Psychologist Jane Gray is Director of Behavioral Health at the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity, Director of Psychology Training at the College of Education’s Texas Child Study Center, and a clinical assistant professor in the college’s Department of Educational Psychology. Gray’s positive experiences with faculty, research, and coursework in the College of Education compelled her to maintain strong connections to the college even after graduation and into her career.
The educational psychology doctoral program was excellent training for a career in clinical work, training, and research. It prepared me very well for my internship at a pediatric hospital, postdoctoral work on clinical research projects, and my current position at the Texas Child Study Center. As a student I was a research assistant for various research projects, including Dr. Kevin Stark’s ACTION project. Working with the ACTION project allowed me to fine-tune my skills in cognitive behavioral therapy and offered an opportunity for program development and supervision of peers. I then went on to explore research interests of my own in the areas of internalizing disorders and the dissemination of evidence-based practices. Additionally, my work with the college’s Texas Autism Project rounded out my assessment and therapy skills and helped me develop an integrated perspective on the patient’s identified problems.
I applied to graduate programs during my last year as an undergraduate and, although I was fairly sure of my interests, I cast a wide net and applied to a variety of clinical and school psychology programs. I was drawn to UT in particular because it had a great reputation as a strong, highly ranked school psychology program that integrated a child clinical perspective, and there was a match between my interests and the faculty’s areas of research. The quality of the training and faculty was immediately apparent when I met with faculty and current students. In addition to being active in research, faculty members were licensed psychologists in their own practices, and they were involved in professional organizations like the American Psychological Association. The students reported feeling well-supported in their training, and I could sense the camaraderie among students, which was very important to me.
Life After UT
I did postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School’s Judge Baker Children’s Center, and that was invaluable in helping me refine my research skills and become better at training and supervision. During that time I also was an instructor for an undergraduate course in development across the lifespan. When I returned to Austin, I was one of the first psychologist hires at the College of Education’s Texas Child Study Center. I began to develop an obesity program for Dell Children’s Medical Center, became director for the psychology training program for the Texas Child Study Center, and created a new psychology internship program. Being part of the obesity program has allowed me to become involved in national initiatives to develop best practices in the assessment and treatment of youth with obesity. I’ve been part of a national focus group of 25 pediatric obesity programs and I serve on the American Psychological Association’s obesity panel to create clinical practice guidelines for professionals.
Advice For Students
My recommendation to students would be to carefully assess your skills and interests, then determine where to focus your academic energy based on your goals and objectives, not based on where your peers are focusing their energies. Graduate school is a time to take opportunities that are available and challenge yourself, but it should be a focused effort. Take advantage of professional development opportunities and definitely use mentors to learn how to be an effective professional because even the most skilled clinician or researcher may experience trouble finding a job because of deficits in the area of professional behavior. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with those mentors even after you graduate.