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Carving new paths through The Chicago School

Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, ‘05

“Here at The Chicago School, I think it is extremely important to listen to the voices of our international students and make a constant effort to understand their unique needs and assets. As a native of Japan and an alumna, I understand that international student perspectives are different, and need to be valued and utilized to their full potential.”

As the daughter of psychiatrists practicing in Tokyo, Japan, Sayaka Machizawa (Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, ’05) knew from an early age that if she wanted to pursue her dream of being a psychologist, she would need to leave the country.

“I have been interested in mental health since I was a child,” says Dr. Machizawa, who came to the U.S. from high school to earn a B.A. degree in psychology from Cornell College in 2001 and go directly on to the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology program at The Chicago School. “But I wanted to be a clinical psychologist rather than a psychiatrist because psychiatrists in Japan often need to see more than 30 patients a day. They have no time to do talk therapy or research.”

Psychology as a profession is viewed differently in Japan. There is currently no licensure, no national health insurance coverage, and psychologists aren’t even allowed to give a patient diagnosis. “I thought that receiving clinical psychology training in the U.S. would give me better career opportunities,” she says.

She was right.

Today, Dr. Machizawa is a licensed clinical psychologist who in addition to practicing at clinics around Chicago, is also Associate Director of the Community Partnerships Department at The Chicago School—utilizing her research skills to implement community-based participatory research projects.

“For example, I recently visited Shokei Gakuin University in Sendai, Japan, to develop an institutional partnership that facilitates faculty and student exchange programming,” says Dr. Machizawa, adding that one of her specific goals for the partnership is to create a short-term study abroad course for The Chicago School that focuses on indigenous approaches to trauma. “I believe that this alliance will be mutually beneficial and will offer many exciting opportunities for The Chicago School community.”

For her, this work is the best of both worlds and allows her to build bridges with her native country that will have a lasting impact on mental health.

“The Chicago School’s Engaged Practitioner Model of Education is a big advantage for students, especially international students,” she says. “I cannot think of any graduate psychology program that offers as much high-quality, hands-on experience for students as we do.”

Dr. Machizawa is also pleased with the opportunities that both her scholarship and faculty position at The Chicago School have opened for her to lead the way for the next generation of transnational feminist psychologists.

She has collaborated with international psychologists on multiple publications, including co-authoring a chapter titled, “Toward Humanization of Birthing,” in a book about the state of reproductive rights for women in global contexts. As a co-chair of American Psychological Association (APA) Division 35 Task Force on Enhancing International Perspectives on the Psychology of Women, she was also instrumental in organizing a 2015 international women’s summit in Toronto titled, “From International to Transnational: Transforming the Psychology of Women.”

“It was very rewarding to see meaningful collaboration and exchanges between psychologists from different parts of the world,” says Dr. Machizawa. “This is the kind of work I have always wanted to do and I could not have done it without The Chicago School.”

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