psychology students gain skills to help others

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brevard college psychology students are turning valuable, practical skills into action to improve the mental well-being for their fellow students and community members during these unprecedented and potentially stressful times.

on wednesday, november 18, the brevard college chapter of the international psychology honors society psi chi will host a special self-care event from 7:15 – 9 p.m. at the boshamer gymnasium.  the event will include arts and crafts, meditation, yoga, a writing workshop, guided instructions, therapy dogs and video games with the goal of lowering stress for students on the eve of finals week.  the event will be socially distanced with face coverings required for all participants.

the upcoming self-care event is just the latest example of bc psychology students being a resource to the community with skills gained in the coursework at brevard college.

as a final project for bc’s science of meditation class held this past spring, students created customized meditation workshops targeted for specific community groups under strain from the onset of the covid-19 pandemic.  the students created meditations designed for groups such as health care workers, teachers and even students who were suddenly placed in an online learning environment.  the psychology students created videos of the meditation workshops which were delivered to the various community groups as a tool to improve their mental well-being.

moreover, students in the psychology of discrimination class have engaged in collaborative community outreach to help educate others on the psychology of racism, classism and sexism.  that outreach included a trip to the cindy platt boys and girls club of transylvania county to instruct youth on themes such as social identity, equality and privilege.

these examples of outreach by the brevard college students to the community are a manifestation of an experiential, collaborative curriculum within the psychology major. 

brevard college offers a bachelor of arts degree as well as a minor in psychology.  students begin with an introductory class followed by experience in each of the major sub-disciplines of psychology – social, developmental, abnormal and cognitive.  the students gain valuable knowledge of the concepts, while also establishing a strong foundation in research methods.  upper-level courses with further specialization follow, culminating with an internship or independent research thesis prior to graduation.

the brevard college psychology department is under the direction of faculty members dr. allison o’leary and dr. lisa busche. 

o’leary, assistant professor of psychology and the coordinator of the psychology major, comes from a developmental psychology background yet teaches a wide variety of course offerings.  dr. busche, with a social psychology expertise, teaches courses including abnormal psychology, sports psychology and senior seminar.  both professors are known for their caring demeanor with their students.

“dr. busche is exceptional in the way that she cares deeply about her students,” said dr. o’leary when asked about her colleague.  “she is always willing to work with a student to help them understand the concepts from class or to discuss anything a student may be going through.”

busche has similar sentiments in regards to her fellow assistant professor dr. o’leary.

“dr. o’leary is very intentional about constantly making improvements to her courses and to the program in general for the benefit of the students,” said dr. busche.  “she really cares about our campus community and cares deeply about the success of our students.”

students graduating with a degree in psychology from brevard college can go into a variety of fields whether in a mental health profession or in other areas such as business, criminal justice, education, law and sports.

“on a broad spectrum, students are gaining skills in understanding people and understanding different backgrounds and experiences,” said dr. busche.  “this helps students certainly if they go into a mental health field, but also on a general basis in their understanding of people.”

“psychology is useful in any field or occupation where one works with other people,” added dr. o’leary.  “understanding why people do the things they do and their motivations, psychology has relevance to all kinds of fields.”

meanwhile prior to graduation, students at brevard college are continuing to help others while fulfilling the bc psychology department’s mission “to provide students with the knowledge and skills to become scientifically literate and socially responsible citizens, capable of considering multiple perspectives toward the world in which they live.”