Want to Become a Psychologist?

Did you know that psychology is one of the top 5 most popular college majors?

There’s a lot you can do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology:

  • Become a teacher
  • Go to law, medical or nursing school
  • Work in business or sales
  • Get a job in community corrections, inpatient behavioral health or substance abuse treatment programs

In short, psychology is a great foundation for lots of careers.  But what about if you want to take your education in psychology further and become a psychologist?

I recently wrote an article over at HealtheCareers about what to think about before taking the plunge and entering graduate school to become a psychologist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s one tip that might come as a bit of a surprise:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things NOT to Say to Someone Struggling With Depression

I was recently interviewed for an article over at:

…about what to say and what NOT to say to a friend/family member/co-worker who is struggling with depression. I love being a part of these kinds of articles because it really gives me a chance to air my annoyances out loud! And someone is actually listening!

Anyway, the article is actually really helpful – giving lots of ideas about how to approach someone who is feeling depressed. My favorite useless (and potentially harmful) piece of advice that’s often given to depressed folks?

ick.

and here’s why I don’t like it:

A similar piece of advice is to focus on the positives and be grateful. “These are pretty good ideas in general, but for someone struggling with mental illness, hanging a motivational poster in their room, and starting a gratitude journal isn’t going to cut it,” said Stephanie Smith, PsyD., a psychologist in private practice in Erie, Colo. “In fact, trivializing depression by assuming that a clever-sounding phrase can cure it, can do much more harm than good.”

Check out the entire article (including advice from one of my favorite psychologists, Dr. Deb Serani) here:

What To Know Before You Start Therapy

I recently had the opportunity to add some ideas to an article about important things to know before starting therapy. The story recently appeared in Self Magazine

 

 

I love working on articles like this, because I find it so helpful to hear the worries, stereotypes and fears about working with a psychologist. This article was no exception. You can check out the entire article here:

@ 2017 Peanuts Worldwide LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But here are some of my favorite tips:

 

 

 

 

 

and

Psychologist, Psychiatrist: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a psychologist or a psychiatrist, you know that the difference between the two professions is HUGE and VERY IMPORTANT. If you do something else for a living, you probably don’t care at all about the difference. Fair enough.

But just in case you’re interested, here’s the short version:

Psychologists hold doctoral degrees in psychology (PhD, PsyD, EdD) and generally do therapy and psychological evaluations.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors (they went to medical school) and generally do medication evaluations and management.

Can’t get enough? Want to know more? Check out this article I wrote over at Health eCareers:

 

Embarrassed to go to therapy?

If we’re being completely honest about mental health care, and what prevents people from getting the care they need, we have to talk about the embarrassment factor. Even those of us who “know better” than to be ashamed and are aware of the “stigma” around mental health issues, can suffer from some embarrassment around seeking treatment for ourselves. We know therapy is OK for others, but for us? Hmmm…not so sure.

I was recently interviewed by Mainstream Mental Health Radio about the embarrassment factor when it comes to mental health care. I discussed who is susceptible to feeling some shame around starting therapy, including:

  • mental health professionals
  • health care providers
  • teachers
  • attorneys

…pretty much anyone. But those of us who know a little (or a lot) about psychology and mental health might find ourselves thinking the following:

  • I know so much about mental health, I should be able to fix this myself
  • I should be mentally stronger than this
  • I know other people struggle with mental illness, but not me
  • If I seek treatment, I’m pretty much admitting I’m a failure/fraud/weakling

In the interview I also talk about how all the public education that’s been done in the last couple of decades around mental health awareness has been fantastic. But we’re still not out of the woods in terms of understanding that mental illness has nothing to do with weakness or inferior character.

To listen to the interview – which also contains information about the mental health benefits of martial arts (who knew?!), check it out on Mainstream Mental Health Radio:

 

 

Secrets From The Couch

I recently ran across this article on BuzzFeed: 29 Things No One Ever Tells You About Being In Therapy.  I pretty much love the articles BuzzFeed writes on mental health because they’re clever, helpful and fun.  And let’s face it: most of us mental health professionals wouldn’t be described as “fun.”  Sad, but true.

