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What is the hardest part of being a Psychologist?

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Vanessa’s Answer

Hello, I recently got out of grad school for marriage and family therapy and am becoming a licensed therapist in the fall. I have 3 years of experience providing therapeutic services and though I’m new in this career, I think I can answer your question.

My first session ever was with a couple who had a young child with chronic health issues. First time I met them, I said, “Hello, I’m so excited to be working with you.” And their first statement was “Our child is dying, what do we do?”Working with them for an entire year, their child’s health was always their main worry which caused strain in their relationship. The most difficult thing was (and still is) feeling like the services I provided to them wasn’t helping. They came for couples therapy and the main cause of their relationship issues was anxiety over their only child dying. A reasonable fear and something as a therapist, you can’t completely fix.

I’ve had a lot of cases like this over the years and it still affects me to feel like what I’m doing might not be helping at all. There’s not always physical evidence therapy is helping people like firefighters rescuing someone from a fire.

Therapy is internal. Nobody can see the growth you’re experiencing and you might even not notice it yourself, but therapy saves a lot of people. Being willing to listen and provide empathy for people while they are experiencing some of the worst moments of their lives is incredibly selfless and helpful.
Thank you for answering! I want to be a psychologist but I only saw "the helping people" part but you made me realize that there is not always easy to help people with there problems. Again thanks for answering and I found your answer very helpful Mario V.
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Mauro’s Answer

Im not a psychologist however my friend's who are tell me their challenges.

The hardest part they share is the family type problems and seeing kids who dont deserve the position of where they are at.

Empathy and putting yourself in the other party shoes takes a lot of emotional intelligence.
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Camila’s Answer

Hey there,

I would agree with the others that there are certainly cases that are very difficult and some can have a big emotional toll. I felt like my training gave me a lot of tools to manage these reactions, which we refer to as “countertransference”, by setting an expectation that we’re only as helpful as we have been helped and encouraging us to always have our own therapist/clinical supervisor.

Instead, I would say that currently the hardest part of being a mental health professional is the pressure the system is facing as a whole. The volume of new cases coming in, the intensity of some of the needs, the pressure from the community for therapists to intervene in a wide range of concerns (e.g., mass shootings, opioid crisis, police brutality), the endless paperwork and documentation the regulatory/government agencies continue to pile on, all combined with our genuine desire to help, makes this a pretty high pressure job these days. The good news is that these issues are known and several people are working hard to help manage these systemic problems; but that’s the part of the job that isn’t in the vocation or training for most of us. It can still be rewarding work, but because nobody I know became a therapist to be bogged down by paperwork and regulations, I think it’s even more important to highlight this and be realistic about these “other duties as assigned”.

I hope this helps you weigh your options!
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