Co-op Legacy Fellow Shivani Dave

Shivani Dave '20 - Physiology & Neurobiology
Summer 2017 Co-op Legacy Fellow

Adapting Cognitive Behavior Therapies

I have always been interested in science classes and rarely ventured out of my comfort zone to take humanities courses or anything non-science.  I found myself with a very limited selection for elective classes my first semester at UConn because I was part of one of the later orientation sessions.  I ended up choosing Gender and Globalization and it turned out to be one the best decisions I have made at UConn!  I was lucky enough to have Timothy Dzurilla as my professor and after completing his course, he introduced me to the Co-op Legacy Fellowship.

As a pre-med major it can difficult to find time to study abroad and find relevant courses to medicine.  This fellowship gave me the opportunity to explore some summer programs in other countries, and I came across the University of Exeter International Summer School.  The Exeter Summer School provides a variety of classes ranging from a study of Tolkien’s work to global climate change.  I ended up selecting the Adapting Cognitive Behavior Therapies (CBT) to Improve Access to Psychological Therapies.  Although I am not a psychology major, I am fascinated by the brain and all that it is capable of.  This class and the fellowship provided the chance to study a subject that I knew little about.

Click here to read Shivani’s reflection

The curriculum of the CBT course focused on topics such as stigmas related to mental health, how to account for diversity in patients, and theories in psychology. A favorite subject of mine covered in class was how to create alternate methods of treatment for people living in more rural areas. The University of Exeter is located in Exeter, England and the surrounding area of the city has many farms and isolated homes. It can be difficult for individuals to find access to a professional in these areas, so our class discussed alternate forms of therapy that they can practice at home. These methods included video calling, apps or websites on electronic devices, or home visits by professionals with a wide range of qualifications.

One of the largest takeaways from my experience was accounting for the various cultural backgrounds patients come from. As an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) it is not only my responsibility to treat injuries and sickness, but to also respect the choices that a patient may have about a treatment. For example, if someone’s religion prevents them from receiving a type of medicine, then it is my duty to understand where they are coming from. In the class, we also discussed how to appropriately respond to these restrictions and how to work in the patient’s best interest. Although the material in the course focused more on treating mental illnesses, much of the methods of providing treatment in that field are similar to those of trauma and medical emergencies.

Aside from the academic part of the course, I was able to visit London, St.Ives, Wales and many other places within the UK. This was an International program, and I met people from all over the world. Discussing different cultures and learning about other countries has made my list of places to visit that much longer!

The most important lesson I learned from this experience is that sometimes venturing out and taking unfamiliar classes works out for the best, as seen with both the Gender and Globalization and the CBT courses.  I encourage all applicants to use the Co-op Legacy Fellowship as an opportunity to try something completely new or study a topic you have always wanted to delve deeper into.