Topic 4: Professional Identity {by 6/18}

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?  Who/what has most influenced your professional identity development?  (2) What technique/exercise from Bennett-Levy et al. (2015) provided you the most insight about yourself as a person or therapist (please only share information within your range of comfort; if it helps, focus on process rather than content)?  Explain.

 

Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 6/18.  Post your two replies no later than 6/20.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julia Irving
    Jun 15, 2020 @ 14:01:33

    To be honest, I have never thought about ‘professional identity’ until doing the readings. When I think of professional identity, I think of how you represent yourself in the professional world and what you want to be known for, as in areas of expertise. I did not realize that professional identity has many components to it. Assumption and the professors have influenced my professional identity development. They have taught me many classes in CBT and have developed my scope in CBT. My professors have also taught me about my profession in general. This class alone has taught me a lot about my professional identity including approach to practice, qualifications, areas of expertise, ethical practice, and so on. My supervisor at internship has also influenced my professional development. She helped me grow as a clinician, helped me grow in my area of expertise, and taught me the importance of unity among other mental health clinicians.
    Module 4 on identifying unhelpful thinking and behavior provide insight into myself as a person and therapist. With being a new therapist, I notice that I will doubt myself sometimes with a client. I can become very hard on myself. I need to let myself make mistakes and remind myself that I am still learning and growing. I definitely have the negative thoughts of ‘I am a failure’ or ‘I don’t know what I am doing’ or ‘this client knows I don’t know what I am doing.’ In these moments I need to take a second to reflect on why I am feeling this way and reframe my thoughts. I also need to understand that I am new to the field and am still growing as a clinician. Just like my clinical life, I am also hard on myself in my personal life. While doing this exercise I also noticed negative automatic thoughts that pop up in my personal life that I need to work on. I can tell this book will help me grow not just in my professional life, but also my personal life.

    Reply

    • Danielle Nobitz
      Jun 16, 2020 @ 19:06:59

      Hi Julia,
      I also really resonate with module 4. I had a similar experience to you and I really doubted myself and I know how hard it can be to suffer from unhelpful thinking, especially when it comes to effectiveness in therapy. I think you’re right, with more ability to reframe negative thinking into more adaptive thoughts, you’ll be able to get rid of these negative thoughts that you have surrounding your ability to do therapy! I have seen your ability during classes and I can say that I believe you are a great therapist, and confidence will increase over time as we develop more skills!
      I also believe that my supervisor at my internship and professors in our program have helped me gain my sense of professional identity. I think we’re really fortunate to attend a program that really cares about the students individuals as well as focuses on evidence based practice such as CBT. I am also grateful that our program has set us up for licensure, because as we have learned throughout this class, some programs do not do this. I think as time goes on, we will continue to develop professional identities, as well as develop unique qualities within ourselves as counselors!

      Reply

      • James Antonellis
        Jun 19, 2020 @ 14:50:52

        Hey Julia,

        I feel you on the doubting yourself part. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on us as new clinicians to perform well. I feel like having a good supervisor is the best way to help with though thoughts, someone that is supportive and provides you with helpful feedback.

        Reply

    • Lynette Rojas
      Jun 19, 2020 @ 17:08:54

      Hi Julia,
      I also never really thought about professional identity before until now. I didnt think there would be a lot of different components to it. I definitely agree that the professors at assumption have influenced my professional identity as well. Also my supervisors helped in making me feel more confident and challenging me. Identifying unhelpful thoughts also helps me personally and professionally. We have to continue to practice changing our thoughts and just know that we are still learning.

      Reply

    • Maria
      Jun 20, 2020 @ 23:21:56

      Hello Julia,
      I had also never thought about my ‘professional identity” before completing the readings for this week. I like that you used the words representation and known for when discussing the meaning of professional identity. That is the perfect way to think about it because it is how we want to ‘come off’ or represent ourselves in a professional sphere, which like you said is much more complicated than we thought. I don’t think I said it in my post but you are right that Assumption and our professors have taught us about the beginning of our profession and have helped us being our ‘professional identity”. I like you have been influenced and helped out by supervisors in the past! I know we worked together at my practicum site and I think that the people there also helped me and influenced my identity! It was a short time, but it’s amazing to see just how influential people can be to us. I wonder if we will remember these supervisors and experiences as we continue creating our ‘professional identity”. I also found module 4 to be very helpful! I also feel doubt when I am working with clients at times. I’m hoping this feeling will change, but as we have learned, there will always be ‘good and bad days’. Therefore, learning to better cope and address these thoughts is extremely important! Like you said, we are beginners so the thoughts are probably a little more intense right now, but it is all a learning experience!
      Great post!

      Reply

  2. Lilianne Elicier
    Jun 15, 2020 @ 18:45:40

    Julia,

    When I think about professional identify I think about that in terms of my own aspects and techniques that I bring to the table as well. I also agree that the professors here at Assumption have also influenced my professional identify as this has been where my own pool of knowledge about being a professional has grown from. I like to think as my time here in the graduate studies program as my roots, I know that this is where I started gathering my own professional identify from. I agree that my supervisor has also taught me invaluable experiences that have further allowed my professional identity to grow which I will continue to take with me.

