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Interview with Chris Bory (2008)

Rachel Schein (RS): My name is Rachel Schein and I am a 2nd year student here at GIPP. Today I am talking with Chris Bory, also a 2nd year student at the Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology So Chris, tell us a little bit about yourself.  For example, where are you from, where did you grow up?

Chris Bory (CB):  I grew up on Long Island. I was born and raised in Suffolk County, which is closer to the eastern end of Long Island. I graduated high school and went to Union College in Schenectady, NY for four years. And right after graduation, I came to GIPP.

RS: What are some of your personal interests outside of psychology?

CB: Outside of psychology, I am a very outdoorsy person. I like hiking, running, biking, swimming, tennis, going to farm shares and picking my own vegetables.

RS: What is a farm share?

CB: A farm share is when you put in $300 at the beginning of the season and you get to pick as many organic vegetables as you want each week. They have vegetables and fruits for whatever the season is. They have basil, oregano, spices, and you pick all of the stuff yourself.  It’s a lot of fun.

RS: So why did you choose GIPP?

CB: Well, I wanted to stay in the Northeast. I didn’t want to go far from my family and I’m in a relationship that I didn’t want to go far from.  So, location was first. I loved the emphasis on diversity that GIPP has. They make it clear in their mission statement that this is a strong approach that they need to fulfill and they definitely have, especially with diversity class.  I applied to both PhD and PsyD models, and, at the time, I was unsure of what I wanted.  But, in the end, I wanted the clinical aspect: I wanted to be interacting with the people. I didn’t want to be a professor or researcher, which is the common stereotype about PhD programs. I really wanted to be able to do my own research and not be constricted by doing the professor’s research. I absolutely loved the PsyD model.  I thought it fit my personality and how I interact with people.

RS: What do you do outside of the program? work? volunteer? Do you have a job?

CB: I had a job that I just recently quit because I am going to be moving soon. I was a clinical case manager per diem/ float at Giliead Community Services in Middletown, CT. I had a variety of different responsibilities.  I worked at different group homes and did a lot of medication assistance. I also helped with basic activities of daily living: helping residents with shopping lists, taking them grocery shopping, teaching them how to plan for the week for food, teaching them how to do laundry, helping increase their social skills, taking them to different events and parks—a bunch of different things.  It was a good job. 

RS: Did you find that you were able to make a reasonable amount of money?

CB: Yea, it was good; it was per diem.  So, if I worked 15-20 hours a week, it worked. It did get tough at times, especially for the overnight shifts. It did help out though, because supporting yourself is difficult, especially with student loans. The job helped offset that.

RS: What are your interests within psychology? Your research interests, children, adults, etc.?

CB: Right now, which changes every day, I am interested in adolescents and adults, mostly adults. Population-wise, right now I work with severe and chronically ill patients, but also want to focus more on working with veterans. I want to end up working in a VA eventually. I am doing my dissertation on GLBT stuff, looking at research and how represented gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations are in the most cited clinical psychology journals. I am also interested in many different theoretical orientations. Right now, my biggest interest is narrative therapy, which I think is a really cool humanistic approach, and in experiential work, but I’m very scientific too. I’ve gotten into neuro and biofeedback as well.

RS: What were your expectations when coming into the program?

CB: I wasn’t really sure. I was the first one to go to a doctoral program in my family. My brother got his masters, which was kind of different. I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I thought I was going to be working 24/7, but I was able to manage. Time management was the biggest thing. Time management was easier in college because being on a sports team, I had to really manage my time. So it was an okay transition for me. I think it could have been a lot harder if I wasn’t able to manage my time like that before. What I expected was what has occurred so far. It is definitely hard, but it is doable. You just have to be persistent, dedicated, and enjoy it too.

RS: How was the transition for you from undergraduate to graduate school?

CB: Well, I came here right after undergrad, which I wanted. I wanted to continue with school right away because I figured if I took off a year or two I wouldn’t want to go back because I might get stuck. Schoolwork-wise, it wasn’t that hard to transition.  It just seemed like another academic year. The major transition was just picking up my whole entire life and actually living in CT. Like changing my driver’s license was huge, changing my bills, moving my whole life.

RS: What have you liked best about the program so far?

CB: There are a lot of things I like! I like the clinical approach and how we focus a lot on the individual. We really focus on the uniqueness, the individuality, and the subjective reality of the individual and I think that’s really important. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in stereotypes and generalities. I really like the phrase “it depends”, because it does. It depends on the individual and it is on a case to case basis and you have to take that into consideration.

RS: What are the strengths of the program?

CB: I think the professors are absolutely fantastic . They really know their stuff, they’re smart, intelligent, they know how to teach well and help us get to the places that we need to be to be competent clinical psychologists.

RS: What might be improved?

CB: The number of faculty. There should be more to get more of a diversity in professors. Because there are two tracks, when you get onto each track there is limited diversity in the professors that you have.

RS: How would you describe the student-faculty relationship?

CB: Their doors are always open and they are always available. They respond to emails so quickly it baffles me. The communication is great. They are here for us to help us continue our education.

RS: Do you have a specific faculty mentor?

CB: Yes, Dr. McCloskey. She first started as my advisor, then she helped me with my dissertation, and she’s my dissertation chair.  And I’ve had her for Ethics and now Diversity courses, and I want to take every course possible with her. I am also on the Task Force for Sexuality and Gender Diversity for Connecticut Psychological Association with her.

RS: How would you describe the relationships between the students, across classes, within classes?

CB: It’s weird. I think within classes, the continuity changes from year to year. I think it’s much stronger within year. Across years, there is some overlap, but not as strong as within. The cohesion within the year depends on the personalities of those that were admitted and how they click together.

RS: How do you think the programs commitment to diversity is manifested?

CB: Well, obviously through the Diversity class, which should go on for a whole year. It is also always integrated into every other class, through clinical issues and research. It’s obvious in the mission statement, on the syllabi, etc. They really make us become aware of our own identity and how that affects our work with clients.

RS: What has been your most rewarding experience in the program?

CB: I think getting the Katherine Akuff Award for my dissertation was a pretty big deal. It was a scholarship/grant for students doing research on GLBT work through the Connecticut Psychological Association.

RS: How about your most challenging experience?

CB: Keeping up with the work! Last summer was the most challenging for me. The summer session felt like it went on forever! It’s stressful, but what makes us unique is that were able to persevere and get through it!

RS: Where do you see yourself after graduating from GIPP?

CB: Post-doc, probably. Now, I think I want to work with veterans. I have an affiliation with them. My family comes from a military background. And especially with this war, I feel like I have a calling to help serve the service members who have come back, because the mental health services are not there. Across the country, these service members are risking their lives and they’re coming back and we’re not giving them the treatment they need.

RS: Where do you live?

CB: I live in Middletown right now and will be moving to Western Massachusetts, right by Amherst.

RS: Is there anything else you want to add?

CB: GIPP has provided me with a great experience, I couldn’t imagine myself two years ago being where I am now and all of the things I have learned already. It’s amazing how fast you can learn so much and how things can open up your eyes. GIPP is helping me become a competent psychologist and I am looking forward to finishing!