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Psychology News

Date: Nov 2019

Sweaty palms, upset stomach, racing heartbeat, and even hyperventilation… These are some of the physical symptoms that individuals with high levels of anxiety may experience. Psychologically, these individuals may experience a tremendous level of worry and concern, to the point when it is debilitating.

Last Tuesday, Dr. Spada of the Psychology Department hosted a movie night when we watched Angst, an independent film that aims to help students understand what anxiety truly is and what we can all do to help ourselves and others.

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Dr. Colleen Spada hosting the movie night for "Angst"

Unlike many other films, Angst takes the approach of interviewing children, adolescents, adults, and professionals who have experienced high levels of anxiety to document how they are coping with these feelings.

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A great turnout for this event! Left to Right: Dr. Jeff Elliott, Dr. Christine Moran, and Ms. Katey Earle 

A highlight of this event was the panel discussion after the film was over. Specifically, Dr. Spada, Dr. Finkenburg (Counseling and Human Services), Mr. James Gresch (a recent graduate of a Master’s program in Psychology), and Lindsay Hamel (’20 Psychology of SU) served as panelists and led an excellent discussion about anxiety and mental health, and how we could together build a strong community to support individuals who are experiencing anxiety.

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Left to Right: Graziela (Dr. Spada's daughter), Dr. Spada, Lindsay Hamel, James Gresch, and Dr. Finkenberg

I walked away from this event learning a lot about anxiety. Given how stressful college life is, students may experience various levels of anxiety. As such, knowing what anxiety is and how to cope with it constructively is important. As a community, we can do a lot to help each other.

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Thank you Graziela for helping today!

By: Nya Medley

Growing up, I was not really interested in coloring or creating artwork. Even to this day, I still find art to be a little intimidating. I would never consider myself to be artistic.

Last Tuesday, I attended the “Art and Mental Health” event hosted by Dr. Iannone and Ms. Sharelle Langaigne. Dr. I is a Professor in Psychology and Ms. Langaigne is an SU alum (’15 Psychology). She recently completed her Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Creative Development from the Pratt Institute and will be taking the licensing exam to become a Board Certified Art Therapist.

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This “Art and Mental Health” event focuses on art therapy: how people from different backgrounds can use art to express themselves. First, we were all given a blank mask. Next, we were asked to decorate our mask using the different materials provided, including paint, pipe cleaners, beads, glitter, feathers, and so on. Ms. Langaigne explained that our task was to decorate the mask based on how we were feeling at the moment. Importantly, we should not be comparing our work with others. Ms. Langaigne emphasized that while we were free to give compliments, criticisms (including self-criticisms) were not allowed. I felt a lot more relaxed knowing that none of us were being judged.

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As I worked on this mask, I realized how art can actually be used in therapy settings. In other words, art is such an awesome creative outlet for people to express themselves and decompress. It finally became apparent to me why art is taking such a special place in the therapy setting. Art can really save lives!

By: Nya Medley

A quick note from Dr. Wong: Julia Wingard was a very quiet student when she first started. Guess what! She is now one of the most engaged, motivated, and active students you can find on campus! Her transformation in recent years has really impressed me. I have thus invited her to share her journey with us via this blog post.

Hello, my name is Julia Wingard and I am a junior psychology major. I was invited by Dr. Wong to write a blog post to document my amazing transformation at Stevenson.

Julia Wingard

Julia Wingard ('21 Psychology)

I have to be honest with you that my first year was rough. I actually did not start out as a Psychology major. I was majoring in something that my family had told me to, but soon realized that it wasn’t for me. I was very quiet, reserved, and anxious about nearly everything. I was struggling in my classes and other aspects of my life as well.

During my first year, I took PSY 101: Introduction to Psychology and fell in love with it. I then conducted some research about psychology careers and the courses that students need to take as psych majors. Finally, I decided to officially switch my major to Psychology. It turned out to be an excellent fit. I cannot tell you how happy I feel with this decision!

