Month: June 2014

Summer Update from Kathleen Wenger, LMFT — Manager, M.A. Psychology Professional Development and Clinical Training

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Kays Professional Photo


Greetings to the Pepperdine Psychology Community!

We are embarking upon the mid-point of the summer session and we all know how this feels.  We’re dragging a bit more these days, but none-the-less there is good hallway chatter and a desire to have that great summer break in August!   I have included a recap below of some of our popular events and workshops over the past few months, and hope to see you at the ones we are preparing for the Fall semester.

The 2014 Annual Conference, celebrating the 50th year anniversary for CAMFT in Indian Wells May 1-4 “The Gold Standard-Integrating Mental Health and Community”  was a great event! It was wonderful seeing so many Pepperdine students and alumni.  The Keynote speakers; Claudia Black, Joan Borysenko, Robert Weisse and more, were all excellent as were the many other workshops throughout the conference.  I have included some great photos taken during the conference of our Pepperdine Family.  Students really enjoyed volunteering at the conference, as they get to attend for free AND get to know the presenters that they are assigned to assist!


I hope you have a great summer!


We had two fantastic Clinical Connections events at the Irvine campus last semester. On March 7th, IGC Professor Steve Sultanoff, PhD presented “Deliberate Practice Training: Transforming Theory into Practice.” Attendees were able to work directly with Steve as he demonstrated an actual training session.

There was a packed house on March 28th for Linda Buck’s, presentation on “Spirituality, Religion and Psychotherapy.”  Her presentation was literally earth shaking as we experienced an earthquake at the end of her talk

Dr. Edward Shafranske met with our new MAP club located at IGC (but its open to all MAP students!)  and spoke about issues regarding to entrance into a PhD or Psy.D program. Psy.D candidates Andrew Walker and Al Ibarra followed up with a roundtable discussion of the nuts and bolts of applying to doctoral programs.

Kathleen Wenger, Alice Richardson and Sheila Sayani met with IGC students in May, to discuss the exciting opportunities as an LMFT or “Life After Pepperdine” (a funny title, as all three of us continue to work here!)  We told of our involvements professionally and of wonderful examples of our alumni and what they are doing.  Students LOVED this new panel discussion.

Our popular Private Practice Visit was a success at our alumna Erin Pollards practice in Irvine, CA in May.  Students get a first-hand opportunity to see how one sets up a private practice with all of the important business considerations.

The 22nd Year of the MFT Consortium of Orange County continues to be a GREAT opportunity for agencies and MFT programs to meet and discuss important clinical training issues, BBS updates, and more.  We meet at IGC in Jan, March, May, July and September on the third Wed from 9:30-11:00am.  I am the co-chair for this consortium. Please attend our next meeting! July 16th!


West LA

Three stellar Clinical Connections workshops during the spring 2014 semester. Pepperdine alumna Ilona Strasser, LMFT started us off with her even entitled, “Working with Teens: Techniques and Strategies for Individuals, Dyads and Groups.” Ilona presented a fun and interesting workshop that captured her passion for working with kids and teens. She shared about her path into this specialization and provided a variety of useful interventions for attendees to use with their own clients.

In March, Lara Garibian, LMFT, talked about “Navigating the World of Community Mental Health: Developing Clinical Skills, Practicing Self-Care and Getting Appropriate Training.” Lara presented a realistic view of working in community mental health, and gave a variety of extremely useful tips and suggestions to thrive in the setting. Lara’s approach was welcoming and attendees reported feeling like she gave them a positive and uplifting way to view the challenges in community mental health settings.

Following Lara in April, Peter Sardelich, an LMFT practicing in Pasadena, presented a unique workshop entitled, “Therapists and Clients: Why and how you should Care About Legitimate Suffering.” Petar put together a riveting workshop that elicited deep discussion and thought-provoking ideas. Attendees left rejuvenated and with new ideas to consider.

