Ashley Holland

What are you doing now?

I am currently finishing my Master of Education degree in clinical mental health counseling at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I’m in the middle of a full time internship at Parkridge Valley Behavioral Health Hospital on the residential level III adolescent unit. I will graduate on December 12, 2015!


After graduation, I’m hoping to obtain a position at the psychiatric hospital. I currently work with adolescents who are residential, so they are estimated to be there between four to six months. In some cases, they are there much longer. In this position, I’m able to conduct individual, group and family therapy. Furthermore, I’m able to do some case management, explore possible diagnoses and medication possibilities. I adhere to cognitive behavioral therapy theory as my framework. If you’re considering this type of program, start exploring your personal theory now.

How did UTM Psychology Program help you achieve what you have become?

The UTM psychology department really prepared me for my future as a graduate student in many ways. Of course, my experience in the ever faithful and painful psychology 318 has now become a blessing. My research classes in graduate school have been much more manageable with the knowledge I obtained in 318. I was also able to stand out in my classes because I knew much more about research than many of my classmates. I was shocked to learn that some didn’t even have a publication manual (no, really). They then went on to make fun of mine that was falling apart and had a million tabs sticking out.


Abnormal Psychology was one of my absolute favorite classes in undergradate! It has paid off as well to know the differences between mental illnesses. As with DSM 5, there is much more to learn, but it’s beneficial to have the basics down when going into graduate school! In my internship, Dr. McGuire expects us to be able to identify a diagnosis for our patients. Although we are not able to have the final say, I really value this skill.


Applied Behavioral Analysis is another class I’m really thankful for! I currently work with adolescents who see the world in a completely different way than I do. In ABA, I was able to work with a child using behavior modification. It was great experience in learning how to adjust my skills to understand how my patient views the world. That is something I’m currently doing every day during my internship.


When I was preparing to apply for my program, Dr. Merwin gave me a sheet with everything I needed to know to apply. It was like a checklist and proved to be particularly helpful in the application process. If you are thinking about applying to a graduate program, go get this list from her!


During my time at UTM I was able to join an independent research project under Dr. MacKewn. It was a great experience getting to conduct research! We went on to present at SEPA in New Orleans and again at another conference in Memphis. I was also a member and officer of Psi Chi. I’ve suggested many of our events that we did in Psi Chi to our honor society in our program, Chi Sigma Iota. Getting involved in the psychology department made my time at UTM even better!

What advice would you give to students who are thinking about becoming UTM psychology majors?

I would advise anyone considering a major in psychology at UTM to go for it! It prepares you for many other opportunities and you can take it in so many directions after graduation. The professors really care about your aspirations and success. Advice for those who go into a psychology major, get involved! Forming professional relationships with your peers and professors makes all the difference! I love running into professors when I make trips back home to Martin! Also, form study groups, quiz each other and pick each other’s brains! You’re not in the department alone! Being a psychology major fostered some wonderful friendships for myself.

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