Kyler Shumway, MA, is the author of The Friendship Formula, a book dedicated to helping teens and adults find friendship by being better at it. Kyler is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at George Fox University and is completing his clinical internship at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas. Kyler is a public speaker and has given main stage talks for organizations like the American Psychological Association and The Collaborative Family Healthcare Association. He is an advocate for the Autism community and a scientist whose mission is translating mental health research into something digestible for kids and families.
A few years ago, my best friend (unintentionally) made me feel a bit anxious. We were talking about interpersonal psychology, social skills, and the key to a healthy friendship, when he turned to me and said, “You know too much about this to just keep it to yourself. You should write a book.”
Who, me? No way.
I’m a small potatoes farm boy, and I grew up in a town where it was a major feat to graduate high school, let alone college. Despite the fact that I was in a doctoral program, the idea of adding my name to the shelf felt too far from my core identity. Books were written by inspiring, knowledgeable, and wise people — not people like me.
And yet, my friend’s words stuck with me.
In the fall of 2018, I finally did it. I published my first book.
The first time I worked with a physician was during my training as a suicide risk assessment consultant in a hospital.
My job was simple: give the nice doctor a brief run-through of the patient presentation and make recommendations for treatment. I walked into the doctor’s office, smiled, took a deep breath, and I began to regale them with the tale of my time with the patient and how they made me feel.
After about thirty seconds, my story was cut short.
The doctor shook his head, raised his hand, and said “you’re burning my time buddy, just tell me what I need to do.” Caught off guard and sweating profusely, I managed to stumble through some recommendations before the physician said “sounds great” and turned back to his notes.
Can’t you just feel the tension of this year’s political climate?
Look at you, reading a blog post about politics on a psychology website.
And who can blame you? Only about 24 million people may have tuned in to the live presidential debate between Clinton and Trump , but everyone is talking about it. With the presidential election coming up, you can bet your clipboard that your clients are going to bring this into session.
Most clinicians can agree that political conversations have little place in the therapy room. Angsting about presidential prospects and governmental goings-on appears to have limited healing power for our clients. Regardless, our clients continue to ask us where we stand on gun control, whether we are pro-life or pro-choice, and for whom we plan to vote.
So, what do we do when our clients want to talk politics?
One of the scariest things therapists work with is suicidality.
Suddenly, therapy feels like, and sometimes is, a life-or-death situation, one where clinicians hold a great deal of responsibility. To make matters worse, suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. , and many believe the prevalence rates are a gross underestimate .
The numbers highlight the inevitability of encountering suicidality in our line of work. Early-career psychologists and practicum students may feel overwhelmed by the intensity and risk of working with suicidal clients.
Many of us look back on our week and feel astonished that we made it out in one piece. Client work, case management, consultation, assessment, report writing, faculty meetings, student group meetings. Oh, and also class. And life, I suppose.
As grad students, we are in a bit of a bind. Although we need to practice good self-care and make time for rest, we recognize the importance of this period of development. We have infinite opportunities to learn more, do more, and truly maximize our training.
In the spirit of finding and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, I recommend leaning into some time management and organization techniques. The key is to make your schedule as efficient as possible by prioritizing, streamlining, and eliminating certain activities. But first, you need to take a good look at your schedule.