Aside from the Clinical Connections series, West LA’s other professional development event included a Private Practice visit at Pepperdine alumna Cindy Shadel, LMFT’s practice in El Segundo. A group of eight joined to hear about Cindy’s path to private practice, as well as her challenges. Attendees left feeling excited about private practice and hopeful that one day that will be their path.



The Encino Graduate Campus started their spring Clinical Connections workshops by having Dr. Carla Elia present “Psychosocial Implications of Living with HIV/AIDS.”  The students who attended this event spoke highly of Dr. Elia’s knowledge and they loved how she shared her own experiences working with this population.   Dr. Elia briefly explained the medical aspects of HIV/Aids, as well as the history and statistics of this syndrome. Patients experience a multitude of emotional changes and it was helpful for our future therapists to become aware of treatment considerations and possible countertransference.  Our next Clinical Connections, “The Magic of Metaphor” was presented by Patrick Madden, MA, LEP.  There were 24 students and alumni attending this workshop.  Mr. Madden showed us that metaphors and story-telling are well accepted as excellent tools for “reframing” how clients view themselves and the challenging situations with which they are striving to cope. The “magic” of these tools lies in the fact that they are indirect approaches which means they have the power to: reduce resistance, circumvent ego defenses and, enable the client to save face while remaining open to new insights and more adaptive options. The students in attendance raved about this presentation and shared a lot of very positive comments on the evaluations.

Alice Richardson presented a May Coffee Talk PowerPoint presentation on the LPCC License, along with our three regular student information meetings.


This summer, I am continuing our casual Coffee Talk series this semester in May and July giving students an opportunity to learn from each other’s questions and lessen their anxiety as they interview for practicum positions.

I met up with students and alumni that attended the annual CAMFT Conference in Indian Wells, CA May 1-4.  It was CAMFTS 50th year celebration…and we really had a wonderful time meeting up with

As usual, on the Clinical Training side, we are providing four information meetings at each of the three campuses, each term, for our MACLP track students: the New MACLP Student Meeting, Practicum Information Meeting, Agency Information Meeting and the Intern Registration Meeting.

Here are two links to our department activities/schedule/events



Advance Your Professional Opportunities

Enrich your knowledge of psychology while you advance your professional opportunities through the Department of Professional Development in the Master of Arts in Psychology program.

The following free programs are available to students and alumni at all three evening format graduate campuses:

  • Clinical Connections
    There are many clinical issues trainees and interns become aware of only after entering the field and interacting with clients. Clinical Connections gives you the opportunity to network with licensed and pre-licensed MFTs and Psy.D.s from other universities in order to discuss clinical issues, learn from other’s experiences, and gain support and insight for your career in psychology. For more information on past and upcoming events, click on the campuses to the left.
  • Private Practice and Agency Visits
    Visit the successful practices of Pepperdine faculty and alumni to learn about the business aspect of running a private practice in the therapy profession and for a sneak preview of your possible future. In addition to practice visits, we also feature visits to mental health agencies that employ MAP and MACLP track students.
  • Coffee Talk
    Discuss MFT issues and professional opportunities with Kathleen Wenger (IGC), Rebecca Reed (WLA) and Alice Richardson (EGC) of the M.A. in Psychology Professional Development and Clinical Training Departments. Coffee Talk also features occasional guest speakers.

  • MFT Consortium of Orange County
    The Consortium represents mental health clinical training agencies throughout Orange County. The Consortium meets on the third Wednesday of every other month to discuss programming and training issues.
  • Focus on Psychology Blog
    Our new department blog features information on psychology associations, chapter and campus meetings, events, workshops, opportunities for licensure hours, and professional opportunities in your area. It also includes feature articles such as faculty profiles, information on locating a practicum site and licensing requirements as well as student success stories. You can sign up for a monthly email summarizing the month’s new posts.
  • Annual Career and Practicum Fairs
    Get a jump start on your search for a practicum site or job at the annual Career and Practicum Fairs. Here’s a list of attendees confirmed for the upcoming Irvine fair on March 26.
  • Practicum Mentor Program
    Connect with “seasoned” practicum students to answer your questions and increase your confidence concerning the practicum experience. Our mentors are students who have a semester or two of practicum already under their belt and who would be happy to offer some friendly advice as you get started at your site!
  • Clinical Training Meetings
    For more information on the MACLP New Student Meeting, Preparing for Practicum Meeting and Intern Registration Meeting, visit Pepperdine’s Practicum website.

