Sample Personal Statement For Graduate School Counseling

Here are some of the most influential women counseling psychologists alive today. There are so many, that it was hard to choose our favorites for you, but we did it.

Susan Blackmore

Susan Blackmore started her career in psychology as an advocate of the paranormal. Her work has transitioned over the years and her current research interests include evolutionary theory, consciousness, memes and meditation.

Blackmore is a visiting professor at the British University of Plymouth and holds degrees in psychology and physiology from Oxford University.

Her PhD is from the University of Surrey in parapsychology. But Blackmore no longer works on the paranormal. She writes for the British newspaper, Guardian, and Psychology Today. She is also the author of over eighty book contributions.

Elizabeth Loftus

A cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory, Elizabeth Loftus is best known for her research on eyewitness memory and the misinformation effect.

She has conducted research in the fields of childhood sexual abuse and recovered memory, and her work has received numerous honors and awards. She holds six honorary degrees in a variety of fields from different universities and colleges.

Loftus is currently a distinguished professor of social ecology at the University of California, Irvine (USA).

Alison Gopnik

Alison Gopnik is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a world-renowned counseling psychologist known for her work in cognitive and language development.

Her work regularly appears in Slate and The New York Times, and she is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Gopnik regularly appears on TV. She is known for her presence on The Colbert Report. Her work at the Berkeley Child Study Center focuses on children and the development of mathematical models to help them learn more effecitively.

Brenda Milner

Brenda Milner is still actively working at the age of 95. She is recognized as the pioneer and founder of neuropsychology.

Milner is a professor at McGill University’s Department of Neurology and a visiting professor of psychology at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Her life’s work earned her the prestigious Gairdner Award and more than twenty honorary degrees. Her current and ongoing research includes brain region identification and the association of spatial memory and language. Milner was awarded the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience in 2014.

Barbara L. Fredrickson

Barbara L. Fredrickson is a social psychologist, counselor, and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She researches emotions, positive psychology, and social relationships.

After earning her doctorate degree at Stanford University, Fredrickson taught at the University of Michigan for ten years. She then took an appointment at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Frederickson has received numerous awards and honors, including the American Psychological Association’s Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology. This award earned this professor and counselor a $100,000 grant to assist with future work.

Thalia Eley

Thalia Eley is a graduate of Cambridge University and University College London’s Institute of Child Health and a professor of developmental psychology at King’s College in London.

Her publications include over 140 academic articles, with extensive research on genetic and environmental factors and their relationship with the treatment of anxiety and depression.

She has conducted studies on cognitive behavior therapy for child anxiety and exposure therapy in treating adult phobias. Eley was awarded the Macquarie University Research Excellence Award for her study on childhood anxiety in 2011.

Elizabeth Spelke

Elizabeth Spelke is a cognitive psychologist. She works in Harvard University’s Department of Psychology. She is also the director of the Laboratory for Developmental Studies. There, she studies and defends the debate on cognitive differences between males and females.

After attending Radcliffe College and Yale University, Spelke received her doctorate from Cornell University and has received numerous honors and awards, including the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences honor in 2014. She has written articles for the New York Times and New Yorker.

Uta Frith

Most recognized for her research and insight on autism spectrum disorders, Uta Frith is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at the University College London. A graduate of King’s College London, where she completed her PhD on autism, Dr. Frith has spent all of her career investigating the cognitive processes involved with dyslexia and autism.

She believes in research that is relevant to understanding autism and providing a better quality of daily life for those affected by this condition. She is an advocate for and leader of women in science and co-founded the UCL Women Network.

Susan Carey

Susan Carey is a Harvard University graduate and current professor for the Department of Psychology at Harvard. She is also a world-renowned psychologist and counselor.

Known throughout the globe as an expert in language acquisition, Carey was the first woman to receive the Rumelhart Prize in 2009. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, Carey taught at both MIT and NYU.

She is the author of numerous journal articles and a book called Conceptual Change in Childhood. The work reconciles Piaget’s research on animism and provided a new perspective.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She has become recognized for her research in the fields of motivation and social psychology.

Her research focuses on the origins of social, personality, and developmental psychology and how they bridge together with self-regulation and mindsets.

Dweck is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, which include the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2013 for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Her key contribution to social psychology focuses on her theories of intelligence, showcased in her book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which was published in 2006.

We want to support all the counselors in this world that have a passion for progress and want to make their mark in this field on behalf of women and humanity. Is the lack of an amazing personal statement holding you back?


Take a look at my “Statement of Purpose” for the University of San Francisco Masters in Counseling Psychology, concentration in School Counseling, program. This short essay outlines my reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from USF along with my experience and skill set as it relates to the program. Although slightly intimidating to start this essay and admissions process as a whole, it wasn't difficult to speak on something that comes from my heart. So in saying that, staying true to myself made the admissions process that much easier.

