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Student Profile in Adolescent Suicidality

Rebecca Wildman

Clinical Psychology Graduate Program

Undergraduate Degree: Psychology; Medicine, Health, & Society
Undergraduate Institution: Vanderbilt University
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Awards/Fellowships: Jerry M. Lewis Mental Health Research Foundation grant

Rebecca Wildman

How did you become interested in science and/or research specifically?

During high school, I was able to consider how mental health intersects with other areas of life and functioning, looking at how public health involves mental health and wellbeing. I was interested in how the scientific method can be used to further our understanding of the world around us. Then, in my undergraduate study, I took a course on depression and mood disorders and became motivated to learn more. I volunteered as an undergraduate research assistant in a psychology lab, getting more experience in study development and psychological study. I also worked as a summer research intern at Children's and UTSW for 2 summers, getting more experience working on studies associated with adolescent mood disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Tell us about your research project and its relevance to human health.

I worked with previous students on exploring the efficacy of a novel text-message intervention to promote lethal means safety in the homes of adolescents with histories of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts via a randomized control trial. This intervention targets parents in the period of time following their child's suicide attempt or escalation in suicidal ideation and could support them in a potentially emotional and overwhelming time. The text-messages serve as nudge reminders about limiting access to potentially dangerous items to potentially assist in keeping their children safe. This dissertation project would not be possible without the talented clinicians and researchers at the Suicide Prevention and Resilience at Children's (SPARC) program.

Why did you choose to come to UT Southwestern for graduate school?

The UT Southwestern Clinical Psychology program appealed to me for multiple reasons. The benefits of the encapsulated UTSW Clinical Psychology internship cannot be understated. When a student is admitted to this doctoral program, they are also accepted into an APA accredited internship program, which means the time to the doctorate includes the time to complete the internship training. I appreciated that I would not have to apply to or move for an internship, which allowed me to plan my 4 years accordingly. I was also drawn to the academic medical center setting, which allows for a great variety of clinical opportunities, including a rotation through a psychiatric emergency department. This allows students to pursue a great variety of clinical interests and receive clinical training in diverse areas. This program also is collaborative, allowing students to work with multiple faculty members and students of different experience levels. I have learned so much from my peers, and collaborative science and practice has been a highlight of my time in this program.

In your opinion, what makes your specific program one of the top in the country?

UT Southwestern's Clinical Psychology doctoral program offers an incredible and diverse range of clinical opportunities that other program cannot. As a graduate program at an academic medical center, there are a variety of projects and opportunities in both research and clinical work, with faculty that support flexibility in exploring a range of interests. Students are encouraged to collaborate and work with different mentors. As a cohort model, students can explore different labs and different research projects before starting their dissertation.

What do you love about your program or why should a prospective student decide to get their Ph.D. here?

I cannot understate the benefits of the collaborative nature of this program. Faculty, other students, supervisors, and other mentors all truly want everyone to succeed and are supportive of student initiatives. Learning from world class faculty and incredible students has been a key part of my experience. I have learned so much about this field and myself during my time at UTSW, and believe students who are motivated to seek out the experiences that can maximize their development would love this program.

– Rebecca Wildman