Argosy University Blog

For Dickerson, It’s All About Counseling Students to Success

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Even though Argosy University, Atlanta assistant professor Asha Dickerson, Ph.D. was only 20 years old when she graduated with her B.S. in psychology, she has a strong sense of what life is like for her adult students, many of whom are decades older than her.

“As a divorced mom raising an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old, I know how full and demanding life can be,” Dickerson says. “I get what it’s like to keep color-coded work, school and kids schedules in order to keep it all together. That’s one of the reasons I have such respect for people who choose to return to school to pursue an advanced degree and a new career direction. It’s not always easy, and it’s always worth it.”

Dickerson, who specializes in Family Counseling in Substance Abuse and Social and Cultural Diversity, says her goal is to help develop students who can thrive in the real world.

“I want to see my students be effective and successful,” Dickerson says. “I want to help them develop approaches and techniques that prepare them to make a difference, whether they end up working in a hospital program, a mental health agency, or in private practice.”

One of most important lessons counseling students must learn, says Dickerson, is one that can’t be taught in the classroom: finding that delicate balance between caring and caring too much.

“One of my professors at the University of Alabama-Birmingham taught me something years ago that I’ve never forgotten: ‘It’s not about you,’” she recalls. “Counseling is a field where you connect with your clients on a very personal level, yet you can’t take it personally. I’ve learned that while you can and should care, you can’t claim credit for their successes and you can’t assume responsibility for their failures. Setting boundaries and working to achieve a sense of balance are essential. If you don’t, you’ll never sleep at night.”

Having worked for child protective services in Alabama right out of college, Dickerson knows firsthand the practical challenges—and the potential heartache—of the work she trains students to do.

“Many therapists work with the ‘worried well’, people with no diagnosable illnesses, but I’ve always preferred getting in the trenches and working with people who are living hard lives and looking for a way to make it better,” Dickerson explains. “Early in my career, I worked mostly with clients between the ages of 14 and 21, so many of them were aging out of the system. I’d say 85% of my cases were drug and alcohol related. I learned to identify the root of the problem, which is the family. Drugs are an escape, and if everything in your life is going wrong, I can understand that you might want to be numb. You can place a kid in foster care in a mansion with the nicest people in the world, but what happens when he or she is returned to their family? Nothing is likely to change in a family unless the parents change. Not everyone makes it, but when you work with a family and you see positive, lasting changes, it’s incredibly satisfying.”

Dickerson, who earned her doctor of philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision from Auburn University in 2014, comes from a family of achievers. Her parents were both school principals. Her identical twin, Aisha, is an epidemiologist and postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

“My sister and I have the best kind of sibling rivalry,” says Dickerson. “We spark the best in each other and have been each other’s biggest supporters for as long as I can remember. We’ve even begun working on research projects together. Aisha and I joke that we were born into competition. So far, it’s served us pretty well.” ###

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The APA Monster – Taming the Savage Beast

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No one begins writing by loving the American Psychological Association (APA) format. No one. Sorry.

Yet, APA does not need to scare you into retreating. In fact, if you use a template every time that you write, format can actually raise your grade, make research easier for you, and make it easier for the teacher to grade your paper.

So, where do you get a template? Well, I have included one here for you to use - (attached at very bottom of post)

Simply follow these steps:

  • Open the Template, and Save It as Your Current Paper. This way, you always have the template to use for the next paper.
  • Create Your Headings. Simply follow the instructions that are written in the headings of the template. Highlight the heading, and type your own heading. Do this for all of your headings, paying special attention to the Headings Level 1. These are the headings that make-up the body of your paper, and guide the reader through your thoughts.

The Heading Level 1 can come right from the Rubric for your paper. Rubric is a big word that means the instructions for the paper. This is usually a few boxes with instructions in them, and next to the boxes are point values. This tells you what the teacher is looking for in every paper.

So… make your headings based upon those sections. This will make it easier for the instructor to grade your paper, because your points will be covered concisely. Look at the instructions in the boxes on the rubric. Make a short heading that says those things in your own words. For example, let’s pretend that one box says “analyze data in a clear fashion, giving points of interest about the subject.” So, you write something like “Analysis of Data” as your Heading Level 1. Easy peezy!

Create all your headings from the Rubric, and move-on to the next step.

  • Do Your Research, Based upon the Headings in Your Paper. Research is important to complete every project, but it can lead you into rabbit-holes. It is best to stick to the subjects that are in your paper. These are the things for which you are being graded. Don’t research stuff that is not necessary.

When you find an article that is appropriate to a section in your paper, copy any quotes you want to make, and place them under that heading in your paper. Immediately, put a citation behind the quote to save yourself effort later. Better still, use your own words to describe what the author said, and put a citation behind that. Using too many quotes makes your writing look lazy, and hollow.

