Topic 3: Professional Identity and Self-Care {by 2/13}

Based on the readings due this week consider the following two discussion points: (1) When you hear the words “professional identity,” what comes to mind? Is this something you have ever thought about before? Is this important to you? (2) What are some of your concerns for self-care/burnout when it comes to working with clients (e.g., What might/does get you stressed? Do you have any effective ways to deal with such stress?)? Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 2/13.  Post your two replies no later than 2/15.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

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27 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeremy Pierce
    Feb 08, 2018 @ 13:04:57

    (1) When you hear the words “professional identity,” what comes to mind? Is this something you have ever thought about before? Is this important to you?
    When i hear this I kind of think about who I am and what I want to be in this field. It encompasses how I carry myself and the type of work I believe in and follow through on. I think it kind of plays to our background and why we got into the field we are in too. I’ve thought about it before and think about it almost every day because I remind myself why I got into this field and what I want to be able to accomplish, for myself and my clients. Needless to say its very important to me because it is part of my motivation to be in the field and to help others, as I would not be where I am at without the help of others and I want to be able to provide the same type of support and help to other people in need.
    (2) What are some of your concerns for self-care/burnout when it comes to working with clients (e.g., What might/does get you stressed? Do you have any effective ways to deal with such stress?)?
    I do think about burn out and how to prevent or minimize it. I think we have to be able to compartmentalize things in this field and do what we can to leave work at work and our own lives out of the office. Its easier said than done, especially given the complexity and severity of cases we may have but its definitely a key to being able to handle and thrive in this field. I think its important for us to take care of ourselves as well and to avoid putting ourselves in impossible situations, especially starting off our careers. Like for me I want to be in a good spot for my career and growth which is part of the on the job self-care. If we are stressed at work it will make burnout even more likely!!! Part of being able to manage stress is talking with coworkers/supervisors about certain cases and clients or problems as well. We have to vent from time to time, this doesn’t mean we don’t love all of our clients but its a healthy way to talk about it and share opinions and ideas to help eachother. Of course we need to do things such as exercising enough and eating well, if we are on top of our game physically and mentally it can make stress management much easier than if we are not taking care of ourselves. This includes taking time to spend with family and friends too.

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    • Alec Twigden
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 16:12:28

      You make a great point with the comment about our professional identities coming back to our reasons for entering the profession initially. I think this may be true for many of us as many of our professional practices will be characterized by our motivations for being there. Inspecting these motivations might be fruitful for ensuring that our own motivations do not undermine the motivations of our clients and to find ways and professional positions that maximize both our personal needs and those of the people who are paying us.
      I also like the idea of finding healthy ways to work through our concerns at work with the example of talking with coworkers about cases to share opinions and ideas with each other. I like the way that you talk about this because you show that it does not need to be a personal reflection about how you feel about the client while also acknowledging that we can serve our needs in healthy ways.

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    • Rachael Hickey
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 16:55:40

      Jeremy – I agree that our concept of “professional identity” can have a great impact on our motivation to be in this field. If we do not have a solid understanding of who we are and what we value as therapists, we will likely be unable to effectively help our clients. I feel the same way about the need for compartmentalization and leaving work at work (I just wish I was better at it!). Stress at work is part of the job, but unnecessary stress on top of the everyday-stress will definitely contribute to burnout. I think a good way to counter this is to find a position with a good supervisor who can help us both with our cases and ways to compartmentalize. I am notoriously terrible at eating healthy and sleeping enough when I am under a lot of stress, and you make a good point about its importance; I will need to make more of an effort in the future.

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  2. Cora Spillman
    Feb 09, 2018 @ 11:22:22

    When I hear the words “professional identity” I think about who I am in relation to the mental health field. My professional identity represents my values and morals as well as how I will carry myself as a mental health professional. A lot of my professional identity will be shaped by my own personal experiences as well as how I internalize what I’ve learned through schooling. I have thought about this before. I always think about how every mental health professional is different (regardless of their theoretical basis), which will influence client-therapist relationships. I think it’s important to have a professional identity because it will set standards for yourself to work by. If we don’t have standards for ourselves or an understanding of our professional identity, we may blur the lines of professionalism- or we may lead ourselves to burn out.

