As we were ringing in the New Year and watching the ball drop on television, little did we realize that a bombshell was soon to drop on our family. My mother received a phone call and we soon saw her cheery face change to gloom. She later told us that my uncle’s wife walked out on him and took his daughter along with her. She explained how my uncle and his wife were going to file for a divorce. She told us that the primary reason for the divorce was his wife’s lack of understanding due to her problems with depression. We were totally shocked because divorce was unheard of in our familyand it was considered “taboo” since it went against our strict East-Indian culture and beliefs. Moreover, we never knew that my aunt was suffering from depression. We were shocked to hear of the news, especially since they were married for 24 years and they seemed like a “picture-perfect” family. As I witnessed my uncle’s divorce process unfold over the last few months, I could see the emotional and physical toll it took on him. He became very sad and dejected and was deeply saddened because his only child also turned against him on her mother’s behest. Day by day, he was becoming increasingly depressed with the tensions and stress of the divorce. However, on recommendation by his doctor, he saw a family therapist. The family therapist helped him to deal with the emotional implications of his divorce as well as help his 14-year-old daughter view her father in an objective manner. I feel that if the therapist had intervened earlier, he perhaps could have saved their marriage and family.

Family therapy not only helped my uncle, but it has also helped me. Family counseling helped me better deal with family conflict as an adolescent growing up in two distinctly different cultures. During my high school years, arguments between my mother and I grew from bad to worse; we were arguing about everything from grades to dating. I always felt that she was too strict with me and did not allow me to exercise my freedom. She was unhappy that I did not conform to the stereotypical image of an East-Indian girl. I could not understand her perspective and she could not understand mine. Finally, the arguments became so bad that we sought the help of a family counselor to resolve our conflicts. The family counselor resolved our conflicts by getting each of us to understand the others’ point of view. She made me understand how my mother was brought up in a different environment than myself, and she made my mother understand that she could not expect me to totally conform to my native culture as I was living amidst two different cultures. Through the process of self-introspection and contemplation of the people and circumstances surrounding us, the counselor’s intervention helped us to better understand each other by helping us to bridge the communication gap that existed between us. When most of my East-Indian friends were choosing a career in medicine, engineering, or computer science, I chose to pursue a psychology major in college because of my drive and interest in exploring human relationships. The success of family counseling in saving my relationship with my mother and the therapist’s role in helping my uncle deal with his divorce and the separation from his child, however, motivated me to seek a career in Marriage and Family Therapy.

My undergraduate experience as a psychology major prepared me well to tackle challenging studies by developing my analytical, deductive reasoning, and critical thinking skills. Analyzing case studies in my psychology courses enabled me to analyze situations from different perspectives, leading to a refined method of thinking that has helped me to interact better with my college peers as well as develop good interpersonal communication skills. My work as a research assistant in a cognitive psychology lab in my senior year gave me experience in encoding and analyzing data as well as provided me experience in using analytical tests and interpreting statistical data. Bookkeeping of participants’ demographic information also further developed my organizational skills. Having been a research assistant, I have gained a reasonable understanding of research design and statistics to conduct research. For my senior major project, I wrote a research paper on an empirical study that investigated the role of change detection in studies of visual attention in the field of cognitive psychology. This paper was awarded the Sharon Borine award for the best major project in Psychology that term because of its adherence to APA (American Psychology Association) guidelines, and for my successful demonstration of conveying my research on paper. I strongly believe my research experience will help me be successful in conducting graduate research and the success of my research paper demonstrating my strong written skills will ensure me success in writing graduate research papers.

My volunteer work of packaging meals at “Feed My Starving Children” developed in me a keen sense of awareness and understanding regarding life’s fragility and a renewed appreciation of my simple comforts. My volunteer work at senior centers, convalescent homes, and assisted living centers allowed me to entertain seniors and assist them in their daily living activities. Interacting with elderly residents in these facilities provided me a chance to interact and communicate with individuals who were not in my age-group, invoking a type of sensitivity towards individuals who were different from me and who were faced with challenging circumstances.

I am interested in pursuing this career path because I would like to enrich the lives of families by helping them to resolve relationship difficulties by helping them to adjust to the changing dynamics of the family as they face challenging situations. I also would like to help kids from multicultural families to resolve family issues by promoting understanding and by providing ways to cope with family conflicts and difficult challenges in a peaceful manner. Thus, at Saint Mary’s, I hope to focus on families who are facing severe mental illnesses and emotional disorders, couples facing crises, and parent and child conflict, with an emphasis on how relationships change between parents and children as children approach adolescence. My long-term goal is to become a licensed marriage and familytherapist and work in either a community mental health center, or a social and human services agency. I feel that the accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s program at Saint Mary’s University will prepare me well to become a licensed marriage and familytherapist because it offers a clinical practicum with direct clinical service contact with couples and families. This will provide me with the practical experience necessary to diagnose and treat individuals, couples, and families with clinical problems and the specifically designed coursework will provide me with a greater understanding of the application of proper interventions to help resolve relationship problems between familymembers. Finally, this program will also allow me the opportunity to utilize my psychology background so I can learn more about the mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects of individuals within the context of the family.
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The following is what is required by St. Mary’s University.
A Personal Statement: All applicants must submit a personal statement that includes the following:
– A brief description of the applicant’s background, training, and experience;
– A statement indicating the career goals of the applicant and his/her reasons for seeking admission to this program;
– A description of the areas that the applicant considers to be his/her strengths and areas in which the applicant wishes to develop greater strengths and abilities;and personal information the applicant wishes to share.