Homelessness, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, poverty, STDs and youth violence can happen to one individual. But when living conditions like this persist within a community, a unique issue then becomes a community problem. And with that comes the study methods of those in community psychology programs.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kimberly Martin)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kimberly Martin)

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“Once you treat that person one-on-one, they may get well,” said Dr. Kimberly Martin, owner of the consulting firm Advance Consulting Ventures. “But when they go back to their environment, their environment sometimes puts them back in that same place. It’s hard for them to get well.”

After attaining a master’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology, Dr. Martin wanted to use her education to help people in a community setting instead of one-on-one.

“While I was in school, it was a requirement to take psychology. That was my most favorite class [and] prompted me to go into that field. With community psychology you’re changing their environment. First-order change is that clinical piece. Second-order change would be the environment piece.”

But she decided to take on helping nonprofit organizations, too. Advance Consulting Ventures is where Dr. Martin, who is also an author, trained nonprofit organizations and individuals on writing grant proposals.

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“I assist with program development, program evaluation and fundraising activities,” she said about her three-year business. She credits her ownership expertise with earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Robert Morris College.

Dr. Martin recommends that other psychologists who want to own their practice take on business courses, too.

“I know there are people who run businesses who haven’t been to school, but I think it was very important for me to understand business clearer with the classes, especially in accounting and finance. It’s important to get the schooling for both [psychology and business management].”

However, she does recommend that students not rush out before they’re ready to take on the responsibility of owning a business. She believes mentors may be able to guide them along the way to avoid unnecessary mistakes. But before psychology graduates step foot outside of the university doors, there’s another course she recommends they take.

“If you’re not going to hire an attorney, you definitely need to have that legal aspect. Take some legal courses after you graduate so you can learn [how to] run a business well.”

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Shamontiel L. Vaughn is a professional journalist who has work featured in AXS, Yahoo!, Chicago Defender and Chicago Tribune. She’s been an Examiner since 2009 and currently writes about 10 categories on Examiner.com.