    I am concerned that I will end up over-working myself when it comes to working with clients. Not necessarily in terms about number of hours spent with clients each week, but in terms of how much I think about clients outside of session, or how much I think about my plan for future sessions. It can be hard for me to leave my “work” at work, while not bringing it home with me. I have a feeling the more challenging of cases I get, the harder it will be to leave my work at work, and not bringing it home. It will be important for me to set boundaries for myself for when to respond to work emails/calls in order to establish “me time” outside of work. Currently, I become stressed if I am unsure what to do with a client or what the best course of action is for future sessions. I also become stressed if the client’s areas of need hit close to home. For example, a client who is experiencing something that I have personally gone through recently can be stressful and emotionally challenging. When I feel these stressors I tend to reach out to my supervisor or fellow interns to talk through my feelings or gain insight of possible ideas. When not at my internship, my goal is to establish a self-care regime that involves going to the gym several times a week. It has been hard for me to get back to the gym, but that is my personal self-care goal.

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    • Rachael Hickey
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 17:03:16

      Cora – I really like how you conceptualized “professional identity” and I have similar thoughts on its nature and importance in regard to how we interact with clients. Our professional identities are also dynamic in the sense that they will evolve as we evolve throughout our career. I think it’s important that it be set on a solid foundation of values and morals, as you point out. I share similar concerns about burnout and “taking work home with me.” I will also have to work hard to set firm mental boundaries about when to allow work to enter my off-time. I also find my supervisor to be very helpful when I am feeling stressed about a client. I cannot be depended upon to go to the gym as regularly as I would like, but I do make a point to include self-care (even something simple like taking 10 minutes for a face mask I find to be helpful).

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    • Jeremy Pierce
      Feb 14, 2018 @ 18:22:35

      Cora you make a lot of great points. I think its a collection of different things that make our identity, including what we’ve learned in school, our own style, and our morals/values and how those influence how we do therapy. I think what you say about trying to distance yourself from clients is true and it is hard, especially when some cases are harder than others. Your strategies are great though, in being able to talk to your supervisor about the hard ones or with other people at your job. It can be hard to not think about certain cases when you leave work and when you think about what/how to approach different cases, but its important to compartmentalize the two from your own life. Its great that you care so much that is part of what will make you a great therapist but you have to show the same care for yourself, and essentially ask “what would I tell my client in this situation?” and possibly use that advice with yourself.

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  3. Matt Miracle
    Feb 10, 2018 @ 15:33:09

    1.) When I think about my “professional identity,” I think about how I perceive myself and how I want to be perceived as a mental health counselor. This is mainly important to me as it relates to helping my clients in the field. I think it’s largely important to not only be competent but also be perceived as competent and confident by one’s clients. However, as almost every counseling book states, I tend to also agree that it’s also important to come off as a genuine and warm person that has the client’s best interests in mind – not just some distant, emotionless construct that can cite the latest research reflect back what people say. For me, professional identity basically just means holding myself to these standards as I work with my clients. I try my best to make sure that my treatment decisions are evidence-based and that I have the client’s best interests in mind.

    2.) As far as self-care goes, I’m pretty good about keeping work at the workplace and finding time for myself. As it stands today, I tend to follow pretty strict routines week to week and unless something comes up, I never really deviate from them. I don’t know if this makes me sound like a weirdo, but it’s just how my life is scheduled when it comes to the fun things I do. For example, I almost always have a Poker game from 8-midnight on Fridays and so I pretty much never make plans at that time. As far as stress goes, it usually happens when I hit a roadblock with a particular client or feel like I have too much useless paperwork to do that nobody is going to read. Frequently, I’ll keep myself up at night brainstorming treatment ideas and this has been a problem for me. However, if it gets too bad I’ll just put a boring audiobook on and fall asleep to that.