As always, on behalf of Rebecca Reed, Alice Richardson and Sheila Sayani, and our wonderful graduate assistants, we thank you for your support of everything we do for our students in the M.A. Psychology Department of Professional Development and Clinical Training!


CAMFT Conference Pictures!

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Here are some pictures from M.A. Psychology Professional Development and Clinical Training Manager Kathleen Wenger, LMFT, taken at the annual CAMFT Conference.


Kathleen with Shanda Karasek, OC CAMFT Board Student Representative and Pepperdine Alum


Welcome to the Conference!


Time Capsule! This was Kathleen’s 1994 prediction for what the field would look like in 2014.






Kathleen and CAMFT Executive Director Jill Epstein, JD


Kathleen and Katheryn Whittaker, LMFT

Summer 2014 CAMFT Chapter Events

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Orange County

“Working with Families on the Autism Spectrum”
w. Susan Kelsey, LMFT, Rodric Rhodes, LMFT, LCSW, Jeff Lund, MFT-I
Saturday, July 19, 2014
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
National University
3390 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa

Los Angeles

Using Sensorimotor Psychotherapy to Successfully Identify and Heal Unresolved Trauma
w. Mason Sommers, Ph.D.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Beverly Hills Country Club
3084 Motor Ave., Los Angeles

Long Beach/South Bay

Sex Therapy 101: How to Talk to Your Clients About Sex
w. Shereen Hariri, LMFT
Friday, July 11, 2014
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Thelma McMillen Center
3333 Skypark Drive, Suite 200, Torrance

San Fernando Valley

“From the Top”
w. Jill Epstein, JD – CAMFT Executive Director
Sunday, July 13, 2014
8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Woodland Hills Country Club
21150 Dumetz Rd., Woodland Hills

OC CAMFT Annual Celebration of Everything MFT

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On June 20, the Orange County chapter of CAMFT held its annual lunch in celebration of the MFT profession.

Jerry Brown, Psy.D., LMFT presented on working with addiction in a family context. Dr. Brown’s expertise and humor shown through as he addressed some of the challenges in working with addiction to a capacity crowd.


The event also recognized the clinical training directors of Orange County’s MFT programs, including our very own Kathleen Wenger, for their hard work in helping the next generation of MFTs begin their careers.


Be sure to check out the upcoming CAMFT chapter events listed on this blog and get involved!

Learning to Wait for the Marshmallow

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By Sarah E. Knapp

The Stanford marshmallow experiment—an exercise that introduced a cognitive-emotional dilemma to young children to see if they could delay their gratification—is widely known and studied in the psychological community. The children had the option to have one marshmallow now or two if they waited. This study from the late 1960s and early 1970s showed that it is not only harder for some people to wait than others, but that there seems to be a sensitive period in which children that can delay their appetite for gratification become distinct from those who cannot wait. Over the years, the marshmallow experiment has been replicated, and in a follow-up study, researcher Walter Mischel found that the children who at age 4 could wait for two marshmallows were more likely to have higher SAT scores, better jobs, lower anxiety, depression and addictionthan those who could wait. What does one’s ability to wait have to do with how well that individual will perform in life? Maybe a lot.

Children who were able operate reflectively (the ones who waited for two marshmallows) rather than impulsively  scored an average of 210 points higher on their SAT’s, were more cooperative, worked better under pressure, overreacted less to frustration, were less aggressive and had less anxiety, depression and addiction. In short, they seemed to be happier, healthier, more successful and less stressed. As some of the 4-year-olds began to learn the meaning of an if/then relationship—if you wait, then you get two— their attention to this causal sequence grew and they attained the ability to imagine the future benefits weighed against the present cost. Some children, however, did not internalize this type of relationship, and foresight for future paybacks and consequences was not well established.

