Hi! My name is Lucy McClellan and I am a senior majoring in psychology and English. I originally came into UNC as a Psychology major because that was simply what I found interesting. My sophomore year I joined Dr. Eva Telzer’s Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab (DSN Lab) in the hope of getting hands-on research experience, and found that I was fascinated by social relationships, and particularly their potential to buffer against negative outcomes for at-risk populations. I have been with the DSN Lab ever since, and my time with them has provided me with a wide berth of research experience, including neuroimaging, data coding, and engaging with participant families. Through the DSN Lab I have had the opportunity not only to participate in a wide variety of aspects of the research process, but I have also been able to complete three of my own research projects on the potential of social relationships as protective factors, two of which have been accepted into national conferences.
In addition to my time with DSN, at the end of my junior year at UNC I decided to undergo the 42- hour training to become a Domestic Violence Hotline Advocate with the Compass Center for Women and Families. and also had the chance to be a Summer Intern with the Mental Health Access Program, which provides free therapy to victims of domestic violence. In this role I had a wide variety of exciting tasks such as collecting client feedback, creating educational materials on how to make the most out of therapy, and developing training materials for new volunteers. In addition to being a great opportunity for clinical experience, my work with the Compass Center affirmed my interest in social relationships, as I saw both the intensely negative impact that abusive relationships have on a family, and the relief that social support could provide.
When I got the news that I had been selected as a Gil Intern, and was excitedly scrolling through posts like this one to learn more about my potential worksites, I found myself being drawn to the posts by interns who had chosen to work in the prison system. I wanted to learn more about the policy side of psychology, and could see myself pursuing a career working in Juvenile Justice, so I thought that working in the Behavioral Health Services of the Department of Public Safety would be a great opportunity. In my internship, I have been working under Dr. Jon Peiper, the Interim Director of Behavioral Health, and have already learned a great deal. My first task was compiling twenty-seven literature review briefs for distribution among the clinicians in Behavioral Health Services in order to facilitate empirically-based techniques and practices. People outside of academic institutions often don’t have free access to this type of literature, even if it may be focused on them, so I was glad to be able to make it more accessible. Currently, I have been reviewing informational papers on mental health in prison and identifying common themes and ideas for turning them into treatment worksheets to be used in therapy. I’ve also been able to learn more about how the Department of Public Safety functions, and what being a Correctional Psychologist involves. I’m so grateful to the Gil program for connecting me to this opportunity, and excited to continue my work.