4. Who is not a good fit as a graduate student in my lab?
Psychology tells us that it’s helpful to know both what works and what doesn’t work. Though not exhaustive, here are some indicators that I might not be the best fit for you as a mentor.
1. You want to primarily do clinical work. Clinical work is an extremely important part of your training as a clinical psychologist. I wouldn’t be half the researcher I am if I didn’t have clinical experience. However, people who primarily want to use their PhD for clinical practice probably aren’t the best fit for my lab because I’m going to need your help conducting and publishing the lab’s research. If you want to go into clinical practice, you’re likely going to want to spend more of your time on clinical things, and less of your time on research. But this creates a mismatch between the lab’s needs/goals and your needs/goals. You deserve to find a lab whose needs and goals are best matched to your needs and goals.
Of course, your interests and goals might change throughout grad school, and that’s totally fine (and encouraged!). But if at the time of applying you’re NOT super into analyzing data, publishing, etc., that’s probably an indicator that we’d have different goals.
2. You want to do research that I don’t do and don’t have connections to obtain the data you’d need. I would love for my students to have similar but distinct interests from me. However, I would not agree to be your mentor if I didn’t have the knowledge needed to help you grow. As just one example, although there are genetic contributions to both eating disorders and suicide, I have never been trained in genetics and don’t have any connections to people who do that type of work. If you really wanted to become a specialist in the genetics of eating disorders or suicide, I’m not the best fit for you.
3. You’re mostly interested in eating behaviors or eating disorders from an obesity (treatment or prevention) perspective. This is not the type of work that I do. Work related to dieting or obesity prevention or treatment doesn’t align with my values, my interpretation of the evidence base, or my philosophy on health, body size, and body diversity.