If my mother had it her way, I would be the lead pianist in the Seoul symphony. I worked hard, I practiced every day, and upon arriving at Brigham Young University Hawaii, I was planning on being music major until I graduate. Perhaps the escape from my mother allowed me to explore my hidden passions. It seemed my passions were leading me towards degrees in psychology and business. Since the beginning of the sophomore year, the change of major and the language barrier kept me from continuously getting good grades and I started having acute anxiety reactions. Unbeknownst to me, my world was beginning to rock. I was humbled greatly as my parents turbulent relationship succumbed to an ugly divorce. As my life was being turned upside down, I was taking a behavioral psychology course where we were reading The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman. My eyes swelled with tears, as I found the answers to me and my parents heart-wrenching struggles. The tears puddling about invoked a newfound passion to learn everything I possibly can and to share these precious truths with the world.
Marriage family therapy (MFT) became my ultimate focus, driving me to participate in any and all related research projects. My mentor, Dr. Ronald Miller, helped support me as I worked with fellow students research effective communication and attachment styles in multicultural homes amongst the diverse student body. From my teams group effort, we were able to present at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) 28th annual convention in Chicago and few other conventions. The experience left me in awe as I was able to present my passion and learn about the latest research in MFT from fellow psychologists. Nonetheless, despite the great understanding of the principles of how to make a marriage work, I find that disconnect exists between our understanding and its application. This troubling thought led me to focus my efforts on observing these principles in action and how families naturally manifest such principles (Karam et al., 2015).
Upon graduation, I decided to pursue a full-time year-long internship with North Shore Mental Health (NSMH), where I worked as a personal/behavioral assistant for adult clients with developmental disabilities. The times spent helping my clients were priceless learning experiences despite challenges in real-world clinical settings. The work experience benefited me mainly in three ways; learning to have specific manners and attitudes as a mental health profession by being steady and patient, focusing on the progress and improvements that the clients make with using effective methodologies, and getting knowledge/experience of different forms of families which were single parent or multi-cultural homes with disabled child/children at different economic levels (Karam et al., 2015). This exposed me to a greater level of knowledge.
To fulfill my long-term goals, being a marriage and family therapist and researcher who has linguistic access to both Korean and English with a multi-cultural background, I find BYU to be the most attractive MFT program for me to commit to further education and hands-on training. Some of the research that BYU has been focusing on an appeal to me greatly. Amongst them, I was impressed with clinical-process research, cross-cultural families, and multi-site research that Dr. Richard Miller introduced to me. In the clinical process research, discovering what makes a successful and effective therapist, and discovering how the couple/family are going from being dysfunctioning to stuck to healing seem to be an ideal way to improve the field and the patients lives. Also, I was excited to imagine joining the team to help with multi-site research to combine database in different cities and countries for cultural diversity to answer cross-cultural questions. Various research interests that each faculty members bring in to the program are another appealing point to me. I believe this benefit will train the students in the most various way to be ready in the clinical setting with any clients. These advantages of BYU MFT are lining up with my goals and beliefs on marriage and family in the most ideal way.
With the background of research, analysis, and field experience in mental health, I will bring female international perspective into BYU MFT program due to my previous research experiences as well as my NSMH experience that I gained while working there. BYU will have international influence on the subject as I will contribute to marriage and family therapy in Korea and Eastern Asian countries. In the near future, as a cross-cultural professional in the field, my goal is to benefit the field by connecting the dots between the two cultures in depth, especially about strengthening families and adding more knowledge to small yet latent Korean MFT field.
The fact that MFT has the most effective clinical training in the real-life settings, not just based on assessment or public administration, helped me greatly set my mind to devote my life career to be a therapist and researcher in marriage and family therapy over other great fields. Due to the fact that MFT is a very young field of study, I optimistically see more of unrealized potential and creativity that we can use than the limitation in the field. Furthermore, I believe that securing the divine bonds in family, especially between a husband and a wife, can be a major solution to these days family issues via effective methodologies. Well-functioning families are the foundation of each society and nation and are the primary source for well-being the growing generations since they look up to the parents as the role models. BYU has all the requirement that I would wish to sharpen my skills in the right manner as per my profession. This will put me in a position of handling matters such those my families went through and I will be in a position to same many lives a chance I did not get with my family.
(I believe in the power of fostering divine secure bonds in families. How to help people and families effectively in real life settings? Effective methodologies, the research of how the practitioners can do their job successfully, and cross-cultural studies are the most festinating things to answer the prior question which I am passionately devoted. My research experience, data analysis, personal experience from home, female international perspective, and work experience, with all I have, I want to learn how to help families successfully. And BYU is the best school for me to achieve it.)
Karam, E. A., Sprenkle, D. H., & Davis, S. D. (2015). Targeting threats to the therapeutic alliance: A primer for marriage and family therapy training. Journal of marital and family therapy, 41(4), 389-400.
Karam, E. A., Blow, A. J., Sprenkle, D. H., & Davis, S. D. (2015). Strengthening the systemic ties that bind: Integrating common factors into marriage and family therapy curricula. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41(2), 136-149.
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