Topics 5 & 6: Professional Identity & Experiencing CBT Self-Reflection {by 6/23}

Based on the readings due this week consider the following discussion point:  (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 6/23.  Post your two replies no later than 6/25.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth Martin
    Jun 22, 2022 @ 22:59:33

    1. Professional identity honestly paints a picture of a bunch of men in suits in a boardroom – I think that’s down to the phrase seeming very corporate buzzword-y. It’s honestly not something I’d thought about before doing the reading this week, and I do think it’s something I’m going to struggle to reconcile with myself. I still have considerable imposter syndrome, feeling like a child that has somehow gotten this far, so having any identity that is “professional” makes me feel like a toddler in my dad’s shoes/blazer that’s play-acting at going to work. It doesn’t quite fit my self-view yet. I do have values, beliefs, skills etc. that I consider very important to how I conduct myself at work and how I hope to structure my practice moving forward, but the phrase is very…other. I think my professional identity development (or what I think is pretty close to an identity, anyway) has been mostly impacted by my dad, my mentor in undergrad, and my supervisor at my internship. My dad’s a hard worker, but has very firm boundaries and limits, doesn’t suffer fools at all etc., and I’ve really admired what I now know is putting himself first before a company that sees him as replaceable and won’t put him first. My supervisor and mentor were really open with how they built their own identities, what was important to them and normalized having those conversations in interviews to make sure my identity aligns with the organization, and figuring out what was important to me too.

    2. I think the “identifying maintenance cycles” and unhelpful repetitive thinking exercises were the most helpful for me this week. The perfectionism cycle the textbook gave as an example felt like it was actively trying to call me out; I’ve known I’ve had a high standard for myself in pretty much all areas for most of my life, but I’ve never actively tried to do anything about it as it’s been normalized by teachers at all stages of my education. Mapping out how reinforcing my actions/thoughts are really helped me gain clarity on what’s actually going on in my head, alongside the repetitive thoughts that make it hard to move out of that mindset. It shed light on why it doesn’t get better (shockingly, considering I’ve done zero work to improve(!).

    Reply

    • Tayler Weathers
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 10:15:34

      Hi Beth!
      You’re totally right – the perfectionism cycle was a call out for me too! I think perfectionism, especially in school, has been so rewarded and praised and pushed on us that it is hard to think about having to shed that skin a little professionally. I work retail this summer, and I have to admit, it’s kind of helping – there’s so much to do and it’s hard to do it perfectly every single time. I was just thinking about this yesterday (bad day – lots of yelling) and what helps with therapy for me is that almost all your mistakes (barring something truly terrible or unethical) can be worked through in the next session. Since we see our clients so frequently, misunderstandings and hiccups are par for the course. And, in the RO-DBT class I’m working on this summer (clearly I’m thinking about perfectionism a lot) we’re talking about how that’s even better, because it shows clients that mistakes are okay too!

      Reply

    • Alison Kahn
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 10:40:30

      Hi, Beth!

      I love how you mentioned imposter syndrome in your post. I feel like I am constantly experiencing imposter syndrome in my day to day work. I have heard it’s a pretty common thing for graduate students, but I feel like getting a better understanding of professional identity may be particularly helpful for dealing with it more effectively.

      Reply

    • Brianna Walls
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 16:16:03

      1. When I hear the words ‘professional identity’ I think of someone who has been working in their field of work for years. I think of someone who knows exactly what they are doing, sets clear and straight boundaries, and knows exactly what their values and beliefs are. To be honest I also think of someone like my father. A middle-aged man who again has been working in their field for years and has high expectations for themselves. It’s funny because I never thought of myself as having a ‘professional identity’ or eventually having one anyways. I just know I need to graduate, find a job that I enjoy, and make money so I can pay bills and eventually buy a home and start a family. However, after reading this week’s reading, I want to explore my attributes, beliefs, values, and motives more deeply. Of course, I have some but most of them don’t have much to do with a ‘professional identity.’ What has influenced my development so far was my supervisor and co-workers at my internship. All of them have inspired me tremendously in the workplace and outside of the workplace. This program has also helped me develop my professional identity as I have learned so much from my classmates and the professors.
      2. The technique/exercise from Bennett-Levy et al. (2015) that provided me the most insight about myself as a person and therapist was the scheduling pleasurable and necessary activities table. I enjoyed this exercise because it made me really think about activities that I enjoy and the activities that are necessary but not always enjoyable during the week. This allowed me to have more of a ‘balance’ between pleasurable activities and then things that need to get done.

