I have been providing psychological services for more than 30 years. It is essential to relate to your patients, be empathetic, and to listen with understanding and interest to what is shared during therapy. It is also critical that at the end of the session you enter your clinical notes into the patient file and open your mind to the next patient. At the end of the day the stories shared must remain at the office. Of course, some will continue to work in your mind but it is important to have boundaries between your work day and your personal life. When introduced at parties as a psychologist, people are either very interested or move away. I quickly state that I am of duty and not interested in analyzing anyone there. You will study about transference and counter-transference, and share cases will supervisors or peer review. It can become a problem to obsess about particular patients. Best of luck with your studies!
G. Mark’s Answer
My feeling is that to be an effective therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, you have to care about the people you treat. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't know how much you could accomplish if you treated your patients just as assignments. If you care about people, you'll feel their pain and it will wear on you. You need to be dedicated and strong emotionally. In my efforts at counseling students, I've found that I get submerged in their struggles and can't bring myself to treat their issues casually. It ends up taking a lot of emotional effort, at least for me. I had one student tell me in the middle of a lecture I was giving in China right in public that I changed his life. Now if that's not a nice moment, I don't know what is. That kind of thing makes just about any effort worth it. If you want to go into any of these fields, let your heart be your guide. It sounds corny, but trust me -- you'll know if it's right.