Erin Sesemann- Pirate Profile

Meet our most recent Pirate Profile Student, Erin Sesemann!

What is your area of study? 

I am currently in the doctoral program for Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) within the Department of Human Development and Family Science.

What hobbies or interests do you have? 

I enjoy spending time with my husband and pets (cat and dog), long distance running, hiking/outdoor activities, and anything creative (sewing, drawing, etc.).

Can you tell us about your internship experiences? 

For my internship, I was the first pre-doctoral MedFT intern at the Inpatient Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Program at Vidant Medical Center. My responsibilities included providing mental health services for the patients with illness and/or new physical injuries (for example spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, strokes, amputations) and their families.  I also helped develop the internship program (for example created data tracking system) and provided supervision to the master’s level marriage and family therapy intern.

What does your community involvement look like? 

I see myself involved in the community primarily in two ways. The first is helping connect the patient and families with mental/emotional health services as they transition out of the hospital and back into their community. The goal is to promote healthy and adaptive rehabilitation after injury/illness by providing inpatient mental/emotional services during the admission, locating services in the community, and providing education about the adjusting and coping with new injuries and/or illnesses. The second way is introducing the mental health community to working with individuals who have experienced physical injuries and their families. By supervising interns, providing presentations, and putting forth scholarly writing I hope to continue building a community of MFTs who provide services to this population. 

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to enter your field? 

I would advise students who are looking into Medical Family Therapy to speak with professionals in the field to see if the type of work fits with their personality and desired lifestyle. Work is one aspect of life and it’s important to consider how it’ll fit into the other areas of your life (for example, family, hobbies). 

What is your favorite part of your academic program? 

The people I have met along the way have been the best and I know I wouldn’t have made it through without my friends and professors. Additionally, the education and hands-on training prepared me very well for real life job experiences.

Have you had any mentors or professors who have helped pave a way to accomplish your goals?

Yes. My advisors and mentors throughout my academic career have been pivotal in shaping my path to becoming a medical family therapist. At ECU, Drs. Katharine Didericksen and Angela Lamson have been my main mentors in developing as a researcher and clinician. I will always be appreciative of how they helped me transition from being a student into a young professional. My clinical mentor, David Geissler, PhD, LMFT, was also instrumental in helping me solidify my goals, see new ways achieve my goals, and consider the next steps of my life as I finish my doctoral degree. It was inspiring to work with him during my internship. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

I’d just like to add that working in Medical Family Therapy can be incredibly rewarding as you assist individuals and families with navigating major life transitions that are often sudden, unexpected, and complex. Helping others inevitably changes your own life.