My name is LaToya Gaines and I am a Psychology Fellow at Young Adult Services (YAS) with a secondary placement in Child and Adolescent Services (CAS). I grew up in an urban city in New Jersey. While in college, I discovered the field of school psychology and went on to work in urban elementary schools on the Child Study Team. During this time, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work as a site coordinator for a local Freedom School, run by the Children’s Defense Fund. It was during this time that I learned about the “School to Prison Pipeline”, the disproportionality of African American boys in special education, and the discipline gap. I was drawn to understanding this phenomenon and the role that urban poverty and trauma served in creating and maintaining these outcomes for African American boys. This led me to continue my studies in clinical and community psychology at Rutgers University.
Why I Chose Yale
During an APA Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Nakia Hamlett, Ph.D., one of the supervising psychologists in the YAS program. It was her warm demeanor and passion for the young adults that she served that attracted me to this particular internship. I discovered that Yale was committed to providing high quality care to underrepresented populations with an emphasis on cultural competence. During interview day, the members of the faculty were very welcoming and, as I interacted with them, I quickly learned that they were interested in me as a person, and not just a potential intern. We discussed a variety of topics in addition to my clinical experiences, and I felt their commitment to making sure my life would be enjoyable outside of my clinical responsibilities. This was something I had not experienced at other sites that I applied to.
In addition to the warm atmosphere, I was drawn to the clinical and research opportunities that were being offered at YAS. I learned that I would be able to receive in depth training in Trauma Focused CBT (TF-CBT) with the possibility of becoming a certified provider in Connecticut and nationwide. In addition, I would also be able to join Dr. Hamlett’s research team, which included exploring the experiences of African American males in the mental health system. These experiences coupled with the supportive culture of the program made me choose Yale.
My Professional Activities
I work Monday through Friday, approximately 50 hours per week. I have four young adult clients and four child clients whom I meet with once or twice per week depending on the need. I also attend weekly team meetings for both the YAS and CAS programs. Five supervisors oversee different aspects of my clinical work. I meet with them weekly for supervision and have group supervision for my TF-CBT cases. I also attend the internship core seminar, the Child and Adolescent seminar and the optional inpatient seminar which meets on Wednesday mornings. I also dedicate a significant amount of time to case management and consultation, which includes meeting with staff at the residential facility where some young adult clients live, and attending meetings at schools and the Department of Children and Families. The rest of my time is dedicated to activities such as writing notes, comprehensive behavior plans and testing reports.
My Favorite Things to do in/around New Haven
In my free time, I enjoy exercising, cooking and going to dinner with other fellows in my cohort. I love to try different restaurants and I have been to a number of them since moving here. My favorites are Soul de Cuba (downtown, Cuban), Café Bravo (East Rock, Italian) and Ixtapa Grille (Hamden, Mexican). I also enjoy being active and have found multiple fitness centers including Powrhouse and Shift Cycling which are located downtown. In the warmer months, East Rock is great for walking, running and biking. Lastly, there are two theaters, Shubert Theater and College Street Music Hall located downtown near my apartment building that have a variety of different concerts and shows throughout the year.
My experience at Yale has met all of my expectations. I have formed great relationships with some of the fellows in my cohort that will last beyond this year we are sharing together. My supervisors have both nurtured and pushed me towards developing a strong professional identity, which included reflecting on being a psychologist of color. I am refining my skills in working with a high level of acuity in an outpatient setting in addition to doing psychological testing with individuals who have extremely complex presentations. I can honestly say that this program was a great fit for me and my hope is that you will find a placement that will fit your interests as well.