The Time Paradox, by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd, discusses what our time perspective has to do with our social life, finances, education and careers, as well as with our anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors. An empirically validated set of questions called The Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory tells us where we fall on the time perspective continuum. Though there are 5 distinct time perspectives, it is a combination of three orientations (Past-Positive, Present Hedonistic and Future) that serve us best, while the remaining two (Past-Negative and Present-Fatalist) are associated with those character attributes that tend to hold us back in life.

According to Zimbardo, we are all born Present-Hedonists (that is, self-indulgent, impulsive, focused on the pleasures of today at the sacrifice of the rewards or repercussions of tomorrow), yet many learn through various avenues to incorporate other beneficial orientations such as the Future and Past-Positive types into their lives.


zimbardo table

(Table information obtained from Zimbardo, P., & Boyd, J., October 3, 2008, Authors@Google)

People get into trouble when they are too oriented toward the Present-Fatalist and Past-Negative types. All people will have some elements of each, but it is these types that are associated with aggression, addiction, pathology, low energy, low ego strength and stress. Forfeiting internal loci of control, the Present-Fatalist doesn’t bother to study because he feels like it isn’t going to do any good anyways, while the student with overdeveloped Present-Hedonism goes out with friends the night before a final (this is also the type of student that may commit to writing an article for their school’s psychology newsletter when they should know that they have a midterm coming up and will have difficulty getting it done on time). It is the student with the Future time perspective that allots their time wisely, thinks about their obligations, sets a goal, thinks about what needs to be done to obtain that goal, and then follows through.

internet vs paper

People who are more Future oriented also tend to have better health as a result of not smoking or excessively drinking, and obtaining medical care. Researchers Kern and Freidman (2008) determined that Future-oriented individuals have higher levels of conscientiousness, which is directly correlated with a longer life span.

The good news is that you can change your time perspective and gain a more balanced place on the continuum. There were a lot of factors that helped contribute to your current view and it will take work to alter those. Even factors such as socioeconomic status and how close one lives to the equator can contribute to time orientation. A single mother living in severe poverty may have a realistically Present-Fatalist ideal that the future looks hopeless, but when she internalizes that perspective her child begins to do so as well, creating a cyclical effect. When you live in a place with varying weather patterns (i.e. not near the equator), you internalize the idea that you must plan for the future season for your survival. It is these sometimes-subtle circumstances that can make our time perspective seem fixed, but it is not.

Too much of any one type will not pay off. Balance is key. After taking Zimbardo’s Time Perspective Inventory, you can determine how balanced your outlook really is. You may wish to become more Future-oriented. According to Zimbardo and Boyd, you can practice delaying gratification. The next time you want that cookie, tell yourself that you will wait 20 minutes first. It is not about the cookie, it is about practicing waiting and forcing yourself to think about it in the future tense. You can also come up with a goal and chart your progress. You are practicing waiting and it may be harder than it seems for Present- or Past-oriented individuals. If you don’t wear a watch, start doing so. Try to avoid all-or-nothing thinking. Focus on all that it takes between wanting something and obtaining it. Work hard to lead a stable lifestyle so that when uncertainties do come up, you can have reasonable expectations of what the future holds.

If you are too Past- or Future-oriented (being too Future-oriented can lead to working too much and missing out on valuable interpersonal relationships), you may wish to increase your Present time perspective. This is the good part of living in the moment. Zimbardo and Boyd suggest practicing relaxation and spontaneity. Spend time with pets and kids, go to Las Vegas or unwind with a drink now and again. If you are looking to increase your Past orientation, slow down and listen to other peoples’ stories. It may prove helpful to create a family tree to reconnect yourself with your past, or observe traditions that you did as a child. Zimbardo and Boyd offer many other concrete and evidence-based practices for becoming more balanced in The Time Paradox.

