Hello! My name is Sarah Decker and I am a proud graduate of William James College's Masters in Forensic and Counseling Psychology program. I have just begun my first year in a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine where I am continuing my education further. I am originally from New Jersey and went to undergrad at Rowan University where, I attained my B.A. in Psychology with a specialization in Child and Family Behavioral Services. Throughout my time at Rowan University, I held three internships with ranging responsibilities. I worked with Autistic children assisting with in-home therapy, adolescents in a school setting facilitating individual and group therapy and working at a day program for adults with severe mental illness. These opportunities allowed me to gain a better understanding within the field of psychology and reassure me that continuing my education in psychology was the best fit for me.
As I researched graduate schools, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology quickly became my top choice for various reasons. As I sat in the parking lot an hour and a half early for my interview, since I was unsure of "Boston" traffic, Mario Murga, the Director of Admissions, knocked on my window and invited my mom, dad and I inside. I was impressed by this gesture that someone would genuinely care to make our experience more comfortable. I instantly felt welcomed by the faculty, staff and current students at the school. Having such a great first impression of William James College, followed by other great experiences, I know I could not have chosen to attend a better school.
I chose William James College, based on numerous aspects of the institution. They place a strong emphasis on family, which I also value greatly. The faculty truly cares about the students, and they are willing to lend a hand or to give advice if you ever need it. I also enjoy the fact the class size is small and there is option for blended courses (similar to online courses). One of my favorite aspects about William James College is the combined education with field experience starting your first day. Having this combined experiential experience and coursework allows you to apply directly what you are being taught in the classroom; a valuable experience.
My internship last year consisted of working in a maximum-security prison doing individual and group therapy with high-risk offenders with severe mental health. Being in the forensic track, this was one of my main goals and having the opportunity to gain experience before graduation in a setting I wish to work in, was important to me. My future plans are to graduate with my Doctorate and to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation being a forensic psychologist or working in a psychiatric hospital.
As for advice for entering the program, go in with an open mind and eagerness to learn. These next few years are crucial to your career and you can never learn enough. Each professor has a different background and can offer you personal stories that will allow you to develop into an even better counselor. Don't be afraid to ask questions and to research issues of interest on your own. Faculty and other students are all on your side and willing to assist if you need it. I feel the program and faculty have fostered my learning and experiential experiences as well as prepared me not only to enter the field as a counselor but also to continue my education at the doctoral level. Throughout the past two years at William James College I have made life long friendships and references and consider William James College my second family.