    Reply

  3. Lilianne Elicier
    Jun 15, 2020 @ 19:39:52

    When I hear the word “professional identity” I think about what my own self-concepts such as what are my values, beliefs and experiences. I think about how others view me as a professional such as how I behave and present myself to others as well as my expertise. This has been something that I have thought about often starting my mental health career 3 years ago. I was conscious of how I was viewed professionally by others and present to the best of my ability always. I have several people I give credit to for influencing my own professional identity development. First and foremost I give credit to my grandmother who has always been an inspiration to me. From day one I have witnessed her growth and development as an immigrant in this country to growing to owning two vocational technical schools with success in Miami, FL for over 30 years. Her professional identify development has been one of the most awe inspiring for me and has become a successful woman of power even at 70 years old. She has taught me what it is to develop a professional identify and still hold on to my own self- concepts. Next my professors here at assumption college have also influenced my own professional identity development as I mentioned in an earlier comment these where impeccable role models and where I gained my knowledge from, that will always be my roots to where my pool of knowledge came from. Lastly my supervisor has also influenced my professional identity development , she taught me a lot about working with the Spanish-speaking population and keeping to my culture and how I can apply this to provide culturally competent inventions as she is also Spanish speaking.

    Module 2 in Bennett-Levy et al., (2015) formulating the problem and preparing for change has helped me develop insight into myself as a therapist, specifically the part on culture. This has provided me insight as to how some cultures are dominant and the notion that everyone has their own worldview that they believe is their norm. This as a therapist has allowed me to look at my own cultural worldview and to examine my own personal cultural biases. The technique used in this module that I found helpful to use was the acronym “ADDRESSING” which can help heighten our awareness of the possibility of unacknowledged cultural bias. Using pages 59-60 you would create an ADDRESSING profile for yourself.

    Reply

    • Julia Irving
      Jun 16, 2020 @ 08:44:45

      Lily,
      It sounds like your grandmother has been a great positive influence in your life. How wonderful it must have been to be able to watch her grow and have her assist you in growing not only developmentally but also professionally. It is very important to hold onto our own self concepts. I agree with you, our professors have definitely influenced our professional identity development and have been great role models for us.

      Reply

    • Abigail Bell
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 11:17:32

      Hi Lily,

      Thank you for sharing what has influenced your professional identity. It was really interesting to read about how your grandmother’s professional development and success helps to shape who you are in this field! It is a real testament to the fact that personal characteristics, such as determination, are really important and contribute to professional development, success, and identity. I also found the ADDRESSING framework to be super helpful in developing insight into my own biases as well as biases that other people may hold due to their own cultural identities. I think that this is an extremely important thing to consider especially when treating clients today.

      Reply

    • James Antonellis
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 22:51:11

      Lilly,
      Your culture has had a huge impact on your professional identity, especially your grandmother. You seem to carry on with the same dedication to your work that your grandmother had. Your culture has to greatly influenced the population you want to work with, and because you are so close to your roots, you’re are going to do wonders for your clients.

      Reply

  4. Sam
    Jun 15, 2020 @ 20:53:33

    As it takes time for a professional identity to develop, you can imagine that mine is of course not yet entirely established, but has become much clearer in this last year. As a Master’s student who has already completed my practicum and internship experience, and being in last semester of graduate school, I still find myself contemplating the idea of who I am as a counselor—my professional identity. I feel that I have developed an understanding in my abilities to adhere to the ethical standards and core professional values in our profession, as well as taken some time for self-reflection as to why I entered the field in the first place. At times, I would find it difficult to renegotiate parts of my larger identity related to religious ideologies and familial relationships, however, through my academic and internship experiences, I have learned to integrate my personal values and beliefs in a way that will align with my professional counselor identity. Additionally, I have reflected on the mentors and those who have influenced my experiences within this field, and they have encouraged and motivated me to set goals in how, I, as a mental health counselor can contribute to the continuous growth of this field. I have recently recognized, that of importance in my professional identity, is that of my CBT (evidence-based) theoretical orientation. Prior to entering this program, I have to admit, I was unclear of the importance regarding the adherence to a specific theoretical orientation, or the differences between the many that exist. However, CBT has certainly become a large part of my professional identity, and it is something I always intend to define to clients and colleagues. I have found it significantly beneficial to discuss my professional identity with clients during my internship with regards to what they can expect from me (i.e., I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist and I cannot prescribe them medication) in addition to my CBT orientation.

    Module 9: “Constructing new ways of being” from Bennett-Levy et al. (2015), resonated with me greatly, and has offered significant insight with regard to both myself as a person and therapist. This is because, I am certainly aware of how my “old” (kind of current, and definitely throughout internship) ways, will differ from my new ways of being. The exercise of “Shelly’s old way of being/ My old ways of being and My new ways of being”, was so insightful to the point that I even chuckled at the similarity between “Shelly” and I’s “old ways” (which to some extent, was reassuring). My old ways of being, or what will soon be my old way of being, was often centered in the experience of negative thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations. During internship I always found myself over preparing for sessions, feeling as though I was a fraud (which included feelings of anxiety, guilt and self-doubt), and especially, ruminating and having selective attention on everything I did wrong or what could have gone better. However, after completing the new ways of being activity, as well as in gaining more solidarity in my professional identity through internship, I have created a sense of who I want to be, and how I want to feel as a new clinician. Although my new way of being began to make a break through toward the end of my internship experience, I hope that when I begin working, I am able to implement this new way of being even further.