It took time to become who we are, and it will take time and practice to get to where we want to be. You may now have a goal in mind for being more balanced and focusing more on the past, present or future than you have been; nonetheless, remember to enjoy yourself and the time you have no matter how or where you focus it. If you want to change, work at it. In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Time is a tool, not a couch.” Make your time work for you.


Kern, M. L., & Friedman, H. S. (2008). Do conscientious individuals live longer? A quantitative review. Health Psychology, 27(5), 505-512. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.27.5.505


Zimbardo, P., & Boyd, J. (2008). The time paradox: The new psychology of time that will change your life. New York, NY US: Free Press.


Navigating the PhD Application Process: An interview with Robert Byrom

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As students in Pepperdine’s GSEP program, you have probably considered what comes next after graduation. Some of you will get licensed as Marriage and Family Therapists, and others will go on to attend Doctoral school. Hoping to help shed some light on the application process for next year’s applicants, we caught up with Robert, who, starting next fall, will be pursuing a PhD in Counseling Psychology at the University of Nebraska.

How many schools did you apply to?

As many as I could afford, which ended up being fewer than I would have initially liked. After factoring in the application fees, score reporting fees, transcript request fees, and whatever amount you consider justifiable for your hourly rate, you are looking at roughly 100+ dollars per application. For some (more affluent) people, this may be small change, but for most graduate students it can be a daunting blow to the personal finances. If I had started saving a year in advance, putting away 100 bucks each month, I would have comfortably been able to apply to 10 schools. Instead, I whittled down my top 10 choices into a top 4 and took my chances. This ended up working in my favor, because I really focused in on the specific aspects of the programs that I most wanted to attend, in a way that would have been more difficult with 10+ applications.

How much time did the application process take?

A lot. First, there was the research phase. I researched many more schools than I ended up applying to, just to make sure my target programs were definitely those where I would be likely to fit in well. My research efforts took at least a hundred hours, spread out over several months. Next, there was the time spent on personal statements (conceptualization, deciding what to include or not, writing the statement, and editing it). Only the very luckiest, or most calculating, individuals will be able to reuse their personal statements for each of their applications. After research and statement writing, there were still applications to fill out, letters of rec to request, and departments to contact about funding. Thankfully, I had already taken the GRE or that would have been another important time constraint. Start early!

Did you know what you wanted to research when you applied?

I did. I’m fascinated by intrigue, intrigued by curiosity, and curious about fascination. In short, I find whatever it is (within us or without) that grasps our respective attentions and holds those reins tightly is of extreme interest to me. The best instructors (both inside and outside of the ivory towers of academia) I have ever had have been deeply interested in their preferred subject matters, and were thus interesting to be around. Beyond that, I am interested in remaining as much of a generalist as possible, which is difficult given the ever-increasing preference given to specialists in modern society.

What was the interview process like for you?

I was pretty nervous leading up to interview day, but was equally intent on having a good time and counting my blessings for having been offered a chance to go and meet with everyone else who was hoping to gain admittance into the program. I can only speculate, but my hope is that this proclivity for maintaining a positive attitude really came through during the various interviews.

What was your favorite part of the interview process?

I really loved the way the interview day I attended was structured. The day started at 9am and ended at 5pm, and each interviewee had only three 15 minute interviews (one with each full-time faculty member). In the middle of the day, there was a tour of the on-campus counseling center. This left several hours to get to know the other applicants and to get a feel for what it might be like to be in a doctoral cohort with them. In a funny turn of fate, the two people I spent the most time talking to were also admitted, so we are already (very loosely) acquainted with one another.

What (if anything) would you do differently if you had the chance?

I accepted the offer of admission in less than 24 hours despite having an interview for another program the Friday of that week (which I courteously canceled). A friend in another doctoral program advised me to attend the second interview and leverage any potential admissions offer for more funding from the program that I most wanted to attend. If I had the chance to do it again, I would consider attending the other program’s interview day and attempting to navigate that process of negotiation, if only for learning’s sake.

