July 21, 2017

Internship allows grad student to check item off bucket list

Maisha Syeda will provide therapy to individuals, groups, and families during APPIC placement

When Maisha Syeda was recently awarded a placement with Connected Psychology via the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), she accomplished one of the goals she set for herself when she enrolled as a graduate student with the Werklund School of Education.

“Since I began my Master’s training in School & Applied Child Psychology, I was determined to complete an APPIC internship, preferably in another province or the U.S.,” she says.  “I think it is important to seek out opportunities nationally and internationally to help expand perspectives as well as learn how things may be done differently elsewhere.”

With the goal of gaining experience beyond Alberta’s borders in mind, Syeda applied for a position with Connected Psychology, an organization that provides psychotherapy and clinical mental health services to children and families in Washington, DC.

Syeda, currently a PhD candidate researching childhood anxiety disorders, will have the opportunity to build upon her skills during the one-year pre-doctoral clinical internship by assisting students and families from low socio-economic and vulnerable neighborhoods.

“For my roles specifically, I will be doing individual, group, and family therapy as well as providing system-level consultations for schools, and of course, I will be supervised by licensed, clinical psychologists throughout my internship.”

Syeda’s work focuses on the risk factors associated with childhood anxiety disorders as well as interventions that may alleviate anxious symptoms in children and adolescents.  She says she hopes to gain insight into ways for enhancing the efficacy of psychological interventions and treatments for these conditions.

“I am particularly interested in mindfulness-based psychological interventions. Over the past decade, mindfulness-based strategies and interventions have gained popularity, however, studies incorporating rigorous methodologies are required to better understand their benefits in children and adolescents.”

Important work that Syeda has a passion for as anxiety disorders are one the most common mental health concerns experienced by youth today.  “Anxiety disorders are often called ‘gateway’ disorders as having an anxiety disorder make a child or an adolescent vulnerable to developing both additional anxiety disorders as well as psychological concerns such as eating disorders, substance abuse, etc..”

Beyond the personal benefits she will receive, Syeda says she plans to perform research during the internship in Washington.  “It is an incredible opportunity to be a part of an organization that strives to provide mental health services to vulnerable populations and I am looking forward to the clinical aspect of internship, but I also hope to conduct research to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention programs that Connected Psychology implements through their interns and post-docs.”

Upon completion of the placement, Syeda intends to continue her research and hopes to apply what she has learned to improve the delivery of mental health services in Canadian schools.

The internship begins in August 2017 and Syeda says she is thankful to her colleagues and clinical and research supervisors for their support during the application process.