Photo courtesy of Yolanda Whitaker

My Co-op Experience: CARE Lab at McLean Hospital

I recently completed my second and final coop at the CARE Lab at the Behavioral Health Partial Program, an acute psychiatric clinic at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School. During my time there I worked on several grant-funded research projects that focused on targeting various cognitive processes, such as impulsivity and cognitive interpretation bias.

A few of my responsibilities included recruiting participants, administering cognitive computer tasks and maintaining convoluted databases. Additionally, I was trained to administer one-on-one clinical assessments with patients, such as the Columbia Suicide Scale. Being trusted to administer a clinical assessment like this was an amazing opportunity that I did not imagine I would be given as an undergraduate student.

Due to my interest in neuroscience, one of my favorite things about my coop was that I closely worked with an electroencephalogram (EEG), a test that is used to measure electrical brain activity. By the end of my coop I had the knowledge to be able to execute an EEG alone and collect neuropsychological data for data analysis, something that will greatly help me in my future neuropsychological research.

Another opportunity I am grateful for, is that I had the chance to complete my own independent research project that I will be presenting at a conference. I was able to combine psychology knowledge from the classroom with the research skills I gained through working, in order to create novel research questions on a topic that interests me. This experience allowed me to challenge my critical thinking and writing skills as well as to contribute innovative ideas that may be a gap in psychological research.

This coop experience has helped me grow both professionally and personally. It has significantly prepared me for my next steps in accomplishing my future goals, which include pursing a PhD in clinical psychology and has helped me become more confident, more independent and knowledgeable about the challenges in the psychology field.