Anyway, this article was particularly great because the 29 Things were provided by readers.  Here are a couple of my faves:

#3: It might take a sec to find the right therapist

and

#4: Even when you do, it might take some time to connect

I also liked:

#13: Sometimes your therapist will piss you off

…I might add that if your therapist doesn’t piss you off (or bug you, or something something that doesn’t sit right with you) then you probably aren’t getting as much out of therapy as you could.  Change is uncomfortable.

I also really liked the last one:

#29: Needing to go back to therapy – or stay in it for a while – isn’t failing

This is so true.  Not many people know that going back to therapy after taking a break can be hugely beneficial.  I have lots of folks in my practice who come for a while; take a break for a while; come back for a while to work on something else, and so on.

To see all 29, check out the full article here.

 

When You’re Too Embarrassed To Get Help

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I really wish I knew how many people think about starting therapy, but don’t actually do it.  Because my hunch is that it’s a whole heck of a lot.

We hear people talking about the stigma around mental illness and mental health treatment all the time, and honestly I think the one who suffers from this stigma is often ourselves.  Here’s what stigma against mental health treatment looks like when we use it on ourselves:

  • I should know how to fix this myself
  • I am a __________ (insert title: therapist, physician, teacher, etc), I should know how to deal with this on my own!
  • I am too smart to have anxiety (or depression)
  • I don’t have anything to feel worried or depressed about
  • I have good friends and a supportive family, I shouldn’t feel so bad

The fact is, public education about mental health has been so good in recent years, that most of us wouldn’t dream of saying any of the above statements to a friend, loved one, or stranger.  We know mental illness isn’t:

  • A choice
  • A weakness
  • A comment on one’s intelligence, place in the world or likeability

But yet some of us still say these unhelpful, untrue things to ourselves.  Why?  Because the stigma around mental illness still exists.  It’s fading for sure, but it has a long way to go.  So if you find that you are talking yourself OUT of getting mental health treatment, label those thoughts for what they are: junk.  Then pick up the phone and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

To find a psychologist near you, check out APA’s Psychologist Locator service. It’s a free, easy place to start.

 

What To Know Before Your First Appointment

I recently had a chance to talk to the folks over at BuzzFeed about what to expect during your first therapy session. I love the way they presented the info – so fun, accessible and entertaining.  Adjectives not typically associated with therapy – but they should be!

Check it out:

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One of my favorites quotes:

“Some people are just ready to spill everything and talk about the big stuff, and some people it takes much longer for them to feel comfortable sharing,” says Smith. “What’s important to me as a psychologist is to meet people where they are.”

Thanks, BuzzFeed!

Everything You Were Afraid To Ask About Therapy

There are a lot of misconceptions about therapy out there.

  • It’s only for “crazy people”
  • Psychologists can change their patients’ personalities
  • It lasts forever
  • It costs a fortune
  • Psychologists themselves are either perfect, or total “nut-jobs”

I recently had the opportunity to weigh in on a couple of these – and many more – myths about therapy.  The article turned out awesome, informative and fun to read.  Here are a couple of my quotes:

They’re not here to tell you if you should call off your marriage or quit your job. “The real job of therapy is to get to know yourself better and change the way you’re thinking, the way you’re behaving, or the way you’re understanding the world,” says Smith. “The process of therapy is not to give good give advice.”

and

“Sometimes I think people hesitate to embark on therapy because they feel like ‘If I go once I’m going to be sucked in for 10 years, three times a week,’ and it feels like this huge decision,” says Smith. But the length and frequency of therapy is very individual. It can be a one-time deal, a few months of sessions, or longer depending on what you’re going through and what you’re looking to accomplish.

To read the article in its entirety, check it out on Buzzfeed.