    Reply

    • Danielle Nobitz
      Jun 16, 2020 @ 19:25:01

      Hi Sam,
      I can definitely relate to you when you say that our program has influenced your professional identity. CBT has also become a large part of my professional identity as well. I am really happy I decided to attend a program that focuses on evidence based practice and also sets us up for licensure requirements. I think that I’ve also learned a lot about my professional identity from our supervisor at internship. As I put in my post, I am really happy that Jen let us form a sense of professional identity and a skill set on our own, without observing before a session. I know we’ve talked about this before, but I feel like it really helped me gain a sense of my own abilities and identity of who I want to be as a clinician. I also feel like it’s important to discuss professional identity with clients, because it helps the client understand your role and like you said, it helps them know what to expect from you! It’s important to be upfront with clients from the start about your capabilities.
      I also can relate to you about your old ways of thinking about doubt and being a fraud during the beginning of internship. I also used to feel this way in the beginning and had various different negative automatic thoughts about being a failure and not knowing what I was doing. I also felt like clients could tell I was nervous and felt like I didn’t know what I was doing either! With reframing thoughts and with more experience and confidence throughout internship I learned that it’s normal to feel this way when first starting out. Like you said, I hope to continue to grow as I get a job in the field after graduation, and continue to gain confidence from new experiences.

      Reply

    • Lynette Rojas
      Jun 20, 2020 @ 17:18:09

      Hi Sam,
      I believe that this program has definitely had a huge influence on my professional identity as well. I also didn’t know there were so many different modalities before attending this program. I am so glad that I was able to attend this program and learn about evidence based practice and CBT. CBT is also a huge part of my professional identity. My supervisors also helped me develop my professional identity during internship because they helped me grow and develop confidence. I am still learning and I think it is important to know this when having negative thoughts because I get those at times too about my competence in being a therapist. I would doubt myself a lot at the beginning of internship, but learned to believe in myself a little more when I saw that my clients were progressing. I also told myself that I was still learning and that I will continue to grow with more practice.

      Reply

  5. Tricia
    Jun 16, 2020 @ 09:59:43

    While I have heard whispers about professional identity, I never truly put a lot of thought into it until recently. In my opinion, professional identity encompassed my work ethic, how I presented myself in the field, my ability to work with others, and so on. While I knew some of the attributes of accreditations, I found it interesting to read about the diversity between them. I have friends in programs in other states who have a CACREP accreditation, but I agree there is a collective identity in that many of the core courses are the same. As I reflect on my experience at Assumption, this class, and my clinician internship, I recognize I am developing a solid understanding of my professional identity thus far. My goal is to work in an outpatient setting, where I can work with clients ranging from youth to middle adulthood. I plan to incorporate trauma clients, but I fear being certified in TF-CBT, will mean I solely have trauma clients. While I have an interest in trauma, a pure trauma caseload leads to burnout. As a soon to be graduate, I have relied on my internship experience, and interpersonal dimensions to shape my professional identity thus far. I am appreciative of my clinical experience as it has provided me a well-rounded scope to practice, including the introduction to DBT. While I will always stay true to the theoretical orientation of CBT, and value the evidenced-based practice, I feel that knowledge of other theoretical orientations, and ability to practice some of those interventions, can add great value to my professional identity. Both the information I learned from my internship, and the feedback I received, has already increased my self-efficacy to be a competent clinician in the field.

    Module 5 from Bennet-Levy et al. (2015) provided me the most insight thus far. As I have noted in previous classes, I had the perfectionistic personality trait that will lead to burnout. I have taken measures to account for this but implementing module 5 helped to reduce that tendency further. Ironically, in the 708 class, I was assigned thought-records, and changing the thoughts were as difficult then as they are now. I do find that this module helped me as a therapist and on a personal level as I am shifting negative behaviors and thinking patterns while advancing my appreciation for my previous and future clients. I will always admire the clients who are motivated in putting in the work, that we all know is not easy. Reframing my negative thought pattern to value best efforts, rather than perfection decreases stress, anxiety, and my own self-criticisms. While we know reframing thoughts takes more than a week, I am appreciative of the process, and am determined to continue to work on this negative thought and behavior to trust in my clinical and educational capabilities.

    Reply

  6. Lilianne Elicier
    Jun 16, 2020 @ 11:06:53

    Sam its interesting that you mention discussing your professional identity with clients. This is something I did not think about doing and I guess I just assumed that they the clients knew the differences. This is now something I am self-aware about doing with my clients. I think it is a great idea and very beneficial so they can understand what the differences between roles are, thank you for sharing this. I did describe to them my CBT orientation but factoring in the other piece is also essential. I can also relate to experiencing negative automatic thoughts and emotions tied to that before sessions especially with doubting our abilities as a therapist. This was especially strong for me at the start of internship training, I think this is something most of us experience until like my internship professor stated you start to feel like a veteran towards the end.