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    • Brenden Knight
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 12:20:18

      Matt, I agree that being a good counselor requires a healthy blend between competence, confidence, research-driven interventions, and also some “humanness.” Even the most up-to-date evidence-based practitioner will fall short with clients if he/she cannot relate the clients on a human level. Essentially, nobody wants emotionless robots conducting their therapy. Hence, people skills are vastly important in this field! We as counselors must show those essential Rogerian qualities that make us likable. As questionable as that may sound, we do indeed have to market ourselves as not only good counselors, but as appealing human beings. If someone wouldn’t want to speak with us on the street then why would that same person suddenly want to talk about his/her personal issues with us in a counseling setting? Needless to say, they would not. And that’s the nature of the counseling profession – you have to market yourself favorable (and genuinely).

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    • Sarah
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 18:29:48

      I completely get you on the useless paperwork. Especially at our site, it is so frustrating because I know no one is reading it. I definitely get how that could cause burnout and frustration. It’s a big reason why I don’t think I’m going to stay on with the agency like I originally planned. Also I’m shocked to hear about how organized your life is, just cause you seem like a very “go with the flow” type person. But yeah, I’m way too jealous of how relaxed you usually seem, and your ability to leave your work at work.

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    • Ana
      Feb 13, 2018 @ 07:57:27

      Matt, I appreciate your methods and expression of self-care. It is great that you are so consistent with it as I know that consistency can be a barrier to maintaining self-care. I experience the same thing in staying up late thinking about a case and trying to plan for the next session and I have a hard time distracting myself in those moments. It is definitely a challenge for me to keep a balance right now as we are working in the field.

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  4. Rachael Hickey
    Feb 10, 2018 @ 22:49:47

    1) I have never thought too much about my “professional identity,” as I have always identified as a student, which isn’t a profession. Identity is very important to me, however, and when I think of my professional identity, I think of someone working in the mental health field, Chapter 7 In What Color is Your Parachute? provided a very concrete manner of discovering and prioritizing what is important to you in a career, what can help determine your professional identity, which made me put more thought than I have previously into what is important to me in my future career. I compiled a list of 10 things I find important in my future career. 10 things that are important to me in a career: 1) Colleagues/coworkers. It is important to me to not only work in position I enjoy, but to be surrounded by colleagues who are responsible, passionate, and pleasant to be around. I find the people you work with are as important, if not more so, as the job you hold in terms of career enjoyment. 2) Supervisors. It is very important to me to have strong supervision and guidance in a way that is not condescending or overly-demanding. 3) Ability to specialize. Specialization is important to me. I have spent the past 10 months working with eating disorders and have become very passionate about this population; as such, I wish to work somewhere that allows me to possess and expand this specialty. 4) Have some control over my hours. After all the years of schooling, I would like to have some ability to design my schedule. 5) Wage that allows me to live comfortably. Like all of us, I am choosing a field that helps people rather than one that will provide a six-figure paycheck, but I still do not want to have to struggle financially. 6) Work with a population/in a field I am passionate about. 7) Location close to family. I am very close to my family, and especially now that my brother is expecting twins, it is more important to me than ever to be nearby. 8) Well-organized company. I wish to work at a place that runs smoothly and it is not utter chaos all the time. 9) Relaxed (but not too relaxed) environment. I know I will not thrive in place that is too uptight. I wish to be able to dress somewhat casually (but also do not want a place that goes too far in the other direction). 10) Position that allows for personal and professional growth. I wish to work somewhere that challenges me, one that allows for progress and promotion and new learning opportunities. I do not wish to be stagnant.

