Welcoming Taylor Nocera-Bolton to the Doctoral Program

This announcement is long overdue, but we are pleased to welcome our newest doctoral student for the Fall 2017 term, Taylor Nocera-Bolton. Taylor has already been working with us during her time in the Counseling Psychology master’s program and had plans to pursue her doctorate. We were happy that she decided to apply to our program. As a doctoral student, Taylor plans to continue her research on cyber aggression.

Congratulations to Taylor on the admission!
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Caitlin Clark Defends Dissertation

Success-Coffee
Caitlin Clark successfully defended her dissertation on Monday. She completed a complex and time-consuming instrument development project, starting with running focus groups for item generation, moving through exploratory factor analysis with one sample, and culminating in a confirmatory factor analysis and validation study with another sample.

In spite of the increased interest received by relational aggression among emerging adults, the lack of psychometrically sound measures appropriate for this age range continues to be an important barrier. Caitlin’s dissertation, Validation of the Young Adult Relational Aggression Scale (YARAS), attempted to confirm the hypothesized factor structure of a new measure as well as assess its reliability and validity in a college student sample.

Although she was able to identify a suitable factor structure, doing so required her to correlate several items and meant that the predicted structure could not technically be confirmed (i.e., the confirmatory procedures became exploratory). Nevertheless, we learned a great deal about the construct and the new measure that should inform future work aimed at refining the measure.

Congratulations to Caitlin on completing this important milestone!

Caitlin is currently completing her predoctoral internship at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Florida and has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship next year at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.
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Philip Stoner Proposes Thesis

Philip Stoner, a first-year student in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at the University of Southern Mississippi, successfully proposed his master’s thesis today. Philip’s thesis will examine the relationship of vulnerable narcissism and emotion dysregulation in self-injurious behavior and self-criticism.

Both vulnerable narcissism and emotion dysregulation have been linked to suicidality in previous studies; however, relatively little is known about the relationship of these factors to self-injurious behavior and self-criticism in non-clinical settings. Philip’s study will use a college student sample and is anticipated to generate some useful information about the important topic of college student mental health.

Congratulations to Philip on the successful proposal!
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Introducing Skylar Hicks

Skylar Hicks
Skylar Hicks is a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Louisiana, where she graduated from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

As an undergraduate, Skylar was involved in two different research labs. The Stress Physiology in Teens (SPIT) Laboratory led her to examine the interplay between stress exposure, biological trajectories, and adolescent development in understanding why certain individuals develop psychopathology. Her time with the Youth Social and Emotional Development Laboratory was spent identifying social, emotional, and cognitive factors related to the development and maintenance of aggressive behavior in youth.

She applied to Southern Miss because the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab overlapped with her research interests in aggression. Skylar recently proposed her master’s thesis, The Role of Emotion Regulation in the Relationship between Trait Anger and Aggression, and is currently collecting data. She hopes to research other forms of aggression, such as sexual aggression. Skylar’s career interests include working in a maximum-security prison, as well as a psychiatric unit or major hospital.

When asked for advice concerning potential future applicants to our program, Skylar mentioned the importance of gaining research experience, as it can be helpful in defining a career path and in assessing which graduate programs best align with one’s personal research interests.
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Caitlin Clark Accepts Postdoc at Houston VA

Caitlin Clark, an advanced doctoral student currently completing her predoctoral internship at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Florida, just let us know that she has accepted a postdoc position at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Specifically, she will be completing the Trauma/Anxiety Disorders postdoctoral fellowship, which was her top choice.

Congratulations to Caitlin!
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Moderation and Mediation

We are always on the lookout for good material on statistics and wanted to share this video from Andy Field, author of Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics (4th ed.), on moderation and mediation. Not only does he provide a clear explanation of the difference but he demonstrates how to do basic tests of moderation and mediation using Hayes’ PROCESS macro for SPSS.

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Niki Knight Matches at Central Arkansas VA

Today is the day when doctoral students in applied psychology programs learn whether they matched with the predoctoral psychology internship sites they have ranked following a competitive application and interview process. We just learned that Niki Knight, a fourth-year doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, will be completing her predoctoral internship next year at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock.

Congratulations to Niki on the successful match!
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Introducing Taylor Nocera-Bolton

Taylor Bolton
Taylor Nocera-Bolton is a second year master's student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is originally from Alabama, where she graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, Taylor was involved in a parent-child interaction therapy lab where she was responsible for data collection and conducting behavioral observations.

Currently, Taylor is conducting a research project designed to evaluate one of the few published measures of cyber aggression suitable for use with college student samples. She is using it to examine various predictors of cyber aggression (also known as electronic aggression). Predictors under investigation include trait aggressiveness and several dark personality traits (e.g., psychopathy, narcissism, spitefulness, sadism). Not only is she well-positioned to make a meaningful contribution to the literature in this area, but she is helping to pave the way for future students in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab to study cyber aggression.

Taylor's plans for the future involve pursuing her doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and she is applying to doctoral programs this year. Her career goals include working as a director/supervisor at an inpatient or residential treatment facility.

When asked what advice she might have for future applicants to the Counseling Psychology master's program at the University of Southern Mississippi, Taylor mentioned not to be afraid of asking questions or seeking clarification. It is important to remember, she said, that many people can relate to the inevitable anxiety surrounding the admission process and are eager to help.
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Introducing Michael Vidana

Michael Vidana
Michael Vidana is a second year master's student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is originally from Minnesota and received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls in 2014.

As an undergraduate, Michael worked on an independent research project focusing on the behavioral effects of a college smoking ban. His curiosity in research and counseling continued to evolve by studying abroad, ultimately guiding him to apply to the master's program at Southern Miss.

Michael aims to become a licensed professional counselor upon graduation and is interested in a career in community mental health. As such, he hopes to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic, our program's in-house training clinic where both master's and doctoral students obtain much of their practicum experience under the supervision of program faculty. This experience, along with his coursework in the master's program, will prepare Michael to pursue licensure.

In addition to completing a literature review on alcohol-related aggression, one of the ways Michael has been assisting the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is working with his peers to write biographical statements (just like this one) for our website. This is something we have been talking about doing for some time because we think it is helpful information for potential applicants to have. With Michael taking the lead on it, we are finally doing it!

When asked for advice concerning potential future applicants to our program, Michael voiced the importance of taking the time to create a well-crafted personal statement that best represents what an applicant has to offer to the program and makes a case for why the applicant is a good fit with the program.
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