Becoming a clinical psychologist

So the other day I had one of the most satisfactory times where I really felt I was in the right place with the right job. I’ll be honest- I entered the clinical psychology profession because I was highly dissatisfied with teaching and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go- I had plenty of experience working with the school age population, my grades in undergrad were hot off the charts and I had enough references that could support my academic and practical skill set.

Despite this, I entered the professional program with very little vindication compared to my peers and I had no idea where I was heading with it. Up to this point we had a huge focus on psychological assessment and some counseling work but nothing had ever clicked. Some things stood out but it was probably more out of sheer novelty than anything. I liked a lot of it but I just didn’t know where I was going with it.

Two things stood out for me yesterday- first was my practicum requesting I apply there for my residency placement because they really liked me and wanted me there. This was HUGE for me. To have somebody feel my clinical skills and team fit were right in line with a team that I (in my head) is a dream team was awesome. There’s so much about the team that just fits my way of conceptualization of clients. The framework of how the environment structure shapes the behavior and the multi discipline focus with equal footing regardless of discipline are two things that immediately stand out for me. The other thing is the work with the infant pre-school age- I’m seeing so much potential for shaping lives that isn’t available or is much more difficult to access with the adolescent populations that I usually worked with in my previous work.

The other thing is in my own research work with bullying where I am putting focus of using a system wide positive relationship focus (hence the image of two minds interacting with each other) to garner a bigger impact than any single program, intervention or educational session could garner alone. This relationship focus piece ties my interest in school violence work and my practicum focus so closely (I’m heading off to a conference in a few weeks that looks at how attachment work can shape bullying intervention in adolescents and I’m also focusing on attachment in the circle of security intervention for pre-schoolers) is just a whole bunch of interlinking excitedness for me. I’m feeling like the pieces of the puzzles are finally coming together and I finally know what all this learning means. I’m excited for the future and I am pumped to put my all into understanding and consolidating all this information into one big idea.

My other piece the other day? I ran into a neighbor and ended up chatting about his ADHD tendencies and his son’s possible ADHD and Asperger’s symptoms- I’m not expert in these areas, but I’ve done some intervention work with these cases and it was just so so satisfying to be able to provide possible interventions for him to work with. Being in a doctoral program sometimes makes you forget you are an advanced trainee in the area, because your standards of expertise are so high given the classroom environment you are constantly immersed in. I’m always comparing my level of work with peers and professors/clinicians and you kind of forget the general population is not like this- that you will not be surrounded by people who have honed years of work into clinical psych. I mean the same goes for any program or work force-e.g. things that might be obvious to teachers are not obvious to the public.

Despite this, you sometimes forget to give yourself credit because your standard of comparison is so skewed. Back to the neighbor, he’s in the financial district and all this information I had boiling in my head was new to him and seemed really helpful to him- whether that’s just through validation of his efforts to support his son or discovering new found knowledge to help him in his efforts doesn’t matter so much right now to me. The fact that I could help somebody in such a fashion was huge! I was so happy to be able to help him work through his conceptualizations in the brief chat we had.


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