For me, the most challenging part was the education because it took a long time (4 yrs for Bachelor's degree, 4 yrs for 2 different Master's degrees and then 7 yrs for PhD) You don't need two Master's degrees, I just did it that way. But along the way, I learned so much about people, science, and different forms of therapy that it was fun and absolutely worth it.
Some people worry it will be too much for them emotionally to listen to other people's problems, but all along the education path, you'll learn how to take care of yourself and separate yourself from the issues you will hear about.
I think working for an agency can be challenging because there are often requirements that you see a certain number of patients every week, but as long as you take care of yourself and keep all your record keeping up to date, that doesn't have to be a problem.
I work in private practice and I love what I do.
Jeanne recommends the following next steps:
I see you posted the question about a year ago, so I am wondering if you have decided to pursue psychology? I worked in the field for many years in the evening with a private practice, while I worked in a corporate job during the day. I found the lower pay for the types of issues psychologists deal with, was unacceptable to me. I believe practitioners in the field should be paid about 10x what they are. I found insurance companies difficult to work with although things have changed somewhat since I had my practice.
I found white men have dominated the field in the definitions of mental illness and health, and that there is a big need to address women's issues and perspectives in the field as a whole.
Finally, after extensive research, I found that approaching many mental health issues through a more holistic approach seemed to yield better results, including organic food, good sleep, exercise, mindfulness, etc. If I would return to the field, I would work with clients on lifestyle changes and then determine the mental health issues that remain.