Population specialization

cara susanna

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    Hi everyone,

    Do you have to know what population you want to work with when applying to clinical programs? I mean specific, not just adult vs. child or whatever. Because I don't really know yet, and I'm wondering if it's something I need to figure out at this stage in the game.

    Edit: Also, does your specialization have to coincide with your research interests?

    Thanks!
     
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    Ollie123

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      Generally, you specialize in treating a similar population to your research interests. I don't think that's a rule, its just sort of the most logical way for things to play out. If they don't match up it means becoming an expert in multiple areas. Possible? Certainly. But it is more difficult. However, if its what you want, I wouldn't stress about it.

      As for whether you need to know - I'd say it depends on what kind of schools you're applying to. University of Minnesota probably won't even ask since the idea of you doing lots of clinical work beyond grad school is not even a passing thought. University of Montana would definitely be interested in your clinical goals.

      So I would say, its something I would figure out before applying if you are primarily interested in a clinical career. You'd need to make sure there were ample opportunities to work with that population. If you're primarily interested in academia...its worth considering, but I wouldn't panic over it.
       

      cara susanna

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        I recently thought of a possible population, sexual abuse victims, since I do volunteer work with them already and really like it. But I'm wondering how well that coincides with my research interests, which is mindfulness--specifically, mindfulness and emotions.

        I guess I'm also a little freaked out because I've never done any research that heavily related to abuse.

        And, yeah, I'm applying to more clinical-oriented programs or at least equal emphasis for the most part, so this is probably something I have to figure out then.
         
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        psybee

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          I recently thought of a possible population, sexual abuse victims, since I do volunteer work with them already and really like it. But I'm wondering how well that coincides with my research interests, which is mindfulness--specifically, mindfulness and emotions.

          I guess I'm also a little freaked out because I've never done any research that heavily related to abuse.

          And, yeah, I'm applying to more clinical-oriented programs or at least equal emphasis for the most part, so this is probably something I have to figure out then.

          if you have a research area, you don't have to do clinical work in that area, but it would make sense to do some work in that area, since you'll be so familiar with that pop via the lit. i do work on serious illness and our pop is often low ses -- i'd love to work with either pop, but they are not the only one i want to get expereince with. grad school clinical training should be broad -- even if you knew that you wanted to work with and do research about people who have experienced sexual trauma, you don't want all of your clinical experiences to involve that pop--you'll want a hospital experience, maybe a serious and persistent MI pop, maybe geriatric or kids -- we are supposed to have a focus, but not to be specialists yet. i feel like you want to go to a program with a lot of clinical opps, and that if you have a pop of interest you want to make sure that you can explore that.

          also, what about mindfulness and trauma? that has to be a rich research and clinical area, i;d think.
           

          cara susanna

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            That makes sense, thanks.

            Yeah, I've started looking into that area, actually. Like I said, I'm not terribly familiar with abuse research (minus a cursory knowledge of it from a class that I took) so this is all sort of new to me. I know, terrible time to figure out that I sort of want to go in a new angle, heh.
             

            psybee

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              i do feel (and others, please correct me if i'm off base) that research needs to be way more focused in grad school than clinical interests, at least if you're doing the PhD. so i'd say look for breadth of clinical opps at programs and maybe use a sentence or two in your personal statement discussing how X uni is a great fit because it will give you diverse clinical opps, including the chance to explore your clinical interests in so and so pop. it's great if you can get expereince with a pop you're interested in now, and makes a program a better match, but i know i expect my clinical interests to expand and grow wildly with expereince, and that's a good thing, and in my program they can because of all the opportunities we have. whereas i really want my research interests to intensify and deepen in the area i've chosen. it will be a PITA if they expanded and grew in all sorts of new directions--that's for after my dissertation:)!
               

              Rapunzel

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                Can I jump in here too? Sometimes I think my interests are too broad and I need focus. One professor did tell me that having broad interests is an asset.

                Most of my experience is with special populations, and I think that I do generally like special populations, though not necessarily just any specific special population. I have worked with developmentally disabled adults quite a lot. Also geriatric, pediatric, and adolescents. I am interested in emotional abuse and effects of invalidating environments at all stages of the lifespan, Borderline Personality Disorder, and DBT. Also coping and behavioral addictions. I guess it does fit together if you look at in a certain way, but it still feels like I am spread too thin. I need variety and have a hard time sticking with any one thing for too long.
                 

                cara susanna

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                  Thanks, everyone! I talked to my professor and was told that I should just give a general idea. So I think I'm going to say personality disorders (my original idea) and maybe mention the context of abuse, since the two are pretty linked.
                   
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