Hey everyone! My name is Jack Journeycake, and I am a junior at UNC majoring in psychology with a minor in cognitive science. From the moment I walked into my first psychology class sophomore year of high school, I have been immersed and completely fascinated by the subject. The more I grew to understand how we think and why we think, the more I realized I had finally found something that I wanted to pursue. I continued taking classes in high school that solidified my love for psychology and further carried this love and passion into my college career.
Having this interest and desire to pursue psychology, I always wondered what career I could aim for that relates to it. Considering that I enjoy talking with people and learning about their different perspectives and thought processes, I concluded that being a therapist was my desired path. Additionally, growing up around loved ones battling mental illness, I developed the strong desire to advocate for mental wellbeing. With this in mind, as time in college progressed, I made sure to take a variety of psychology classes and gather a variety of experiences to see what could best incorporate these interests.
I found myself taking on the role of a research assistant in Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz’s Anxiety Lab, assisting on two projects that focus on obsessive-compulsive disorder to obtain analytical and reasoning skills. The first project is a meta-analysis in which we analyze research articles that contain correlations between OCD’s symptom dimensions such as cleaning, washing, checking, and ordering to reach our overall goal of identifying predictors of OCD dimensions. The second project is called the Alliance Coding Project, in which we analyze videos of OCD therapy sessions to rate the overall alliance, or comradery, between the therapist and client for further assessments.
Furthermore, I started volunteering at the UNC Hospital, where I assist adolescents in the inpatient psychiatric unit with daily needs, group therapy sessions, and other therapeutic activities. I have gained valuable knowledge and insight into working directly with those who struggle with mental illnesses on this unit, and have found enjoyment in helping guide them through their journey to mental wellbeing.
These two experiences directed me to the Gil Internship Program. Through this program, I have made use of the experiences and skills I gained to take a step forward in my path toward practicing psychology on a professional level. I have been placed at Lepage Associates, a clinical private practice that employs a variety of specialists and clinicians who evaluate and treat clients with mental health struggles. As a clinical intern here, part of my time is spent assisting with the administrative side of the practice. This means I check in clients, schedule or reschedule appointments for new and existing clients, update billing information, and answer any questions clients may have.
Another task that has been assigned to me at Lepage Associates is writing for two of their website blogs. One is called the “Happiness Blog,” where I discuss topics related to boosting moods and overall happiness; the other blog, called “Something to Ponder,” capitalizes on psychology-related topics that are concurrent with recent research. Lastly, I get to experience more of the clinical side of the practice by case conceptualizing with clinicians about some of their clients to introduce me to how a clinician should think and react in different settings and situations. In the future, I plan to shadow clinicians in therapeutic sessions to solidify my understanding of clinical work.
With the help of my amazing mentor, Dr. Colleen Hamilton, a clinician at Lepage Associates, my Gil Internship experience has been truly insightful and interesting. Halfway through, I have already learned so much about how a private practice operates, how clinicians use their expertise and strengths to help one another as well as their clients, and how a work day of a clinical psychologist is structured. Furthermore, I have gained valuable information through many great conversations with the hardworking clinicians at the practice, which has enlightened me about the possible next steps I can take to become a clinical psychologist.
I have found an immense passion in the pursuit of this path, and I plan on going to graduate school to either obtain my Psy.D. or Ph.D. in clinical psychology in order to further develop my experiences and skills. I hope to one day be a part of a clinical private practice myself, and I strive to acquire enough knowledge and expertise to assist countless individuals in their pursuit of mental wellbeing. I am beyond thankful for the Gil Internship Program, Lepage Associates and my mentor, Dr. Colleen Hamilton, for shaping a wonderful experience that I will continue to carry with me throughout my future endeavors.