    Reply

  7. Danielle Nobitz
    Jun 16, 2020 @ 19:00:04

    When hearing the words “professional identity”, I think of the most literal sense, meaning that these words have something to do with who you are and how you portray yourself in a professional setting. At the beginning of my internship, I had no clue who I was as a therapist. However, due to my supervisor’s method of “throwing us in with the wolves” without any observations before our first session, I was able to begin to learn my own unique identity without any biases from anyone else’s identity. As I continue throughout our program, I learn more and more about developing my professional development. I think due to the information, classes given, and knowledge gained throughout classes within the program, I have learned a lot about developing my abilities to practice CBT therapy with clients, in an ethical and appropriate way. I have learned about the qualifications needed for licensure, and accreditation as well. I believe that my time spent at assumption has really helped me gain a sense of professional development, and has taught me that evidence based and empirical practices such as CBT are important to use within therapy.
    As mentioned before, my clinical supervisor at my internship really encouraged all of the interns to develop a sense of professional identity without any bias or premeditated ideas about what it means to be a counselor. She also was able to give appropriate feedback when needed in order to help steer us in the right direction when needed. I really do believe she helped me gain a sense of confidence in my professional identity that I otherwise feel like I would have lacked. Being able to “jump right in” to therapy sessions without observation really allowed us to develop our own way of implementing treatment, and our own identities without influence of others.

    Module 4: Identifying Unhelpful Thinking and Behavior really provided me the most insight regarding myself, and myself as a therapist. It is no surprise to some of my peers that I tend to overthink and catastrophize when I am stressed, whether it be about my personal life, or during my internship. I often had self-doubt about my capability as a therapist, especially when I first started at my internship. Even though I did end up appreciating the fact that my supervisor did not allow us to have observations before starting a session, it was also very nerve wrecking, and lead to a lot of overthinking and unhelpful thinking. I would constantly have thoughts about not doing enough, or not doing something right due to the fact that I had no observation or base to learn off of. I realized that during sessions in the beginning, I would become overwhelmed with unhelpful thoughts surrounding the client thinking I am an amateur, that I didn’t know what I was doing because I was an intern, etc. This happened a lot especially when I was in therapy with adults, because I would always feel like the client believed I was incapable of helping them or they would not listen to me because I was younger than them and not as life-experienced as them. As I continued to develop a sense of identity in therapy, I started looking at things from the bigger picture, and reframed my thoughts into more adaptive ones. Even though I was a new intern, I was seeing improvements in my cases, and a lot of my adult clients were really receptive to interventions and techniques I used with them. It also helped to talk to other interns and my supervisor as well, because it helped normalized my feelings. I realized that everyone feels this way at some point or another, and that it wasn’t just a “me” problem. With more confidence and developing my ability to reframe these automatic thoughts, I was able to decrease this unhelpful thinking during sessions and about my overall ability to practice therapy. Now I only need to translate that to my personal life, ha!

    Reply

    • Tricia
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 07:59:29

      Danielle,
      I agree being thrown to the wolves is terrifying at first but we learned how to use our techniques. We still received adequate supervision, but this way we did not become the clinician’s we observed, we worked to build our own professional identity and incorporated feedback on how to enhance our skills from experienced clinicians. I applaud you for using the modules in applying them to identify unhelpful thought patterns to see the value you add in the clinician field. I still remember several clinicians voicing similar opinions similar to “if you think you are a clinician that has conquered it all, you are worse off than a clinician who wonders how to be better” and this is something I reflect on often. While self-doubt can be a detrimental thought pattern as a clinician, I think by identifying the thought you can use it as a motivator to keep advancing as a clinician. By the end of internship, I could see the change in your confidence as you continued to experience treatment success, and I know that will only continue in the future 🙂

      Reply

    • Julia Irving
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 09:44:27

      Danielle,
      I also think of professional identity in the literal sense of it representing who you are in the professional world. That seems like an intimidating way to begin your professional identity by just starting your first session without observing! I wonder now going through that experience if you would want to change your experience by observing first or if you would not change a thing. It seems that would be a good way to develop your own professional identity and also develop your own style of therapy. We also chose the same module, I too tend to overthink when I am stressed and doubt my capabilities as a therapist. Reframing our own negative automatic thoughts is very important and will help us to be better therapists.

      Reply

    • Abigail Bell
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 10:59:09

      Hi Danielle,

      It sounds like you have really found your confidence as a therapist and that is awesome! I think it is really cool that you were able to develop your own style of therapy without the influence of other clinicians. I actually had the opposite experience. For my entire practicum I was shadowing people. I think I sat in on all 8 of the clinicians that worked at my internship and I have definitely found myself implementing different elements of their styles into my own therapeutic style. It is interesting to see that there are many different paths towards developing our own therapeutic styles and flairs!

