|Behavior and Alcohol Research Lab||
Robert Whitley, a second year doctoral student in the lab, successfully proposed his dissertation today. Robert plans to investigate the links between male gender norm conformity and alcohol outcomes are mediated by drinking identity and alcohol protective behavioral strategies in a national sample of male college drinkers. Congrats Robert.
Please provide some information about yourself.
I completed an undergraduate degree in psychology at USM, and I then graduated from USM with a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology in 2017.I joined the BAR Lab as an undergraduate looking to get my feet wet with research experience pre-graduate school.I now work as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Columbus, Ohio.
What did you do after graduating from USM and what are you doing now?
Following graduation, I relocated to Columbus, Ohio, and pursued a career in community mental health.I took a clinical position with a non-profit counseling organization providing affordable, accessible, culturally-sensitive mental health, substance abuse, and support services to individuals, families, and community organizations in the central Ohio area.My treatment modalities include cognitive behavioral, person centered, mindfulness, and expressive arts approaches.
How has your education in your doctoral, masters, undergraduate program at USM and work in the lab help prepare you for what you are doing now/career?
By receiving in-depth training in Motivational Interviewing through projects with the BAR Lab, I am able to better connect with clients seeking substance use and court-mandated treatment.As a clinician utilizing motivational interviewing, I may work with the client to address ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find their identified internal motivation necessary to change their behaviors.Additionally, for clients seeking harm reduction in their substance use, I am able to explore strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with substance use, all concepts prevalent in the work of the BAR Lab research.
What did you enjoy most about your time at USM and in the research lab?
I loved the sense of teamwork that was so evident in the BAR Lab and the USM Counseling Psychology Program.Peers, mentors, and professors alike; the program is rich with support and dedication to ensure each student meets their professional goals.From regular meetings to discuss research to evenings out as a program listening to local musicians, I always felt welcome and at home with the program.
What words of wisdom would you provide to those thinking about studying counseling psychology/psychology at USM?
The first thing that comes to mind… get involved! Interested in joining a research team?Reach out to inquire about how you may get involved.Looking to up your stats game? Visit the statistics tutoring center.Another wonderful thing about USM, and the School of Psychology in general, is the amount of resources that are available to you as a student, aspiring researcher, or future mental health clinician.Ask questions.Start to think of the bigger picture: what would you like to do with a degree in psychology? What steps may you be able to take now to get closer to that goal?Getting involved and having discussions with professors, advisors, and students may just lead you in the right direction to answer some of those questions.
Hallie Jordan, a third year doctoral student in the BAR Lab, presented research
based on her masters thesis today at the annual conference of the Association
for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapists in Washington DC. Great job Hallie!
Hallie Jordan, a third year doctoral student in the BAR Lab has successfully proposed her dissertation today. Her project is entitled "PTSD Symptoms and Alcohol Outcomes: The Mediating Role of Drinking Motives and Protective Behavioral Strategies" Congrats Hallie!
Tell us about your background.
I am a fourth-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program at USM. I was primarily raised in the small town of Shubuta, MS, before moving to Clinton, MS to finish high school.
I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice at USM
before being fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to pursue my doctorate also at USM under
Why did you join the BAR Lab?
As a sophomore undergraduate, I was curious about research opportunities to pursue within
my department to obtain exposure to what research looked like and to potentially prepare myself
for applying to graduate school. I happen to stumble upon an undergraduate research opening in
the BAR lab and, as they say, the rest is history. Nearly seven years later, the BAR lab remains one
of the favorite parts of my professional life.
What excites you about working in the BAR Lab?
The research we do in BAR has such salience and relevance, given that we study alcohol use
among college students. It is pretty cool that we can take what we research in our lab and be able to inform and develop intervention and prevention efforts to encourage safe drinking and promote harm reduction among college students. The real-world implications of what we do feeds my enthusiasm to keep exploring variables associated with college student alcohol use and potentially enact change in the grand scheme of things.
What interests you about college student substance use/misuse?
What interests me most about college student substance use are the many different theoretical explanations for and factors that contribute to it. There are so many opportunities to find your own research interests or niche within this subject area. Take my research focus for instance... Drinking refusal self-efficacy (DRSE), or one's confidence in their ability to refrain from drinking, is a cognitive variable that has only just begun to be fully explored within the context of college student alcohol use. Having the opportunity to not only explore DRSE through my research but to also potentially further our understanding of what contributes to safe and harmful drinking behaviors makes me excited and keeps me motivated to continue doing what I do.
What are your future educational/career plans?
As of now, obtaining an internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs is the primary goal. Following completion of internship and obtaining my doctoral degree, I anticipate pursuing postdoctoral training opportunities centered on providing substance use treatment and assessment to military service Veterans in some shape or form. Hopefully, this will lead to a career as a psychologist with an emphasis in substance use treatment at the VA. Also, given my passion for academia, I would not rule out serving as an adjunct professor teaching a class or two and mentoring students that will eventually become the next generation of mental health professionals.
What are your hobbies/things you like to do outside of the lab?
As a steadfast advocate for self-care, there are many things I like to do outside of research. I love being outdoors, especially when it comes to gardening or landscaping. Moreover, I like participating in recreational sports such as disc golf and racquetball. I am also an avid gamer and spend my time promoting mental health awareness as a Twitch moderator on popular Rocket League and Fortnite streams. But, most of all, I love spending time with my wife, my family, and my friends. Without them, I certainly would not be in the position I am today personally and professionally.
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