Posts Tagged ‘Dissertation’

When I thought about doing P90X a few months ago I wanted to write out the routines on a calendar so I could cross them off as I completed them. Basic behavior modification. I asked my wife to pick up a calendar for me and when she asked what I wanted on it I told her “whatever is fine.” And so I have an “Extraordinary Chickens” calendar upon which I track my progress.

It now has 7 X’s on it 🙂

I made it through the first week of P90X and did pretty well. I’m still getting used to eating differently. I generally eat lots of carbs and not enough protein in any given week. I’m good with veggies and fruit though (thanks to my wife). In order to really have enough energy to do this program I need more protein. I don’t do any of the supplements or drinks. For one, they’re expensive, and for two, I’m not trying to build myself up to be this awesome bodybuilder or anything. Yes, I know I’m missing out and my body is probably missing out, but I take my multivitamin and now a glucosamine supplement (recommended by a friend since I’m having knee trouble this week). My nutrition and vitamin intake are in the spirit of the program and for now that is good enough for me.

My biggest hurdles so far in the program are yoga and abs. Abs are just plain brutal. I’m doing 12-15 reps for each exercise (instead of the 25) and it’s all I can do for now. As for yoga, I’m just not all that flexible and I have a belly, which gets in the way and has more than once caused me to fall over. Plyo isn’t the monster I thought it was. I can mostly keep up and I try to push myself a bit more each time. I’m getting better at pull ups and, honestly, I’m doing mostly adjusted versions of many of the exercises at the moment to get some benefit and learn the routines. It does me no good to do 3/4 a pull up without a chair when I can do 5-10 with a chair (and I always try to do at least one without the chair each time). That’s my best right now and I’m not sad about it.

Kempo X is probably my new favorite thing. I enjoyed the punches and kicks when I did P90 back in the day and this is a high pace version of that. I’m still learning form, but I can keep up intensity, which is something I can’t do on any of the other programs.

In other news, Fantasy Football starts up soon. I’ve tinkered around a bit this weekend and plan to read up on the guys this year during the week. I’m hoping to find enough people (read: people I know) to start my own league this year. I’m sure I can cobble together 7-9 people to make it happen. Updates on that progress later.

I finish my internship in <1 month. After that I will be finishing my dissertation and hopefully finding a job. I’m applying to a lot of places this weekend and next week. I hate not having a plan and feeling like I have little control over what happens to Maggie and the cats and me for the next 3-4 months. All I know is that by the end of the year I will be graduated. There’s also a small chance that we’ll all be homeless. Now accepting donations.


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A lot is going to happen in my life in the next 90 days. I will complete my internship year at Coatesville. I will be extremely close, if not finished with my dissertation. I will almost be graduated with my PsyD. Maggie and I will be packing to move or have already moved to…somewhere. I will tackle P90X.

Internship has been a great experience overall. I have grown so much this year and learned a lot about myself professionally. Admittedly I was slow to adapt to the program and had to relearn a couple of things, but my professional confidence continues to grow and I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of many veterans.

My dissertation is stressing me out. I need 4 more participants and I am working to find them wherever I can. If you are yourself or know a gay male college student in the Philly area who might be interested in participating in my research on the coming out process, send me an email (jschwenker@spalding.edu) for details. Once I have the last 4 I can pull all my data together, analyze it, write it up, and get on defending to my committee. I’m ready to move this process along since my proposal was accepted by ISTSS for discussion at the 2012 conference in Los Angeles. Yay!!!

I’m not sure what our future holds. Everything is once again up in the air (or perhaps it has always been there). We’re currently stuck in PA paying really high rent while I scour the nation for a job or post doc that will take me ABD. Looking forward to a time when I can count on just a little bit more stability.

Finally, I have decided to tackle P90X. After 2 years of consideration and a lot of procrastination, I will begin the program next week. I’ve been auditioning the workouts the past couple of weeks, doing one to the best of my ability and taking a day or 2 off to recover. They’re difficult. No question. And I don’t think I would have made it through Plyo without having spent the last 90 days running and building up my stamina and leg strength. Plyo was rough, but I think the real challenges for me are going to be Abs, pull ups, and yoga.

