Jevian Joseph's Statement
Upon obtaining my undergraduate degree in psychology, I knew that I wanted to spend time gaining experience before applying to graduate school. This is what initially motivated me to seek out opportunities for research, and to eventually become connected with Dr. Beatrice Beebe at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. I was drawn to the Dr. Beebe’s work because although I already had a strong desire to work with children, I hadn’t considered working more closely with the mother-infant dyadic system. I wanted to be able to learn more about the importance of both the mother and the infant in facilitating verbal and non-verbal communication, and how that communication could inform future treatment. I did not foresee, however, that this research environment would provide me with such an in-depth understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying interpersonal communication between mothers and infants, and that I would be able to develop the skills and confidence needed to navigate the graduate school application process.
As a research assistant within Dr. Beebe’s lab, I observed mother-infant face-to-face interactions, and within three months, became statistically reliable as a video microanalysis coder of 4-month infant vocal affect. I worked simultaneously on other projects, including an Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) transcription, and coding 12-month infant vocal affect for a data set of 85 videos. I was given the opportunity to enhance my leadership skills through teaching visiting doctoral students to code and serving as a teaching assistant for Dr. Beebe’s course at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, EPIC Summer Institute, entitled “Learning the Infant’s Nonverbal Language.”
Through being a part of the lab, I have been able to truly understand the amount of significant interactions that occur at the second-by-second level; interactions that would be completely missed in real time. On a personal level, I have been able to recognize how much I have to offer to the field of psychology, and how important it is for me to pursue levels that match my full potential. I was surprised by how professional and educationally minded everyone within the lab was, and how personable Dr. Beebe was with all of her research assistants. I was expecting to feel intimidated, but was instead met with a genuinely inclusive lab environment, and an overwhelming amount of support. I did not expect that during my time at the lab, I would have been able to gain such a passion for observing mother-infant interaction, and such an ear for coding infant vocal affect. Additionally, Dr. Beebe’s monthly lectures have allowed me to think critically, process complex data, and consider the clinical implications of data results.
Ultimately, being a part of this lab has not only inspired me to work with children in the future, but to also reflect on the importance of dyadic communication in the clinical treatment of both children and adults. Every time I code, the infant teaches me something new, reminding me of the just how much can be discovered through careful observation. Learning to code infant vocal affect has allowed me to understand the many different ways in which infants communicate through sound, and has ultimately influenced how I now listen to the sounds of others. I know that this lab experience has helped to fully prepare me, as I now enter into graduate study at Yeshiva University. For any student that is looking to enter a graduate program and would like to gain research experience in a supportive environment, Dr. Beebe’s lab is the place for you.