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Master of Arts in Applied Child & Adolescent Psychology: Prevention & Treatment

Stepping Up to Support Childrens Mental Health

Amberlyn CaspersonAmberlyn Casperson

Child and Family Therapist, Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare

Early in her career, Amberlyn Casperson worked as a preschool teacher, guiding infants, toddlers and pre-K learners in their early childhood development. It didn’t take her long to observe that when it comes to mental health, even the very youngest among us sometimes need support.

“As a teacher, I didn’t feel like I had the tools I needed to provide them the very best care,” she recalled.

Amberlyn wanted to provide that extra level of support for children’s social and emotional well-being. When it was time to elevate her skills, she earned her degree in the Master of Arts in Applied Child & Adolescent Psychology: Prevention & Treatment program at the University of Washington.

Now, Amberlyn uses her UW education in her work as a counselor and therapist. As she helps students and clients who seek treatment for anxiety, depression, behavioral problems or other challenges, she’s making a difference for families, schools and youth across Pierce County.

Tell us about your current role.

I’m currently working as a child and family therapist at Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare. I'm one of five therapists trained to do assessments with clients 0–4 years of age. I’m also one of two therapists here who’s trained in assessing and working with clients whose treatment is covered by commercial insurance. I also work at a local high school as an additional counselor.

Why did you decide to pursue your master’s degree in applied child and adolescent psychology?

I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology while I was working as a preschool teacher at a day care center. I soon realized that many kids don’t get the help they need. When I learned about this UW master’s degree program, I thought it was the best way for me to gain the skills I wished I had as a preschool teacher to better serve my students.

What lessons in the program do you find valuable in your current role?

The best lessons came from my practicum site. That’s where I learned, hands-on, how to really connect with clients and build rapport in a way that’s beneficial to their therapeutic process. The program also supported my role as an intern in a fast-paced environment. The practicum helped me learn about different modalities I can apply in my clinical experience.

What motivated you during your program?

The support I received from my classmates, as well as my supervisors and colleagues at my practicum site, helped me complete my degree. They taught me the importance of building connections in the workplace. Through their shared experiences, I gained a better perspective on how to become an effective mental health counselor.

What was your career path after graduation?

My practicum site, Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare, offered me a full-time position. After taking a few weeks off to celebrate my graduation, I accepted. I was so eager to continue my work in such a supportive environment.

How does your masters degree help you make a positive impact as you advance your career?

My UW degree makes it possible for me to help children and families overcome their struggles. As I continue to serve youth and families in my community, I’m motivated to keep learning even more in the field of child and adolescent psychology.

What’s your advice for anyone interested in the program?

The best advice I could give is to connect with people around you. Many people you know probably have similar aspirations and goals. I met so many amazing classmates and co-workers in my degree program and practicum. I received advice and direction from people who have all sorts of backgrounds and knowledge — I couldn’t have done it without them.