Psy.D. Program Graduate Profiles: Sarah Gundle

Sarah Gundle

Psy. D. Wright Institute, (Dissertation Title: Displacement, Reconciliation and Consolidation of the Self in Daughters of Immigrant Women: A Textual Analysis)
M.I.A. International Affairs, Columbia University
B.A. Middle Eastern Studies, Barnard College at Columbia University

Sarah was born in New York and lived in Israel until the age of six. Her father is a doctor and her mother is a nurse. She enjoys photography and running in her free time.

Q: How did you decide to become a psychologist?
A: I was working with a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Israel, training Palestinian and Israeli law students and lawyers in children's rights, human rights and international law. I was accepted to law school, but I realized I was much more excited about moderating the dialogue and diffusing the tensions between the Israeli and Palestinian participants than the legal aspects of the project. Before that, I initiated a project for homeless preschoolers in New York that utilized play therapy with kids, and I also started a program for coexistence between Arab and Jewish kids in Jaffa, Israel using photography as a framework. In the end, I decided the individual work with people was much more satisfying and personally meaningful to me than the legal work, so I applied to the Wright.

Q: Why did you choose to attend the Wright?
A: Because it offers strong psychodynamic training, has a socially oriented approach, and a strong emphasis on field placements. I really wanted hands-on training, and the Wright offered solid supervision.

Q: Describe your APA internship experience, and how the Wright prepares you for it.
A: I did my internship at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, a training hospital of Columbia University in New York City. I worked in the outpatient clinic all year, the inpatient unit for six months, and a day treatment program for six months. On the inpatient unit I participated in rounds, had individual patients, ran groups, and engaged in consultation meetings. In the transitional day treatment program, I was trained to use dialectical behavior therapy as a model for treating primarily borderline patients. The internship also included working in the outpatient clinic throughout the year where I saw individual patients and ran groups. I also participated in trainings and courses.

The Wright Institute prepared me for this work through my practicum for two years at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Hospital where I worked on the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) team. I was given a great deal of responsibility and had amazing supervision, support, and training. I also worked at the Wright Institute Clinic, and at Golden Gate University Counseling Center. These placements provided top-notch supervision and experiences that really prepared me for a challenging, first-rate APA internship.

Q: Describe your current work
A: I am completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Women's Health Project of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital (Columbia University). It's a research and clinical position serving women who have dual diagnoses of PTSD and substance abuse. I run groups according to the Seeking Safety Model developed by Harvard researcher Lisa Najavits. I also see individual patients and supervise social work interns and psychology externs. My research is focused on the intergenerational effects of trauma. Eventually, I want to work in a hospital setting and develop a private practice, continuing to focus on trauma in clinical work and research.

Q: How do you see your work contributing to society?
A: It's important to me to feel that I am making a meaningful impact in the world. My work challenges me personally and intellectually every day. I am serving people who are traumatized by things that existentially don't make sense. I am trying to help my patients sort out and make meaning from their experiences, and that's very satisfying to me.

Q: What did you like most about the Wright?
A: I made really good friends that I hope will last a lifetime. Also, I had great supervisors who mentored me and were really interested and invested in helping me develop professionally. I feel grateful that I found supervisors who helped me to elucidate my career goals and challenged me to realize my potential.

Q: What should prospective students know when considering applying to the Wright?
A: You get as much out of it as you put into it, so you should be clear about where you want to go in your career. There's a strong sense of community and as a whole the Wright really invests in their students.

The Wright community is challenging, supportive, and serious about the business of teaching people how to be skilled psychologists.