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PhD Statement of Purpose Review (Psychology/Clinical Psychology)

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Hello everyone,

I am looking for a few pairs of eyes in the Psychology field to review the opening portion of my Statement of Purpose draft for a few Ivy League schools.  I am interested in feedback regarding content, flow, and overall composition of the work. 

I am aware of grammatical errors that are within the body of the manuscript excerpt. I have an editor friend who is tagging that currently. I appreciate your time and energy. 


Draft 1 Portion 1

“Shh. They want me to kill you and I don’t want to Ms. Danielle. You have to be quiet. Shh. Shh Shh.” It was November 2008, on a particularly hot winter day in Southern California, when my 6’ 6”, muscular, African American client’s mind betrayed him for the third time that year. His eyes darted from me, to the corners of the empty room, and settled emptily back to me. Like a bolt of lightening, he crashed through the safety door and began tearing the flesh from his forearm atop the barb wired fence. A code blue was called, safety protocols were in effect, but my instincts had already led me outside; I had removed my client’s bloodied arm from the fence and persuaded him back inside for emergency medical treatment.

              My tenure in the mental health field has provided ample exposure to a battery of mental illnesses, comorbidities, and those who battle proverbial demons daily: the Bipolar parent, in unbridled mania, abandoning three children to a hypnotic world of Crystal Meth and Ecstasy, the Paranoid Schizophrenic threatening to jump off the local interstate if he didn’t receive his medication by 4:52pm, and the Major Depressive who literally lie in waste because of loneliness. It was humbling. I naively believed that my clinical role-playing, my courses in Marriage and Family Therapy I and II, and identification of family systems models would give me an edge.

             I found that creativity, following my instincts, and having access to a team were some of the greatest indicators for my success. Utilizing my creativity has been a resource I draw upon often. I developed a cutting-edge group for those with Major Depression aimed at reducing reported symptoms and improving community connection. Outcome measures indicated that consumers who enrolled in the program required smaller anti-depressants doses than those consumers that were not enrolled in the program. Enrolled consumers also demonstrated an ability to sustain a better mood over a longer period of time. My ingenuity was consulted when a domestic violence safety group was to be developed in the clinic. The group was unique such that it was comprised of both males and females. Through out the process, the men and women were able to develop and then demonstrate safe relationships with the opposite sex. Management of the group dynamics required cunning and patience, but it was revolutionary in its design.


Draft 1 Portion 3

I wish to pursue a PhD from XXX University as my research interests focus on clinician efficacy and competency, the clinical team’s comprehension of pre-existing or new empirically based models, and treatment outcome analyses - interests that mirror the research at Harvard. I am especially impressed by Dr. XXX’s research in empirically supported treatments, clinical treatment outcomes, and the development of the XX model which calls for treatment measures and modalities that ought to be used in typical care settings. I admire Dr. XX as he fortifies his mission of improving mental health care for children and adolescents. He was recognized in XX Magazine as the recipient of the 2015 XXX Award for his ongoing efforts on evidenced-based interventions.

I am deeply interested in the Laboratory for XX, XXX University. I most closely identified with the research projects 1) Consumer and Clinician Feedback, 2) Clinic Treatment and Sustainability Projects, and 3) Meta-Analyses of Youth Treatment Outcome Research. In practice, I have seen a need for more information regarding treatment and consumer feedback. Clinicians often consult with team staff about being “stuck” with a consumer on how to progress forward. Dr. XX lab offers access on how to identify the assessed symptoms, consumer identified objectives, or problematic behaviors a consumer feels they’re improving upon. This can help clinicians identify what is working, how to adjust therapeutically, and identify additional needs that may have risen. For Clinic Treatment and Sustainability Projects, I find it critical to the research that it has been taken out of a safe lab and placed into a clinical setting. In a “usual” setting, the treatment modality has an opportunity to be tested against the realties of daily stressors: students playing interpreters for parents, families torn by money, trouble getting to therapy because of car problems, scheduling issues, basic no shows, and cultural differences. As more data regarding their validity and reliability is available, the interventions can be refined until they can be delivered across of cultural divides. Finally, the meta-analysis of whether the methods actually work better than usual care demonstrates that the lab and its researchers are constantly checking itself morally and ethically. Everyday, we are forced to ask difficult questions with respect to our research or when peer-reviewing the research of our colleagues. These questions remind us to remain open minded, objective, and true to the ethical standard by which we conduct ourselves. 







Edited by Woodsygal85
Addition of Manuscript Excerpt
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To be honest, your inclusion of "African American," to make the situation you describe seem even more scary, really put me off; I just glanced over the rest. 

Im not sure I follow. Was it the use of the cultural phrase or the intensity of the opening that had you put off? I will look into this and make corrections

Edited by Woodsygal85
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  • 3 weeks later...

I agree and think the "African American" is gratuitous and unnecessary for a SoP. Maybe if it were an essay for a creative writing course. You really don't want to ruffle any feathers when writing a statement...and clearly judging by your only comment thus far your original message can be easily misconstrued. 

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