As the end of my summer internship experience at The Family Institute quickly approaches, I’m overcome with the realization that time passes so quickly, and I must stop and enjoy each remaining bit of my time remaining in Evanston before this incredible opportunity becomes only a memory. Since my last post in which I outlined my initial impressions of The Family Institute and my first tasks, I have become incredibly close with my fellow interns, worked continuously on an independent literature review research project, and made progress in the Depression, Anxiety, and Couples project to which I’m assigned. I have also heard from numerous professionals currently working in psychology fields, allowing me to develop into a more knowledgeable and confident individual in my personal career aspirations. Specifically, I have become more certain that I see myself being a practicing clinician—helping others with the difficulties of psychopathology through therapy sessions, while also conducting corresponding psychological research on the side when I see fit. Finally, I have begun formulating an independent research project under the supervision of my mentor, Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, which I hope will allow me to continue work and a connection between The Family Institute and myself even after my departure in August.
My lab work over the past several weeks as been comprised mainly of statistical analysis of the interpersonal relationships between a subset of couples who were recruited for the Depression, Anxiety, and Couples Project. The other interns and myself work with a specific sample of couples with which on partner was diagnosed with PTSD from recent wartime experience. I have learned how to compute several statistical values such as frequency values and inter-rater reliability statistics, which will all be used to create a working model of the communication patterns between partners from this population of “PTSD couples”. We hope that by garnering a greater understanding of how these partners communicate with one another (i.e. how particular forms of communication are either detrimental or beneficial to the functioning relationship), psychologists may develop better models for intervention and improving lifetime outcomes in the face of adversity. From my experience, I feel much more knowledgeable about the functioning of the software used for psychological research (i.e. excel and SPSS statistical software), and better able to understand numerical information generated from these systems.
Outside of this lab work, each intern has been conducting research and composing a literature review on a related topic to PTSD or the psychology of related wartime topics. Personally, my literature review concerns the impacts of parental war deployment on child outcomes. While the findings are disheartening, Dr. Knobloch-Fedders hopes that future research projects my be formulated from our findings and discovery of current gaps in the literature.
While I know I have benefited intellectually from the work I have conducted, I am also incredibly grateful for the personal connections The Family Institute has allowed me to foster. While working with the other students each day in close quarters, we have become comfortable with one another, and a large aspect of going to work each day is having the ability to converse and relate to one another. Earlier in July, our group was able to venture into downtown to Chicago, to see The Family Institute’s Millennium Park location, but also enjoy each other’s company in a unique setting. I left that particular day feeling fortunate for the new friendships I have been able to create, and I know we will remain in touch with one another as we continue on which our own pursuits. It’s comforting to know we each have a group of supporters and connections within our chosen field!
I will be sure to write again after I have completed my internship, and I also hope to post pictures soon! Thanks for reading!