It was snow, in a way, that brought Rachel Urbano, PsyD ’11 from San Diego to Antioch University New England (AUNE). “After my interviews there, I had a beautiful, vivid dream about snow; it had snowed the day I came,” Rachel said. “My grandmother taught me to always pay attention to my dreams, and she was right.”
It was at AUNE that she found a clear direction. “I became deeply interested in psychoanalytic theory,” said Rachel, who began the PsyD program in 2006. “I was so fortunate to have professors who saw things in me that I did not yet know myself, who allowed me to dive deeply into theory and clinical work that made it clear I had found the one thing I wanted to learn about for the rest of my life.”
“Colby’s [Colby Smith, professor of clinical psychology] class on object relations was a gift. He created a space to explore subjectivity and unconscious communication that I look back on with fondness. Ted Ellenhorn’s [professor of clinical psychology] dream and personality class opened up a way of thinking for me that I believe I had been looking for for a long time without knowing it.”
Rachel graduated from AUNE in May with a doctoral degree after a stellar academic career. She won a highly competitive internship to Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts Mental Health Center during the academic year 2010-11, the first AUNE student admitted to that internship in many years. While there, she used her growing knowledge of psychoanalytic theory to work with patients with chronic and severe mental illness.
In 2011, she presented her dissertation, Descending into and out of the Maelstrom: Somatic Sensation and the Survivor Therapist, at the 2010 American Psychological Association convention in Washington, D.C., where well-known author and psychologist Nancy McWilliams encouraged her to publish her work.
From Jails to Colleges to Clergy
Rachel’s practical experience, while she was at AUNE, ranged widely. She worked at AUNE’s Psychological Services Center, the Cheshire County jail, New Hampshire Hospital in Concord, and Amherst and Hampshire colleges. That breadth of experience gave her confidence in understanding many kinds of difficulties. “Working with varied populations helped me to see both the vibrant inner world of individuals-the uniqueness in their own metaphors-but also the very shared human experience that cuts across settings or diagnoses or population,” she said.
In addition to finishing her post-doctoral fellowship at Boston College’s University Health Services, Rachel is now a psychoanalytic candidate at Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, an achievement of great pride to her.
What has really sparked Rachel’s interest in working with members of the clergy while working at Boston College, a Jesuit institution? “People’s spiritual and religious journeys and struggles are just so full of meaning,” she said. “They touch on matters close to the heart and the private spaces of the interior world-places that I feel privileged to be escorted into.”
Those “private spaces” are also an important part of Rachel’s inner life. Once a competitive long-distance runner, she’s given up racing for the introspective time she finds running alone. “I fell out of love with races a while ago. It’s too much company,” she said. “What I love about running is it helps me to see what’s going on inside of me. I feel like I’ve done my best thinking on long runs. My running trails have really become interior landscapes representing the time and spaces of my life. That’s hard to do when I’m racing.”
Rachel’s long-term goal is some connection to the Catholic Church, through consultation or assessment, and seeing patients in analysis.