Graduate psychology student seeks to find new ways to treat eating disorders

As an undergraduate student majoring in psychology and minoring in health and nutrition, Eva Statler discovered her future life calling by combining her interests and conducting research on ways to treat eating disorders. 

Today, as a  student in Barry’s Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MS) Program, Statler continues to devote herself to this calling with the hopes of pursuing a Ph.D. and one day becoming a head psychologist at an eating disorder inpatient clinic.   

“I am fascinated by the complexity of the disorder and the wide range of therapeutic needs of these clients,” Statler said.

Statler, who was a McNair Scholar as an undergraduate at Northern Michigan University and the first in her family to attend college, grew up in single-parent home, in which she and her father struggled financially, living paycheck to paycheck.

By earning a master’s degree and, one day, a doctoral degree, she hopes to create a new life for herself that is different from what she knew growing up, she said.

“My education has always been my number one priority,” Statler said. “I would never change my experiences, because they made me who I am today, but I always told myself that I wanted to be different. I want to enjoy my career, live a comfortable lifestyle, and be able to provide for my family. I want to better myself intellectually, socially and emotionally. Most importantly, I made a commitment to myself to change the negative cycles of my family and begin a path of success and happiness.”

Growing up, Statler always wanted to pursue nursing as a profession, she said, and even began her undergraduate studies as a nursing major. Upon taking her first course in psychology, however, she developed a strong interest in the field and enrolled in more psychology courses, which ultimately prompted her to switch her major and pursue psychology as a career. 

“After taking my first psychology course I was hooked,” Statler said. “I quickly became fascinated with human behavior and found myself pursuing the meaning behind every interpersonal interaction I was involved in.”  

As a psychology major, Statler enrolled in courses focusing on nutrition, health and fitness, cultural differences, and overweight and obese populations and completed a two-year research assistantship studying populations with eating disorders. During her senior year, she was accepted into the McNair Scholars Program, a federally funded program designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.

When exploring options for graduate school, Statler visited Barry’s campus to meet with Frank Muscarella, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Psychology, and tour Barry’s campus and psychology facilities. During her visit, Statler also had the opportunity to speak with second- and third-year graduate students in Barry’s Master of Science in Clinical Psychology Program.

“The graduate students had nothing but good things to say about the program and felt as though they had received an excellent education,” Statler said. “After touring the university and spending some time exploring the surrounding areas, I knew I wanted to attend Barry University to receive my master’s degree.” 

As a master’s student at Barry, Statler has continued to pursue a career in studying treatments for those affected by eating disorders.  In March, she presented her paper “Body Satisfaction and the Transtheoretical Model of Change as Predictors of Weight Loss” at the Florida Academy of Sciences Annual Conference in Miami Shores, Fla. The paper, which suggests that the Transtheoretical Model of behavior change model can be used to identify misperceptions in weight status, will serve as the basis of her thesis.

“Eva is determined, dedicated and thoughtful,” said Sabrina Des Rosiers, Ph.D., an assistant professor for Barry’s Department of Psychology. “It is a real pleasure to work with her on her thesis research project and contribute to her scholarly and professional development.” 

Statler is also completing a practicum experience at Fort Lauderdale Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which specializes in the treatment of drug addiction, mental-health issues and co-occurring disorders for adults and adolescents. As part of her practicum experience, Statler will conduct psychosocial evaluations, individual psychotherapy and group psychotherapy.

“I am excited to have access to staff members who can coach and teach me practical applications for the things I have learned in school,” she said. “This experience, combined with my educational background, will make me a strong candidate for a doctoral program and prepare me for my future career.”

Statler has also committed herself to learning about her field outside of the classroom, serving as a member of multiple student and professional organizations, including the Graduate Association of Students in Psychology (GASP), Psi Chi (The International Honor Society in Psychology), the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Neuroscience, the APA’s Division of Health Psychology, the American Society for Nutrition, The Obesity Society and Sigma Xi (The Scientific Research Society). 

Today, as a second-year master’s student, Statler has experienced a personal and professional transformation, she said.

“Upon completing my first year in the graduate program at Barry University, I have grown tremendously,” Statler said. “Academically, my writing and statistical skills have improved enormously. My critical-thinking skills have developed. Emotionally, I have become more self-aware. During this program, I have become more in tune with my emotions and am more confident in myself and my abilities.”

Following graduation, Statler plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology.

“My drive and determination have made all of this possible,” Statler said. “I am able to treasure my education, because I've been through so many hardships and have worked hard to get where I am.”

For more information about Barry’s Master of Science in Clinical Psychology program, visit http://www.barry.edu/psychology/clinical-psychology/

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