Carly Ostler is the marriage and family therapy intern at BYU’s Women’s Services and Resources office. She has ‘just about’ graduated from BYU’s Marriage and Family Therapy masters program.
What do you do here?
I do all sorts of stuff here, anything that I”m really passionate about I get to do, which is really nice. We do consults, so any girls that come in that want someone to talk to or are looking for resources, we can kind of put them in the right direction. If they need counseling we send them down to the Counseling and Career Center, if they need someone to talk through a roommate issue or are just having a bad day and need a hug, we just are here for them. I also run the body image group, and then during the fall and winter we have the “Fed Up With Food” group. There would generally be two MFT interns who are working that, but this summer we’ve kind of combined the body image and the “Fed Up With Food” group to just one big support group. You can come whenever you want, if you’re having a day when you’re like I don’t really like my body, or I’m having an issue exercising or something like that, you can just come, stop by, and be supported in your feelings.
How did you get interested in this and get into this field?
I would say that it all started when I was fourteen and I went to a girls’ day camp that was promoting male-dominated fields to women, to fourteen-year-old girls, and I took a course in psychology, and I just fell in love, so for the next I guess it’s almost been 10 years I’ve just pursued psychology and in the process kind of focused more on relationships and systems and things that happen within those relationships and systems, just by getting more experience and exposing myself to different things, I kind of found this little niche.
I guess any group is a system, like family systems, work systems, just communities I guess or families. Everything is a kind of a sytem, they all work together, they all influence each other. So instead of like oh, this individual has this problem, it’s like, this system is contributing to this dysfunction or these hard things that are happening.
What has your experience been at the WSR?
Working here at Women’s Services has been a godsend. It has been such a miracle and it has been the best thing for me, because it’s really allowed me to be passionate about something and to feel like I’m good at something. I can be here and I can care about people and be with people and it has boosted my self-esteem because I’m not doing the things that I’m bad at, like research. So being here at Women’s Services has been so great. Everything that they’re involved in is so focused on empowering and supporting and making women’s lives better, which I love.
Tell me about the program, Marriage and Family Therapy. What does that prepare you to do?
It prepares you to be a marriage and family therapist, which is equivalent to a master’s in social work. You can be a licensed marriage and family therapist, which is like a licensed social worker or licensed clinical therapist. You can also get a PhD in marriage and family therapy. It’s like a counseling or a therapy job where you meet with clients. The only difference, I think, is that you focus on the family system and how it all began, so maybe a clinical psychologist would work with someone who has schizophrenia and try to get them to stop hearing voices, but as marriage and family therapists we kind of take the family route: how did the family contribute to the way that you’re thinking, and the way you grew up – all aspects of multiple generations and taking it all into consideration.
What WSR services are underutilized by BYU students?
The support groups — I love them! We don’t always get that much attendance. The ‘Fed Up with Food’ group we have to turn away people sometimes in the fall, because once we hit our max of twenty people we just can’t take any more. I think every girl has issues with her body, and every girl is not always really secure with how they feel or how they look. Just having a place where you can go and talk about it is really helpful. I think most girls will do that with their roommates or their moms, but when you don’t have that place, or when you don’t have the best information, this is the time when girls develop eating disorders. If they’re talking about their body insecurities and one of their roommates suggests “I like to throw up and it helps me feel better about my body,” it’s not going to be the best advice, whereas having a therapist guiding you to healthier decisions is a great thing. We also do the consultations here, if you’re having a bad day. I think we do get a lot of people coming in who just need help for a day, and then other people who need to make major life changes and who are working on doing that. We have our writing retreats and our voices of courage campaign to prevent rape and promote a positive society against violence. We have so many exciting things that are going on — things to make everyone’s lives easier and better.