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What is the hardest part of being a Psychologist or Therapist? Why?

I am interested in being a therapist or psychologist or psychiatrist, but I am not sure what the downfalls of this field are. I have struggled with mental health problems and want to be able to help other people. #psychology #therapy #psychiatry

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Thomas’s Answer

I find that the hardest part of being a psychiatrist is loneliness. I'm with people all day, but they are my patients, not my co-workers or friends, so my emotional needs go unmet for most of the workday. It can be very exhausting. To make up for it, I make sure I have lots of activities after work with friends and family that are supportive and enriching. I also carefully limit my work hours so that I don't get burned out. As a therapist, it's vital that you monitor and manage your own stress and emotional well being.
Thank you comment icon Well said, Thomas! Thanks for posting your advice. Alexandra Carpenter, Admin
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Priya’s Answer

Hi Dayna,
There are some difficulties that come with the job, and I think it can vary what those would be specific to you. The first and most overt one would be hearing a lot of heavy things every day and needing to keep good self-care. We hear a lot on a daily basis, and we are people! Especially if you have struggled with your mental health (as I have too!), you have to make sure to go to counseling for yourself and take care of yourself when things get rough or if you get triggered. One thing you can do is see a population with different struggles than your past struggles. This can help with lessening triggers. If that IS the population you want to see, there are some that do so after work on themselves and through their program/supervision. You will most likely have to go through your program and clinical supervision and hopefully a good program and supervisor can help you navigate those factors. Another thing that is tough can be the compensation/benefits. You may not get paid as much as you need/like in the beginning of your career, and may or may not get insurance through your work. Third, you may have a lot of clinical hours you have to meet before getting a full license. This varies for everyone in how long it takes and ease in accruing, but can be tough to accrue. Lastly, your site may vary from the type of therapy you want to be doing. This can change with experience and time but you may start off at a worksite that does a whole different type of therapy than you were trained in/comfortable in. They are good learning experiences, but can be frustrating! Also, the political environment in the US can leave a lot to be wanting in getting your clients the help and care they need. This you can always continue lobbying for (which you may learn the skills for in your program), but also relying on a good support system if you have it. Despite listing the difficulties of the field, this is good work to be doing and if you feel strongly about it, know that you are not alone! If you have colleagues to share with, and a good supervisor, I hope you will have enough support to get you through the thick of it! Good luck!
Thank you comment icon This is a great answer, Priya! I would definitely agree with all of your points, particularly the one about self-care and the “heavy” nature of the things we might hear. Thanks so much for posting! Alexandra Carpenter, Admin
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Orooj’s Answer

Hey there! As a medical student, I’ve worked with psychiatrists first hand and my mom is also a psychiatrist, so I’ve been able to see a lot of pros and cons of the job.

Also please note that psychiatrists are different from therapists and psychologists and the road to get to those options are vastly different as well. So make sure you do your research about the time and effort to get into one versus the other.

Having said that, my mom has built a repoire with her patients where they trust her judgment when it comes to advice and medication. The pay is good as well (but again, this is highly variable with a psychiatrist who going through medical school vs a psychologist who goes through masters education) but there are downsides.

1. You can’t be certain your patients are taking your advice or their medications.
2. You can only do so much and give out so many pills or words- at one point, it’s up to the patient to put those things into action.
3. The job can be taxing as you hear other people’s stories and pitfalls which can 100% affect your own mental health.

Those are the big three cons I’ve seen so far. My mom thinks it’s worth it, but there are others I know who don’t. So my bottom line advice would be first look into the different fields of mental health and which Avenue would most interest you.
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Anup’s Answer

Hello - My wife worked as a Behavioral Therapist in an Autism Center. She worked with kids and loved what she did. However, she always complained about kids hitting her unknowingly. She would always show up with new scratches. It came with the job and overall it wasn't a big deal but it's something she was annoyed about.
Thank you comment icon Hi Anup! Thanks for sharing about your wife’s experiences. Out of curiosity, what educational background did she need for that position? Alexandra Carpenter, Admin
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