Shelby Kuhn '03
SHELBY KUHN GRADUATED WITH A B.S. DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY FROM EDGEWOOD IN MAY 2003.
Following graduation, I spent some time working in the field of developmental disabilities and deciding on a graduate plan. I had considered pursuing my doctorate in clinical psychology, but in the end decided I was less interested in research and testing, and more in psychotherapeutic intervention. I chose to get my Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
To get more clinical experience, training and skills, I decided to pursue a postgraduate fellowship in child and family clinical social work. I was accepted into the Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) advanced clinical fellowship program at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. I spent a year in intensive clinical training, supervision and didactics, focusing on child and adolescent psychopathology, evaluation and diagnostic formulation, as well as individual and family therapeutic intervention.
As my fellowship came to a close, I accepted a faculty position at YCSC and worked as clinician in the Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children. In these positions, I was able to focus on populations of particular interest to me: psychiatric social work; diagnostic assessment; parenting; and interactive play therapy. Pursuing this fellowship was without a doubt one of the most important decisions I made in developing a career of direct clinical practice.
WHAT I’M DOING NOW
After three years in New Haven, I accepted a position in my Wisconsin hometown as an Intake Specialist with Aurora Healthcare at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center (ASMMC). I worked in the emergency department assessing patients who present with psychiatric symptoms, and consulting with physicians about an appropriate plan of care, such as admission to our acute inpatient psychiatric unit or referral to community services.
After a few months, Aurora approached me to be part of building a brand new outpatient behavioral health program at our facility. In January 2013, we officially opened ASMMC’s Partial Hospitalization Program for mental health care. I had the opportunity to be a part of the steering committee and to build the program from the ground up: from creating the therapeutic programming and meeting state standards of care, to marketing the program to community providers.
I now serve as the Psychotherapist in the Partial Hospitalization Program working with adults with a range of psychiatric issues, such as anxiety and mood disorders, personality disorders, thought disorders, and co-occurring disorders. I utilize a variety of empirically-supported therapeutic interventions, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, relapse prevention, and mindfulness. I have the opportunity to meet patients from a variety of walks of life and, through intensive treatment, help them to return to an improved level of functioning and quality of life.
CHOOSING MY UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR
I think I knew from my first Intro to Psychology class in high school that psychology and an understanding of the human brain and human experience were going to have a significant place in my life. I debated for a while, considered law, and even philosophy (thanks to a thoroughly inspiring experience with Professor Vince Kavaloski!), but in the end, it was psychopathology, biological psychology and social psych that intrigued me and solidified my decision to pursue the psychology major. I found the Psychology Department faculty to be tremendously supportive and invested in their students. In particular, David Lambert encouraged me to explore opportunities in child psychology and developmental disabilities, and even invited me to work with him on some of his research projects, to allow me exposure to new opportunities and populations.
EDGEWOOD EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE INFLUENCED MY PATH
One of the reasons I chose to attend Edgewood was the smaller campus and class experience in the amazing city of Madison. The idea of a freshman psychology class at UW-Madison was overwhelming to me! Edgewood allowed me the opportunity to feel comfortable and develop individual relationships with my professors. I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to sit down with my professors to talk theory or ethics, or to present at a research convention with Dr. Lambert, if I had chosen UW-Madison instead. The individual attention, opportunity to learn directly from distinguished faculty–not teaching assistants–and the chance to develop relationships with our professors was a phenomenal experience. I think it fostered a confidence in my skills and ideas that has served me well ever since.
HOW A LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION HAS INFLUENCED MY OUTLOOK
If I hadn’t attended a liberal arts program, I suspect I would not have taken courses like Philosophy of Religion, Ethics, Logic, or Human Rights. However, these were experiences that grew my understanding of the human experience more than a psychology degree alone. This background has allowed me the opportunity and skill to think more critically about issues of morality, ethics and social justice, which has guided me in my graduate experience and practice of social work.
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR EDGEWOOD EXPERIENCE
Get to know your professors; seek out their knowledge, experience and perspectives. Seek out opportunities to work with them in research and practice. And never stop learning. I am a lifelong learner; it’s almost reached the point of being my Achilles’ heel. I think I am back in school for the 4th time since graduating from Edgewood; I can’t help myself. Take as many courses as you can. I believe generalized education is a clinical strength in the fields of psychology and social work. In your practice, you will be exposed to a tremendous variety of individuals with differing experiences, traumas, and treatment needs. Having a broad and comprehensive educational background will help you best understand your clients and their needs.