This summer, Jillian Kuhn ’13 is interning at the New York State Office of Mental Health, Psychiatric Institute division at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
“This opportunity is furthering my future career in psychology. Having spent last summer interning at a residential home for severely emotionally disturbed boys on the autism spectrum, I realized I want to go into disaster therapy. I’m excited to explore another side of working in psychology – in a psychiatric inpatient setting,” says Kuhn.
Kuhn is working in the Experimental Therapy, Brain Stimulation Division, where she observes a therapy titled electric convulsion therapy, used primarily for people who have been diagnosed with medication resistant depression.
“ECT takes an average of 15 minutes and is one of the most effective therapies for people with severe depression,” says Kuhn.
She is also performing research and observing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is a noninvasive therapy for schizophrenic and depressed patients who are also medically resistant. As part of her research, Kuhn is working on a literature review of TMS and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
“This combines my interest of disaster therapy and the new treatments that are being done for people with severe PTSD,” says Kuhn.
In addition to her more hands-on experiences as an intern, Kuhn also shadows the chief of The Washington Heights Community Service inpatient unit. Here, she has the opportunity to meet with interesting patients suffering from different mental illnesses ranging from schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorder, and many other mental disorders; as well as attend lectures on anti-psychotic medication.
Recently, Kuhn was able to go to the psych emergency room to work with a patient that was being transferred to The Washington Heights Community Service inpatient unit. She also recently attended court with the unit to observe a psychiatrist requesting a court order for a patient to take his or her medication.
“Overall this summer has been extremely educational. It has been fascinating working with people who have severe mental disorders and learning about new treatments. It has truly shown me a new spectrum of disorders and treatments,” she says.
Kuhn, a psychology and French & Francophone studies double major, and sociology minor, has been a Teaching Assistant, a member of the Centennial Center for Leadership’s training program, and participated in The March: Bearing Witness to Hope 2010 Trip. She is an honorary board member for the Boys and Girls Club, co-creator and secretary of the French and Francophone Club, an ARAW facilitator, and is co-president of the Human Rights Collective and STAND. Kuhn will spend the 2011-2012 school year studying abroad in Paris, France.