Behavioral Sciences Alumna Works with Children and Families at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic Alumni Profile
Meet Karly Shorts '13
- Job Title & Employer
- Behavioral Health Therapist II, Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic – Matilda Theiss Early Childhood Behavioral Health COOL Zone Program
- Behavioral Sciences
- College Activities
- Point Park Women’s Soccer Team; Strong Women, Strong Girls
- Hollsopple, Pa.; North Star High School
- Now Living In
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Hobbies & Interests
- Adult soccer leagues, walking my dogs and gardening
"Point Park’s behavioral sciences program prepared me for my career by introducing me to counseling skills at the undergraduate level, as well as introducing me to the concept of trauma. I remember vividly having to audio record 'practice' counseling sessions with fellow classmates, and this helped me develop my skills for reflection and showed me that being a therapist was exactly where I wanted to be."
What does your job entail?
My job entails facilitating individual, family and group therapy with children from ages 2-8. I work in a trauma treatment center, and the majority of the children and families I’ve worked with have faced a traumatic incident and, as a result of this incident, are exhibiting trauma symptoms. The main therapies I utilize at work are Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).
What I enjoy most about my job is the preventative nature of it. Sometimes I’ll get questions like, “Do toddlers really need therapy? They’re so young!” I do agree that young children are incredibly resilient, but when they’ve experienced something traumatic that hasn’t been processed, such as the death of a parent, abuse, domestic violence, etc., it can drastically affect their development, even to the point of stunting their physical growth. For me, having the opportunity to create a safe place for children and their families to process their trauma and prevent a host of issues later in the child’s life makes my job incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling.
How did Point Park's behavioral sciences program prepare you for your career?
Point Park’s behavioral sciences program prepared me for my career by introducing me to counseling skills at the undergraduate level, as well as introducing me to the concept of trauma. I remember vividly having to audio record “practice” counseling sessions with fellow classmates, and this helped me develop my skills for reflection and showed me that being a therapist was exactly where I wanted to be. I also recall taking a course related to trauma and abuse and reading the book "Trauma & Recovery," which absolutely changed my perspective in every way. I recall not being able to stop reading the book, despite only having to read a set amount of pages per week, and knowing that this was an area I’d hope to focus on in my career in the future. The class also taught me real-life skills related to the abuse cycle, which is something I feel should be taught to folks much earlier in life as it has been integral in identifying this cycle for clients, friend and family members alike.
How would you describe the Department of Psychology's faculty and coursework?
I would describe faculty as very knowledgeable, warm and supportive. I knew my professors very well and knew that if I ever needed assistance or clarity on anything, that they would respond to an email or a visit during office hours without hesitation. I also recall the majority of the professors having worked in the field recently or currently working in the field, which was super helpful in applying the information I learned. As for the coursework, we were often assigned readings from research articles and books outside of textbooks, and I appreciated this real-life application.
What are some of your fondest Point Park memories or favorite experiences?
I think my fondest memory is Snowmaggedon 2010 when the entire city was shut down for a week. it was my first year at Point Park, so I have many fond memories of meeting new friends during that week, walking down the middle of the street downtown because it was so desolate and having a huge snowball fight in Point State Park. This is a memory that I think will simply go down in history for many people in Pittsburgh during that time, but especially for those living in the dorms at Point Park.
Why would you recommend Point Park's behavioral sciences program to a prospective student?
My professors were all very different in their presentations but were equally supportive and knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. In fact, when I graduated, I clearly remember passing Dr. McInerney while I was walking on the Boulevard of the Allies and saying to him, “I’m just not sure what I want to do for the rest of my life.” To this day, when I feel overwhelmed about making decisions about the future, I’ll think of his reply, which was, “You don’t have to make that decision yet. You’ve got a long life to live.” It was such a simple sentiment but really helped to ground me and remind me that I didn’t need to have all the answers at once.