Dr. Emery’s Mentorship Approach

My goal as a mentor is to facilitate critical thinking around important issues related to clinical science and practice. My personal goal is to help trainees become the type of psychologists they strive to be while being as supportive as I can in the process. I am committed to excellence in both research and clinical training and ARC would be a great fit for trainees that feel the same. This means involvement in clinical research and treatment delivery that inform and advance one another. I view the reciprocal relationship between treatment and research as foundational to making meaningful differences in the lives of those we work with and strive to achieve this balance as a psychologist.

I view trainees as junior colleagues and take a developmental approach to mentorship. In practice, this means providing feedback and support that is appropriate to the developmental stage of the trainee, while at the same time facilitating the trainee’s progression as both a scientist and clinician. To this end, I encourage trainees to use prior knowledge and skills to produce new learning while also fostering the development of advanced critical thinking skills. I strive to be as authentic and transparent as possible. No one ever has to wonder what I think or how I feel. That said, honesty without compassion is brutality. I think of myself as a compassionate and assertive communicator because how you say things matters. I try not to take myself too seriously and regularly use humor to take the edge off difficult conversations. I truly believe we all are doing the best we can with what we have, and we can do better. 

In academia you are constantly surrounded by smart, organized, thoughtful people. It is easy to believe that you only succeeded due to luck, rather than your talent or qualifications. Meanwhile, others are more skilled and deserving to be here than you and it’s only a matter of time before you get found out. This is called imposter syndrome. The struggle with imposter syndrome is real, and something with I have dealt my entire career. Trust me, you are not a fraud. The people that have chosen to work with you do it because you are awesome. You belong here.

I aim to create an atmosphere where trainees feel comfortable discussing difficulties, uncertainties, and fears about academia and direct clinical care. I have lived through several highly stigmatized experiences and personally hold multiple stigmatized identities, not the least of which is being a non-traditional first-generation college student. I am committed to having difficult conversations with you, listening to you, and supporting you in whatever ways I can throughout your academic journey. It is my sincere desire to create a safe space for all trainees to learn and grow.

A Message to Prospective Students

People are so much more than the lines on their CV and I strive to learn about you as a whole person, in addition to your academic accomplishments. I have come to appreciate that talent is randomly distributed, but opportunity is not. In my experience, those from diverse backgrounds are often underrepresented due to this disparity—especially in psychology.

Studies have shown that women, people of color, and persons from less socially privileged backgrounds are less likely to apply for positions unless they meet every one of the qualifications listed. I am most interested in finding the candidate with the best fit, and that candidate may be one who comes from a less traditional background. I am looking for strong interpersonal skills, genuine passion for helping others, excitement about science, and critical thinking around complex issues in mental health. These are not exclusive to those from more privileged backgrounds. I would encourage you to apply even if you do not meet every qualification listed for graduate admission. If you are unsure, please feel free to contact me to discuss your application. If you are applying to work with me, I highly recommend reaching out to me via email before applying. I can and will be able to provide additional information about my work that could help you make the decision.

Personal Statements

Personal statements can be one of the hardest parts of graduate school applications. Often times, universities give little to no instruction about what they are looking for or how to structure them. Depending on who you talk to you can get widely varying opinions on what makes a good personal statement.

Here are the things I look for in a personal statement.

The points below are not meant to be a checklist. Think of them more as a guide. Write the essay that is true to you. Authenticity is always to best approach.

Most personal statements wait until the very end to say what their interests are and who they want to work with. I think its way more impactful as an opening statement and in most cases this is much more effective than a poetic opening line.

  1. What is your background & relevant experience?
    • It is easy to get personal in these and that is ok, if it makes sense to do so. However, I like to think of this as the first part of a job interview. Cover things you would say in a job interview.
  2. What makes you passionate about helping others?
    • This does not have to be strictly clinical or personal, consider framing this in a research, social justice, and/or community advocacy context.
    • Also, a good place to talk about the integration of science and practice.
  3. What are your skills?
    • This is more than your CV in paragraph form. I can read what you’ve done from your CV.
    • What I am interested in what you learned from your experiences and how you intend to leverage this to move the field forward.
    • Use the personal statement to fill in the story from your CV.
    • How have these experiences made you a good fit for the training at this program and with me.
  4. What excites you about science?
    • What are the research questions you want to examine during your doctoral training and beyond.
    • How can science help make the world a better place.
    • How do these fit with the work I am doing at ARC.
  5. What is your view of the field?
    • For example, what are we doing well and/or what needs improvement?
    • This is an opportunity to demonstrate your thinking on complex issues in mental health.
    • Approach this honestly and thoughtfully.
  6. What is your vision for your work?
    • Short term – during graduate school
    • Long term – beyond graduate school
    • How does this link to 2 & 4.
  7. How do 5 & 6 relate to my work?
    • Tell me how I am the right person to train you for what you want to do.
    • Many times, I am not evaluating whether or not you are a capable person or that you have the right skills, but rather, if I have the expertise to help you achieve your goals.
  8. Why does it all add up to a strong fit?
    • Tell a clear and simple story.
    • Give a concise summary of how everything you have done has prepared you to succeed in this particular program, and how this program will give you the skills that you need to achieve your academic and career goals.
    • Consider having an advanced organizer in the introduction of the statement that mirrors this conclusion.