10 Things I Wish I Had Known

A wave of colleagues are starting their practicum soon, and I am so excited for them! This is where it all comes together. The theories had time to simmer, and now application can help solidify the bigger picture of this art. 

In supervision, I've presented some concerns with my process after graduation, and my experiences have helped prepare my colleagues for their next step. I hope this information can help trainees (and myself!) somehow, and give this sometimes nebulous field some clarity.

  1. Continue learning outside the profession. One of my favorite aspects of psychology is that it weaves together all disciplines. One of its purposes is to bear witness to one's story, while also being able to deconstruct certain aspects that may socialize or affect one's identity in the present. It helps with case conceptualization, and one's abilities to track the themes of a person's story. With a larger frame of reference, one will be able to gently nudge the dialogue towards greater insight.
    • Explore: neuroscience, arts, histories of oppression, studies on social media, developmentally appropriate practices for parenting and working with children, finance, accounting, biology, updates in psychopharmacology, fitness, holistic health, mindfulness meditation practices, yoga and eastern philosophies, etc.
    • Attend workshops, ask seasoned professionals questions, visit agencies, and research community resources and connect with them.
    • Check out videos & podcasts related to psychology. There's a bunch out there, and can help  establish one's niche.
  2. Define your philosophy on healing. I think this is similar to initiating one's individual path towards healing. How will one know if the process is working with another? Sometimes we won't, but experiences can feed intuition. 
    • Matching theory with one's core philosophy can also make it easier to identify the right interventions with each case. Don't try to fit in a box that isn't you. 
    • Seek out dialogues with those who practice the same theories as you. Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional sites. Get on them and seek those connections. Things can become less scary when more information is available.
    • It's okay to change theories. After a while, a theory or two will feel as natural as breathing.
  3. Be brave. This is a hard thing to do in the beginning. Putting oneself out there can be difficult, especially if all the wheres and whys and hows aren't available. 
    • Join & attend CAMFT, 3000 club meetings. People don't know you exist if you're not around.
    • Look up free webinars or psychoeducational events offered, and go. 
    • Seek alumni and past professors for opportunities.
    • Being brave also means to speak up for oneself. If opportunities are not provided or lack quality, talk about it. 
    • Develop professional boundaries with colleagues and supervisors. Trust one's gut, and consult when it feels funky.
  4. Make a business card, and check if it's legal and ethical.
  5. Check in with supervisors, and keep them updated.
    • Supervisors understand the process of starting out, and do not expect flawless performances or case presentations. They do, however, want to see continuous efforts and growth. Asking for and giving feedback in supervision helps all develop in the field. That means one must STAY AWAKE.
    • Supervisors are always observing and communicating with other supervisors. Make yourself stand out. Make supervision work for you and put in the work to develop as a clinician.
    • Learn to take constructive criticism. Start being aware of one's blindspots, and humbly accept comments as they come. 
  6. Have a blog/website. 
    • There are ethical considerations with blogging as well. Consult to make sure the blog is legit. Starting a blog as a student can help differentiate one graduate from another with identical qualifications. Blogs give supervisors and agencies a glimpse into the person and thought processes of the potential employee.
    • The writing doesn't have to be pulitzer-prize-winning material. There still needs to be conscious efforts on checking grammar and fluidity. Write it in your voice, and seek skills to develop writing if it needs shaping.
  7. BBS logs & tracking hours
    • TrackYourHours.com It just makes things easier.
    • Consider one's integrity in the process of logging hours. Weigh one's experiences & readiness for licensure as hours are being signed off in good faith. Don't rush it. The hours will come. 
    • A rule of thumb is to go over hours by ~10% in case BBS knocks some off when forms are submitted.
    • LPCC certification. Consider concurrently completing hours for LPCC if planning on working in other states. (I haven't started, but if you have, let me know how it goes!)
    • Children & Family hours: working with agencies can help accrue these hours. They are one of the hardest to get!
    • Hours breakdown | BBS
  8. Construct folders and folders of community resources and interventions
    • Part of the process is knowing when and how to refer out. This involves networking, and knowing one's community. 
    • Ask supervisors how to present this to clients, and practice your spiel to make it more flud and comfortable.
    • Think of bio/psycho/social needs and remember to rule out bio bases.
    • Consider cultural needs and culturally sensitive resources.
    • Take ideas from colleagues and share ones that you've discovered. Don't be stingy.
  9. Be open to changing specializations.
    • Sometimes one may be gungho about working with certain people or specializing. Test it out, and be open to the unknown. I started out wanting to work with women and trauma. Instead I continued my work with children & the school system, and realized my current interests involve reducing stigma related to artists, geeks, and gamers. It may change in the future, and I'm okay with that.
  10. Self care.
    • Some of us (wink wink nudge nudge) may become their work. It is very important to understand one's role in the field. We are one of many who may catalyze change in the lives of people we work with. 
    • Are we soley responsible for the actions, growth, or regression of those we work with? No, if we practice due diligence, and do all we professionally can, the rest is up to the other person.
    • Meeting people where they're at is important. If a clinician is putting in more effort than the client, it's time to step back and reflect. 

I am sure there are more tips to consider. These are all I could think of for now. I hope it helps, and I hope additional tips and insights about your experiences can be contributed in comments. Thank you for reading!