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Newspaper Column

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Good advice can be hard to find, but students in the School of Human Service Professions are working to change this old adage through a unique partnership with a local newspaper.

Professor of Clinical Psychology Dr. Virginia Brabender said the goal of the program is to take students’ scholarly work and transform it into advice columns that are useable for the public.

“Students need to know how to translate what are often times challenging concepts in their discipline to the public at large,” Brabender said.

Topics for the psychology-based column, titled Peace of Mind, ranged from how to keep a New Year’s resolution to online dating woes and even how to handle politics at work or how to talk to your kids about school violence.

But students also brought their own unique style to the columns. Rachel Keller, who recently graduated with a Master of Social Work and a Master of Education in Human Sexuality Studies, wrote Sexy Talk – the piece focused on sexual communication and decision-making for the Sexuality Matters column.

“Clear, authentic communication in relationships can be difficult, even with the best of intentions,” Keller wrote. “Talking about sexuality adds even more complexity.”

Other articles focused on topics such as sex addiction and sexual fantasy.

Students don’t always work alone either. Ksera Dyette, a 5th year doctoral candidate in the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, worked alongside fellow 5th year Jeffrey Krauss.

Dyette said the two-person dynamic created an “interesting challenge,” as they had to make two voices sound as one in their article about the growing dependence on smartphones and social media.

“It was a very collaborative process,” she remarked.

Dyette added the column taught her how to become a more effective communicator, especially the balance of when to write from her own personal experience and when to take a step back and look at things from a client’s perspective.

“Getting it down on paper gives you a distance from your words,” Dyette said. “It helps to make the writing more accessible.”

Keller also noted having her writing in the public space helped to bolster her professional identity, providing a platform for her passion on the topics.

“It really boosted my confidence,” said Keller, who now plans to offer workshops in some of the topics she has written about in her columns.

And her advice for future students who have similar opportunities at Widener:

“Go for it.” Keller said. “You know more thank you think you do."