Also, add the reference in your Reference section right away, so you don’t have to look for it later. This will increase the speed of your writing. In the template, there are examples of references for the most common resources that are used, and a couple of the uncommon ones too. Use these to create your references by highlighting the parts and replacing them with your own words. For example, highlight the author’s name, and put in the author of your resource, followed by the date, the title, etc....

  • Start Writing. This sounds overly simple, yes. Yet, the fact is that, at this point, you have done all the research. You placed the important stuff under the headings with citations. So, your evidence and descriptions are waiting for you to use them. How you blend all these facts is up to you, of course, but you are well prepared with resources. If you find that you are missing some information, do a little more research.
  • Edit for the Sake of Pete! Before you hand your paper to the teacher, read it out-loud! You will see and hear your mistakes more clearly this way, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, and even content mistakes. Make your changes based upon this, and let someone else read it, if you have time. What makes sense to you, doesn’t necessarily make sense to a reader. This can help you clarify points that are muddled.
  • Turn-In Your Paper.

You are done! Really, it can be that simple. You can use APA to assist you in your writing, instead of being afraid of it.

Once you have APA on your side, research can be enjoyable. Honestly! Research is the building of information that suits your academic and career choice. Enjoy it, and write well with APA at your side.

Written by Eric R. Burns

Doctoral Candidate (CES) | Argosy University, Denver

The Information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions, advice, or ideas of Argosy University.

APA 6th Edition Template (2).docx (34.4KB)

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To Grow | How to step out of your comfort zone

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There are two models, which are used together and could assist individuals achieve their developmental desires. However, to get started, one must first understand what areas require self-improvement, whether academic, personal, or professional. Take time to evaluate one-self. The necessity to engage in self-assessment is a prerequisite before applying any model. Of course, human beings are complex. Therefore, begin with selecting one domain from the three listed divisions. And often, self-progress will benefit in the other categories. Commence briefly probing attitudes and actions (positive/negative); in relations of one’s end result. Consider each task-objective is measured against how well performance was executed.

Be mindful of the link: Attitudes affect moods and moods affect what you think and what you think affect the “how” of what you do! Feelings of excitement, happiness, and satisfaction improve the belief in one’s own capabilities to successfully make a change. Hence, when individuals act upon a powerful belief, it illustrates one’s self-concept-confidence-esteem and efficacy. In other words, coined by Behavioral Sciences Dr. Michael Mantell, The Link is What You Think”. Mantell asserts, events, thoughts, and feelings cause persons to react or practice a behavior in response to those feelings. Accordingly, to take better control of “self”, focus more on changing the way you think… Once a healthy attitude has been established, you can now harness the key foundation—equipped to proceed with utilizing the personal S.W.O.T analysis phase.

S.W.O.T represents “Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats”. It can be used for self-analysis tools that broadly ask/answer questions in order to produce meaningful feedback from each component. For example, examine the following: Do I want to make any-Strengths even stronger ? What am I not doing well-Weakness? What are some potential favorable circumstance-Opportunities? Likewise, what are some potential unfavorable circumstance-Threats? This cyclical process provides important directions. Case in point, it reinforces self-knowledge and simultaneously could possibly lead to correcting several dimensions:academic (learning), personal (behavior) , or professional (work) outcomes. S.W.O.T precipitates the initial ability of implementing effectively—how to grow! After the scope for self-improvements have been identified, move forward with executing two models that will facilitate achieving developmental desires; outlined next in further details.

The First Model: Write SMART Goal

1. Specific = What do you want to achieve?

2. Measurable = How will you know that you achieved this goal?

3. Attainable/Accountable = Why do you believe you can conquer this goal/who can help you?

4. Relevant = What is important about this goal to you?

5. Time-Bound = What is a reasonable time-frame to achieve this goal?


The Second Model: Write GROW Goal

1. Goal = Summarized SMART statement

2. Reality = What happened in the past – Steps taken towards goal – Current situation – Goal conflicts

3. Options = Obstacles blocking this goal – Advantages/Disadvantages of available options

– Identify what has worked to get closer to achieving goal – Stop doing what

Prevents achieving this goal – Start doing what will achieve the goal

4. Will = When you feel like giving up—what will you do to continue and increase succeeding?

– How often and how will you check progress?

Overall, goal setting accelerates success by stepping out of comfort zones when behaviors change. Lifelong learners (Ll) maintain quality goals. This is accomplished by continually monitoring, reevaluating, and increasing goals challenges—as self-matures in balancing Ll K.I.T.E (knowledge, insight, talent, and efficacy) during rough winds! Final question, are you willing to GROW and demonstrate how you are SMART?

Written by Dr. Cecilia Brantley | Argosy Professor, Chicago campus

Bio - Since 1991: Health-Wellness, Co-Owner Business Entrepreneur of BodyParts Fitness.

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