      Reply

  8. Lynette Rojas
    Jun 16, 2020 @ 20:34:32

    I actually have not thought about the words “professional identity”. However, when hearing “professional identity” I think about myself as a mental health therapist. Well, soon to be mental health therapist. There are several people who have influenced my professional identity. First, there is my family who has always supported me and always believed in me. Also, all of my professors at Eastern (undergrad) who helped my professional development through their teaching, support, and also believing in me. They helped me get into Assumption College as well which is a huge part of my professional identity development. I have not only learned a lot about CBT, ethics, research, and gained experience during internship, but I have also learned a lot about myself in this program. I have definitely grown A LOT professionally and personally in this program with the help and support of all my professors and my classmates. Also, my supervisors at internship who helped me throughout my internship experience in developing my skills and gaining more confidence. I am still continuing to grow and developing my professional identity. After, reading this chapter, I did not know that there was a lot of components to a professional identity. I hadn’t thought about the specifics such as accreditation, target population working with, specialization, our own personal values and morals, etc. But as reading the chapter, it all makes sense to be a part of my professional identity. I am learning a lot in this class about my professional identity and what to do to continue to develop it which helps me feel less anxious about the future and with envisioning what my professional identity will be in the near future.
    Module 4: Identifying unhelpful thinking and behaviors seems to be the most helpful to me and my development. This is something I have definitely applied to myself as I learned CBT in this program and it has greatly helped me in my personal and professional growth. I sometimes have negative thoughts about not being smart enough or being a failure. I think about not being a good enough therapist as well. I think it’s important to be aware of these thoughts and of the behaviors that I engage in to be able to feel better about myself. I have to change these thoughts and think to myself that I am still learning and will continue to learn to become a more competent counselor. I also need to be aware of my behaviors and make sure that I am doing everything I can to learn more and become a more effective counselor.

    Reply

  9. Kaitlyn Doucette
    Jun 16, 2020 @ 21:56:54

    After reading this chapter, my idea of professional identity is more refined as it has given me different components to base it off of. When hearing the term, “professional identity,” I think of the background and experience that I have, the school that I attended/ the program I completed, what specializations I have and populations I serve, and how my personal values and morals fit into this. I think of my professional identity as a part of my larger sense of self, which relates to the intrapersonal dimensions explained in this chapter.

    I have thought about my professional identity previously, but I did not fully appreciate the different components that went into it. I did not previously think about how diverse professional identity can be within the mental health field. Individuals working in the same agency as me may likely have a very different educational background, approach to practice, and theoretical orientation. For example, at my internship, many of the clinicians were LCSWs. Although we were performing the same job, our educational background and approach to practice were very different from mine. It was also interesting to think about how people receiving the same degree as me within the same program have such different specialization, population served, and setting. Many of my peers work with different populations, such as children and adolescents, and work in different settings, such as inpatient or residential.

    The clinical counseling program here at Assumption, and the professors who teach within the program, have influenced my professional identity the most. It is likely that I would not be as well-versed in CBT if I had not attended this program, which is a huge part of my professional identity. It has also shaped how I conduct therapy and treatment plans. My internship has also influenced my professional identity, as my specialization is in the treatment of eating disorders, and I have mostly gained clinical experience in an outpatient setting, which I will likely continue to do. My internship allowed me to refine the specialization, setting, and population served that all make up my professional identity.

    The exercises that provided me with the most insight about myself as a person and a therapist were the exercises relating to selective attention and avoidance/escape behaviors. In regard to selective attention, I realized that I hyper-focus on the things that I have done wrong. (For me personally, I struggle the most with selective attention in social settings. This often has a negative impact on my personal sense of self, and my self-efficacy as a therapist.) Taking the time to identify where my attention is focused, and then challenging my thoughts about what I am focusing on, was helpful on a personal level and also gives me more insight into how to use these techniques in my practice with clients. Avoidance and escape behaviors are also something I struggle with, again, in social situations. I will put off phone calls that I need to make and uncomfortable conversations I should/need to have. Taking the time to identify these avoidance behaviors, thinking about their impact, and challenging my thoughts about the avoided activity was helpful for my own personal growth, and allowed me to have empathy for my clients who struggle with avoidance and changing their behavior.

    Reply

    • Tricia
      Jun 17, 2020 @ 08:10:47

      Kaitlyn,
      I agree that I never really thought about professional identity in terms of the diversity in the mental health field. While I have seen clinician’s from other treatment modalities, licensures, and educational backgrounds, who have not always approached treatment interventions similar as I would, that diversity adds to the collective professional identity of the team. I think the diversity allows me to understand and appreciate different perspectives when they are implemented with proper ethical standards. While I do think I am in the proper lane to receive me LMHC, or LPC if I am in CT, I think demonstrating this appreciation allows me to adapt to professional teams I will be working with in the future, rather than holding a rigid belief that I must only work with people with an LMHC background. Similar to how I can learn from them about different effective techniques, I can share and educate clinicians on effective treatment interventions allowing the team to grow together.

      Reply

  10. Tricia
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 07:47:00

    While I have heard whispers about professional identity, I never truly put a lot of thought into it until recently. In my opinion, professional identity encompassed my work ethic, how I presented myself in the field, my ability to work with others, and so on. While I knew some of the attributes to various types of accreditations, I found it interesting to read about the diversity between them. I have friends in programs in other states who have a CACREP accreditation, but I agree there is a collective identity in that many of the core courses are the same. As I reflect on my experience at Assumption, this class, and my clinician internship, I recognize I am developing a solid understanding of my profession identity thus far. My goal is to work in an outpatient setting, where I can work with clients ranging from youth to middle adulthood. I plan to incorporate trauma clients, but I fear being certified in TF-CBT, will mean I solely have trauma clients. While I have an interest in trauma, a pure trauma case load leads to burnout. As a soon to be graduate, I have relied on my internship experience, and interpersonal dimensions to shape my professional identity thus far. I am appreciative of my clinical experience as it has provided me a well-rounded scope to practice, including the introduction to DBT. While I will always stay true to the theoretical orientation of CBT, and value the evidenced-based practice, I feel that knowledge of other theoretical orientations, and ability to practice some of those interventions, can add great value to my professional identity. Both the information I learned from my internship, and the feedback I received, has already increased my self-efficacy to be a competent clinician in the field.

