Almost all developing therapists move through a phase of resisting ambiguity. The uncertain, variable nature of psychotherapy can be intimidating and leave you feeling like a novice with every new challenging case. I often wish for a map that would help me guide my clients on their paths from suffering to contentment.
But there’s a reason ambiguity is inherent in this work: Psychotherapy is relational in nature. It is part theory, education, and research, and part human connection. The latter is the source of ambiguity that can be difficult to move into as a beginning therapist, but it’s also central to effective therapy.
Common factors research highlights the importance of the therapeutic relationship above and beyond specific theoretical orientations . It provides empirical evidence that the therapist’s authentic human presence within the therapeutic relationship is a key factor of change.
More and more people are seeking mental health services through web-based computer and smartphone applications, with and without the involvement of trained mental health professionals. As current and future clinical psychologists, we must critically explore the advantages and disadvantages that online mediums pose for our therapy practices as they become infused into healthcare.
What are the major upsides and drawbacks to online therapy from the client’s and therapist’s perspectives?
As aspiring mental health professionals and clinicians, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve our practice to better serve our clients. As a field, psychology is known for integrating new innovations into existing practices.
It is this receptivity and openness to new methods and practices that have been essential components to maintaining clinical competence within our field.
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.