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Graduate melds interests in psychology, therapy with applied learning at ASU

ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts counseling and applied psychological science graduate Duncan Reid

"If you want to be a clinician, I don't think there is an undergraduate program in the country that will prepare you better than ASU’s," said Duncan Reid, a counseling and applied psychological science fall 2021 graduate who interned in a community health clinic and helped launch a pre-professional club for students in this rare bachelor's program.

December 13, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts graduate Duncan Reid described his decision to pursue a major in counseling and applied psychological science as “kind of a slow burn of different things coming together.

“I've always had an interest in psychology and therapy, but I didn't really think of it as a potential career,” said Reid, who is from Reston, Virginia, but has lived in Arizona the last 11 years. “After pursuing other career options, I recognized that what I really wanted was to do something that made a positive impact on others.

“Counseling was the perfect fit,” he continued, “because you get to help and connect with people, while also integrating the really fascinating aspects of psychology into a craft where you're always learning and improving.”

Why did he choose ASU?     

“Undergraduate counseling programs are pretty rare,” Reid noted. “The fact that ASU provides a program that combines counseling-specific classes along with foundational psychology classes is great. The caliber of the faculty and the emphasis on applied learning in the counseling courses really sets the program apart, because you can only really learn counseling by practicing it. If you want to be a clinician, I don't think there is an undergraduate program in the country that will prepare you better.”

Reid interned at the community mental health clinic Lifewell Behavioral Wellness as part of his program. The experience, he said, really expanded his understanding of the scope of counseling.

“Many of the clients there were dealing with external stressors that needed concrete solutions pretty urgently,” he explained. “Prior to this, I had mainly thought about counseling as the treatment of specific disorders and internal issues, so this was a good learning experience about the importance of environmental factors.”     

Working together with fellow students Carly Brunson and Deepika Wilson, along with faculty advieor Dr. Laura Jimenez Arista, he helped create the Counseling and Applied Psychology (CAP) Student Organization at ASU Polytechnic campus, where this rapidly growing degree program was launched just a few years ago.

“We had a goal of contributing to the CAP program and providing information and resources for students, and we accomplished that,” noted Reid, with a sense of accomplishment about the impact of the new club on the student experience. “We had a lot of fun putting on different events, and being involved in the club led to some great friendships, which I'm really thankful for.”      

Read more about Reid’s ASU journey in the Q&A section below:

Question: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU and what was it?

Answer: I've learned so much from Dr. Laura Jimenez Arista while at ASU, but I think the biggest lesson has come from seeing the way she interacts with other people. She always treats others with kindness and respect, and is understanding and considerate of their perspectives. She truly cares about her students and their success, and shows that through her generosity with her time and expertise. Her demeanor has been inspiring to me and I hope I can carry what I've learned from her into my own behavior as I move forward.      

Q: Did you do an applied research project or internship related to your major?

A: Besides interning in a community health cinic (discussed above), I was also a simulated patient for (the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts') Master of Counseling program. This is another great opportunity for undergraduates because you get to experience what the training process is like for the master's students. You learn a lot from watching other people provide therapy, and it's also pretty fun taking the role of the client.    

Q; What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Be active and put yourself out there. There are so many opportunities beyond your classes, whether it's joining a club, doing an internship, volunteering, assisting in research, etc. I think some people just let these things pass them by, or maybe they don't want to step out of their comfort zone. But these are the things that really give you life experience and help you develop as a person. It also makes being in school more fun and you meet a lot of interesting people.  

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: I really like walking around Polytechnic campus and just looking at all the desert landscaping, especially in the morning when it's less crowded. There are so many little pockets between buildings that have cacti and different kinds of native plants; it's really beautiful.   

Q; What are your plans after graduation?

A: I'm currently working on applications for master of counseling programs. Hopefully I'll get into one!   

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: That's a really tough question; there are so many areas of need around the world and within our own country. Homelessness is something that I would definitely try to make a difference with. It's just hard to comprehend that more hasn't been done to help people experiencing homelessness. The underlying causes are complex and would probably take a lot more than $40 million to solve, but that money would be really helpful in providing more permanent housing and services.  

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