    Module 5 from Bennet-Levy et al. (2015) provided me the most insight thus far. As I have noted in previous classes, I had the perfectionistic personality trait that will lead to burnout. I have taken measures to account for this but implementing module 5 helped to reduce that tendency further. Ironically, in the 708 class I was assigned thought-records and changing the thoughts were as difficult then as they are now. I do find that this module helped me as a therapist and on a personal level as I am shifting negative behaviors and thinking patterns, while advancing my appreciation for my previous and future clients. I will always admire the clients who are motivated in putting in the work, that we all know is not easy. Reframing my negative thought pattern to value best efforts, rather than perfection decreases stress, anxiety, and my own self-criticisms. While we know reframing thoughts takes more than a week, I am appreciative of the process, and am determined to continue to work on this negative thought and behavior to trust in my clinical and educational capabilities.

    Reply

  11. Abigail Bell
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 10:36:21

    When I hear the term “professional identity” I think about the different factors that make up who I am as a professional in the clinical mental health field. Like the book discussed, it includes factors like education and licensure as well as things such as the population you work with and the way that you interact with your clients. Before reading the chapter I hadn’t really thought about what my “professional identity” was. I knew that the way I presented myself and interacted with clients and colleagues was different than how I interacted with friends and family, but I hadn’t thought about it much further than that. As of right now, I feel like most of my professional identity involves being a student. Taking classes at the graduate level and working with clients are the two things that have influenced my professional identity development the most so far. Learning how to treat clients and do CBT has helped me to develop my professional skillset and by working with clients it has helped me to begin to understand who I am as a professional in terms of how I interact with others while having the title of clinician. I think that an individual’s professional identity is something that takes a while to cultivate. I think that once I am working in the field with clients I will begin to be able to more easily identify factors that make up my professional identity.

    The exercise that provided me with the most insight about who I am as both a person and therapist was the exercise that involved cultural identity. I have always known the importance of including a client’s cultural identities into their treatment, but I have never taken the time to identify characteristics of my own cultures and related them to the areas of my life that I want to improve upon. Doing this exercise helped me to gain insight into how cultural factors impact my view of myself as both a person and a therapist. The “challenge problem” that I am focusing on is the anxiety that I experience when interacting with my supervisors. Prior to doing this activity I did not relate things like my upbringing and certain expectations that have stuck with me to the way that I feel when talking to a supervisor or boss. Through this I have began to realize there may be some connection which is super interesting and a great place to start help lessen my anxiety around my superiors.

    Reply

    • Sam
      Jun 19, 2020 @ 19:44:58

      Hi Abigail,

      I enjoyed your discussion regarding the module that focuses on cultural identity. I failed to discuss that in both sections of my responses, unfortunately! I too agree that it plays such a significant role in how we view our selves and how we interact with/ view other peoples responses and actions. Even with regard to professional identity, I know that I intend to apply for jobs in Worcester, a city rich and diverse in culture, it will be part of my professional identity to incorporate cultural humility in my work and also something I will strive to grow in and learn about throughout my entire career as a mental health clinician and individual. I think you bring up such an important point with recognizing your own culture, and I feel that understanding, embracing, and empowering the different cultures in our clients will be significantly beneficial.

      Reply

  12. Cynthia LaFalaise
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 21:22:40

    When I think of professional identity I think of it as characteristics that make you an expertise in your profession. I think of things like the theoreotical orientation you use, the qualifications/training you have, any certifications for specializations, your work experience and education background. Although I have never heard the term “profession identity” prior to this, I have thought about what I want to develop as far as future qualifications. I do eventually want to specialize in DBT therapy for my future practice. I have also decided that I strictly wanted to work with adult population, more specifically with minorities. Growing up in Boston, I spent a lot of time in low SES neighborhoods hanging out with friends and would see a lot of “addicts” on the street struggling. I never saw substance use clinics in these area for minorities who lived there and needed help. Help was calling the police and them getting arrested for possession instead of help for their addiction. This is what influenced me to do my internship with the substance use population so I can work with members of my community to hopefully create more methadone clinics.

    The module that helped me gain the most insight was the one regarding negative thinking. I tend to be in my head a lot and although I am getting better with challenging negative thoughts in my personal life, it’s still something I struggle with in terms of work. I like many others have mentioned tend to doubt my capabilities as a counselor and question whether I am doing enough for my clients. I always try to keep in mind that I’m new to this field and with experience comes more growth and confidence.

    Reply

    • Sam
      Jun 19, 2020 @ 19:49:19

      Hi Cynthia,

      Your discussion on professional identity really resonated with me, especially in your discussion of working with minorities. Actually, in my job search assignment I discussed that one of the agency’s I would definitely apply for is one that emphasizes and focuses on diverse communities who have historically been underserved and underrepresented in the mental health field. My internship experience consisted primarily of white American clients/ families, which I feel hindered a significant learning experience related to cultural humility, and my understanding of it. And that is something I would like to change. Therefor, I too can see that working with underserved or minority populations would be a part of my professional identity as well.