I plan to approach this the same way that I did my running and, to borrow a phrase from Tony Horton, “do my best and forget the rest.” My goal is to complete the program. Do each routine from start to finish. Do all of the exercises. There are some exercises where I can keep up with Tony and the gang. There are others where I absolutely cannot, and that’s fine. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I may not be able to do 25 of each type of crunch, but I am sure I can manage 10 and work my way up. The same goes for other exercises. I can do more than half of what they’re doing and work toward matching for the moment.

I plan on tracking my progress here for each of the phases (tracking my measurements anyway and maybe a few pics). I will be tracking my daily progress on Fitocracy now that I’ve managed to translate the P90X exercises into Fitocracy’s language. I have my calendar marked and my worksheets printed. I take my initial measurements tomorrow (Sunday) morning and I start fresh on Monday after work. All that is left is to do the work and stay focused, which applies to more than just my exercise.

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I am currently in Nashville preparing to gather data for my dissertation. Let me catch you up to speed.

I have 18 participants so far for my dissertation and need 7 more to meet my goal of 25. Trying to find people in PA has been largely a bust as only one person has volunteered despite completing the IRB process at 3 universities and contacting local groups for assistance. I am in Nashville today because of a plea for friends to find friends of friends who might be interested. This has led to a road trip from PA to KY to TN to NC back to PA. Presently I am scheduled to work with 4 people and hope to cobble together 3 more before the trip is through. I’m waiting to hear back from others, but I can’t say for sure how many people I will have by the time I return to PA on the 4th.

I’m ready to be done with this project. Very ready. Following this portion I have to score each data set, send it to my dissertation chair to have her score it as well, compare notes, input the data into a program, download that information into 2 stats programs (SPSS and Excel), tinker a bunch, confer with my committee, run analyses, tinker some more, write up results, run everything by my committee, finalize edits, defend, and make final final edits. All of this needs to be done before Sept 8th (and preferably before Aug 31st) so that I can graduate in October.

Deep Breath

And so I am traveling approx 1,900 miles across 9 states to hopefully wrap up data collection so that I can throw myself headfirst into analysis and writing.

In addition to dissertation stuff, I am seeing lots of old friends, meeting new ones, and seeing many family members. In Louisville I got to visit with mom and Alicia. I had lunch/breakfast with several Murray friends as part of a fortuitous reunion, as well as spend time with my brother, his wife, and two kiddos, meeting my nephew for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Murray/Mayfield. Now I’m in Nashville visiting more Murray friends and doing dissertation stuff. Tomorrow I head to NC to meet friends of friends and gather more data with the outside chance of having a meal with friends and/or family (time and schedules permitting). I’ll be spending the 4th driving north and getting back to PA around bedtime for work on Thursday, rounding out the trip bookended by Thursdays.

I’ve been running where/when I can and I am nearly finished with my 90 in 90. I have 5 days left and, unfortunately, I believe I have injured myself. I’m almost certain it is shin splints, which have plagued me from the start. Given the rigor with which I have structured this goal (i.e., no days off) I have scantly rested my legs other than to alternate running with elliptical work to minimize footstrike. I have decided that I will walk briskly my last 5 days, further minimizing injury, and will follow up my goal with at least 2 weeks of rest. More on that progress later. I intend to restart P90 by the end of July, but I need to make sure I haven’t injured myself more severely than I think before I start something as rigorous as P90. I plan to alternate that with C210K to keep up my running, opting for longer running periods but shorter bursts of running.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Pushing to get this project done and staying healthy. Wish me luck. The next step is graduation, jobs, and moving away from PA.

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I’ve been in NC for a week now over Maggie’s spring break and now, this week, I’m enjoying mine. It is a nice vacation and I like to spend time with everyone out here. Last weekend Maggie, our friend Susan, and I went on a self-planned wine tour to five different wineries and punctuated our trip with a visit to the beach in Wilmington.

