I recently defended my dissertation before going on internship. I set this goal during my 3rd year of graduate school. I really wanted to be 100% focused on internship when I began my rotation, and I wanted to be able to become immersed in as many opportunities as possible, including research and attending extra didactics and seminars.
However, I knew that with my dissertation looming over my head, this would be much more difficult to do and I would be left with no down time at all.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I accomplished this, so I thought I’d share some tips. Of course there are always unforeseen roadblocks that complicate the process, and defending prior to internship is not always possible, but here is how I did it…
In order to excel in graduate school, you may have to start developing certain habits and practices. Some of these include dedication, sacrifice, anxiety, and for many, a dash of perfectionism.
Perfectionism, however, can be both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, perfectionism allows you to push yourself farther than perhaps you thought you could go and to produce work that is of a higher caliber.
Unfortunately, perfectionism can also lead you down a dark road. As we all know, nothing is ever perfect, and if you expect your work to be, you will always find it lacking. For many people, this creates a self-destructive cycle of feeling like the work is never going to be good enough.
As a result, people experience anxiety from those worries, and then avoidance to help cope with the feelings of anxiety. This is procrastination.
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?
I had just returned from a 3-week respite in Spain, and I was riding the post-vacation emotional high.
The quaint cobblestone streets of Seville left me with feelings of joy and amusement; the romantic plazas of Madrid left me with love; the vast beaches of Barcelona left me with serenity and awe; and the seafood paella in each of these cities left me with each of the top 10 positive emotions (mostly gratitude).
I was rejuvenated, and I was eager to dive back into work.
Psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, and other mental health professionals have the professional flexibility and freedom to work in a number of diverse settings.
Everything ranging from inpatient and outpatient hospitals, Veteran Affairs medical centers, college counseling centers, private practices, and community health centers, among many others.
It is often said that working at a community mental health center (CMHC) can be one of the most difficult and challenging sites for mental health work, and yet it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences.
Regardless of whether graduate school or children became part of your life first, the task of managing them all will reflect upon both how you experienced and successfully completed your program as well as how your children and family experienced it with you.
While you have already thought about your future and the future of your family by committing to completing graduate school while raising children, it is always the right time to be mindful and be connected with the “here and now” – or at least on the immediate task at hand: writing a paper, completing the semester, etc.
The experience of being on task, managing family, and successfully completing the program can be better achieved by following five basic principles…
Previously in this series, we introduced burnout and outlined symptoms of burnout to look out for.
In this article, we will discuss strategies that can help you prevent and treat burnout, so that you can continue to excel in your graduate program and future career as a behavioral health professional (or if you found this article and you’re not in the behavioral health field, these burnout tips can help you regardless of your field).
Oftentimes there are environmental factors (e.g., too few resources, too many responsibilities, too little time) that contribute to the experience of burnout; however, these factors are often outside of our control. Fortunately, there are things you can be doing to cope with environmental stressors and manage your response to frustrations.
Ideally, these strategies should be implemented early on to prevent burnout from occurring. However, even if symptoms of burnout have already reared their ugly head, these strategies can help break the cycle of behavior and thinking patterns that can produce and perpetuate the symptoms of burnout.
Graduate training programs in psychology prepare students for successful careers in academia, research and clinical practice; however, not all training programs offer the type of non-academic professional development support that can help students stand out and excel in their training and future careers.
After all, each student has their own personal strengths, and who wouldn’t want to highlight those strengths?
As a graduate student or early career psychologist, one may never think of how to professionally advance outside of successfully completing program requirements, getting the right placement/job, and obtaining a license. The six areas of non-academic tips for success offered below make up a model of related factors that can lead to success in these processes and build professional relationships along the way.
I went to graduate school in a large city, and I was lucky to have over a dozen hospital sites to apply to once I knew I wanted inpatient experience. The problem was that I didn’t realize how much variation existed within the world of hospital training.
Knowing what kind of hospital you’re applying to will help you focus your cover letters, know what you’re walking into on interviews, and pick the site that best fits with the experiences you want.
While you’ll probably want to cast a wide hospital net when you apply for practicum, in the jumble of names that invariably include terms like “behavioral,” “psychiatric,” “center,” “health,” and “hospital,” it’s important to know what you’re headed for. Applying to the nearest Psychiatric Behavioral Health and Hospital Center is meaningless, unless you know what type of hospital it is.
So here’s a brief primer to help you find your way, along with some questions to guide you.
Burnout is believed to be coined by the psychologist Dr. Herbert Freudenberger who defined it as “failing, wearing out, or becoming exhausted through excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources” .
At times, graduate school seems synonymous with burnout – it is a multi-year, grueling process of hurdle after hurdle.
There is often a mentality in graduate programs that this “suffering” is a right-of-passage of sorts, an initiation that all therapists before us endured and overcame before entering into the profession.
However, the reality is that these expectations and this laissez faire attitude, when left unchecked, can produce burnout that is of detriment to not only the physical and mental health of graduate students, but also to their productivity and quality of work. Unfortunately, for many in the psychology field, this experience does not end with graduate school.