What advice would you give to students who are about to apply to Doctoral school?

First, before you apply, figure out what your wants and needs are in terms of program. Do you want a program that has great funding or can you afford to pay out of pocket for your education? Is there an area that you want to restrict your search to (for family or other reasons, like not wanting to leave sunny California) or are you willing to relocate just about anywhere if you and the program match well? The main advice I would give is to know yourself, know the impact you want to make on the world, and pursue programs that will support your doing just that. In the meantime, soak up what you are learning in classes and engage with the professors in meaningful ways, because you are almost always as interesting as you are interested.

“Could you repeat that?” Students offer their insights on navigating tough questions during the in-person interview

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By Katy Byrom, GA


After tireless networking and seemingly endless revisions to your CV and personal statement, you’ve arrived at the in-person interview. You’re sitting across from a potential supervisor, giving it your all, and trying to keep cool about the subtle, yet wondrous revelation that things are actually going rather well. Your answers are rolling smoothly off your tongue, and somehow, your research and clinical experience sounds more impressive today than usual. Better yet, you seem to have woken up on the witty side of the bed, as evidenced by the laugh track coming from the other side of the table. You almost start to enjoy yourself, when, all of a sudden, your interviewer throws a googly of a question your way and catches you completely off guard.

With a number of students having recently made their way through the application cycle for clinical internships and doctoral programs, we thought we’d do some espionage to find out the types of questions next year’s applicants might expect as they post their credentials for internships and coveted places within doctoral programs. So, we chased down some of our fellow Pepperdine students and scoured the internet to find some of the toughest queries our peers faced during the interview process, as well as how thy handled them. Here’s the breakdown:


According to Bobby, a current student on the MA track, one of the toughest questions he faced while applying to doctoral programs in Counseling Psychology came from the Chair of the department at his top choice school. “After asking a question that revealed an enthusiasm to be of service to others (not uncharacteristic of psychologists-in-training), my interviewer responded with a pointed question of his own regarding how I would effectively maintain my personal boundaries in light of others’ needs and wants.

While many people have already navigated this terrain, upholding my personal needs has proven to be a difficult area for me. I offered my best and most honest response, feeling a bit sheepish about its somewhat nascent articulation. The lesson is this: You are going to be interviewed by psychologists, and psychologists are (in my experience) quite skilled at seeing through to the core of a person. Be yourself, and plan accordingly.”


Says the author of the blog, How to apply to clinical psychology PhD programs: Practical advice for someone who’s done it…three times, “On one of my interviews, my potential advisor talked about how great my current job sounded, and wondered why the hell I would want to quit and go to grad school.

It really threw me off, because my real answer at that very moment would have been “Oh god, you don’t know the half of it, my job is terrible right now and this is currently my only way out!” No… wrong answer. I told her it was a good question, then took a moment to think about the real, logical answers why I’d want to go to grad school. Closer mentorship. More involvement in data analysis and interpretation. More opportunities for theoretical, rather than just practical learning. There were better answers, and I just gave myself a moment to find them. The point is, anticipate that there may be tough questions, just keep your cool, come up with the best, most succinct answer you can, and move on.”


Says recent MA in Psychology graduate Larissa, “I think I went into the interviews prepared for the general questions regarding my different experiences and work history, why I wanted to study counseling psychology and what I wanted to do after completing the program.  I didn’t plan for the following two questions:  1) What would your dissertation title be and why? 2) What population do you think will be the most challenging or difficult for you to work with?

The first question was the hardest because I had never really thought about dissertation topics.  It seems so far in the future and is something that is going to change depending on where you get in, who you are working with and what other experiences you have during the course of the program.  Unfortunately, I had to scramble up something on the spot.  I wish I had prepared to talk about a more precise and specific area of interest (e.g. PTSD and substance abuse in college-aged women) within the larger area of interest (e.g. substance abuse).  It is really important to be clear in your exact interest and goals and make sure the programs you apply to fit these goals. The research projects that faculty are working on now and have lined up for the future are what are relevant, not what they have done in the past.  They are looking for those who share their research interest and can discuss that particular area of research with a deeper level of understanding.”


