Real-Life Resources for Behavioral Health Students & Early Career Professionals
When I entered graduate school, I knew one thing: I would never become a clinical psychologist. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew psychology wasn’t it, and I figured that spending a few years in a doctoral program was a good way to pass the time while my interests worked themselves out. (Side note: It isn’t. There are much easier ways to spend six years.)
Now I am the one thing I thought I would never be: a clinical psychologist. How in the world did that happen?
The truth is that I began graduate school with a narrow sense of what it means to be a psychologist. Over the course of my training, I learned that there are many ways to match your interests, passions, and values to a career in behavioral health and many opportunities to fall in love with this work.
Whether you have well-defined professional goals or are utterly confused about the path ahead, here are a few questions to consider as you work toward developing your professional identity and choosing a meaningful career.read more
As a therapist, I value working with clients of all different backgrounds. In fact, it is one of the best parts of my job as I meet someone and learn something new every day. The philosophy I find most helpful in working with clients is cultural humility. This is defined as the ability to have an accurate perception of our own cultural values as well as maintaining a client-oriented perspective that involves respect, lack of superiority, and attunement . This stance takes away the pressure that “cultural competence” places on us as therapists to know everything (which of course is impossible).
Cultural humility is also a perfect starting point for working with Muslim clients for several reasons. Muslims have been in the news a lot lately. Unfortunately, the coverage is usually negatively skewed, which has influenced perceptions of Muslims in the United States . This may also impact how therapists view Muslim clients who walk into their offices. Given that all of us are affected by implicit bias, it is critical for us to examine our biases, including how Islamophobia impacts the way we treat Muslim clients.
With a culturally humble stance, we as therapists are open to learning more about each Muslim client’s unique experiences as we monitor and challenge our stereotypes.read more
Clinical psychology comprises the fastest growing subfield in the study of psychology, and it accounts for approximately half of all doctoral degrees earned within the field . There are two primary degrees awarded for doctoral study within psychology: the PhD and the PsyD. Briefly, the PhD holds a primary research focus in addition to clinical practice, while the PsyD is focused primarily on provision of clinical services. The PsyD, or the Doctor of Psychology degree, emerged in the 1970s and has since grown rapidly as a primary model of training for clinical psychology.
Most PsyD programs follow the scholar-practitioner model, also known as the Vail model. This type of training is characterized by emphasis on practical clinical training. In the course of this training, students also learn how to analyze and evaluate existing scientific research, and they may carry out their own original research, as well.
The PhD, or the Doctor of Philosophy, takes a balanced approach to research and clinical work. In addition to learning the practice of clinical psychology, the PhD emphasizes conducting research. This is the scientist-practitioner model, or the Boulder model. Students in PhD programs gain extensive training in the development, execution, and dissemination of research.read more
We are not always so good at saying goodbyes. There’s just something a bit uncomfortable about it. While we, as mental health professionals, obtain instruction and training in the nuances of communication and relationship, carrying out a solid, healthy therapeutic adieu with our clients requires some forethought, preparation, and skill. The following is a review of considerations and tips for terminating psychotherapy with success.read more
Treatment tracking is important because it gives you a baseline, and therapists can use repeated assessment to track progress and re-plot the course when things get off track.
Imagine walking into a therapist’s office seeking services to deal with a so-called problem or issue you have. You walk in with immense nervousness and torpidity, you feel you want it to be over before it even begins. You find yourself sitting on a sofa across from a stranger and all you’re thinking about is what you’re supposed to say or do.
But then, the stranger across from you starts to speak and describes an entire process of how therapy generally unveils. You hear about confidentiality, possible therapeutic styles and interventions, and length of treatment. You begin to feel a bit comfortable and start to relax. This information starts to ease your discomfort and the picture begins to appear clearer about what you’ve gotten yourself into.read more
Do you remember that catchy little tune by Bobby McFerrin? “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double, don’t worry… be happy!” I know it’s a bit corny, but it is so true when it comes to exam prep.
The prospect of being happy seems nearly impossible when preparing for exams like the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Hours of time spent studying. Fatigue from sleepless nights of cramming and, of course, good ol’ financial strain from the hundreds of dollars spent on study materials. It can be a bit much. But, as someone who recently passed EPPP, I promise there are ways to make your EPPP journey a happy one.
Before we get into the tips for making EPPP a more positive experience, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge what everyone is probably thinking right now: Yes. The EPPP is a daunting exam. Yes. It feels cruel and unfair. Yes, it sucks. However, it is a necessary part of becoming a clinician.read more
If you’re like most therapists, you weren’t taught much about marketing in graduate school, especially about online marketing. Online marketing for therapists is an incredibly easy (yes, easy!) and inexpensive way to let your ideal clients know who you are and how you can help them. A super easy and inexpensive form of online marketing is blogging, but there are a few tricks you need to turn a random blog into an online marketing tool. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in and learn how to do it!
The easiest way to attract whatever types of clients are perfect for you is to create a blog and write posts about topics that interest those clients, make sure the world sees them, and make sure the blog posts guide people to book your services. I know many of us (myself included!) felt like never writing anything again after 5+ years of graduate school. That included a 100+ page dissertation, so let me just say that blogging for marketing purposes is much easier than writing grad school papers. (In fact, those old grad school papers can come in handy; keep reading to see how!)
Here are some easy ways to kick out some blog posts that will sit online forever, working to attract business for you while you sleep, catch up with friends, see clients, or do whatever you enjoy doing. Here’s how your posts can do your online marketing for you!read more
Butterflies in your stomach. A gut-wrenching feeling. Your stomach suddenly drops… You’d better go with your gut.
I don’t know about you, but all of these phrases packed together gives me a general sense of unease, and for good reason. For most people, these sayings have become synonymous with the kind of scary, traumatic, or anxiety-provoking situations that simply make your stomach churn (pun intended).
On the other hand, for the positive psychology folks, we could also be talking about a remarkably exhilarating experience — falling in love, skydiving, riding a rollercoaster. There are endless scenarios that have elicited this reaction in our lives. But what do they all have in common?read more
For parents, the idea of pursuing an advanced degree can sound daunting and even impossible. Being a successful parent and student can require a bit more juggling than what’s required of those who are in just one role.
Yet, many do make it work — in fact, 4.8 million undergraduate students, or 26 percent, are raising dependent children.
The key to joining this group of colleagues who are seemingly doing it all? Mastering the three keys of balancing parenthood and your studies: setting boundaries, practicing time management, and being compassionate.read more
The end is in sight. You can see the finish line where you finally achieve your dream of graduation and are out of school forever to start a career of your own.
“Not so fast!” you tell yourself as you experience the uncertainty and ambivalence of being independent and on your own. “But I’m not ready, there is so much I still don’t know!”
The phrase “imposter syndrome” was coined by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978  to describe the feeling that you are not the professional who everyone thinks you are, or worse yet, someone will out you as a fraud. Clance and Imes’ research focused on women in professional life, but the phenomenon is often applied to any new professional facing self-doubt.read more