Yeshiva University, Attachment & Psychotherapy Process Lab, New York, NY
This summer, I worked as a research assistant at the Attachment & Psychotherapy Process Lab, led by Dr. Jordan Bate ’06, Professor of Psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University. Dr. Bate’s lab is in the Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology PsyD Program and is mainly staffed by graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees. Informed by a psychodynamic theoretical orientation, the lab seeks to investigate dyadic relationships—primarily mother/child and therapist/patient relationships—through the lens of attachment theory to better understand the process of psychotherapy and to improve outcomes.
As an undergraduate research assistant, I was able to engage with several projects, though I primarily worked on four main studies. My first project included transcribing a set of interviews with therapists who completed Facilitative Interpersonal Skills (FIS) training—a series of workshops to improve the therapeutic alliance by helping therapists develop interpersonal skills. I also helped run an FIS workshop with a group of mental health care workers in Alaska; it felt particularly meaningful to connect my transcription work to the process of helping therapists develop these skills. My second major project was conducting a literature review on the mental health impacts of Covid-19 policies, which will be used to write a white paper recommending mental health-oriented Covid-19 policy. For another project, I worked on a report to secure continued funding for the Building Blocks study, which provides a mentalization-based, play-therapy intervention for young, at-risk mothers and their children to improve the mother-child relationship and remove the threat of foster care. For this report, I learned the Coding Interactive Behavior (CIB) system and then organized and presented data from coded play-therapy sessions to demonstrate the effectiveness of the intervention. Last, I worked closely with a doctoral student on their dissertation project, designed to develop a coding system to investigate the development of patients throughout therapy via attachment theory. Working on these projects helped me develop close relationships with the graduate students and experience firsthand the importance of long-term psychotherapy research; it was rewarding to see my work become part of something larger.
Academically, working at a graduate-level lab was a meaningful way to witness the real-world impacts of the research skills and theoretical knowledge I’ve gained at Williams. Conducting research in my areas of interest—psychodynamic theory, dyadic relationships and the therapeutic alliance—as well as hearing about the clinical experiences of the doctoral students, gave me a sense of what it looks like to pursue a graduate-level degree in clinical psychology. Although I’m still unsure of exactly the work I would like to pursue, I know that clinically oriented work is a priority for me; while research is invaluable to developing the field of psychology, interacting with clinicians and doctoral students made me feel passionate and hopeful about in-person, interpersonal work.
I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making this internship a possibility. I’m so grateful I had this opportunity to work at a graduate-level program and to develop relationships with clinicians in the field.