The Essay that got me into Graduate School to become a psychotherapist. Robin Mohilner’s actual graduate school application essay.

The following essay was written in 2003 in order for me to be accepted into Graduate School. Some people may turn to sites such as to help them with writing their own essays, they may know the words to say but find it hard to write it down professionally.

I began Graduate School in January of 2004 and completed it in August of 2006. I practiced as a “Marriage & Family Therapist Intern” from 2006 until 2011 earning 3,000 hours of experience as a therapist in diverse settings. Graduate school was the right choice for me and it might be for you too! If you’re worried about paying for it and don’t exactly have the finances, you can look into getting graduate student loans from SoFi to help you with achieving your degree.

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The Goals Statement is an important part of Phillips’ application process. You are required to submit a three- to seven-

page, double-spaced, typed essay outlining the following:


Describe in an autobiographical essay your personal, professional, and educational history, specifying how these

elements interrelate with your chosen field of study and career objectives. This section will give the Admissions


•Insight into who you are and what history has brought you to this point in your life

•A sense of your capacity for introspection, reflection, and critical thinking

•An indication of your understanding of commitment to serious master’s or doctoral level work

PLEASE NOTE: Merely submitting a resume, curriculum vitae, or one-page synopsis will not be regarded as an

adequate autobiographical essay.


Describe your current personal, intellectual and professional interests and activities, giving particular attention to the

nature of your work, studies and current reading, areas of special interest, and career plans. Indicate your reasons for

seeking a degree from Phillips Graduate Institute. This section will help the Admissions Committee understand:

•The nature of your life now and how master’s or doctoral level study will be integrated into it

•Why you want to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree, and why you feel you are prepared to study at the master’s

or doctoral level

•How you came to know about and why you chose Phillips Graduate Institute


I chose question A. It gave birth to this essay. This essay combined with a good grade point average from UC Berkeley got me an interview to go to Graduate School to become a psychotherapist and art therapist.

This is not be the final version. I could not find the final version …it is longer and addresses why I choose to be a therapist. This is good enough…


I can remember the whisper of the words, “Robin! I don’t want you to go to hell!”; that came from the voice of my best friend when I was seven. That moment shaped my identity as a Jew. Her father was standing behind her and with conviction assured me of my fate if I did not choose to change. I struggled with how to handle this because he was like a second father to me. I respected and trusted his beliefs and values. I also desired to be accepted and loved in his home. Doing so meant that I would have to accept Jesus as God. In the moment of making the sign of the cross on my chest, I realized that I had betrayed my ancestors.

I could feel myself being torn from the roots of my own family. My self defense mechanisms protected me from the pain. A burning rage grew within me. I distanced myself from my best friend. I struggled with my relationship with God and my duty to my ancestors. In doing so, I realized that I wanted to go to heaven, but not if the price was to deny who I am and live in shame.

As the years passed and I faced more Anti-Semitism, I felt an intense sense of duty to live for my ancestors. I knew that I had to celebrate their life in a way that did not manifest as the hate that ended it. I realized that I could love them most by loving others, that I could give to them by giving of myself, and that I could be their voice by taking a stand for others who may not have the ability or resources to be heard. And so I live.

I experienced my greatest loss and pivotal change between the years of twelve and thirteen. When I entered middle school, I felt confident in my childhood friendships and was excited to welcome new people into my life, but then in one day it was gone. I had suddenly been banished to become an outcast.

In the beginning of my banishment, I sat alone at lunch and cried. I felt abandoned, weak and powerless. I begged for their friendship. However, the more I cried the deeper they dug their knife into my heart. They knew that they could hurt me and my tears fed them fuel. Like clock-work, they would trash my locker.

The days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to months and I could no longer cry. I was emotionally numb. One Friday, I happened to be going to my locker and I caught the person who I once considered my best friend destroying my belongings. For the first time, I walked right up to her, looked her in the eyes, grabbed a book out of my own locker, ripped off its cover, threw it on the ground and walked away. With this action, it was as if I’d said, “Fine! Do it! You can’t hurt me any more!”

What I learned from this experience is how to stand up for myself, and make my actions heard when no one is willing to listen to words. I developed issues with trust.

Age 13

As I grew up, there were three women after whom I modeled myself: my sister, my mom, and my grandma. They defined the kind of person I wanted to be.

