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Health Psychology Alum Thrives in Doctoral Program

Campus: 
Washington
School of Natural Health Arts & Sciences
Department of Counseling & Health Psychology
Amy Davis, a 2005 graduate of Bastyr’s health psychology program, started out working in theater and in the corporate world, but found her calling in health psychology. Now a psychology doctoral candidate completing an internship at Cancer Lifeline, Davis has made good use of her Bastyr education. Unlike many of her graduate-school peers, she had a chance to conduct research and give presentations as an undergraduate at Bastyr. She also learned a great deal about helping people achieve holistic health, which she applies in her internship. Read more about Davis below.

Briefly describe the work you do now.

I am currently a doctoral intern at Cancer Lifeline where I work with cancer survivors and their families facilitating individual therapy work, family meetings and support groups. I was also lucky enough to teach a counseling course in the naturopathic medicine program at Bastyr University last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it.

What is your background, and how did you find your way to Bastyr?

My background is in the performing arts, hospice work and home-health care. After moving to Seattle and working in human resources and recruiting for a large company, I realized I needed a change. I had long been interested in psychology, so when I saw the brochure for the health psychology major at Bastyr, I knew almost instantly that Bastyr was where I was supposed to go. After a series of life changes, I left the corporate world and entered Bastyr, and life has truly not been the same since.

How did you get into this career?

I think at some point I realized my life lessons, especially the hard-won kind, would have more inherent meaning if I shared them. I had always believed theater arts are direct descendants of ritual and that they are meant to be healing, but I wanted to learn more about therapeutic disciplines themselves. Psychology is such a fascinating field because there is so much to learn, there are so many new developments, and there is little chance of mastering it or becoming bored.

What did you appreciate most about your Bastyr degree program?

Too many things to list! First and foremost, having courses that linked psychology and spirituality filled a very deep, untouched longing in me. Many of the courses are unique and not offered anywhere else. The health psychology program offered the best of academically rigorous classes, research projects and training, all while integrating spirituality, self-care and alternative medicine — all things I hold dear and use in my work today. I also met some of my dearest friends at Bastyr, and I still meet with them as often as I can.

What's next for you? Where would you like to place your energies?

The rest of this year will be devoted to finishing my dissertation and book, enjoying my internship and preparing to graduate from Antioch’s clinical doctorate (PsyD) program. After that, I would like to do postdoctoral work in a cooperative practice that utilizes naturopaths, acupuncturists and psychologists in a team-care approach. And some of my energy will go to self-care, spending time in nature, and practicing all the helpful things I learned at Bastyr but have been too busy to actually implement in my life. After that, I would love to combine practice, teaching and writing.

How did your Bastyr degree prepare you for your career?

Bastyr prepared me for where I am now by stimulating my curiosity, pushing the limits of what I already knew and exposing me to so many areas I wanted to explore. I learned a type of health psychology that prepared me to talk with clients about nutrition, medications, stress, relaxation, dreams and their holistic health in a way that makes them feel seen, heard and cared about. I did so many group presentations that they were "old hat" for me by the time I got to my doctoral program. Having a solid year to write a significant research project — and learn how to present it publicly — helped tremendously both with making it into graduate school and writing my dissertation.

Interviewed March 2010
Portrait of Amy Davis ('05)
Amy Davis, BS