When Dr. Tracy Stinchfield asked her graduate psychology students to select a book written by a psychologist, Sarah Maver chose Viktor Frankl’s classic, Man’s Search for Meaning.
Published in 1946, the book chronicles Frankl’s life in three concentration campus, including Auschwitz, during World War II. Having lost his parents, brother and wife, Frankl found meaning in his suffering. Frankl stated, “Life holds a potential meaning unde`r any conditions, even the most miserable ones.” Maver connected with this statement and knew that the sentiment would influence her future clinical work.
Even from a young age, Maver knew she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to help people. With several relatives working as clinical psychologists, she leaned toward that field––plus, she is an attentive listener, which is at the crux of being a great psychologist. Maver entered the Psy.D. program at Immaculata immediately after earning her undergraduate degree and is on track to graduate in 2021.
“I wouldn’t tell anyone, ‘It will fly by,’ but I also can’t believe that almost four years have already passed,” she says with a laugh. Making friends with her classmates has helped Maver succeed in the program. “You have to have people you can lean on and offer support in return,” she states.
The main focus for students in Immaculata’s clinical psychology program is to see and work directly with clients, whether it is for therapy or for assessment. Working with clients is exactly the path that Maver would like to pursue, and she has thoroughly enjoyed her courses and clinical placements thus far.
When she was researching Psy.D. programs, her criteria included the right academic fit and experiencing a positive feeling on campus. For Maver, trusting her intuition is important. She knew she would prosper in a small academic environment similar to her undergraduate experience at Loyola University Maryland.
“When I came for my Psy.D. interview, I just had a feeling that this could be home for me,” she says. Plus, the curriculum for the clinical psychology program had everything she was seeking, including the flexibility to work during the day for the first two years while taking a full course load in the evening. She worked in residential and school settings during her first two years of graduate school.
At the beginning of her third year in the program, Maver secured a graduate assistant position in Immaculata’s Student Development and Engagement Office that focuses on programming related to alcohol and other drugs. In this role, she works directly with undergraduate students and regularly presents on topics such as alcohol consumption, consent, sexual assault prevention, and bystander intervention.
The Psy.D. program’s emphasis on direct patient interaction allows students to develop their skills in three years of practicums. Each placement typically lasts approximately 12 months and is followed by a one-year, full-time internship during the sixth and final year.
Maver gained great therapy and assessment experience through her first practicum at Fairmount Behavioral Health System, where she worked with children, adolescents and adults. Currently, she is completing her second practicum experience at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she conducts neuropsychological evaluations with children who have complex medical histories. Additionally, she is currently working on her dissertation, which focuses on non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in the primary care setting. This summer she will be starting her final year of practicum at two sites: Drexel University’s Counseling Center and Hispanic Community Counseling Services in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
With the clinical experience she has developed already, Maver can relate to the concepts in Frankl’s book that explores finding meaning in any situation, even those involving suffering. “For me, this book gave me a different perspective in dealing with clients. You’re not always going to be happy—some days will be sad,” she says. The goal is to provide clients with the skills to cope with difficult situations and feelings. Maver intends to do just that by providing skillful interventions in the context of a warm, supportive therapeutic relationship.