Well, grades are far from the most important part of admissions. You need decent grades but beyond that, they actually count for very little. Experience is generally what they are looking for, along with a record of productive interactions with others. The issue is that "life experience" is not a substitute for professional experience, as in many cases it is as likely to hinder one's performance as help. No doubt having been through therapy (or having one's own negative experiences, etc.) can provide some important perspective. However it certainly doesn't qualify one to perform therapy (far from it), nor is it evidence that one is capable of learning advanced statistical techniques needed to be a successful researcher, etc. I think using your experiences as "motivation" is fine - this seems to generally be what the "successful" folks in the field with difficult pasts have done. If your experiences were truly unique, it might even guide a new research direction. However, a big part of properly treating clients involves learning to leave our "own stuff" behind when we enter the therapy room, which I think is why some folks seem to be worried about what your approach is likely to be. Similarly, research is meant to be objective. Obviously both of these are ideals that are impossible to achieve, but we are supposed to be striving towards these things...something that your previous posts imply you would be reluctant or perhaps even unwilling to do. That's one of the reasons they say its so difficult to pursue study in an area with such personal relevance. That isn't to say that having support from others, especially those who have had similar experiences won't be helpful. It certainly can be. The issue is just that being "supportive" in that way is not the role of a well-trained psychologist...specifically because there are other settings for that (e.g. peer support groups). Conducting diagnostic assessments, implementing semi-structured protocols based on what research suggests is most likely to lead to optimal outcomes, etc....this is what the role of a psychologist is. If you want to use your experiences to help people, do keep in mind that there are a whole ton of fields where you might be involved in that area and experiences of that sort would likely pose much less of a problem. Psychology just isn't the best choice...the approach and direction of the field is likely substantially different from what your perception of it may be.