"I needed a doctoral degree for my career to reach its full potential."
John Phillips, 47, is pursuing his Doctor of Psychology, Clinical specialization, from University of the Rockies. He recently completed his coursework and is now working on his dissertation, which will be followed by a pre-doc internship. He will graduate after his pre-doc is complete, which should be in late 2014.
“My interest in psychology began during my Bachelor’s degree,” John shares. “I majored in Mass Communication, and my classes in advertising, public relations, and journalism all required an understanding of human behavior.” His interest in the science of human behavior led him to the field of psychology, and in 2000 he earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Abilene Christian University. During his time as a graduate student, he completed several practicums, including counseling at a maximum-security prison. He also worked in testing and assessment for the chronic care unit at the State Hospital in Big Spring, TX, and facilitated group therapy at River Crest Hospital in San Angelo, TX. From 1996-2000, John had the opportunity to teach a life skills class to an alcohol and drug recovery group at the Salvation Army Complex in Abilene, TX. Most recently, he worked for a community mental health center, where he screened patients in crisis to determine if they met the criteria for in-patient psychiatric hospitalization.
“Working in the field of psychology with a Master’s degree allowed me to experience some of the rewards the field has to offer,” says John, “but I realized that I needed a doctoral degree for my career to reach its full potential.”
In 2005, John was at a workshop in Colorado Springs and he met a few people from University of the Rockies (then called Colorado School of Professional Psychology). “I began gathering information, and soon discovered that University of the Rockies was a perfect fit for my needs. I was accepted to the Doctor of Psychology program and began courses in January 2006.”
For the last four years, I have travelled from my home in Arkansas to the campus in Colorado Springs to attend class. He makes the 978-mile trip three times each term. When he drives, he usually stays one night in Kansas, making it a two-day road trip. “I use the same airline every time I fly, and I’ve earned enough frequent flyer miles for two free trips!” He also struck a deal with a hotel in Colorado Springs – he books an entire year and they give him a discounted rate.
“Being a commuting student certainly has its challenges, and it’s about more than arranging travel plans – there are certain class assignments that are challenging because of the distance involved. But if you are looking for a quality education and instructors who treat you like a professional, University of the Rockies is the place to be.”
When we last spoke to John, he was hard at work on his dissertation. He’d also become involved with a local effort to help returning veterans gain access to resources. John explains, “This effort was started after a recent spike in the number of suicides by returning veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the VA chaplains, area clergy, local law enforcement, mental health services, and others from the community are involved. We meet once a month and hold an evening event every three months for veterans and their families.”
After graduation, John hopes to start his own agency that provides a wide variety of psychological services. “Ideally, I will be able to divide my professional time between teaching, research, and direct service to clients. I know that my education at University of the Rockies will play a major role in my future success.”