, and each clinician has given me unique insight into their profession. Due to the assortment of tasks I am able to work on, no two days have been quite the same at AHB, which has kept my time as an intern exciting and busy in the best possible way. Working at AHB has provided me with great insight into the day-to-day worlds of mental health professionals, and I am grateful for the opportunity to gain such valuable experience in the field of clinical psychology.
I am excited to continue working at AHB this semester, and I look forward to applying all that I am learning to future experiences in graduate school and beyond. I would like to thank Dr. Harris-Britt and the many other clinicians I have gotten to know at AHB for providing me with such an educational, diverse, and formative set of experiences this semester. I would also like to thank Dr. Steven Buzinski and Chelsea Ewing for their constant support, guidance, and aid in professional development throughout my time as a Gil Intern.