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Caldwell, N.J., August 17, 2017 –

A record number of Caldwell University students attended and presented at the American Psychological Association Conference in Washington D.C. in August.

Graduate and undergraduate students from programs including psychology, mental health counseling and art therapy participated at the conference under the guidance Dr. Thomson J. Ling , associate dean of Caldwell’s School of Psychology and Counseling.

Jessica Hauck, a graduate student in art therapy program, and Kristy Percario, an undergraduate student in psychology, were part of team, along with Dr. Ling, that presented research on the campus crisis hotline. Entitled “1-800-Externship: The Use of Hotlines as a Training Modality for Future Psychologists,” the qualitative study examined the benefits, obstacles, ethical issues, and pitfalls in hotlines on college campuses, explained Hauck.

“Going to the conference was like going to Disney Land for me,” said Percario.  “It was such an incredible experience to be able to be a part of such a large scale event with my peers and other professionals in the field (that) I hope to enter.”

Maxine Alonso received a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Caldwell and will enter the master’s in mental health counseling program this fall. She presented a version of her undergraduate honor’s thesis “Reaching into the Good Gook: A Method of Reducing Stigma of Psychological Disorders with Religion.”

“It was my goal to find a way to use religion positively to reduce stigma towards individuals with psychological disorders. I created a metaphor between the Christian concept of hell and those who suffer from psychological disorders as a way to increase empathy and compassion for this group of individuals,” said Alonso.

Hauck said she is passionate about research. “Being a member of the Caldwell Counseling Research Lab has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about how the process works, while also conducting research in areas I am interested in.”   Through her work on the research team, she was able to present at two other national conferences last year and have her work published.

The students agreed that they left the conference with more confidence. “I learned what it was like to speak in a professional academic setting. Each individual who asked me questions added to my experience and knowledge during the presentations,” said Alsonso. “I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Ling for giving me the opportunity to be on the research team, and for mentoring me as I grow into my professional role,” said Hauck.

The other students who participated were: Melanie Peters, Elizabeth Kocis, Emily Holland, Tiffany Henawi, Elizabeth Rebeiro, Allison Osorio, Schyler Lamattina, Nadia Sabeh, Caitlin Doyle, Felicia Apito and Cinthya Castro.