For my part, I can recall a potential supervisor who asked, simply, “Dog, cat, or cow?”

I get it…now. The interviewers were bent on administering Rorschach, the results of which would reveal whether I was fun-loving and loyal, sassy and demanding, or hardworking and practical. But in truth, the barnyard metaphor didn’t speak to me, and I struggled to answer the question in those terms. In retrospect, I wish I had had the gumption simply to say that I prefer the intellectual and physical companionship of other humans to those of the bovine, feline, or canine variety. During the actual interview, however, I got stuck in the moment and sputtered an inarticulate and much too sentimental response about coming from a family of cat lovers. (I was about 4 words into my anecdote before I clued into the strong signal my interviewers were giving off that they were dog people. No question about it.). My answer fell flat, and I lost the audience. Disheartened, I stumbled through a few more questions before the lead interviewer abruptly ended the session, glancing at his collaborator and stating, disinterestedly, “Well, I’m good. You?” Her complicit nod told me there would be no solicitation of questions from my side of the table, nor would there be a sympathetic offering of hope that generally comes in the form of, “We’ll let you know.” Clearly, this door was closed. Forever.

On the way home from the interview, I went through all the stages of grief – denying the fact that I would have wanted to work there anyway, blaming my failure to land the gig on the interviewers’ inane line of questioning, and getting angry with myself that I had offered such lame responses. As a method of self-soothing, I thought of at least 12 different answers I could have given to the cat/dog/cow question, all of which would surely have knocked their socks off. Then I got a bit more realistic in coming to terms with the fact that what had been missing from the interview. In truth, I had been uncomfortable from the beginning. The office gave off a vibe that seemed a bit too immaculate and cold to me. There were no smiles or even acknowledgements from the passersby in the reception area. I entered the interview room already doubting my fit for the place. Clearly, I didn’t show my potential supervisors what they were looking for in a candidate, but I didn’t really show them much of who I am was, either. Therein lay the missed opportunity. Somewhere on my 30 minute drive home, I realized that I had been checked out of the interview from the beginning, voicing answers to their questions, but not responding to them authentically. C’est la vie.

Coming to a point of acceptance, I turned my cognitions toward the future. I thought about what I would do the next time I came face-to-face with the interview questionnaire version of a grizzly bear. Now, I’d like to think I would rise to the challenge simply by being where I was, even if this meant saying, in response to whether I was a cat, dog, or cow (or wolf, sheep, or goatherd, etc.), “I’ve never thought to align myself with any of those labels. Let me think through the repercussions a bit. Here goes…”

In the time since the barnyard incident (as I’ve since begun to refer to the “cat, dog, or cow” exchange), I’ve braved interviews with similarly daunting questions (e.g., “Tell me something about yourself that you don’t want me to know.”). I’ve even landed a position or two. I suppose that the difference between then and now – likely as a result of my time at Pepperdine – is that I have learned to be more authentic, which sometimes means stopping for a moment to think things through. With that in mind, I don’t experience many qualms about taking a beat – even during an interview – to think about my response to a tough question. Nor do I hesitate to reframe a query using terms in which I am more naturally inclined to speak. Not surprisingly, my comfort level during an interview grows with the level of authenticity both parties bring to it. Chances are, if I’m not feeling comfortable during the interview process, I’m not a proper for the agency, and neither are they a good fit for me. I’ve learned to take it in stride that I won’t be right for every position, trusting that I will be right for the right job.


As students, we may not be prepared for every question our interviewers will throw our way as we audition for a doctoral program or traineeship, but there are certain strategies we can keep in mind to help us maintain our composure when thrown a curve ball. From brushing up on hot topics in psychology to having a few impactful clinical experiences in mind, the following resources provide a wealth of advice for nailing the in-person interview: