Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

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ManonFire
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Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ManonFire » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:42 pm

Honestly I have what I believe to be a limiting belief about clinical psychology holding me back.

I don't enjoy therapy. Ssshhh!

Just something about it feels so boring (to me! no disrespect intended). I got into clinical psychology because I enjoy investigating from a scientific standpoint ie. conducting specialist assessments of strange behavioural phenomena.

Whenever I've been doing (supervised) therapy, although at times it's been enjoyable when some sort of success is evident, for the most part it hasn't done much for me. Is something wrong with me? I worry I am not suited to the profession :(

Maybe I don't fully believe in it I suppose (shock!).. I just hold beliefs that the mechanisms of change are only mildly related to the intervention. I believe that when people are distressed enough they become receptive to any passable form of 'therapy'. Point me to research that disproves that.

Maybe we should put a decision tree together for the aspects of psychology people think they might enjoy, with a list of alternatives to clinical psychology as options, such as academic research etc.

Would love to hear back any comments or suggestions. It has crossed my mind that there is some investigative work involved in therapy, still though, nothing like a good 'ol fashioned 50,000 hour test battery :lol:

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mungle
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by mungle » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:04 pm

The great thing is there are so many other routes out there that don't involve doing therapy. There is neuro clinical psychology but you'll do an awful lot of therapy on the way. There is Occupational Therapy in an assessment or brain injury unit or graduate medicine or you can go down the research route. You could be a researcher or manage clinical trials or write about science or all sorts of different things. Loads of people I've met along the way started out with the idea of being a clinical psychologist but then found something else they preferred and they are now successful and satisfied with their careers.

ManonFire
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ManonFire » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:34 am

I love how you describe clinical neuropsychology Mungle! I think it should be called neuro-clinical psychology - describes it better seeing as it is clinical psychologists with a neuro emphasis.

Well maybe things change when you actually start doing proper structured therapy based on a certain therapeutic model. That might actually be rewarding and convert my scepticism to fanaticism.

I have been thinking recently about doing a phd instead. I think it could be fun swanning around a university all day mentoring students and dreaming of research. The salary and career progression seems really good too. Why is that? Why does a research assistant get paid substantially more than an assistant psychologist?

clinpsy
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by clinpsy » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:05 pm

''I have been thinking recently about doing a phd instead. I think it could be fun swanning around a university all day mentoring students and dreaming of research. The salary and career progression seems really good too. Why is that? Why does a research assistant get paid substantially more than an assistant psychologist?''

Because of University vs NHS salaries.

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ell
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ell » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:20 pm

Also, it may just be that clinical psychology is not the best profession for you.

It seems that when people say that, there is some kind of negative implication to it. But surely there is nothing wrong with a random career not being suited to you.

(it might be worth talking to some academics about what their role/career progression is like, though I'm sure your description of them 'swanning around' was said with your tongue firmly in your cheek)

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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ManonFire » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:31 pm

Lol Ell you can be sure of it, I'd be lucky to keep it if I stated that in a uni! Of course I have respect for the academic world, it can be really frustrating in its own right.
Yes you're right, well I suppose when we are all aspiring to this very very difficult to access profession it fosters self-doubt. For me, I've questioned myself so many times over the years, wondering if there is something wrong with me, feeling like a failure, then building myself back up and being cut to pieces again and again. I think I've been through every phase of whatever model describes this torture, varying from full-on resentment of the profession to full-on admiration and awe. I think now I pass through stages of ambivalence regularly, honestly it can be really tough to keep heart and continue. When you continually put yourself through it each year I think it becomes a bit like an abusive relationship, you get blinkered to the point where it's difficult to see any clarity; overcome extreme mental challenges to feel better about it, and don't know what you would do without it. Then when a comment is made about not continuing it challenges your deeply embedded identity, as the person striving for CP.

There's no doubt in my mind as to the excellence I could achieve as a CP. I think the misunderstanding about PhDs dates back to when i finished my master's. Lots of my class went on to do PhDs immediately, whereas CP seemed the more difficult option, definitely more difficult to access. Back in those days I came from a world where hard work equated to more reward, so i decided, being the foolhardy young adventurer that i was to take on the sword in the stone. The sword has rattled a bit, but remains stuck. :bom:
I think i will definitely begin to enquire about PhDs, life as a swan appeals to me :P :P

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ell
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ell » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:08 pm

I think too often people end up wanting to get into CP because it is so difficult to do, and by doing so would get some kind of validation. Which inevitably doesn't work, fosters resentment, and leaves people disappointed. It's a job, it's not for everyone, it's not perfect or the ideal, there are rubbish bits and good bits, and so much of it is massively affected by the people and the system around you. So basically like nearly any other job in the world.