I hoped to be just like my older sister. I saw her as being cool, intelligent, and fun. She was popular and I wasn’t, so I tried to be like her. Attempting to take on my sister’s identity caused her to push me away because she needed to be unique. Therefore, by the time I was thirteen, my sister and I no longer had a relationship; I had become insignificant to her. In order to get her attention and approval, I started competing with her for her identity. I copied the way she dressed, the way she spoke, her mannerisms, her favorite music, and did anything to be like her. I also tried to win over her friends so they would make my sister pay attention to me.

The other two powerful women in my life influenced my core values, belief systems, standards, and principles. They gave me emotional support and strength. These women, my mother and my matrilineal grandmother, were my rocks and my heart. When I was thirteen, I needed their support more than ever, but the tables had turned and they suddenly needed me to be the support.

My mother could no longer be the woman of strength that brought stability in my life. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to face her own battle, which weakened her spirit and caused her tremendous pain. Around the time of my mother’s diagnosis, my grandma moved in with us because she had a minor stroke. As my mom faced cancer and my grandma’s health deteriorated, I was determined to be strong. I didn’t show my pain or struggle, not wanting to add to their’ own.

Grandma stayed in my room, which placed me on the couch. As the time passed, I grew to resent her being there because I no longer had the privacy to grieve. Then, in the peak of my resentment, my grandma died. I felt so guilty because I loved her with all that I am, but I didn’t show it to her until it was too late. Furthermore, I felt great shame because I could not be there for my mom to mourn my grandma and I could not handle her suffering. I was unable to cry. The only thing I knew how to do was to emotionally run away. So I entered a depression that resulted in significant weight gain. Over time, I grew afraid to come home. In order to stay strong, I often stayed at my friend’s house whose family took me in and became my only escape.

This experience allowed many challenges to manifest in my life. Within me, I had created so many emotional walls that I was unable to cry for three years and deeply afraid to be weak and vulnerable. I felt abandoned and insignificant in the eyes of my sister which created extreme resentment and anger towards her that manifested a few years later. At the same time, my mother became a fragile human being in my eyes. I was in therapy throughout this time period, but the deeper issues did not manifest until three years later.

I wasn’t aware that I experienced the world differently than most people until I was sixteen and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I felt out of control in my own mind and body. The anger that I had carried with me throughout series of betrayal and Anti-Semitism manifested as rage. The pain that I ran from for three years caused by my mom’s cancer and my grandma’s death exploded out of me in uncontrollable grief. I was like a sealed glass jar filled with marbles that had been put over a flame and exploded out all at once.

Being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder did not change who I am. I had been living with it my entire life. However, it changed how I perceived myself. I believed that the label meant that I am different, crazy, and inferior. I feared that I would not be accepted and would not have a productive role in society. It caused me to fear myself and fear the potential of what I could become. I stopped believing in myself as being someone who could reach their goals and make a difference. My expectations changed from my vision of who I am to fulfilling the expectations of my new label.

Once I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, I chose to define what being Bipolar meant to me which changed my entire perspective and attitude. Bipolar disorder came to mean to me that I have the ability to experience the world with an intensity that enables me to have a great deal of compassion and empathy because I feel so deeply. I saw strengths in how it affects my imagination and creativity as well as critical thinking abilities. Most of all, the experiences I had allowed me to give myself permission to be weak and vulnerable enabling me to cry again and trust that people would be there for me. Being diagnosed gave me the ability to educate and understand myself because over the years I’ve been able to recognize the difference between genuine emotions and emotions due to a chemical imbalance. Through therapy, I was able to face the pain that I had held within me and strengthen my relationships with the people I loved.

Once I accepted that being Bipolar is a part of who I am, I was empowered. I developed a sense of conviction that I was going to overcome every obstacle and limitation that being Bipolar presented. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to handle stress, so I learned my boundaries of intensity that I could handle and recognized when I’m stepping over them and I chose to do something that very few people in the world ever do, graduate from UC Berkeley. I achieved my goal in December of 2003 without losing control of my mind-body. I was told that due to my Lithium I would not be able to lose weight, I am continuing to prove that theory wrong as I shed the emotional baggage that my body has held on to for far too long through a healthy diet and exercise. Here I stand today, I have proven to myself that I have what it takes and now I feel that it is my duty to continue to grow and give back. I think I have a unique position from which to give back. I can identify with many different problems that others face and I hope to use this unique ability for good in this world.