“Living in a childhood without a sense of home, I found a place of sanctuary in ‘theorizing’, in making sense out of what was happening… I learned from this experience that theory could be a healing place.”
–Bell Hooks

I truly believe that before we can even begin to work with youth, we need to take a look at our own starting point and where we are coming from. I am not referring to our background or our histories, although these are definitely key in our work with youth, however, I am suggesting that we take a deeper and honest look at the question, ‘Why do you work with youth?’ Asking ourselves this question before we begin to work with youth is essential because without reflecting on the “why”, how can we even begin to engage with youth in an honest regard? When I ask myself this question, I find my answer to be rooted in “love” and “compassion”. Without a doubt, I work with youth because I genuinely care about their overall well-being. Whether it is regarding self-awareness, self-development, identity safety, academic support, or meeting basic needs, my work with youth always has and always will come from a place of love. For me, love and compassion are two key values that guide my practice because in every moment, program, or situation that I engage in with youth, I always strive to come from a place of love in order to best support them. In the same respect, the University of San Francisco’s School Counseling Program also embodies these two values, which is one reason why I became so interested in the program and believe it to be a great fit for me. Through this program, I hope to learn the skills needed to build an overall school culture that starts with love and compassion. There are several schools that perpetuate systems of disempowerment and control that only enforce a power struggle between youth and adults as well as the idea that “youth need fixing”. If we can root our schools in love and compassion, then we can send youth a new and welcoming message where students are validated, empowered, loved, and connected.

In order to build an effective, positive school culture, which fully supports our youth, not only do we need to come from a place of love but we also need to build trusting relationships with our students and their communities. Through its focus on community empowerment and respect for diversity, the School Counseling Program demonstrates this approach, which I completely support as being a vital step in effective engagement with youth. As an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, my Community Studies field study took place with a multi-racial, youth led organization called Youth Together. Through this experience, I learned how to build trusting relationships with youth and their communities, who were different from my own social location and community. Although a difficult process to be considered an “outsider” and strive to work for justice within a community I was not initially welcomed in, I learned to become an ally and someone the organization could hold accountable. First, I had to meet the students, community, and organization where they were at before even beginning to join in on their struggle, which proved to be the most effective approach. In always staying true to my heart, learning when to step up and when to step back, proving I could be trusted through consistency and making myself available, I then was considered part of the organization and struggle. Not only did I conclude my field study as “part of” the organization but I also continue to communicate with several of the youth and adults I worked with, which I believe to be a true testament of my ability to build trusting relationships with others. Through the School Counseling program, I hope to learn tangible skills to work cross culturally with under-served youth and families, acting as a trusted bridge between the school and community by developing culturally centered, empowerment programs to make this a reality. In addition, I hope to further develop my skills as an ally, trusted adult, and advocate for youth so that I can provide the proper supports, referrals, and interventions according to their needs and reflective of their comfort with me.

Love, compassion, and trust are all values that are important to me when working with youth and are what guide my practice overall. However, I would not be truly invested in this work if I did not include equity and community as well. A historically disenfranchised community, youth are constantly facing systems that disempower them. To move even further from this, is the fact that our youth from underserved communities face additional barriers. My prior experience working with high school students involved coordinating multiple youth development programs to not only provide students with the space to voice their opinions regarding these school-community issues but to also build the skills necessary to overcome them. Through my programs, students developed a sense of self awareness, community with one another as well as their school-community, and knowledge regarding injustices, which empowered them to develop their vision, practice decision-making, exercise judgment and grow in leadership. In addition, I consistently connected my students to community programs, resources, and family events with the overarching idea of supporting our students in multiple ways. With the School Counseling Program focused on problem-solving and equity for all students, I strive to develop the skills and experience needed to become an effective, critical school counselor that uses a multi-faceted approach in working with students to receive the equity they, their families, and community deserves. By providing counseling, mentoring, social emotional support, referrals to community and school based programs or resources, and overall being an advocate for them in the various institutions that may disempower them, I hope to be an effective change agent at schools for our underserved youth. With the theoretical knowledge and experience I have gained thus far, coupled with my own unwavering drive to take my work with youth to the next level, I feel that I am a great candidate for the School Counseling Program. I would be honored to represent the University of San Francisco and continue the legacy of justice, respect for diversity, and community it embodies. Thank you for your consideration.

Shannon Smoot

Shannon Smoot was recently admitted into the University of San Francisco Masters in Counseling Psychology Program with a concentration in School Counseling. She will begin her graduate studies and internship fieldwork Fall 2014.She holds a BA Degree in Community Studies with concentrations in Youth Development, Youth Empowerment, & Youth organizing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.While an undergrad, Shannon interned with the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall and conducted her field study with a multi-racial youth led organization in the East Bay called Youth Together. After her studies at UC Santa Cruz, Shannon landed a job as the Youth Development Coordinator for Menlo-Atherton High School and coordinated a Peer Education Team, Youth Advisory Board, Freshman Compass Leadership class, among others. When her work as the Youth Development Coordinator for M-A High School came to a halt due to a loss in state funding, she was thankfully able to find employment with Youth Community Service as a 180 Degree Life skills Communication Class Facilitator and Youth-Leaders About Change Director, both at M-A. Shannon is extremely passionate about youth voice, youth-adult partnerships, and justice issues as they relate to youth. She is also especially interested in identity safety work and working to create safe schools for the LGBTQ community.

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