Essay 3: Diversity

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APPIC Psychology Internship Application Essay 3 (Diversity)

Essay 3: Describe how multicultural and diversity variables inform your case conceptualization and clinical practice. Please use de-identified case material to illustrate your approach.

In 2022, APPIC finally updated the prompt for essay 3 (hooray!). The sentence “Describe your experience and training in work with diverse populations” was deleted – the reality is that application reviewers can see your client demographics on your AAPI, so this is not necessary to write about.

This topic is broad, and it can feel overwhelming to try to capture all your thoughts into 500 words. Instead, consider the purpose of this essay as sharing your perspective or philosophy on diversity issues and choose one or two themes to discuss in depth. Examples of themes include intersectionality, managing differences and/or similarities of identities with clients, visible vs. invisible identities, transference and countertransference issues, privilege and oppression, identity development, etc.

Some REFLECTION QUESTIONS to help generate some ideas:

  • What is your general perspective or philosophy about diversity issues? And within the context of your professional work as a psychologist-in-training?
  • What are your personal experiences with diversity? How do you bring this into your professional life?
  • Where do you need to continue to grow? (i.e., Do you know what you know and what you do not know?)

TIPS for essay 3:

  • It may be helpful to keep in mind Sue, Arredondo, and McDavis’s (1992) model of awareness/attitude, knowledge, and skills (AKS) – have you addressed each of these aspects of multicultural competency in your essay?
  • Remember there are (at least) two people in the therapy room – the client and YOU, the therapist. The essay should address diversity in terms of client considerations as well as your own reflection and experience as a cultural being. Otherwise you run the danger of “othering” your client and making it seem like an issue outside yourself. In other words, discuss the dynamic between yourself and the client in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Describe a clinical example of how diversity issues impacted your conceptualization of a client and how that informed therapy/assessment (awareness & knowledge)
  • Discuss how you used your awareness and knowledge (of self & other) to inform your interventions (skills). This may include mentioning how you utilized supervision and consultation to determine interventions.
  • Take a risk – be authentic about your process in developing your competency in multicultural and diversity issues. Some of the most touching essays I’ve read were ones where the students acknowledge they are still in the learning process and don’t feel completely confident in their competence in this area. (If you talk about areas of growth, it helps to then follow up with what you plan on doing to continue learning.)
  • Most programs have a class on diversity and multicultural issues – be sure to reference concepts or models to indicate a solid foundation. If you are not strongly versed in a model, consider doing some reading and identify what model reflects how you work – e.g., Hays’ ADDRESSING model, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, Crenshaw’s intersectionality, etc.
  • You may find that it’s useful to discuss how your perspectives on diversity are integrated into your theoretical orientation (thus, it may reflect continuity across essays).

Ultimately, I find that the strongest essays include self-reflection and self-awareness as well as demonstration of the understanding that diversity topics are complex and not a checkbox to complete or a competency that is “achieved”.

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