    2) I have a lot of concern about self-care and burnout. I have a tendency to put everything I have into what I do, be it school, work, or relationships. I become very invested, which while that is a good thing in terms of my dedication to future clients, it also has the potential to be problematic for my self-care. I am a fairly anxious person at baseline, which makes me alert and pay attention to detail, but also causes additional stress. I think I will become the most stressed when I have high-risk clients. This will likely be my normal should I stay working worth clients with eating disorders. I have dealt with passively suicidal clients and know the protocols to follow at my agency, but I will always have a nagging feeling that I should have done something more should something happen. Additionally, at my internship I have found myself feeling frustrated with myself when my clients regress or are not making progress. I understand this is the nature of eating disorders; they are difficult to treat and a treatment greatly depends on the stage of change that the clients are in, but again, I find myself wondering what else I should be doing. I have several strategies for dealing with stress, such as playing guitar, listening to music, talking with friends, crocheting, and coloring mandalas.

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    • Sarah
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 18:26:52

      I completely understand where you’re coming from, I definitely have the same worries regarding my ability to leave work at work, because I tend to take my stress and concerns home with me. I’m sure as we progress in our careers we will develop new coping skills to help us to engage with our clients while at work, but not worry too much during other times, at least that’s the hope.

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  5. Andrew Lampi
    Feb 11, 2018 @ 16:22:19

    (1) When you hear the words “professional identity,” what comes to mind? Is this something you have ever thought about before? Is this important to you? (2) What are some of your concerns for self-care/burnout when it comes to working with clients (e.g., What might/does get you stressed? Do you have any effective ways to deal with such stress?)?

    When I hear the words “professional identity,” I envision the persona I create and put forth as an individual in a particular career. I think that this is something that is both representative of my own personal identity, combined with the necessary attributes that accompany a certain profession. For mental health counseling then, my “professional identity” would be one that is a combination of many of the attributes that make me unique, placed in the context of the attributes and skills needed to conduct mental health counseling with individuals. For example, I tend to think of myself as a somewhat sarcastic, but also gentle, person, and therefore, my professional identity would be one that incorporates these attributes into the ability to connect and help those who ask for assistance. Professional identity also entails one’s reputation as well, or rather, how you conduct yourself with colleagues and clients. In other words, how you act in the field, through attending conferences, publishing, or conducting/going to workshops, as well as how you interact with others, all play a role in how you are perceived by other professionals and potential clients. These are both factors that I have been cognizant of developing during my internship. I think they are critically important to begin developing as soon as possible, while realizing they take time to develop fully. During the internship, I’ve been trying to figure out what aspects of my personal identity mesh well with the skills and tone I use in sessions with clients, and I have been aware of making sure my actions reflect the importance and responsibility inherent to our profession, and try to make sure that my reputation reflects that fact as well.

    In regard to my concerns about self-care and the potential for burnout, my greatest fear would be the impact working with individuals with the same set of problems would have on my ability to perform well as a counselor. I feel as though I tend to get burned out when working on the same problems day in and day out, and find that my motivation decreases/I need a break after some time when working with clients of one population/presentation. However, I feel that the best way to move forward in the field is to find a niche working with one population/individuals of a certain presentation. I fear that this would lead me to burning out quickly however, or prevent me from making as much progress as I would intend to make. That being said, I do have some means of dealing with stress that I find particularly effective. I try to keep as much of a separation between work and my personal life as possible, leaving work at the office (though this is inherently hard to do as a student). Likewise, I find several activities to be particularly comforting and effective at reducing stress. I enjoy hiking and fishing on weekends, and try to run during the week, and I find that taking the time to experience fresh air and do something that allows my mind to simply wander helps clear my thoughts and leaves me feeling refreshed. I also enjoy reading, and try to find the time to learn about or read materials that are unrelated to the field, both out of personal curiosity, but also to allow myself to again take a mental break from topics that would otherwise take up nearly my entire day to day experience.