      Reply

    • Pat
      Jun 20, 2020 @ 00:18:36

      Cynthia,

      I think that’s an incredible way to shape your professional identity. I noticed a lot of the replies so far have come from a single person, or a big event. For you, it sounds like it had a lot of your environment growing up in Boston. Realizing that there was a problem that wasn’t being served is one thing, but then having the ambition to do something about it is entirely different. It definitely sounds like something a lot of people in the US need right now.

      Reply

    • Maria
      Jun 20, 2020 @ 23:32:35

      Hello Cynthia,
      I think many of us have never thought of or heard of the words ‘professional identity’ prior to this reading, but it is important for us to think about! I initially never thought of characteristics as a component of professional identity, but now that I think about it, that is one very important component. When we think about our personal identity, we automatically think about characteristics that makes us, us, so why wouldn’t characteristics play a crucial role in our professional identity? I agree however that certifications, experience and education does also add to our professional identity! Your thoughts and preferences for working with a specific population is very interesting! I also would prefer to have a CBT and DBT focus in the future as well! I also have an ideal population I would like to work with that actually changed after my time at practicum and internship! I also found the negative thinking chapter to be helpful! I have heard many times that we often question our abilities and our work because we are new! I think experienced clinicians have those moments as well, so staying on top of things and our thoughts will be extremely helpful! We will definitely grow and (hopefully) gain confidence over time!

      Reply

  13. James Antonellis
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 22:45:02

    It was not until recently that I started to think of professional identity as something that goes beyond how you present yourself at work or a conference, or what someone sees when they put my name into LinkedIn. It was not until a month or two into my internship that I realized how other factors such as education, theoretical orientation, experiences, and qualifications help to shape my professional identity. One of the biggest factors in shaping my professional identity has been Assumption and it’s professors. I started at Assumption in 2014, as a wide-eyed and eager undergraduate, who wanted to dual major in biology and psychology, and move onto medical school to become a psychiatrist. I would not be here today, if I was not for the members of psychology department, who helped shaped my views and discover what actually made me happy. By the end of my undergraduate career, I left behind the idea of wanting to live in Boston and work at a major hospital doling out psychiatric medication to adolescents, for wanting to live in Worcester, and work with adolescents in residential treatment facilities.

    Module 4 in Bennett-Levy (2015) resonated with me a whole lot, especially the section on cognitive biases. I have become really good at working with other people to recognize these biases and come up with ways for managing them. However, when it comes to myself, I am awful at it. There are times I find myself keeping a thought record, then going back over my day and having to evaluate the thoughts.

    Reply

  14. James Antonellis
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 23:06:00

    Until recently, I never thought of professional identity as something beyond how you present yourself at work or conferences, or what someone sees when they find your LinkedIn profile. It was not until a month or two into my internship when I realized how much your education, certifications, license(s), theoretical orientation, and previous experiences play into your professional identity. I have to say that Assumption has had the greatest influence on my professional identity. I started at Assumption in September 2014, as a bright eyed and bushy tailed freshman who wanted to dual major in biology and psychology, go onto medical school, and become a psychiatrist. I was someone who would have sat down, and told you that Freud was right about everything, and medication will solve all your issues. I would not be where I am today, if it wasn’t for the faculty at Assumption. It was Assumption that inspired me to work with adolescents and it was the faculty in the psychology department that taught me I could do the most good in counseling.

    Module 4 in Bennett-Levy (2015) resonated the most with me. I am someone who can very easily doubt himself, and often be over critical of myself. The section on cognitive biases really hit home for me. I have become very good at identifying most of these in clients, and working to disprove them. However, when it comes to myself, I often find myself falling victim to them. There are days where I have to keep a thought record, and go over it with myself, so that I can get of my head and allow myself to move on with the day.

    Reply

  15. Chris
    Jun 18, 2020 @ 13:27:36

    When I think of professional identity, I primarily think of the separation of my work self and private self. Similar to last week’s discussion, I think it’s important to distinguish the two so that self-care is easier at home. However, this also relates to maintaining professional identity because the inverse could also be true. By separating at home and professional identity, it could be easier to maintain that standard at work. I believe professional identity also has to do with ethics in the counseling field. That being a true professional requires following a code of ethics and that breaking these codes breaks professional identity. I would say that my recent supervisor at my practicum/internship was a large influence on my professional identity. She taught me so much not just what a professional counselor looks like, but also why it is important to have that identity in ways I hadn’t considered before. At times, especially when I was facing being burnout, she reminded of my responsibility to the client as a professional clinician. I think the exercise that provided me with the most insight about myself currently was the smart goals. With everything beginning to become more realistic, I’ve realized that I have goals, but they aren’t concrete or measurable. I think that defining my goals more distinctly will help me stay focused and organized as well as keeping my sights set on newer or better experiences.

    Reply

  16. Patrick Watson
    Jun 18, 2020 @ 15:34:12

    I’ve had a mixed response to the idea of my professional identity. In truth, I hadn’t considered the exact concept in much depth. After reading the chapter, I felt more comfortable with the idea of having a professional identity in the first place. Recently, there have been multiple life changes in multiple different facets in both my professional and personal life. This has resulted in discussing my profession in detail for many different people, all coming from many different perspectives and professional fields.

