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Life After MiSPP: Elisabeth Smith

May 17, 2016

MiSPP strives to connect with alumni to find out more about the work that fulfills their passion for clinical psychology.  We are starting a new feature column that will highlight grads to get all the details.

Elisabeth Smith, MA

Elisabeth Smith, ’15

Name: Elisabeth J. Smith, MA, TLLP, CTP (MA Class of 2015)

Job Titles: Outpatient Mental Health Therapist and School Counselor (Catholic Charities); Therapist/Clinician (Arbor Hills Psychological Services)

Describe your work in clinical psychology after MiSPP.

While working for Catholic Charities, I served as the School Counselor for St. John’s School in Jackson, MI and Sacred Heart School in Hudson, MI for the 2015-2016 school year.  Students identified as having a need for services would participate in weekly (or sometimes more often) short-term counseling.  Mostly this would include symptom reduction and teaching of coping skills to facilitate more productive school involvement for the student.

As an Outpatient Mental Health Therapist, my caseload is mostly children and most have encountered some type of abuse or neglect in the recent past.  I also work with adults with trauma histories, anxiety, and some cases with severe mental health diagnoses as well as parolees participating in a re-entry initiative program.

During the same time, I started doing testing work for Dr. Brent R. Smith at Arbor Hills Psychological Services as part of the Autism Benefits through Lifeways CMH, and my responsibilities have grown from there.  My role is to assess children’s cognitive and adaptive behavior abilities and provide a recommendation for participation in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) service.  In addition, I conduct assessment of adults petitioned by the court for guardianship.  Many times, these clients have severe mental health issues as well as cognitive deficits, and are unable to successfully care for themselves.  I also see a number of clients for therapy, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, history of trauma, severe anxiety and adults with various life situations. 

I will be transitioning to full time practice at Arbor Hills Psychological Services June 1, 2016 and will continue to complete psychological and neuropsychological assessments as well as grow my client base. 

What do you like about your work?

I have been afforded a unique opportunity to do exactly what I set out to do when earning my graduate degree.  Catholic Charities provided an entry into working with children on a daily basis.  Watching children learn and grow in an amazing experience and very rewarding.  Because of my trauma training, I have been able to work with some very resilient and amazing children and adults.  Simply sharing space with these individuals has taught me more about strength, love, and overcoming obstacles than I ever imagined.

Psychological testing has always intrigued me and is what drew me to complete my graduate degree.  I have equated this work to being a “psychological detective” and having a stack of evidence to sort through to formulate a “case.”  The most rewarding aspect of this work is when a parent says to me “Thank you!  Everything about my child finally makes sense.”  Providing families with a direction for future services makes the hours spent testing, scoring, and interpreting worthwhile. 

How did your time at MiSPP prepare you to be successful?

MiSPP created a warm, comfortable learning environment where my skills could be honed.  The wide array of personalities within my cohort made each class enriching and fulfilling. 

What I appreciated most was that every professor also worked in the field and could bring real-life experience to the table.  I was fortunate to secure a practicum placement within a clinic that specialized in psychological testing and spent the majority of my time there in direct client contact completing assessments and receiving hands-on experience interpreting results and writing reports.  Working with Dr. Margaret Sartori in the classroom and as my supervisor not only helped strengthen my skills but provided reassurance in my abilities, thus building my confidence as a clinician working in the field.  This confidence, coupled with a strong academic and practical base provided by MiSPP, secured my current position at Arbor Hills Psychological Services. 

Interested to share your post-MiSPP career story?  Please contact cransley@mispp.edu.