UT Tyler

Graduate Student Alumni Spotlight

Clinical Psychology MS

Wes ParksStudent Name:  Wes Parks www.wesparks.com

Program: M.S. Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Neuropsychology

Graduated: May 2011

Employer: Goodness & Associates, North Texas Counseling Associates, and self-employed contract therapist

Position: Therapist

What attracted you to this field?

I cannot say that I was born with an innate desire to help others, fostered by experiences from elementary school through the time I answered these questions. In reality, I have always been drawn to an understanding of others’ behaviors. Or, more to the point, I have always been curious about why people do the things they do, even when they are unhealthy, injudicious or otherwise counterintuitive. That was my initial interest in psychology, fostered by observations on the playground, in church, at parties, in the workplace…anywhere people gather, behaviors happen that leave me trying to understand what I’m witnessing, making sense of the “why.” Once the why becomes clear, making the transition from maladaptive to healthy, prosocial functioning completes the cycle I wanted to study in greater detail.

Why did you choose UT Tyler?

When I was looking at graduate programs, UT Tyler somehow got overlooked in my first round of applications. A friend of mine was enrolled in the program and kept raving about how much she was learning, the quality of the program and how much she enjoyed the university as a whole. I then learned of the high success rate of UT graduates in terms of passing licensure exams and gaining employment. Added to that, UT Tyler is one of the few masters programs in the country that offers the neuropsychology specialization. Once I took a good look at the program, and talked more with then-current students, it felt like a clear match for my career goals.

What do you like most about UT Tyler?

What I appreciated most about the psychology faculty at UT Tyler was that most were practicing clinicians. They did not offer just a textbook knowledge of clinical and counseling theories. They were able to offer true firsthand knowledge gleaned from years of experience. I found my professors to be extremely well rounded in their knowledge bases, which helped me to explore many aspects of psychology and counseling I might otherwise have passed over. It was a rigorous course of study overall, but when I graduated I had no doubts that I was well prepared to enter the helping profession in my new capacity. This was solidified when I became responsible for screening and hiring clinicians in a private practice environment. Once I saw what other schools were churning out as “professionals,” I was extremely grateful for the education I received at UT Tyler.

What are your career aspirations?

Despite higher education, and perhaps another degree or two in my future, I have no lofty career goals. My only true aim is to leave the world a better place than I found it, and to help those who are in pain find ways to improve their functioning. Cliché as it sounds, I got into this field to help my fellow man without regard to money or status. My ultimate goal would be to split my time between a “regular” paying private practice and low-cost therapy for those who cannot afford quality care. Additionally, I would like to shape public policy in regard to prioritizing mental health care in this country.

What is your work experience?

Prior to mental health, I worked for many years in service and product-oriented retail environments in various capacities including corporate training, management and consulting. Once I decided to explore the “why do they do that” question, I began working in a clinical and forensic psychology private practice, focusing on forensic assessments for various matters ranging from competence evaluations to treatment recommendations to death penalty mitigation. Since completing my graduate coursework, I have focused less on assessment and more on therapy. Currently, I split my time between two private practices in affluent suburbs of the Metroplex. This for-profit work affords me the opportunity to work with low-income and homeless populations in Fort Worth. I also provide court-ordered forensic therapy.

Do you have any advice to pass along to other students interested in this program?

Find a way to make this experience all about what you want to do with your life. Add as many courses as you can to round out your knowledge. Explore every single topic of interest. Do not be afraid to explore interests outside of the faculty’s expertise…I found the faculty more than willing to offer guidance and support additional exploration, even to the point of improving their own knowledge bases along the way.

Find out more about our MS in Clinical Psychology

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