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    • Brenden Knight
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 12:37:21

      Andrew, I echo many of the insights that you shared in your second response. I too strongly value a clear dividing line between work-life and personal life. I know that my role as an effective clinician diminishes when my personal life becomes compromised by the work. I also recognize that you share the same sentiment – or possibly frustration – over the inability of a grad student to separate work life from personal life (seeing as we are in work mode all hours of the day between internship, part-time work, assignments, and evening classes). I give you credit for potentially pursuing a doctoral degree after completion of this program. As for myself, I understand my long-term goals and, for me, a master’s degree suffices! My craving for a more well-rounded personal life is my telltale sign that a doctorate degree is beyond my interests and aspirations. I’m glad to learn that you have go-to hobbies that provide a release from the profession. I also look forward to reading books for my own pleasure and expanding my knowledge in different areas beyond psychology! It’s difficult to eat, drink, and swim through psychology day in and day out.

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    • Jeremy Pierce
      Feb 14, 2018 @ 18:29:32

      Andrew you hit on a lot of great points, and I like how you mention the sarcasm because I’m the same way! I think with that comes that you have a good sense of humor which in my mind relates with being able to “roll with the punches” which is a key to working in this field and I think can help a lot in therapy. Not saying being a sarcastic dink is the way to approach therapy obviously, but its good for us to be able to use humor at times with clients. I like your point about your concern for burning out with a certain population if its a specialty. I feel like it could be repetitive at times, and that’s why I enjoy working with a large assortment of clients. At times it can be stressful because i’m coming up with a lot of different strategies for a lot of different types of clients but I think it help keep my mind fresh if that makes sense.

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  6. Brenden Knight
    Feb 12, 2018 @ 11:54:21

    1) For me, “professional identity” conjures images of individualism within a particular field of expertise. Whereas the profession itself (e.g., mental health counseling) is the common denominator for all its members, ‘identity’ implies that individual professionals can possess their own unique flavors and approaches. I have considered my own professional identity throughout my internship experience. Prior to my internship, my identity was a student-in-training. With growing experience in the clinical field however, my identity has shifted into that of a novice therapist. I already recognize my unique approach to counseling. I also understand the most important elements of my professional identity (i.e., evidence-based practices, strategic use of humor, etc.). My professional identity is extremely important to me and something in which I take great pride. I look forward to expanding my professional identity with growing experience beyond my internship. I see experience as a mechanism to well-rounded identities.
    2) I believe that I possess a strong understanding for my own areas of countertransference (i.e., topics and types of clients that I react strongly towards). Being aware of my own issues has helped a handful of times in session with clients. Moreover, I find myself worrying whether the first few years in this profession will permit a healthy work-life balance. I strongly value self-care and I like to divide between work time and personal time (e.g., hobbies, family). I also worry about working with too many clients whom I don’t “click with.” I can imagine that I will experience quicker burnout if I’m surrounded by unfulfilling or unrewarding work on a consistent basis. After graduation I look forward to reviving my fitness life. Exercise has been a big hobby of mine for many years, but grad school life created many obstacles to achieving my fitness goals. Moreover, exercise is one of my main de-stressing techniques. I also use family time and other pleasurable activities (e.g., outdoors activities, music) to counteract stress and burnout. Like all other new endeavors, it’s easy to anticipate burnout in the future. But I also have confidence in my ability to integrate effective ways to cope with work stress. I also have confidence in my ability to practice what I preach and integrate therapeutic techniques on myself on a daily basis!

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    • Alec Twigden
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 16:26:47

      I like that you acknowledge your own “countertransference” and concern about working with clients you don’t “click with.” It isn’t easy for everyone to distance themselves from the personal characteristics that they bring to therapy so I appreciate that you acknowledge it. It might be interesting to attempt to characterize both your areas of countertransference and the clients that you seem to click with as it may help to guide your future professional movements.

