Articles by Sarah Thompson, PhD

Sarah Thompson received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA in 2017. She completed a clinical internship at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Durham VA Health Care System with an emphasis on evidence-based treatments for PTSD. Sarah is currently a clinical assistant professor and the associate clinic director at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Her interests include clinical training and supervision, professional development, and third-wave cognitive behavioral therapies, including ACT and DBT.

How to Develop Your Professional Identity & Choose a Career Path

How to Develop Your Professional Identity & Choose a Career Path

When I entered graduate school, I knew one thing: I would never become a clinical psychologist. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew psychology wasn’t it, and I figured that spending a few years in a doctoral program was a good way to pass the time while my interests worked themselves out. (Side note: It isn’t. There are much easier ways to spend six years.)

Now I am the one thing I thought I would never be: a clinical psychologist. How in the world did that happen?

The truth is that I began graduate school with a narrow sense of what it means to be a psychologist. Over the course of my training, I learned that there are many ways to match your interests, passions, and values to a career in behavioral health and many opportunities to fall in love with this work.

Whether you have well-defined professional goals or are utterly confused about the path ahead, here are a few questions to consider as you work toward developing your professional identity and choosing a meaningful career.