The human body is a miraculous thing. The mind-body connection is so endlessly complex that there are many things we still don’t understand, even with the use of technology. As psychologists, we probably appreciate this natural wonder more than other folks, especially since we are constantly trying to decode the mysterious ways the brain works.
Unfortunately, all of the things we have worked hard to understand about the brain can become muddled in the face of illness, when the symptoms we are so familiar with take on a different meaning…well, sort of.
Think about this: does depression feel the same whether it’s caused by a traumatic life event or a hormonal imbalance? Based on the common presentation of symptoms across patients and life circumstances, many would argue yes.
The American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code preamble requires psychologists to “respect and protect civil and human rights” . Psychologists share this commitment with allied professions: social work, nursing, medicine, anthropology, sociology, political science, and public health . The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) asserts that human rights include freedom from discrimination and access to health care, food, and housing. However, the field of psychology has a checkered human rights history, with theory, research, and practices reinforcing and lending credibility to discriminatory practices against historically marginalized groups.
Almost any mental health practitioner today knows that “something is up” with the “prescription privileges debate thingy,” but for most, that’s about as far as it goes. It may surprise many readers, however, to learn that the prescriptions privileges movement for psychologists is not new; it’s actually about three decades old.
As this movement gets more coverage (and finds success at more state legislatures), it becomes even more important that students and early career psychologists have some familiarity with the “prescription privileges debate thingy.”
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of students I’ve encountered that do know there is such a movement, but who desire more information about it. In a short series of articles, I hope to leave my fellow students (and psychologists largely removed from the RxP debate) with a bit more information.
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.