Psy.D. Student Recognizes Influence of Spirituality


First-year Psy.D. student, Anna-Marie Roland, knows Divine Mercy University’s program was the right choice for her. Though she applied for five other programs, she says that the ability for the professors to “acknowledge the humanity of students” was a big influence on her decision.

We sat down with Anna to ask her about her experience so far.

Q: What interested you in getting your Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology?

A: Since my last year of high school, psychology was the one subject that I could apply to everything. I knew that I wanted to get my doctorate because psychology opens any kinds of doors. I can do anything with it!

For instance, I knew that I could work in a hospital setting, a private practice, at a school or in a psychiatric clinic. A doctorate would allow me to work with any of those settings and with different populations of people as well.

Q: How did you hear about Divine Mercy University and the Institute for the Psychological Sciences?

A: I learned about the University’s program from my personal connections, both from one of my theology professors at Belmont Abbey and  I also met with an alumnus before I applied.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue this particular program?

A: I had applied to five other programs, so I had options to go to other schools. I knew that graduate school was going to be a big commitment, but the other programs didn’t seem to acknowledge the humanity of the students. I was told that school would be my life, which was discouraging.

What I like about DMU is that our professors emphasize “flourishing.” The professors care about you succeeding in the program and in all areas of your life. I think that this school recognizes a more balanced lifestyle.

Psy.D. student Anna-Marie Roland browsing a book in the library at Divine Mercy University.

Q: What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned in the program?

A: The thing that stuck out the most is the diverse client experiences shared by professors. It’s pretty practical to hear the professors give real-life experiences, such as types of behaviors of clients and how they have addressed them.

Q: Based on your recent coursework, which resources would you recommend other people to check out?

A: I would recommend two books: “The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society” by Henri Nouwen and “The Art of Existential Counseling” by Adrian van Kaam.

Q: Do you know what you’d like the focus of your dissertation to be? If so, what?

A: I currently do not have a topic yet. But I am interested in the topic of defense mechanisms, such as “splitting” (e.g. bipolar or schizophrenia), and seeing how they affect relationships.

Q: What would you like to do with your degree?

A: If I had to decide today I would work in a hospital setting, but I feel like eventually I would want to see patients on a long-term basis to provide more overall support.

Psy.D. student Anna-Marie Roland (holding banner, second from left) and fellow students and staff at March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Q: Do you think you would have chosen a different program if you weren’t awarded financial assistance?

A: I may have waited to find more outside scholarships – through my parish or other scholarships, but I don’t think I would’ve gone to another school, especially knowing what I know now.

I wanted to go to a secular school before because I thought that if my patients were going to be secular I thought that I wouldn’t need religious therapy. From other schools I learned that they take a very specific approach, but here, even in the orientations, they recognize the wholeness of influences.

Even if the client isn’t “Catholic” this institution recognizes the importance of spirituality, as many other institutions do not recognize that.

Would you like to pursue the Psy.D. program at Divine Mercy University? Sign up to get more information today!