Nine psychology students from Peru visited the Chicago campus Jan. 24-30 in an international exchange, and came away impressed by the many psychology-related career options offered in the United States.
Halfway through a whirlwind week in which The Chicago School of Professional Psychology faculty exposed the Peruvian visitors to a variety of academic programs, as well as settings in which U.S. psychologists work, visitor Andrea Montalvo said she was having a terrific experience.
"Not only are we visiting another country, we get to see what we consider a great school," said Montalvo, 22. "We were talking today about maybe doing our internships here or transferring here."
The Peruvians' visit is part of a larger goal to internationalize TCSPP, said Chicago Campus President Carroll Cradock, who welcomed the delegation. In turn, TCSPP students will be traveling to Peru in March, and the school is developing joint programming with the Peruvian students' school, Universidad Peruana de la Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC, pronounced oo-PAY-say).
"We're preparing our students for a global world-in education, applied psychology, and business," Dr. Cradock said. "We want our students well prepared to be successful."
She accompanied the Peruvian students on a field trip to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where TCSPP student Marissa Petersen, who is doing an intermediate therapy practicum there, shared with them how psychologists care for clients in a health care setting.
Petersen, who works with obstetrics patients, told the Peruvian students that most clients are pregnant or post-partum women suffering from some form of depression, and 99 percent would not proactively seek mental health care.
"It's easier for these patients to tell their families 'I'm going to the doctor' rather than 'I'm going to the psychologist,'" she explained.
She explained all the therapists and nurses speak both English and Spanish to serve the client population, which includes immigrants from Mexico and South and Central America.
After a short walk to the main hospital, students visited the cancer ward and emergency room.
"I knew psychologists worked in hospitals, but today I found out what they do," said Montalvo. "They intervene in trauma, help doctors deliver bad news, and help families make difficult decisions."
The Peruvian visitors also took field trips to Garfield Park Preparatory Academy and a company that emphasizes I/O psychology.
On campus, faculty members briefed them in Forensic Psychology, Clinical Counseling, Applied Behavior Analysis, Health Psychology, Business Psychology, and School Psychology.
Montalvo was struck by the variety.
"I enjoyed the ABA class we went to yesterday. And I loved going to the hospital today," she said. "School psychology interests me as well, because I've always wanted to work with children."
Andrea Galup, 20, another of the Peruvian students, said, "What really impressed me is that the range of fields psychologists can work in here is so vast compared to Peru. It's a poor country, and psychologists just take care of the basics."
Montalvo, who was sitting next to her, agreed. "You can only study social, school, clinical and business psychology in Peru," she said. "If you want something else, you have to go abroad and come back."
One TCSPP graduate did the reverse. Stefan Reich went from Chicago to Lima, where he teaches psychology at UPC. He was the contact who laid the groundwork for TCSPP to develop the student exchange with UPC.
"These international experiences increase our commitment to diversity and cultural competencies," Dr. Cradock said. "They help our students work with diverse clients not just from all over Chicago, but all over the world."