Two of the wineries stood out: The Country Squire Winery and Noni Bacca Winery. Country Squire reminded me a bit of Murray in the sense of Eastertime playing trumpet for the Catholics and eating at the Brass Lantern. Maggie said it reminded her of Patti’s, though I’ve never been (and that’s a shame). Country Squire is a restaurant and inn as well and it crossed our minds that we may make a return visit for another mini-vacation to stay in the cottage.The wines were excellent and I came home with a bottle of “Knicker Dropper.” Susan really liked the place and bought 3 bottles. One thing to note is that apparently there is a little girl that hangs out at this winery and occasionally makes her presence known to visitors. Paranormal groups visit regularly for a chance to say hello to her.

Noni Bacca was also nice and definitely a different locale than Country Squire. It was located in a strip mall adjacent to a mattress store. We did a wine tasting for $5 and got much more than our money’s worth. The staff were friendly and provided us with lots of crackers, cheese, and chocolate. We sampled something like fifteen wines and got lots of extra samples. I was sad that they had run out of a couple of the wines I wanted to sample, but they had a great selection of ice wines and fruit wines. I’m typically more of a semi-dry red wine kind of guy, but I really liked their fruits and whites. They recommended a fresh seafood place down the street that was awesome.

In between visiting these two wineries we paid a visit to the beach. The water was much too cold to wade into and, truth be told, the wind was very chilly as well. We went mostly to enjoy the view and read for a bit. We were pleasantly surprised to see a pair of dolphins swimming in the waves maybe 50 feet from the shore. It was the first time I have seen dolphins outside of an enclosure and Maggie said it was her first time seeing them while not in a boat. It definitely made my day for sure.

This week I get to visit Carl and my brothers-in-law. I’m looking forward to hanging out with Carl and catching up on things. He recently got a job out in Wilmington so I’ll have to pass along some of what we learned in our trip. I have a feeling the in-laws are gonna celebrate my (belated) birthday during our visit. They’re fun like that. It’ll be nice to have cake. It was the one thing missing from my birthday this year. And even if they don’t celebrate it (which I’m cool with too), it’ll be fun to spend the evening with them and play games with the boys.

Finally, I plan to get some work done with my dissertation this week. I’m hoping to work with some of the UNCG students to gather data. I’m partnering with PRIDE on campus to find participants and space to work and Maggie has a few friends who are willing to work with me. Hopefully I’ll get a handful of participants to take back to Louisville with me. I can get started scoring and work on my SPSS (read: boring statistics program) file to organize it.

That’s all for now. Oh, one more thing. If you read the blog regularly, you might run across the name “Belzan.” Belzan is the (nerd alert!) character I play in the online game Guild Wars. I also write a blog for him and other Guild Wars related things. I’ve honestly been keeping up with that blog a bit more, so you may see that name more frequently. All of my blog replies currently show up with “Jason” but I’ll be changing that to Belzan so as not to confuse those guys. Just a head’s up. I don’t love them more than you guys, I just see them more 🙂

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I am well on my way to collecting data for my dissertation. I have acquired IRB approval at Spalding and I’m awaiting approval at 4 other universities. Funny, the one in North Carolina is much more on their game than the local ones in Louisville. I have printed all of the documents I need and will be stuffing packets this week. I also need to purchase a couple of things, including a locking document box (which are harder to find than you might think) and an external hard drive (multipurpose since I need to back up my compy anyway). Other than that, I need to track down participants and get to it.

Friday is Match Day. I will know then where I will be for internship (or if I need to freak out a whole bunch). I’ll be glad to have an answer either way. I’m tired of waiting. I’m growing impatient for my future. I’d like to be able to say with some certainty where I will be in a year.