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    • Matt Miracle
      Feb 15, 2018 @ 10:26:23

      I like your point about being aware of one’s own issues. I’m not a super emotional person that gets bothered by a lot of things, but I’ve found that’s been a problem for me in therapy since I almost always want to problem-solve immediately when someone starts having a strong emotional reaction to something. I tend to be very fast-paced and goal-oriented, but sometimes clients just want somebody to listen. Working with people one doesn’t “click” with has always been a concern of mine as well. On one hand, it feels somewhat unprofessional to shoe away certain people for personal reasons. On the other hand, I’d rather they be with a therapist that could offer them a better therapeutic relationship and care. Practically speaking, at least at our site, I don’t think they’d take too kindly to sending back referrals because we don’t “click” with the clients – as much as I wish that were the case.

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    • Andrew Lampi
      Feb 15, 2018 @ 12:37:03

      Brenden, I like in your response how you used the word “individualism” to describe what it means to have a professional identity. While you took the response in a different direction than I am responding to it, a thought struck me when I read that word. I imagine an aspect of professional identity to also include what makes an individual unique as a provider; rather, it is the aspect of our identities as individuals as well as the defining characteristics of our practice that set us apart from other professionals. Without attempting to indicate that this in any way makes us better than our colleagues, it is what gives us our niche and makes our practice unique.
      I also agree with your concerns regarding burnout occurring more quickly at the onset of a career. As starting clinicians, the ability to select a population or refrain from working with those we know may be personally difficult for us may be impossible due to factors such as insurance or agency policies. I think these may be the times when striving to engage in activities outside of work that are personally fulfilling or otherwise relaxing can be most important.

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  7. Alec Twigden
    Feb 12, 2018 @ 15:54:45

    When I hear the words “professional identity,” I think about the way people see me as a professional, this includes the way I represent myself privately and how that reflects on myself as a professional, and the way colleagues and clients see me at work and outside of work. The way people perceive me and the way I represent myself broadly include my style of interacting (verbally and nonverbally), how much my personal and private lives carry over into each other, my professional ethical boundaries and my personal values, my ambitions and goals, my skills, experiences, and aspects of myself that are unique. In sum, those words evoke a host of considerations that I have thought about frequently and which are important to me. One area that I have given particular thought to recently, are instances where my personal and professional identities are at odds with each other. I find that I am actively seeking out areas of my life where I can improve so that my personal and private lives are compatible. This is not to say that I strive to take make my professional and personal lives identical rather I am striving to ensure that I am not putting on a mask in any instances at work.

    Regarding burnout, I am concerned about the possibility of feeling trapped in a routine of just seeing clients but I think that I could resolve this by working in a setting among many colleagues (especially in an interdisciplinary setting), with work activities that go beyond working with clients. This way I would have different kinds of interactions with different responsibilities. However, I do like the idea of spending the majority of my time working with clients and I don’t see myself burning out with this being most of my work because I will always see novelty as I look for areas of improvement and figure out new understandings about clients at both nomothetic and idiosyncratic levels. If I find myself becoming stressed or burned out, I may find that I should look for ways of changing my professional experience.

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    • Ana
      Feb 13, 2018 @ 07:50:42

      Alec, you bring up an interesting point in regards to professional identity reflecting your ethical boundaries, personal values, ambitions, goals, skills, and experiences. I think that apart from ethical obligations and a reflection of our values, the professional identity should highlight our personal ambitions and skills and demonstrate the experiences we’ve had. This might then translate to a reflection of competence that I feel is important to the professional identity.

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  8. Sarah
    Feb 12, 2018 @ 18:23:40

    1. I hadn’t really thought about myself as having a professional identity before, which probably comes from the fact that I don’t quite think of myself as a professional yet because I am still in school as a student. Going forward it is important to me that I’m perceived as competent and caring. I look young, so I worry that people don’t think of me as competent since I appear younger than I actually am. It’s also important to me that I am seen as doing evidence-based practice and actually helping to improve the lives of others. I still honestly don’t feel like I know what I’m doing a lot of the time in session, as I tend to second guess myself a lot. Therefore, I have to work on my own self-confidence in order to come across as competent as I know I am.