      Reply

  2. Tayler Weathers
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 10:11:04

    1. When I hear the words professional identity, I don’t really have much that comes immediately to mind! I guess I think of titles, like “lawyer” or “therapist.” It feels more like a title than an all-encompassing personality trait, because I think so many people in the same profession have different nuances and identities. I haven’t really thought about the deeper concept of a professional identity, but it does make sense. As for what has influenced my development, definitely this program. I have learned a lot of concepts as to what and who a therapist is, such that it has helped flesh-out the idea of a therapist that I may have had previously (a more general sketch of the job, etc.).
    2. I think the evidence for/against section was most helpful. I always like these lists because they make me truly consider both sides, and look at the reasons behind my thoughts and feelings. Oftentimes, I realize that I was making a leap or blowing one piece of evidence out of proportion pretty quickly!

    Reply

    • Alison Kahn
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 10:55:16

      Hi, Tayler!

      I totally agree about evidence for/against as being super helpful to bring me back to a more logical mindset when I might otherwise be a bit “overdramatic” (for lack of a better word). It reminds me a lot of the DBT pros and cons skill I teach my students all the time, and I love pros and cons lists!

      Reply

    • Cailee Norton
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 11:13:26

      Tayler,

      I’m glad you found the evidence for/against section so helpful! I’ve noticed I emphasized that technique a lot with clients, and often we don’t consider those things within ourselves. It definitely helps to have a list to really visualize what’s going on and how perhaps one piece can be overshadowing many others that go against it. I also like that you discussed the labels aspect of Dr V’s question. Our society provides so many labels it’s hard to identify the uniqueness of each profession and job because they’re so often clumped together.

      Best,
      Cailee

      Reply

    • Maya Lopez
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 14:58:10

      Hey Tayler

      I agree I find myself jumping to conclusions a lot but much less so since I have learned to look for the evidence more and more often. This skill has now been fully incorporated into my brain and I hope someday clients feel they can do it automatically too!

      Reply

  3. Alison Kahn
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 10:38:14

    (1) When I think about professional identity, I mainly think about how I would like to portray myself to others as a provider. I consider all of the qualities that I would want in a provider, and how I can hold myself accountable and maintain a standard that I feel is adequate as a mental health professional. In particular, I think about my values, principles, and character. I also consider my counseling style, knowledge, and skills as components of my professional identity. There have been several people and places that have most influenced my professional identity development. Firstly, my father, who demonstrated a very strong work ethic (at times to a fault) throughout my upbringing in which he stressed the importance of working diligently, caring about others, and taking pride in your work. I was also significantly influenced by my undergraduate dissertation mentor who essentially taught me everything I know about the field and how to carry myself as a professional. Finally, my education at both Worcester State and Assumption as well as my job at Devereux have massively influenced my professional identity development.

    (2) I found the exercise on identifying alternative pleasurable and necessary activities very helpful. I really liked how the exercise prompted me to list out both activities that I enjoy and the activities that are necessary but not always enjoyable during the week. Often times I am so exhausted throughout the week that doing things like going to the grocery store, doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning can be incredibly arduous tasks. I found it super helpful to create the hierarchy of most difficult to least difficult activities and make a weekly schedule where I strategically placed the more difficult activities with more enjoyable/pleasurable ones to break things up and make everything feel more manageable. I also considered how helpful this might be for a client struggling with similar things.

    Reply

    • Tayler Weathers
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 11:05:50

      Hi Alison!
      The hierarchy of tasks is very helpful! Especially on days when the list seems to be piling up – homework, laundry, cooking, etc., I also like to prioritize and move things around. I think this is very helpful for almost everyone, especially clients! Work-life balance is something I don’t think our society teaches us how to do, only that we need to do it. In that way, I find it helpful to have a concrete way to think about tasks.

      Reply

    • Cailee Norton
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 11:17:31

      Alison,

      I also found that activity really helpful! You’re so right in creating a hierarchy we can really create a better balance between activities (especially those necessary ones), and better balance for our self-care activities. It’s so important to create something that is realistic and manageable for ourselves, and this table definitely provided that. I’m glad to hear you feel that your work and academic career have influenced your identity so much! It’s amazing to see the changes we’ve gone through just in the Assumption program, and as we move forward away from that we will be able to even better identify ourselves!

      Best,
      Cailee

      Reply

    • Yen Pham
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 13:15:17

      Hi Alison,

      I am very happy because like you, my professional identity is formed from the lessons and rules of life of my father. I also agree with you that our professional identity is what is unique, the abilities, expertise, and experience with which we help clients.

