Candice HershmanPsychology Alumni
Candice Miller Hershman says her experience as a Saybrook Marriage and Family Therapy student has been so positive that "I consider Saybrook my home away from home."
"It's amazing, being a distance learning school, how fond I am of the Saybrook community," she says. "The faculty are really, really, accessible, amazing people – I'm impressed with the way they interact with students, I'm impressed with their humaneness. Whenever I go to a Saybrook Residential Conference, I feel like I'm going on vacation."
But she almost didn't make it here: her first experience with academic psychology was so disappointing she actually dropped out of school.
Candice says she didn't have a lot of family support as a kid. "I was pretty troubled, I was in therapy, and I needed a lot of outside support."
She got it. People were there for her, "and I think that really influenced me." So much, in fact, that it made her want to be a therapist herself, and help others.
But after becoming a psychology major at her first college, she realized they weren't offering her anything she cared about.
"It was all about running rats through mazes," she said. "The course work was very dry. Their view of human beings was a little archaic and based on sickness: there wasn't a lot of inspiring material that spoke to me the way I wanted to speak to others."
So she left without a degree and got on with her life. She became a mother with a busy schedule, and eventually moved to northern California. Even though her college experience had been bad, her dream hadn't died, and eventually she decided to give psychology another try – this time at Sonoma State University, which she soon discovered was one of the founding schools of humanistic psychology.
"Discovering humanistic psychology was huge for me," she remembers. "It was revelatory. I not only fell in love with psychology again, I started making big life changes. I took my education a lot more seriously – I started doing creative things again, something that I'd completely lost from my life."
As she finished her undergrad work, there was no question that Candice wanted to practice psychology – and that she wanted a humanistic education. Her advisors recommended Saybrook.
"It was also the right choice for me because Saybrook is very good at accommodating busy lives like mine, where I want to make my kids a priority," she says. "The flexibility to build your own program is essential –I really need a program where I can structure my academic stuff around the rest of my life. I get that here."
Most importantly, she's got a degree she can use. "I chose Marriage and Family Therapy because I wanted the stability that degree offers. I think Saybrook's done a really good job of teaching in a way that prepares students for exams and licensing requirements: they give us a very comprehensive view of therapy, and expose us to a lot of models in an informed and objective way."
Now that she has her masters she's acquiring her MFT license, and returning to Saybrook for a doctorate in Psychology. Once again, she's confident this is the school for her. "The program directors really encouraged me to design my own program in a way that fits my needs – I feel really supported advocating for what I want and need."