I have started to consider my health again. This time last year (give or take a month) I began exploring P90 and doing Sparkpeople. I’ve left the latter in the dust, but I have strong intentions to restart the former. I am 225 lbs–the heaviest I’ve ever been. Internship interviewing and all of the stress from these past few months have led to more stress eating and a tendency to want to sit and veg at the end of the day. I turn 29 in 10 days and I’d like to be healthier on for my 30th birthday than I will be on my 29th. Part of that means eating healthier and part of that means exercising regularly. I plan to jump start this process sometime in the next couple of weeks by kicking my own ass with P90X. I also intend to begin paying more attention to what I consume. Portion size is a problem as is eating when I’m not really hungry. I plan to reduce the number of times I eat fast food and how frequently I eat greasy/fried foods in general. I hardly ever drink soda anymore and I have been increasing my water intake, so I do have something to show for myself. I’d like to get back down to between 165 lbs and 175 lbs. Online BMI calculators are telling me 160-176 for a medium frame and 129-169 (BMI 19-25) for my ideal body weight. Honestly, once I’m down past 200 I’ll be happy.

Let’s see, what else? I get to visit Maggie in a couple weeks for a couple weeks. My spring break and hers bunch up against each other, so it’ll make for a nice mid semester vacation. It won’t be all play though. I will be gathering data for my dissertation at her school while I’m there. I should be visiting her from around the 7th to the 19th of March. Really looking forward to it, I must say.

That’s all for now.

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It has been a month since my last post and I have almost nothing to show for it. I have finished my GA but my motivation for just about everything else has gone south. I’ve put off schoolwork and dissertation work, and I have been following my workout only intermittently. I will do better this month.

I’m in the process of getting all of my feedback from Chapter I of my dissertation. So far I’ve heard good things. I have 3 assessments to complete (2 reports and 1 yet-to-be-referred referral). I have less than a month left at my practicum. I will take the rest of July to complete Chapter II of my dissertation and will hopefully start collecting data in August.

As for my workouts, I will begin P90M anew next week and continue to eat better (I’ve been introducing more fruits into my diet and trying to cut my portions down). I’ll post my 30 days pic after I’ve successfully completed my 30 days.

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I’ve gotten back my edits for Chapter 1 of my dissertation and I have a lot left to do. Also, I have IRB approval now so I can start collecting data at some point. There is still plenty of writing to be had. I applied for a dissertation-based scholarship thanks to the topic of my dissertation focusing on the LGBT population. If I win I’ll get $1,500, which I will use to buy my testing materials and provide some compensation for subjects and a pizza party for those willing to help me administer the assessments (now taking offers!). I was required to distill my dissertation down into <3 pages, which was no easy feat. I figure it is the simplest way to let everyone know what I’m up to though since I haven’t really gone into the details here on my blog.  Below is said 3 page abbreviated dissertation proposal for your reading “pleasure.”

Positive and Negative Coming Out Experiences as Reflected in the Rorschach Comprehensive System

In order to accurately and ethically assess, diagnose, and treat clients from diverse and traditionally marginalized populations, clinicians must take into consideration the experiences of these populations and adapt current practices to account for these experiences. African Americans, for example, have endured racism, discrimination, and unequal treatment since before the Civil War, while lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people (LGBT) struggle with identity development and an often-stressful coming out process.

Emic based (i.e., culture specific) diagnostic tools and treatments more likely to be sensitive to these experiences are the exception rather than the rule. By contrast, the most commonly used assessment measures and treatment methods utilize an imposed etic format in an effort to be culturally neutral and universal. These measures are often administered to minorities and LGBT clients; for whom typical norms may not apply since they do not take into account factors that may be unique to the population and may even lead to a misinterpretation of these as pathology or negative symptomatology. Indeed, a recent dissertation by Howell (2008) identified a need for special considerations when scoring and interpreting Comprehensive System (CS; Exner, 2003) results on the Rorschachs of gay men. Howell found that gay men who endorsed negative coming out experiences tended to have more pathological responses across several CS variables (e.g., H content, A content, GHR:PHR). These results emphasize the dangers of not taking into account emic based variables and experiences when using etic based measures.

