Sandra Eberhardt, Psychology

Photograph of Sandra Eberhardt

Sandra Eberhardt

Psychology Student

Sandra Eberhardt's life changed the day she saw a copy of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

"Do you remember that show, Wonderama?" she asks. "The host used to ask everybody what they wanted to do when they grew up, and most of the little girls would say they wanted to be a teacher and a nurse. I was thinking along those lines myself: ever since I was a child I wanted to work in a helping profession. Helping other people was a calling; something I always felt compelled to do."

She majored in psychology as an undergraduate at Cal State Dominguez, where one of her instructors was Art Bohart – a long-time collaborator with Saybrook who now runs its PsyD program. Bohart saw a passion in her not just for learning the material, but connecting it with the lives of people … and so he gave her a membership to the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

As soon as she saw it she knew what kind of therapist she wanted to be.

"Humanistic psychology encompasses so many different topics," she says. "Reading the journal, seeing how people were studying various topics from shamanism to dream studies to spirituality … I immediately wanted to study those philosophies and traditions and broaden my own awareness, even my own self awareness. I knew that studying humanistic psychology would give me the opportunity to develop personally and academically, and that was compelling to me."

She didn't know that the Journal of Humanistic Psychology has been edited by a Saybrook faculty member even since its founding, but when she looked online for graduate psychology programs Saybrook's name kept coming up. When she realized that Bohart and other faculty members she respected were connected with it too, she applied.

Just as she predicted, it changed her life.

"Who I was the day I started and who I am now are completely different, and that's because of the quality of the relationships that I've established both academically and personally,” she said. "Some of my best friends now come from my interactions at the residential conferences. I've gotten to know the faculty better, and they're fantastic caring people. I've made numerous contacts and connections. I'm more self-confident and feel emboldened to move forward in my professional life. My writing and research skills have been improved exponentially. I'm just a better person."

She's also making a difference. Her dissertation is on the ways in which strong social bonds can contribute to the survival rate of people who suffered from cardiac arrests. "They're an underserved population in terms of getting the social support they need for rehabilitation,” she says. She's developing models to improve that.