As I gained more confidence in my academics, I started to develop a clearer vision of where I was heading. I then experienced a change in my attitude and mindset…

  • Slowly but surely, I began to open up and raised my hand more often in class.
  • I met with instructors outside of class to learn more about their work. This landed to an opportunity for me to become one of Dr. Schurtz’s research assistants.
  • I became proactive in finding opportunities. Just this past summer I landed in a job through a program that was affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.
  • I was able to find way to hone my leadership skills. For example, I am currently creating my own service-learning project for one of my classes. I participate in various activities on campus (e.g., I am a member of Best Buddies and the new sorority on campus Phi Sigma Sigma).

I am very busy, but am learning so much through these various opportunities!!

Looking back, this shy, quiet, and reserved girl who always sat in the back of the classroom has truly transformed into an active and engaged student. It did take me a great deal of courage to step out of my comfort zone, but after all, it wasn’t that bad! I am now thriving, stretching my limits, and reaching my fullest potential. I can’t wait to provide you with an update about my next step after graduation!

By: Julia Wingard

Is the accused innocent or guilty? Are the witnesses trustworthy? What factors contribute to wrongful convictions? These are all important questions that have tremendous implications for not only individuals, but the society as a whole. Although students may think that Psychology and Law are two totally separate fields, the ongoing research projects conducted by Dr. Metzger and his research assistants are telling us otherwise.

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Dr. Richard Metzger

To our surprise, it turns out that Psychology and Law are closely related. Trained in cognitive psychology, Dr. Metzger is leading his research assistants on a few projects that highlight the complex interplay between psychological factors and law. In one project, Dr. Metzger and his team are investigating the extent to which the presence of a cell phone during a crime may affect a witness’s ability to identify the perpetrator. In another project, they are carefully examining factors that may influence the number of appeals as well as the number of cases when people were falsely accused.

Dr. Metzger and students

Dr. Metzger and some of his research assistants: Danielle Gershman, Bryce Merkt, and Cole Simmons

Under Dr. Metzger’s guidance, Hanne Wilburn (’19 Psychology), Danielle Gershman (’19 Psychology), and Becky Staller ('20 Psychology) presented their poster titled “The mere presence effect 1: Changes in the operation span as a result of phone condition” at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) and received the Psi Chi Regional Research Award for this outstanding poster presentation.

Hanne Wilburn poster

Congratulations to Hanne Wilburn!

Dr. Metzger’s research assistants all have so much to say about their experience working with him. For example, Cole Simmons says that Dr. Metzger is an outstanding mentor and is fair and understanding. He always encourages students to share their own thoughts and ideas. For Dr. Metzger, he is delighted that all of his research assistants have stepped up, gotten more involved, and thought deeply about how to use their research experience for their future endeavors.

Interested in learning more about Dr. Metzger’s Psych & Law Research Team? Email him at rmetzger@stevenson.edu

Written by: Semira Nock

The Psychology Department at Stevenson University offers a few paid positions for selected students every year to work as Peer Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, or Student Techs. These positions not only look good on resume or curriculum vitae, but they are excellent opportunities for students to further their training in Psychology.

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Our Student Techs Semira Nock (left) and Tamera Stanley (right)

Networking: Through these positions, students will be able to develop deeper relationships with their professors and fellow students. Peer Teaching Assistants, for example, work closely with students inside and outside of class. Similarly, Research Assistants work closely with their professors and research teams as they engage in various research activities. Finally, Student Techs assist with various projects depending on the need of the department as they work closely with the faculty.

Skills: While Research Assistants are learning the nuances of various research tasks that are essential for graduate school, Peer Teaching Assistants are cultivating leadership skills by facilitating class activities and discussions. Students Techs are developing their organizational skills by working on a variety of tasks, such as coordinating department events and designing bulletin boards to create a fun and cohesive community for our students.

Professional development: Our Peer Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Students Techs are all responsible, hardworking, and attentive to detail. They are also acquiring important organizational, time-management, and communication skills that are applicable for graduate school or future career.

Interested in any of these positions? Please email Dr. Elliott for more information!

Written by: Semira Nock 

 
 
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