As APA Division 50’s newest Student Representative, I am honored to be here! But where is ‘here’ exactly? This seems to be the question we have all had since shifting to a virtual platform in March of 2020. For almost two years, academia has undergone a massive shift from in-person to work-from-home, and it seems as though things will never truly go back to “normal.” So, what did this mean for me, as a Clinical Psychology PhD student in Orlando, Florida? Well, after moving from Seattle in the fall of 2017, 3500 miles away from any family, it meant figuring out the safest way to get back to family, to be together. Once I made it back home, I continued to work on research, passed my comprehensive exams, and became a doctoral candidate, all from my childhood bedroom. After eight months at home, I flew back to Orlando for a clinical externship at the Kissimmee VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic. So, here I am, back in Orlando, finishing up my PhD, applying for internship, and excited to serve the APA Division 50 Society for Addiction Psychology.
A silver lining of being neither here nor there is having the opportunity to be close to one another by existing in the online space. By bringing individuals together, my vision for the division is to become an even closer-knit community during the ongoing pandemic. I hope to do this through two primary initiatives throughout my time serving as a student representative. First, I aim to increase student involvement within APA Division 50 by focusing on both the academic and clinical pieces of the scientist-practitioner model, promoting both equally. My second initiative will be to increase the dissemination of important information relevant to addiction psychologists through different sources such as webinars. Having been a student member of the Division 50 Outreach and Dissemination committee since May of 2020, Dr. Nancy Haug and I spearheaded the creation of a webinar aimed to destigmatize substance use and update the language used in reference to individuals who use substances. The webinar is in the final stages of review, and we hope to release it soon, so stay tuned!
Additionally, I am excited for our two upcoming conferences: the Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction in Spring 2022 and the American Psychological Association conference in August 2022. Both conferences will serve as meeting grounds for the members of APA Division 50. And while we do not know yet whether these will be in person or virtual, we know that regardless, we will be able to come together. Bringing the division together as a community and providing students with opportunities to learn and engage are essential to the division.
On a personal note, my passion for psychology stems from an interest in researching the prevention and treatment of adults who are at risk or have survived adverse sexual outcomes (specifically sexual regret and sexual assault), examining alcohol use behaviors, and the use of protective behavioral strategies to prevent and reduce negative consequences. My ultimate career goal is to hold an academic position at a large research university as a tenure track professor, with plans to apply for external funding to support my future program of research. Using research to inform clinical practice, and vice versa, is of utmost importance to me, with Implementation Science as a secondary interest of mine. The question of how we can bridge the gap between research and practice has constantly been on my mind throughout my time in graduate school, and I hope to one day make progress on narrowing this gap.
Therefore, I cannot stress enough how excited I am to be here and to have this opportunity to serve as a student representation for APA Division 50! Please do not hesitate to reach out with any suggestions or if you wish to become more involved to either myself (email@example.com) or Samuel Acuff (firstname.lastname@example.org).