“If you find what you love to research, stick with it! There’s nothing better than diving into research that you are passionate about,” says Emily Steele, first year master’s student in our social work program, and recent first place category winner of the 2016 Fulton Conference.
Her words come from personal experience. “I participated in the conference once or twice as an undergraduate student, but this was my first time as a graduate student,” said Steele.”I felt different about it this time, because I had spent a lot more time and energy on the project that I presented this year.”
Research Helping Veterans
Her research project was inspired by the need to create more accessible and effective treatment programs for combat related trauma in military veterans. Her poster was titled: “Warrior Camp: An Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy Program for Combat Trauma in Military Veterans.”
She conducted a program evaluation of a fairly new, unique treatment program called Warrior Camp, a clinical treatment program designed to heal trauma, prevent suicide, support force preservation, and enhance resilience, based in New York City, NY. The program offers different treatments to address the vast array of symptoms that military veterans experience due to combat trauma (PTSD, depression, mortal injury, dissociative experiences, etc.). One of those treatments is the opportunity for veterans to interact with horses in a variety of activities, including grooming, feeding, walking, and playing games, Both a licensed therapist and horse professional conduct EAP.
“This type of treatment model has never been used before [at Warrior Camp], yet the program results indicate statistically significant decreases in maladaptive trauma symptoms for the participants of the program,” explained Steele. “This provides preliminary evidence that this unique treatment model offers promising results for military veterans suffering from combat related trauma.”
Research Helping Practice
Steele understands that research and clinical practice go hand in hand. “I think that as social workers, we tend to shy away from the research all together because we just want to be doing clinical work with people the entire time. However, if we don’t incorporate evidence-based treatments into our practice, our clinical work cannot be deemed valid or reliable.”
Research is Better With a Mentor
Social Work professor David Wood has been Steele’s research mentor. Steele said she has loved working with him because he gives her enough freedom to take the reigns of the project, but offers helpful direction when she needs it. “I have learned so much throughout this research project and about what I am truly capable of, and I have Dave to thank for that,” she said.
Research Helps You Determine Your Passions
Steele encourages all students to get involved with research. She said,
“Becoming involved in research early on in your undergraduate years is the best thing you can do to determine what your goals and passions are. If research isn’t for you, then at least you’ve figured it out early on!”
Seeing all of the research that other students are doing is one of Steele’s favorite parts of the Fulton Conference. “I think BYU is very unique in that it allows and encourages its undergraduate students to become involved with research on a rigorous level.” She feels that her own research experiences will help her in her future practice and career by allowing her to evaluate and critique research and clinical techniques to provide the best treatment for her clients.
Her poster, which garnered her $300 as first place winner in the graduate-level social work category, is on display on the ninth floor of the Kimball Tower at BYU.
If you could research anything, what would it be?
Featured image via Flickr.