ManonFire
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ManonFire » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:51 pm

It's crazy right?! That at the end of it all, we are doing all of this for a job. In my experience a job that, and I hope I don't offend, does not justify the wait for training. For people that are on their own making a life for themselves, the sacrifice is all too often over-whelming. It makes me think of what exactly being a psychologist in a service is, in settings I've worked in psychology has been poorly regarded, don't get me wrong I've not been mistreated (for the most part), but other professionals have seen psychology as some kind of surplus to requirements or 'fancy add-on' to the service, or useless in other cases (yes, in two settings I worked at - comments from senior staff). Then I consider the massive disparity in salary for the same amount of training eg psychiatry vs psychology, which made me ponder whether psychology is a load of 'huff n' puff', fluffy gloves if you will, before the serious professionals are called in. I do believe in a lot of psychologically-based tasks/ applications but I wonder sometimes if i'm in some kind of cult because in the real world others may not grant them the same space. But maybe that's why I am in this 'cult' lol, because I am an obscure thinker and see things differently. In my opinion I do believe there is a challenge for CP in showcasing what psychology can do.
I'm reading and re-reading a post by Spatch (viewtopic.php?f=10&t=20857) on 'Crappy working conditions', which is much better articulated than I am capable of. Some great points in there - I particularly relate to "No one on this forum has to take this. If you are reading this, most likely you are someone who is highly educated, bright, motivated and capable of achieving a hell of a lot. Ignore the hoops needed to be jumped through and hideously skewed standards of getting on a DClinPsy for a second, and focus on the fact that almost everyone who has even a vague shot of getting on a course will be highly employable in a range of different settings. You will find other work, and while it may not be psychology related, it will be able to keep you fed, a roof over your head and far better for your mental health than some of the environments many of you are finding yourself in. While the "Psychology or bust" mindset enforces blinkers, you really do have more options than you think (and more time to play the long game if necessary), and you really don't have to tolerate this. It's not paying your dues, or gaining nobility through suffering- it's just needless, draining aggro."

To get back on thread, I enjoy assessment, formulation, not so much therapy, and not so much evaluation. Investigating the cause of a rare neurological illness excites me way more than a service question. But although that might be a part of training it might not be a part of the job I end up doing. Similarly I may end up in a specialist service doing assessments with no or minimal therapy. I do appreciate training in those areas could potentially impact on my assessment and formulation skills as well as make me a more rounded psychologist. For example, if someone was finding it difficult to come to terms with feedback, systemic assessment etc. Could potentially end up doing those things through a PhD too though. Sheesh. Time to make more enquiries about PhDs.

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ell
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ell » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:55 am

How psychology is perceived will vary depending on the service you are in. I don't want to invalidate those experiences where psychology has not been respected, seen as helpful, or worse. But I can also speak to my own experiences where psychology input is respected and requested. I will regularly spend long periods of time in the psychiatrists' offices, discussing cases on their request. It varies, as does everything in this world.

But getting back to the thread, it's a good idea to investigate other options. As with everything in this world. Sense a theme?

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Spatch
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by Spatch » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:48 pm

Honestly I have what I believe to be a limiting belief about clinical psychology holding me back.

I don't enjoy therapy. Ssshhh!
That's really not a limiting belief for a clinical psychologist. If you look at the history of the profession, psychotherapy has not always been integral to it, and we have at varied times focussed on psychometrics, behaviourism etc. There are lots of clinical psychologists who do little/no therapy, and for many it's a hygiene issue much in the same way statistics or writing a service evaluation is (i.e. you have to demonstrate you can do it if you have to, but you don't need to love it and you aren't under an obligation to have this as a major part of your job). It's not the favourite part of my job, and I would happily do a role that purely focusses on supervision, and development of new treatments, but I am glad I can do it.
Just something about it feels so boring (to me! no disrespect intended). I got into clinical psychology because I enjoy investigating from a scientific standpoint ie. conducting specialist assessments of strange behavioural phenomena.
It can be boring, especially if you are in a role where you are doing "routine" therapeutic interventions (e.g. CBT for phobia), but there is equally a lot of scope for applying scientific approaches to treating unusual presentations. You can test hypotheses, replicate findings, alter variables and all of the other things that go with a scientific outlook. You can provide evidence based psychoeducation, so it becomes more like teaching. Some clients also really respond well to this, especially those that aren't happy with the "touchy-feely-holistic" stance that many therapists take.
Maybe I don't fully believe in it I suppose (shock!).. I just hold beliefs that the mechanisms of change are only mildly related to the intervention. I believe that when people are distressed enough they become receptive to any passable form of 'therapy'. Point me to research that disproves that.
Well as most forms of therapy are essentially co-constructed, mechanisms of change are going to be heavily influenced by the ability to recieve that information. It's a bit like saying "I don't believe that schooling works. It's only when people want to learn something they will be able to take new material on board." You can see how that conflates a huge amount of stuff.

