PsyD Student Honored by Association for Death Education

Posted on 11/7/2016 10:08:46 AM

Sara TroupeClinical psychology doctoral student Sara Troupe was recently featured by the Association for Death Education and Counseling in their October 2016 edition of ADEC Connects.

Troupe, MA, is a fourth-year clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She currently leads IUP’s Actively Moving Forward chapter, a peer support group for college students grieving the illness or death of a loved one.

Sara presented at the 2016 ADEC Conference and was a recipient of the ADEC Student Travel Scholarship Award. Sara is a student practicum therapist at IUP’s Counseling Center and Indiana’s Community Guidance Center. Her primary clinical interests include grief and loss and body image concerns. Sara enjoys providing outreach workshops to educate students and reduce mental health stigma on IUP’s campus. Currently, Sara is applying for her doctoral internship and is excited to see where the match process takes her.

Do you have a mentor/role model who has significantly affected your career path in thanatology? Tell us why you chose this career path. 

”I became interested in thanatology, specifically grief work, when I began volunteering as a co-leader for a local community grief support group, Hopeful Hearts, during my second year of graduate training. While volunteering, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Gordon Thornton, IUP professor emeritus, who also was a volunteer for the organization. Dr. Thornton, a well-known professor of thanatology and 2002–03 ADEC president, taught a Death and Dying course at IUP for over 30 years. Although he has retired from the classroom, he remains involved in the campus community by continuing to share his expertise with IUP’s Psychology Department and graduate students. Dr. Thornton encouraged me to present at ADEC’s 2016 conference as well as apply for the Student Scholarship Award. I am inspired by his dedication to the study of thanatology, his obvious enthusiasm for the field, and his extremely kind and welcoming personality. I admire his continued involvement in the Indiana community. I truly appreciate the time that he has dedicated to mentoring me and supporting my own endeavors related to grief work.”

What advice would you offer a more junior professional in the field on growing their career or keeping their work fresh?

“I would suggest involvement in their campus and local communities as much as possible. My most meaningful experiences while in training have happened outside of the classroom. I volunteered for a community grief support group for a year, and it was a privilege to hear families share their stories of loss and support for one another through the grieving process. This experience sparked my interest in grief work and inspired me to get involved on campus. At IUP, I facilitate a peer support group for students who have experienced loss. Last year, our goal was to develop a bereavement leave policy for students. We met with administrators, presented at meetings, and developed a policy which students can now use as a reference if they experience the loss of a loved one throughout their education. Witnessing individuals first-hand, both on campus and in the community, who are mourning the loss of loved ones strengthened my commitment to invest in my career in helping others.”

What do you think the future holds for your work and that of others like you? How will that impact what you do?

“As a therapist, I think that the future holds many stories that are waiting to be shared. It is my hope that I, and all therapists, can continue to create a safe environment where individuals can feel comfortable sharing their experiences of death and loss. I find the grieving process to be extremely fascinating. Everyone experiences the loss of a loved one at some point, yet we often do not know how to support one another. Openly share our thoughts and emotions related to loss is an important aspect of healing. By creating a space where individuals can feel comfortable, I hope to develop an open dialogue with my clients where that they can freely share their feelings and emotions and always feel secure in seeking support.”

Department of Psychology