    I was surprised at the ease I felt when describing multiple parts of my clinical life: qualifications, differentiation from other modalities, describes of licensure differences, etc. Furthermore, I find myself enjoying discussing the field and all its intricacies; I’ve found that even as a college graduate, I still don’t know nearly as much about professional identities as I have learned through this course, through the internship, and many other classes at Assumption. I think Assumption as a whole has influenced my identity development to a great degree. There hasn’t been a specific class or one professor in particular that has helped me find my own professional identity. Instead, interacting with classmates, thinking about assignments, and learning more detailed information about the CBT intervention/conceptualization process has helped me identify the things that I want to incorporate into my identity and things that, while important to understand and utilize, aren’t things I would consider “shaping” my professional identity

    I think the most insightful techniques for me were the utilization of the weekly behavioral activity log and my diary with the “my attitude toward myself” portion in conjunction with one another on both a person and a therapist (module 3). I’ve used the activity logs in the past, and found that having a direct schedule of modification is easier to implement than a general idea of “staying healthy.” More than that, as long as I’m thinking about the log critically, it is much easier to feel motivated to perform the activities because I understand the rationale compared to having a nebulous idea of what I “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing.

    The thing that changed how I’ve viewed these exercises was the addition of the attitude towards myself. I’ve followed these logs before, but never once recognized that I need to reflect on how I feel while completing the exercise during and after the exercise is complete. The theory would state that these activities could fuel change, but reflecting on how that change is affecting me is incredibly important. If I’m completing all of the activities that I set out to complete, but still feel like garbage after a few weeks of change, then I need to change it, shift it up somehow to find something that does work. I completed the exercise and was surprised at the results. I’ve been using behavioral modification and activation for some time now, but not once have I reflected if it was helpful. I’d just follow my schedule, keep my head down, and move forward.

    Oddly, it never occurred to me once: I review it with my clients all the time. I encourage reflection with others on a near-daily basis. Yet I’d never actually done it for myself. In a way, I’m excited to use this exercise to identify what things are indeed what I want, who I am, and foster insight into myself as a person and a therapist.

    Reply

  17. Maria
    Jun 18, 2020 @ 16:29:23

    When I first think of the words “professional identity” I automatically thought of my career and what big I want to be known as. I had never really thought about this before because I’ve honestly never heard that term before. When I think about my parents, old supervisors and managers, they all have a professional identify, but I think I always thought of it as their career. For example, my mother is retiring this August after 30+ years in the education field and she has been thinking about her career and professional identity. She has worn so many hats and has truly become an innovative leader when it comes to education and specifically education with those with special needs. My mom spent YEARS building this identity and now she is known in her field for her accomplishments. Therefore, when I first looked at the word ‘identity’ and thought about what it means to me, I compared to it my own personal identity first. In other words, who I am as a person and what makes me unique compared to others. My own personal identity I know pretty well, but I tend to learn new things about myself all the time. Now, when I put the word ‘professional’ in there I automatically thought about my career that I’m just starting to create. I think our own personal identity we often take years to establish and know because we have to experience life. I think the same can be said for our personal identity. Many of us so far have said that when we think about our careers, we know that they are just starting and we are still learning what techniques, interventions, and populations we want to work with. Therefore, when I think currently about the word “professional identity” I know the one part I know is that I am a young professional, within the mental health field, who is currently on her way to become an LMHC. I think my family, education, supervisors, managers have definitely had an influence on this identity. I think that with experience and working with others I will continue to develop this identity and someday look back at it, much like my mother has been doing this past week.
    As for which technique/exercise from Bennett-Levy that I found most helpful was module 3 “Using Behavioral Activation to Change Patterns of Behavior”. Like many of us have said in the past, all of us have a million and one things going on in our lives that makes it hard to find on balance. Sometimes, I also struggle to do things I “have” to do versus the things I want to do. For example, doing homework when all I want to do is go spend time with my family or spending time with friends when I should be cleaning my apartment. Life continues to go on when we graduate and finish school, and instead of having to do homework, we will have notes, IAPS, CA’s etc to write and monitor. We will all be adjusting to a new life that will be filled with a ton of emotions. By using skills such as the ones listed in the chapter, I could make a schedule and find a balance between activities I need to do and the one’s I would like to do. I often have time finding a balance now and going through the exercise I realize with structure, I can actually do everything in one day! What a surprise!

    Reply

    • Pat
      Jun 20, 2020 @ 00:13:15

      Maria,

      I think it’s so cool that your definition of professional identity was shaped by your mom, just like Lily’s was from her grandmother. It got me thinking, maybe a lot of our identity development is based on those we have known prior to us as we model for others. Clearly both you and Lily respect each respective family member, so you’d like to portray yourself in a similar manner that they did.

      I think I fit that too. My mom had untreated agoraphobia for a long time, so she couldn’t complete college. Close to 30 years later, with two kids, my mom fought her way back to graduate and forge this new identity. I think something about that made me approach professional identities definitions in a different way. Maybe it really is individualized!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 66 other followers

%d bloggers like this: