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The Autobiographical Statement for Admission to Graduate School in Psychology

Autobiographical Statements of Excellence

Autobiographical Essay for Graduate School Admission in Psychology, Sample First 2 Paragraphs

I seek a career as a professional psychologist specializing in the areas of trauma and spirituality. As with many sensitive and compassionate people who find themselves driven to pursue a career in this field, my life has been in many ways a response to my own psychological challenges and trauma, often beginning very early on, as is my case. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, I was largely raised by my maternal grandmother as a result of the fact that my mother suffered from untreated borderline personality disorder—coupled to a largely absent, alcoholic father. The trauma that I endured was so intense and sustained throughout my childhood that I feel as if I only became whole, a man, an integral being, when I entered rigorous therapy myself three years ago at the age of 38, on horseback. Since that time, I have invested a great deal of time and energy exploring the benefits of both equine and dolphin therapy.

Living in the shadow of an absent and alcoholic father, I struggled to navigate the world without a male role model.  I attended catholic grade school.  Based on my social experience, I decided it would be in my best interest to apply to a nearby private catholic high school, and was accepted.  A monk in the Abbey attached to the school and teacher of one of my religious classes once commented to me, based on a paper I had written, that he thought I had a rich inner life.  I believe he was seeing my spirit expressed in my writing.  I found a talent for music expressed through singing and landed the lead in the school musical my junior year.  Following graduation, I enrolled in a state college and explored various majors and activities, including a collegiate circus.  After two years in the state school I decided I wanted to pursue more serious academic study and transferred to a private catholic university in Chicago.

There are a lot of humanitarian autobiographies. Some say that this emerging genre is not around to stay, but there are many who feel inspired to share their experiences in the field through blogs, books, and social media or write their tales and feelings in a journal.

Before becoming a humanitarian psychologist, here are ten books you might enjoy and learn a great deal from.

Warrior Without Weapons by Dr. Marcel Junod

This is an account of Dr. Junod's experiences between 1935 and 1945. He went on missions that took him first to Abyssinia and air raids with mustard gas bombs, then to Spain, Poland, Germany and lastly to Japan, where he was one of the first foreign doctors to observe the horrific effects of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The reader discovers the difficult and sometimes dangerous, but always fascinating, work of an ICRC delegate, the role of the Geneva Conventions and what it was like being a humanitarian back in the early days, through Dr Junod's narrative. It was published in 1982.

Sample Autobiographical Statement for the PsyD Degree, Older Applicant, Son of WW2 Veteran

For more than 20 years I have enjoyed being an EMT, a private investigator and security consultant, as well as an Internet entrepreneur and organizer. Now entering middle age, I seek further career advancement and I plan to earn the terminal degree in my chosen field, the PSYD - maintaining an engagement with literature and practice in multiple areas of Psychology and Mental Health, including but not limited to School and Clinical Psychology. I read widely in my spare time about a variety of areas of Psychology that include counseling for the terminally ill and their families as they transition, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and group therapy for the victims. My father was in WW2, first losing one leg, then the other: PTSD, suicidal tendencies, depression. I spent my adult life watching the VA do almost nothing to help him. This story is also very close to the bone. The area that I know best, however, is law enforcement and security; thus I may find myself continuing to labor in this area as well after completing the PSYD Degree.

I have 20 years of experience, training, certifications (100+), and continuing coursework in a broad variety of areas related to security services. Currently the Deputy Director and Chief Investigator, for the XXXX, in Riverdale, GA, I manage and supervise approximately 50 security and protection officers and investigators engaged in multiple, simultaneous projects. I also designed and implemented the company’s first website and marketing plan as well as primary B to B and B to C liaisons. Our group’s 4 largest clients together account for $500,000 in annual revenue. I personally designed and implemented their security and emergency response plans based on risk and threat assessments - liaising with local Law Enforcement Agencies, Emergency Services as well as the Department of Homeland Security.

My recent accomplishments include the budgeting, supervising and coordinating of the High Holidays for the second largest Jewish community in Georgia. Over the course of five days, congregants and students from multiple continents, speaking a variety of languages, converged on my site. I successfully coordinated the deployment of dozens of security personnel, law enforcement, emergency services, traffic control, transportation to satellite parking facilities, and managed dignitary visits from foreign consulates along with politicians and interfaith representatives. On any given day, the crowd would approach 5,000 individuals

Since July of 2000, I have also been the Founder of XXXX, in Elizabeth, NJ, focused on development in such areas as XML, HTML, WAP, and other standardized published content, in support of security, military and law enforcement communications and networking. I was largely responsible, for example, at getting an Amber Alert built into existing cellular networks for instant notification to the local general public as well as law enforcement as to the whereabouts of a stolen child. 

I appreciate the fact that the cohorts at XXXX are small - with only approximately 12 students admitted every September - with equal emphasis placed on research and clinical applications. I look forward to a full and sustained immersion experience in research in particular. I have been very fortunate throughout my life, able to travel, see the world, meet wonderful people and even managed to help a few people in the process. I am a good fit with the PSYD Program at XXXX because it is dual track, focused on School as well as Clinical Psychology. I could see myself in charge of a juvenile detention facility at some point; in such a capacity, the PSYD could prove to be a real life-saver, for me as well as the residents.

Collecting and then analyzing information and data have been a major part of my professional life for many years. I’ve been writing for years and I am not intimidated by the prospect of writing a dissertation. Very committed and determined, I do not quit when things get difficult. An effective leader, I have led men and women in hostile situations with great success. An effective and dedicated team player and a great listener, I remain calm under extreme duress.  One of my original research projects, for a class in Experimental Psychology, measured the extent to which police officer parents influenced their children’s decision to themselves enter the justice system, law enforcement, or a related field. I found NO correlation between parental career choice and their children’s choice of major or career. Despite the fact that my hypothesis was a total flop, I enjoyed the subject matter, the process, and presenting my outcome to the class. 

I am also well read in the area of adoption and foster care, and the way that, sadly, many young people who are adopted are misdiagnosed with various emotional conditions. It would also be a great honor to continue to learn from XXXX’s Health Psychology and Trauma Studies research team. My dad was in WW2, lost one of his legs to an enemy mortar attack and eventually the other one as well. Since 1945 until his death in 2009, he lived with PTSD and very little emotional support. The Veterans Administration was useless. I am now back in the house in which I was raised, having inherited it, making me more financially secure, another reason why I decided to return to school. Living here with his memory all around me, I cannot help but reflect upon veterans affairs and the egregious injustice to which so many have been subjected as a result of inferior-to-non-existent care for our traumatized veterans.

I have also been involved intermittently in the music publishing industry which has given me to the opportunity to work not only with inner-city children and their families but also the US military. We worked with military bases across the United States, bringing free entertainment to our nation’s service men and women. We also worked with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to bring entertainment to Walter Reed Medical Center.

I thank you for your consideration of my application to Psychology at XXXX University.