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Pros and Cons of being a psychologist?

What are the overall benefits, and downsides of being a licensed psychologist?

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Nicole’s Answer

Hello!

I've been a clinical psychologist for 21 years.

Ive been in many specialties since I started. Each journey has had benefits and disadvantages, so it is difficult to generalize.

One disadvantage of the field can be that you are usually working alone, and you cannot share your day with others when you come home. No release of the daily stressors of holding others' grief, anxiety, depression, trauma, etc. It can be lonely.

Burn out is real!!! Compassion fatigue really can affect your own mental health, and can also breed complacency. So, yes, self-care is a must. ..for the clinician and clients' benefit. I learned early (probably due to my starting in forensics) to compartmentalize a bit. Seldom do I take my clients home, figuratively. It's a useful skill.

The benefit of this field is helping people. Although, it does not always happen. Even so, watching a person grow and/or feel better, or find a way out of a bad situation, is so rewarding.

There are so many interventions and orientations to learn. There are a breadth of specialties you can explore over the lifetime of your career. I've worked in forensics, outreach, then private practice (but I was a horrible business woman), and eventually, what I'm doing now, health psychology/behaviorist at a primary care clinic.

Ive been a primary care consultant for only a year plus. The benefits of this position is that you can talk to fellow staff because it is integrated care. You work beside the primary care providers who referred the patient to you, and can poke your head in their offices to consult, provide information, suggest referrals, provide diagnoses, and suggest medications... The disadvantage are the hours. If you are a psychologist with a w2 job, companies will try to work you to death. Ten to 11 patients a day, back to back, then having to complete the notes. Very long days.

Oh, as was mentioned in a previous response, yes, some psychologists have a platform for telehealth and work from home. If it is private practice, it can save overhead expenses. Honestly, telehealth is less personal and it is easier for both to become distracted. But it could be that I'm old school. If you are a w2 employee, however, you won't escape the heavy workload.

I'm not sure I'd change anything, with the exception of the student loan debt.

Sorry for rambling, but I hope it helped a little.

Dr. A in New Mexico





Thank you comment icon Thanks, can't wait to put this advice into action! Julie
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. Grace
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Caitlin’s Answer

Bein in the field of mental health/psychiatry can be hugely rewarding and take an emotional toll. In a typical day you are seeing people through some of their hardest moments in life and this can lead one to be emotionally overwhelmed, if you do not partake in self-care and health and wellness practices of your own. In our field it is essential to have healthy work-life boundaries and practice a daily self-care routine. On a weekly basis I practice mediation, yoga, I journal, read, watch tv, exercise, reach out to loved ones for support, use essential oils, and more. Keeping a well defined self-care routine allows me to stay in a healthy mindset even when I have hard and emotionally taxing days at work. It is also important to have a therapist of your own. Often clinicians become overwhelmed and burnt-out because they do not have a safe space of their own to process their emotions. By having my own therapist I have a place to process and express what I go through both professionally and personally. This keeps me balanced and healthy (most of the time ;) No one's perfect and by accepting this it also helps keep me healthy).

Despite the hardest parts of being in this field the reward of seeing change and growth right before my eyes is the most amazing part of this job. Working each day with clients helping them process their emotions and aiding them in practicing healthy routines is a reward like no other. Not every client grows and if you can accept this from the start and understand even small steps are steps that may lead to huge growth later in their lives then this too will help you keep a healthy mindset. Yet, there are many times I see families reconnect, people begin to live and thrive over survive, on a weekly basis, if not daily, I get to see pure joy and happiness when clients realize their own growth and are empowered by the change they are giving themselves. This field is a beautiful field to work in, but it is ESSENTIAL clinicians maintain their own health and wellness in order to be able to enjoy the rewards of being a part of change. It is not a field for everyone and that is okay. Everyone has talent and passion that is unique to them in life. So, if you start this journey and realize it is not for you, acknowledge the growth that allows you and find what does create excitement and joy in your life. If you find this is the field for you then work to keep health and balance in your own life so you can enjoy the rewards of being apart of change in other's lives. I also encourage anyone in this field or starting a journey into this field to remember we are no one's saviors, we are purely helpers. Clients have to want their own change and be empowered to make healthy changes for themselves rather than have others 'save' them. I wish you all the best as you go forth finding what brings you joy in life!
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Jay’s Answer

Hi there, I'm a pediatric psychologist working in a children's hospital. Like the other psychologist mentioned, there are many many areas in which we can work and that in itself is a pro and con. It can be overwhelming to try to figure out what area or what population you wish to specialize in (e.g., trauma, children, health, testing, developmental disabilities). The pro of that is we do have a great variety of skills that allows us to fit into these many roles and areas.

Of course, being a psychologist requires time and financial dedication to a doctoral program, the pre-doctoral internship, and likely post-doctoral fellowship (about 5-7 yrs after undergrad). Once you're a fully licensed psychologist, the salary is solid and on the rise. However, the pandemic has been incredibly taxing, overwhelming, and an eye opening experience to our field. It can be very difficult working within a healthcare /behavioral healthcare system that is strongly impacted by insurance and medical systems that overlook the unique needs of our field. The neverending waitlists and systematic issues can bring about strong feelings of helplessness. With that said, with appropriate training, we can applying our varied skillset in different areas to get a change of oace and scenery (e.g., consulting work, testing for disability, pre-occupation evaluations). Best of luck!
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Alexa’s Answer

I’m not a psychologist, but I’d assume seeing people suffering from depression, anxiety, mental disorders is a huge con. It’s sad seeing people suffer. However, you have the ability as a psychologist to diagnose and help people change their lives for the better. I’m pretty sure the work schedule is great, and you could definitely work from home some days if that’s appealing to you.
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