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Name: Amelia J. A. Holder
Grew up in: Clarksville, Tennessee
Degrees held: Bachelor of arts in psychology, Harding University ’04, minors in English and the Bible; master of arts in psychology, Seattle Pacific University ’06
Degree currently pursuing: Doctorate in clinical psychology
Intended career path post doctorate: Psychological assessment, perhaps neuropsychology
Tell us a bit about your decision to pursue a career in clinical psychology?
After pursuing some different areas my first year of college, I became a little confused about what I wanted to be professionally after graduation. I started taking psychology classes my second semester of freshman year and loved them. I felt as if psychology was asking the questions that I loved thinking about and wrestling with. From then on, I was hooked! When I considered graduate school, I knew I wanted to teach, and practice, and do research at some point during my working years. The clinical degree would allow me to do that, so I pursued it.
Why Seattle Pacific University?
I applied to SPU because an alumnus from my undergraduate university attended here. He highly recommended the experience, and I was very impressed with the program when I came to interview. The faculty members were all approachable and were genuinely interested in how they could help us through the program. Also, the structure of the program gives a balance of practice and research I couldn’t find anywhere else.
What has been your greatest challenge this past year?
My challenge this past year, and since beginning graduate school, has been learning to say “No!” I’ve always had a tendency to take on too much. Every opportunity always sounds so exciting! So, I’m still learning how to best manage my schedule.
What areas of research are you interested in?
I am very interested in the emerging idea of maladaptive grief — how and why people get it — and how we as clinical psychologists can treat it. Specifically, I want to investigate how people’s emotional experiences, particularly forgiveness and anger, can lead to this maladaption in a normal experience. I’m particularly interested in studying maladaptive grief with people who have survived the suicide attempt of a loved one.
What is your dissertation?
I’ve written my dissertation on the idea of maladaptive grief within the suicide-bereaved population. Most of the time, the grief process resolves naturally. But sometimes, the grief becomes debilitating and negative. I conducted my study on how anger and forgiveness help or hurt suicide-bereaved individuals with this negative grief experience..
Are you teaching any courses?
I've taught Psychological Research Methods and Life Span Development in the undergraduate department.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I very much enjoyed getting to know the students and sharing with them what I love about psychology. I enjoyed their energy and enthusiasm for the material. Most of all, I loved using what I’ve learned over the past several years to help others learn as well.
Any experiences are you currently looking forward to in this coming year?
I’m beginning my internship at the VA in Topeka, Kansas, at the end of July. I’m looking forward to learning everything I can there, and also, looking forward to defending my dissertation!
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