Marla Golusin, Psychology

Photograph of Marla Golusin

Marla Golusin

Psychology Student

Marla Golusin lead an active life – as a licensed chiropractor, as a foreign language teacher, as a consultant to Arizona state on trade issues – and she engaged everything she did with her whole mind, body, and soul.

Until a chronic illness left her exhausted and drained for nine years. That not only took away her life, if sent her bouncing from doctor to doctor and therapy to therapy.

Eventually, all these different doctors and approaches determined that it was adrenal exhaustion, and eventually they were able to treat it. And eventually, after she was on the road to recovery, Marla had a revelation:

"I realize that if there had been somebody like a licensed psychologist who I could have gone to early on in this process, someone who understood about the mind-body connection, who understood transpersonal psychology and stress management, then I probably wouldn't have had to go through the illness at all!" she says.

She decided to become that psychologist, and enrolled in Saybrook.

"My goal is to graduate, become a licensed psychologist, and work holistically in the areas of stress management and pain management – and hopefully be able to help patients, and help prevent them from going through chronic illness," she said. "What I like about Saybrook is that they're open to exploring, and that they encourage their students to be leaders and pioneers in the field: to do something that can really contribute. A lot of traditional programs are afraid to touch that."

Now, in addition to her standard psychology coursework, she's taking classes in clinical hypnosis, getting the skills and experience she'll need as a practitioner. "I'm finding that to be really fascinating. I'm having the chance to work with participants, and am having really good results with that."

Saybrook has even allowed her to explore a little known alternative approach that was a passion of her childhood: equine therapy. Her master's thesis will look at the impact that working with horses can have on people suffering from fibromyalgia.

When she was in high school she donated her own horse to a facility that helped troubled kids, and worked with them. "I saw the wonderful therapeutic ability that these animals had with kids, and how it helped to turn them around in a very positive way," she says. "Later, in my college years, I worked at other facilities that provided equine therapy, and I do again today. I've worked with kids who have autism, Down syndrome, kids who come from troubled families – I'd like to see more research done in the field to document the impact it has, because I think it has great potential."

She was amazed, and grateful, to find out that Saybrook faculty would encourage and help her – as long as she was committed to rigorous research.

"The faculty are outstanding to work with: there is a lot of freedom for creative expression here," she said. "There is the ability to take classes not only within my field of interest, but outside of the traditional box."

Most importantly, it fits with her life. "I like the flexibility, the ability to do my work at home, in my home state, and still be able to fly out for conferences, meet with students, meet with faculty … it's a nice balance."