Whenever I'm asked, "How did you get interested in psychology?" my answer is always Criminal Minds. When I was around twelve or thirteen years old, my mom and I started watching the tv show together. Captivated, we would watch it late into the night, pausing only to investigate (armed with a broom) a creak from upstairs, to make sure all of the doors and windows were securely locked, or to retrieve a bowl of cookie dough ice cream. I was fascinated by the behavioral profiling and soon determined that my future would entail working as an agent for the FBI Behavioral Science Unit. I tore through criminal psychology books by John Douglas, one of the first criminal profilers and retired special agent, before moving to books on antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) by Drs. Robert Hare, Kent Kiehl, and Martha Stout. Every school project for which we were allowed to select our topic was centered around ASPD, and everything I learned made me want to know more. This is a curiosity which has only grown throughout my years at university.
On November 16, 2017 (Fall quarter of my junior year), I received an email forward from Dr. Chantel Prat sharing information about a lab that was looking to recruit a research assistant for one of their studies. Already working in Dr. Zoellner's lab, I wasn't pressed to find another RA position, but I figured that I would skim it to see what the project was. Five minutes later, I was frantically updating my resume, downloading a copy of my transcript, and crafting an application email that would somehow communicate that their lab was doing my literal dream work without sounding too desperate. Dr. Lynn Fainsilber Katz's child clinical psychology lab at the Center for Child and Family Wellbeing was in the midst of conducting a randomized controlled trial on a parenting intervention for families with a child displaying low prosocial emotions and callous unemotional traits (i.e., low empathy, which is a major characteristics of individuals with ASPD). The research assistant they decided to take on would have the chance to help with assessment visits with families, learn about a new behavioral coding system measuring emotion coaching in parent-child interactions, and have access to various career development opportunities. After a stressful wait, interview with two graduate students, and another stressful wait, I celebrated for at least a month after being accepted for the position.
Working with this lab has been nothing short of life-changing. I can promise that no student has ever been more excited to enter ninety hours worth of data into spss, drive to Tacoma through rush hour traffic to get to study visits, and attend weekly lab meetings on Friday evenings. I have met both amazing friends and mentors through working here, and to be trusted to assist with coding data, doing emotional awareness assessments with child participants, and more is something for which I am incredibly grateful.