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What has surprised you the most about being a clinic psychologist?

Could you say some tips for people who want this career? #psychology

Thank you comment icon Hi Maria, I split your questions into multiple posts so that pros could answer each one individually! Gurpreet Lally, Admin

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Amanda’s Answer

I’ve been in the behavioral health field for 16 years, mostly serving the addicted and forensic mental health population. As a result, my answer may be a *bit* jaded, but I’ll tell you the same things I told so many new counselors and therapists I’ve trained over the years.
1. Despite how long you spend earning your degree, you’ll spend the first years of your career learning your job the hard way from experience. Take any internship you can that puts you in direct contact with clients and learn from effective therapists, even if their style isn’t your own.
2. Some of the craziest people you’ll meet won’t be your clients. They’ll be your coworkers. There’s an ironically large amount of unhealthiness in the psychology fields. Which brings me to:
3. If you’re getting into this field to save people, get out of this field. That’s not what we do, and it doesn’t work like that anyway. A counselor cannot save someone else, no one can save you, the only way someone is saved is if they save themselves. We are teachers, not saviors, and we teach people how to save themselves. We are not responsible for our clients’ successes, just as we are not responsible for their failures. I’ve seen far too many very sweet, savior-oriented therapists break down every day and eventually leave the field because they are unable to move beyond this idea and end up broken by their own clientele.
4. Make sure you yourself are healthy mentally and have very healthy emotional boundaries, as well as work-life boundaries. Depending on where you choose to work, and especially in those places where people need the most help, this field can be abusive to those who choose to engage in it (inpatient programs especially).

I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom, but these are the biggest learning curves I’ve found new counselors experiencing in my career, so I thought it was important to share.
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Rose’s Answer

What surprised me the most is how inspiring, rewarding and challenging this career is. The biggest obstacle in private practice is finding ways to encourage clients who need the help most to join sessions regularly. Sometimes the very nature of their mental health challenge gets in the way. I love working with people and tend to be a believer in the innate health of each person--so psychology was the best career for me to live into those passions. My current role is actually in business--executive coaching, leadership development, leader assessment--different from my clinical practice. I got into this role through my private practice and a client who wanted to help his team get healthier. My best advice: find a mentor in this field who can support you.
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