The practice of Clinical Psychology looks deeply at people’s motives, feelings, thoughts and actions in hopes of providing them relief from distress. It is a profession that requires deep empathy for humanity’s struggles to help bring about change. The field is one that requires significant training, education as well as mental and emotional strength.
As clinical psychologists, we work with clients of all ages facing countless challenges. Our clients come from all walks of life and social groups, representing the larger American society.
In providing mental health treatment, we are addressing topics that impact humanity as a whole; including violence, trauma, loss, grief, politics – the list goes on.
The impact of psychotherapy is enormous and touches individuals, families, and society. Despite all of this, we are in a profession that is paid drastically less than other fields with the same level of education.
I remember being in grade school and hearing the age-old cliché, “Big boys don’t cry,” whenever a male peer began to show he was upset about something.
At the time, I didn’t think twice about it, and I’m sure there were moments when I repeated those very words, not realizing the harm I was doing. Regardless of intention, I now see that these types of subtle messages convey a normative stance of stoicism, invulnerability, and detachment that contribute to toxic ideals of masculinity.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve watched friends’ and family members’ facial expressions drop and felt a chilling silence upon mentioning various forms of mental illness.
These are open-minded people. They are willing to talk about politics, religion, drugs, and other controversial topics. But they withdraw when the topic of mental illness comes up.
I don’t start these conversations to cause a ruckus. Instead, I want to honestly talk about the impact mental illness has on individuals and society as a whole. Our mental health system is dysfunctional and we need to address it head-on if we hope to change anything. This entails embracing mental health as an acceptable and appropriate subject.
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.
It seems that workplaces, schools, companies, and organizations are increasingly paying more attention to diversity and culture lately.
While this growing interest is encouraging, there are times when there is a significant lack of follow-through regarding the attention these issues receive. This is a disservice to everyone involved, but it comes at a special price in the realm of therapy.
I know of several graduate programs that pride themselves on their emphasis on diversity, yet have only a few course offerings specifically related to the topic and do not consistently revisit cultural issues throughout other courses.
With regard to psychology and therapy, the lack of consistent attention to cultural issues has the potential to create and maintain impasses that can affect the client’s progress.
As aspiring mental health professionals, we have the best of intentions in our work with clients. It is very important, however, to assess for cultural importance and issues of diversity in our first meetings with clients and then to be mindful of the ways we communicate with those clients moving forward.
Most of us know that physical exercise is beneficial and necessary for attaining and prolonging good physical health. Exercising helps with maintaining and reducing weight and body fat, improving cholesterol, and reducing the chance of developing cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, among many other physical health benefits.
The question that has come up in recent decades, and one particularly salient for mental health professionals, is whether exercise helps with our mental health as well, and if so, how?
Sexual-minority individuals frequently experience mental and physical health challenges, often in response to discrimination, hostility, and violence (Meyer, as cited in Heath & Mulligan, 2008).
As the research community begins to tease out the differences between the different sexual minority groups, a clear pattern of difference begins to emerge between the experiences of lesbian/gay individuals and bisexuals.
We often know our goal, but rarely what lies in our way. “There is a road, no simple highway” (Hunter, The Grateful Dead, 1970). At times, we may find that no matter what we try, we cannot seem to overcome the problem and reach our goal – our cabin on the hillside.
No matter how hard we wish, for some problems there is no simple highway – no quick-fix, deus-ex-machina, five-step solution, or magic wand.
These are the points in life when people most often turn to psychotherapy; they have tried everything and, to varying degrees, may have a fantasy that psychotherapists have some top-secret piece of advice. Especially therapists-in-training who are excited about helping, anxious to prove their competence, and unfamiliar with the uncertainty of the therapeutic process might find themselves colluding with this client’s wish for a magic solution in order to reduce both parties’ uncertainty.
The Millennial generation, born roughly between 1980 and 2000, is a generation categorized by the digital age. An overwhelming majority owns a computer, a smartphone and uses the Internet daily. Coined “digital natives”, Millennials are a generation raised on using social media as a primary way to communicate and express oneself. This is the generation that is now entering into the field of psychotherapy.
The social media obsession has significant implications for this generation of psychologists, both relationally and professionally. We are entering into the field with a perspective of the world much different than our predecessors. We deal with public exposure in a way that has not yet been faced. There can be some harmful consequences of our lives being so public. As we enter into this field, we must be thoughtful about our social media use and the implications it has for both our work as therapists and in our personal lives.
As we enter into this field, we must be thoughtful about our social media use and the implications it has for both our work as therapists and in our personal lives.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article discussing the problems with obtaining mental health care without insurance. One of the suggestions I included was using an online community, such as 7 Cups of Tea, for additional support when needed.
While this site has become fairly well known, I know many people who still are not aware of it or who do not know what an amazing resource it can be. The goal of this blog article, therefore, is to introduce readers to 7 Cups of Tea as well as provide an inside view of the site from a psychologist’s perspective.