I agree though that it's not how therapists frequently think their therapy works- I am often struck by what people take away from what I write or say- Same as I would never have imagined that anyone would have given more than a fleeting glance at that paragraph you say you have re-read and reflected on in the "crappy working conditions" post.

Maybe we should put a decision tree together for the aspects of psychology people think they might enjoy, with a list of alternatives to clinical psychology as options, such as academic research etc.
Would be impossible, as CP is continually evolving and branching out into new areas, psychological knowledge is growing. For what it's worth, I think that traditional therapy will be less and less of the focus for CP and broader applications of psychology will be what we will be valued for. Already most of us have to do things like formulate for teams, consult, teach, develop services and evalaute them, as well as look at new or niche areas that are currently not well understood (e.g. medically unexplained symptoms, internet addiction). The days of doing a DClinPsy and doing only therapy are already gone unless you are happy to stay on a Band 7 for the duration of your career.

For you that's a good thing.
I have been thinking recently about doing a phd instead. I think it could be fun swanning around a university all day mentoring students and dreaming of research. The salary and career progression seems really good too. Why is that? Why does a research assistant get paid substantially more than an assistant psychologist?
As someone who has a PhD and started off as a research psychologist before jumping to clinical, I can tell you that there is very little swanning around and mentoring students. However, there is a lot of bureaucracy, non-science, grant seeking and chronic rejection. Although there is a bottleneck between graduating and getting on a DClinPsy there are far more bottlenecks at each stage of the process and research careers are far more precarious. You can read more about the attrition rates and PhD surplus here: http://www.labcritics.com/review-the-su ... docs-6286/
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

ManonFire
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Re: Should I enjoy all aspects of clinical psychology?

Post by ManonFire » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:29 pm

So many good points in there. Ell yes it's sometimes so difficult to see any other options when you become blinkered. And of course every pre-trainee will be thinking 'yea well that's easy for you to tell us to explore other options when you're qualified'.. :) The way i see it now is that interview season is upon us, and there's no time to be unsure. I'll do the worrying again once it's over with! Spatch thanks for such a thoughtful post - all of those points are good news to me to be honest. I never considered psychology as a 'therapy' but I guess have worked in services where psychology's mainstay was providing therapy and therefore considered a therapy service; which was off-putting.
I do enjoy the psycho-education I have to say.. but on a note of reflection I wonder why people seem to engage with tangible mainstream accepted concepts (such as medical knowledge) moreso than psychological theory, is it due to the stigma attached to the intangible or 'unheard of' concepts, or to the fact that you sometimes require well developed verbal reasoning skills to access them - as opposed to the relatively yes/no medical stuff. :? Maybe this is another challenge to the profession, or maybe this is the skill of a CP being capable of conveying pychological concepts in an easy way that 'addresses resistance'. Hmm.
..mechanisms of change are going to be heavily influenced by the ability to recieve that information. It's a bit like saying "I don't believe that schooling works. It's only when people want to learn something they will be able to take new material on board.
I'm thinking there have probably been a few studies on what proportion of the variance in a therapeutic outcome could be accounted for by a person's openness to therapy.
For what it's worth, I think that traditional therapy will be less and less of the focus for CP and broader applications of psychology will be what we will be valued for. Already most of us have to do things like formulate for teams, consult, teach, develop services and evalaute them, as well as look at new or niche areas that are currently not well understood (e.g. medically unexplained symptoms, internet addiction).
Music to my ears :)

That PhD link is interesting. Precarious is an under-statement. Gosh that must be hell, being over-qualified with no jobs. I think most pre-trainees in CP can probably relate to being over-educated and underpaid with no pathway of support and no promise of a future, at least once getting the DClin there seems to be a steady supply of work. And looking at that article and the sudden funding and availability of post-doc positions back in the early 2000's, the CP training bottleneck could actually be a good thing in that the number of places are kept low each year preventing flooding in the job market. Lol have we found a plus to the bottleneck :drunken:

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