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Crystal Schiller

Mentor Spotlight

The ABCT Academic Training and Education Standards committee annually solicits nominations for the “Spotlight on a Mentor” recognition to highlight the diversity of excellent mentors within the membership ranks of ABCT. Its goal is to spotlight promising early-career and well-established mentors across all levels of academic rank, areas of specialization, and types of institution. We asked the four 2022 winners to share some wisdom related to their own influential mentors, their mentorship philosophy, and advice for mentees and aspiring mentors. Learn more below, and you can find more information online: ABCT Mentor Spotlights

Dr. Crystal Schiller is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill. She is Director of the UNC Psychology Internship Program. She is also Associate Director of the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders and the UNC T32 Postdoctoral Training Program in Reproductive-Related Mood Disorders. Dr. Schiller’s research, funded by the NIH and HRSA, aims to determine how hormonal changes during reproductive transitions trigger depression in women and to expand access to behavior therapies. She is passionate about mentorship, translating scientific discovery to clinical care, and improving the lives of women. She has been privileged to do this work alongside a diverse and talented group of trainees with bright futures in psychology research and clinical practice.


I approach mentorship as a sustained, collaborative partnership aimed at executing a shared vision. I strive to be radically present with my trainees in order to understand who they are, where they’re heading, and how I can help get them there. Knowing a trainees’ context, history, and values is critical for identifying opportunities that are likely to align with their sense of mission and help maintain motivation over time. My role in the partnership is to help identify opportunities, make connections with others in the field who may also serve as mentors or collaborators, nominate mentees for awards, advocate for resources alongside them or on their behalf, and support them in attaining their educational, training, and career goals. I strive to give candid, genuine feedback, to be transparent about both the facilitators and roadblocks inherent in conducting research and clinical care within an academic context, and to learn from my trainees—I try to recruit folks who are smarter and more talented than me, so I usually end up learning quite a lot. Mentorship requires me to maintain a sense of openness, curiosity, authenticity, and vulnerability. The way I practice it, mentorship is a big commitment but also one of the most rewarding professional activities in which I engage.

I have had the tremendous fortune to learn from some of the best mentors working at the intersection of psychology and neuroscience today: Dr. Michael W. O’Hara, Dr. David R. Rubinow, Dr. Susan Girdler, and Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody. Each of my mentors have their own unique style, which has empowered me to cultivate a mentorship style rooted in authenticity. Learning from great female mentors has also instilled in me the importance of a feminist psychology approach to advocacy and collectivism within the mentoring relationship—my role as I rise is to bring mentees along with me, to put them out in front to ensure they are visible and heard, and to advocate for resources to support them and their work.

My advice is to notice mentorship opportunities in your everyday interactions with students, staff, and peers. You are a mentor already. Capitalize on these opportunities to bring folks together and have a positive impact on our field.

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