    2. I am a bit worried about neglecting self-care, because I generally have a hard time leaving work at work. Furthermore, I tend to be a worrier, so I will likely have trouble not worrying about my more severe clients. However, spending time with friends and family has helped in the past and will likely continue to help. I also worry about getting into a set routine and finding the work monotonous. However, with the variety of work in the field and the variability of populations, it is likely that if I do get burned out with the population I am working with or the setting I am working in, that I could easily find another job that varies enough to be satisfying.

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    • Cora Spillman
      Feb 13, 2018 @ 09:29:29

      Sarah, I am in agreement with your comments about self-care. I also have a hard time leaving work at work, especially with clients that have more severe distress/challenging problems. Its hard not to worry about our clients especially when they are at risk or undergoing a crisis. I also agree that that variety of work we will experience will help make things less monotonous. I think one challenge will be clients that we are working with for a long period of time, which may make the work feel more “monotonous”.

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    • Andrew Lampi
      Feb 15, 2018 @ 12:38:36

      Sarah, I appreciate your comments about second guessing yourself a lot in sessions, as I find myself doing the same thing in sessions as well. While I definitely think confidence is something that is important and a characteristic that we all will develop as our careers progress, I like to think that, at least in myself, second-guessing is a representation of my dedication to the practice and the care for my clients. I figure that if I care enough to be worried that what I am doing is the right or most helpful thing, that must be better than simply not caring at all! I also agree with your statements about this type of work being varied enough to ward off fears or concerns of monotony. I too find myself unable to work in a setting that is the same day in and day out, and one of the things that draws me to this field and this type of work is the fact that very rarely will we encounter this problem, if at all.

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  9. Ana
    Feb 13, 2018 @ 07:39:40

    When I think about the words “professional identity,” what usually comes to mind is competence. To me, professional identity also reflects my values, ethical behavior, and a different type of attitude in the workplace compared to outside of work. It is something I’ve thought about in the past few years having worked on various teams within my job setting and having to adjust to the way things are run on each team. These multiple changes have challenged me to think about who I want to be and how I want to present myself at work. It has also challenged me to think about what work ethics, boundaries I feel comfortable with, what behaviors I exhibit, and what is “appropriate” or not.

    When it comes to self-care I worry about not being able to leave work at work. I also worry about being a therapist 24/7 with my personal relationships. I wonder if friends are going to talk to me and I will have the instinct to react as a counselor rather than a friend. I also worry that I can get burnt-out and not want to engage people in conversations and hang out in my own personal bubble.

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    • Cora Spillman
      Feb 13, 2018 @ 09:42:46

      Ana, I like what you had to say about professional identity. I think it is definitely important to be competent but also important to keep our values, ethical boundaries and “work attitude” in mind. I agree that different work placements and environments should yield different attitudes and behaviors to reflect our professionalism. I think our internship has been a good experience for learning what ethical boundaries we want to work by.

      I think we all have the concern of not leaving work at work. I have started notice how my education/training has started to come through into my personal relationships as well. I even have friends that will say “stop using your psychology on me”, almost as if they think I am evaluating or judging them. I think that will be a difficult boundary to manage as well.

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    • Matt Miracle
      Feb 15, 2018 @ 10:55:08

      Managing the therapist/friend boundary can be tricky, especially since most people haven’t even gone to therapy. Most of my friends can’t even imagine what I’d be like as a therapist and usually I get the “Hey, that’s not what a therapist should say” line to which I usually respond, “Good thing I’m not a therapist right now.” It’s a hard line I tend to draw for myself, but unless one of my friends asks for my help or professional opinion, I tend to keep my thoughts to myself. Personally, I feel like I just hear way too much stupid stuff to be correcting the record every second of the day, so I’d rather just laugh and joke. Maybe that means I’m doing a disservice to the field of mental health, but a guy needs friends, right?

      Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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