The coming out process is a unique and important aspect of LGBT identity development and thus it is important for clinicians to consider this experience when working with this population. It is insufficient, however, for clinicians to merely identify whether or not a person has come out. The process is different for each individual and there are numerous factors that influence everything from how the individual perceives himself, whether the experience is positive or negative, and when and to whom the individual discloses his identity.

In his Ecological Model of Human Development, Urie Bronfenbrenner emphasizes the importance of considering the environment in understanding human development. He elaborates on interactions between the person and various systems (e.g., work, spouse, church) as well as the interactions between the systems themselves (e.g., spouse’s job, culture). The model seeks to account for interpersonal interactions, social resources, and societal pressures, in addition to other factors that influence human development. Furthermore, the individual is identified as a growing organism constantly adapting and changing based on systemic interactions.

Several factors were identified in research as having a positive or negative influence on the coming out experience. Individual or person factors include: coping style, internalized homophobia, personality style, attachment style, and the presence of mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress). Environmental or systemic factors include: race, culture, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, and legal rights. Finally, several interactions between the individual and the environment have been found to have an effect as well. Examples include: social support, familial support, heterosexism, involvement in a gay community, and the presence of role models.

The purpose of this study is to conceptualize the coming out process within Bronfenbrenner’s model and account for the effects of various factors on the coming out experience. The study will identify a combination of individual and environmental variables that reliably differentiate those with positive coming out experiences from those with negative coming out experiences. The study hypothesizes that gay men with negative coming out experiences will have different cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal coping styles as well as different environmental experiences (e.g., reactions from others to disclosure and current lifestyle). Negative coming out should be reflected in gay male Rorschach CS scores as well as in their responses to a Coming Out Questionnaire (COQ). An additional measure of mental health, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis, 1993) will also be used to ensure that the negative coming out experience is not simply a reflection of existing mental health difficulties. The CS includes variables that have been related to situational stress, chronic stress, interpersonal adjustment, cognitive and emotional coping, empathy, and flexibility. As a result, there should be some reflection of positive and negative coming out experiences within these variables.

Each participant will sign an informed consent and complete a Rorschach, BSI, and COQ (in that order). Using the results of the BSI and COQ, participants will be identified within one of four categories based on their level of mental health symptoms (as measured by the BSI) and positive versus negative coming out experience (as measured by the COQ). Rorschach variables (e.g., D, AdjD, Y, M, GHR:PHR, Egocentricty Index) will be analyzed based on each category with associated hypotheses. A factor analysis will also be included to analyze the results and identify correlations between factors identified in the COQ and Rorschach variables. The categories include:

Positive Coming Out Experience Negative Coming Out Experience
Low BSI Best results, fewer mental health symptoms, positive individual and/or environmental factors Second best results, mental health moderates and helps person to adjust to coming out, potentially higher situational stressors
High BSI Coming out moderates mental health symptoms, more positive environmental factors, preexisting mental health symptoms may affect Rorschach results Worst situation, preexisting mental health combined with negative coming out impact person and Rorschach results together, negative individual and environmental factors

The significance of this study includes a better understanding of how preexisting mental health symptoms and coping styles affect the coming out experience, how environmental factors moderate the negative aspects of coming out, and how interactions between individual and environmental factors can help account for the tendency towards a positive or negative experience. Additionally, this study will produce data specific to the Comprehensive System that captures the coming out experience and its effects on the individual that may prove beneficial to future assessment (e.g., a cluster of variables that captures a negative coming out experience for use when assessing gay males). This study will help provide evidence for the importance of accounting for the coming out experience when assessing and treating gay men. Finally, the COQ is a self-report measure that identifies several factors associated with an individual’s coming out experience and rates how influential these experiences are in their unique experience. The utilization of such a measure can help a professional quickly assess the individual’s coming out experience and account for the presence or lack of supports and moderating factors.


Derogatis, L. R. (1993). Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI): Administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.

Exner, J. (2003). Rorschach: A comprehensive system (Vol. 1, 4th ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Howell, G. (2008). Assessing the need for adjustments in scoring and interpretation of the Rorschach inkblot test with gay men. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B. Sciences and Engineering, 69(4-B), 2629.

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