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What kind of struggles can I expect when trying to be a psychologist? Is the career worth it in the end after all the hard work?

I know I really want to help people when I get older but I know that it will cost a lot of money to go through all the schooling and want to make sure this choice is right for me. psychology career

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Priya’s Answer

Hi Carlee,
If you want to help people, along with psychology there are many mental health-related helping fields such as counseling, social work, etc. In my state, being a psychologist would require a doctorate (but this may be different now or elsewhere.) You can always consider what level of schooling you are willing to go to, and find a helping profession at that level. I currently am a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and I had to get my Master's degree. It took some people 2 years and took me about 3 years. So together with my B.A., I had 7 years of schooling. I think the schooling was worth the money and I do love my job. A consideration, though, is the hours you are required before you can be fully licensed. For an LPC, you need 3000 hours after school to practice as an "associate" in my state, before you can be fully licensed. I am still a professional counselor, but I may get paid less and have access to less opportunities as an associate than a fully licensed therapist. The job itself can be very flexible, and you have a range of options to what kind of setting you want to work at and job you want to do. I personally think it boils down to--are you willing to make the sacrifices needed to help people? It is not all glamorous all the time, and you may suffer financially initially in the job. All jobs are tough--the question is do YOU think it is worth the fight? If so, go for it, and you can find support along the way. If not, then you can explore other paths as well. To some the job/idea may be worth the fight, and to others it may not be, and it does not mean either side is a bad person or choosing the wrong thing. It just depends on you and your needs/values/desires, etc. And again, my perspective is on the path toward a license in Licensed Professional Counseling. There are so many routes you can take to help or counsel people. Good luck!

Priya recommends the following next steps:

Consider your financial needs and what you will do if you cannot meet them initially.
Consider the time of schooling each path may take.
Consider your values.
Consider your health/mental health and abilities.
Consider your talents and interests. Good luck!
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Priya’s Answer

Hi Carlee, I just realized I answered secondary questions and not your main question. Some struggles in a mental health field can include: needing to take extra care of your own self-care and attending therapy yourself to make sure you take care of yourself. You are your own tool in therapy and if you are not running well you may not help others as best you can. Also, depending on the site you work at, you may not get to practice exactly in the way you prefer. Both, I think, get better with experience, as more experience can teach you what you need to care for yourself and give you more opportunities in the type of work you can do. Those in your personal life also may not understand/acknowledge your job as much as you hope and expect. Others also may not understand a mental health perspective on life. These you can address with a good support network of colleagues. Good luck! The challenges are many, but if you have the passion, the rewards are beautiful.
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Marini’s Answer

Hello Carlee. I am not a professional in this field, but I think one struggle would be determining what area/field of psychology you would like to work. I would advise doing research to find what is of interest to you. You will have patients with varying issues/concerns, so it's very important for you to be mindful to take care of your own mental health. Try not to get attached to your patients to ensure that you're able to treat them effectively.

Keep an open mind and note that everyone and every situation is different. Being able to help people is very rewarding, so I think this field of work is worth it in the end. I hope this was helpful.
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Isabel’s Answer

Hi Carlee! First off, love the passion you have for people. This is a much-needed specialty, especially nowadays during COVID-19. Second, I am not a professional in this field, but I have many colleagues who are. From hearing their stories and seeing their journey, I can tell you that it is hard, but very rewarding work. You will be helping people from so many different kind of backgrounds and cultures; make sure to come with an open-mind and be patient. Also, make sure to self-care! It's important to check in with your own mental health! You have to take care of yourself too!

Hope this helps!
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