      Reply

    • Brianna Walls
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 16:14:04

      Hi Alison, I also thought this activity was the most helpful especially because I am the type of person who likes to wait until the last minute to do the least enjoyable things last like laundry or going to get an oil change. This list allowed me to mix it up and add pleasurable activities in the middle of other activities that aren’t so much pleasurable but necessary so maybe it will be less of a ‘task’ for me.

      Reply

    • Nicole Giannetto
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 17:07:55

      Hi Alison! Thank you for sharing a bit about your own experience and influences within your family that contribute to your professional identity. I think it is interesting to consider social learning theory, and how influential our caregivers’ own behaviors (specifically work ethics) can be on our own development of our professional identity.

      Reply

  4. Cailee Norton
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 11:10:05

    I think when I consider the phrase “professional identity” I think of a cheesy brochure for a major corporation with someone in a suit crossing their arms and smiling. The phrase makes me think of this grey washed out blah, but when I start thinking of specific people I know that I would call professional (at least in their work environment), I wouldn’t describe them as an advertisement on the company’s brochure. I’d say they were hardworking, balanced, work well under stress, and meet their organizations expectations. I don’t think that’s really something I thought about before, but as we move closer to this program ending, I think picturing this and how I fit into that picture has begun to come up more. I think my parents have both really influenced me, my dad has always been a smart worker, and really enjoyed his work life balance and made sure he did things he liked to counteract the often critical and stressful jobs he had. My mom was definitely a cog in a major insurance organization, and yet she was good at her work and knew how to advocate for herself. Both points I think are very important for my line of work now, so I’m grateful to have witnessed that growing up.

    I think that I found the scheduling pleasurable and necessary activities table was really helpful. I’ve come to realize I mostly focus on the necessary activities and sometimes I get overwhelmed by them when they start to overlap or pull me into too many directions, and I often forget about the pleasurable activities. I also never really considered to do more than one pleasurable activity a day, so to see this table have something for the morning, afternoon, and evening, I realized I’m probably not doing enough for myself or I’m not framing some of what I do as a pleasurable activity. I think that implementing this reframing of my activities can help me to feel more balanced, and put more emphasis on not just one pleasurable activity a day as a reward and feeling guilty for it later.

    Reply

    • Maya Lopez
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 14:54:26

      HAHA yes Cailee, me too! I automatically thought of someone “grey washed out blah”, the type of corporate individuals with all work no play and no soul or happiness left. I refuse to let my career become a part of my identity, I enjoy what I do and am proud but there are so many other important things in life to enjoy and I cannot see myself valuing work so high it becomes a part of ME. I also agree those qualities you mentioned can certainly be learned from how our parents appraise and value their work.

      Reply

    • Abby Robinson
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 16:43:11

      Hi Cailee!

      I, too, had never thought about doing more than one pleasurable activity in a day either! I think that our “work work work” type culture that we live in makes us feel limited to how much personal and free time we can have. I think that it’s really important to continue to do things for ourselves to lessen burnout.
      See you in class!

      Reply

    • Laura Wheeler
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 18:27:51

      Hi Cailee,

      I agree, the scheduling activities were really helpful for me too. Although, I think I am more often on the opposite end of the spectrum… I tend to put off “necessary” activities and then they pile up and become more and more overwhelming. With that said, I also somehow manage to fail at scheduling time for pleasurable activities most of the time, so being forced to put things in a specific order and also to just simply schedule them, was really helpful for me too!

      Reply

  5. Yen Pham
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 11:54:16

    (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?

    When I hear the word “professional identity” I immediately think of something very personal and very specific to a person. I also think about the rules, characteristics, values, experiences, and uniforms that match each person’s professional identity. The life of my parents greatly influenced my professional identity. I learned from my father tolerance, open-mindedness, and flexibility. I learned from my mother the gentleness, neatness, and orderliness in life as well as in work. Combining the things I learned from my parents, I created my own professional identity.

    However, reading chapter 2 of Dr.V, helped me to understand the definition of professional identity in a more practical and meaningful way as a mental health counselor. I realized that professional identity is an especially nebulous concept for mental health counselors due to varying backgrounds in education; different accreditation, professional memberships, and state licensing bodies; varying roles/duties; much overlap with similar professions; and relatively short established history. For example, there will always be at least some variation in professional identity among mental health counselors (see American Counseling Association [ACA], Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs [CACREP], American Mental Health Counselors Association [AMHCA], Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council [MPCAC]). Dr. V stated that “a key contributing factor to professional identity is affiliation with professional organizations like ACA or AMHCA, both of which have their separate codes of ethics. Following your professional membership’s code of ethics can very much shape your professional identity” (p. 28).

    (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

    There are serval helpful techniques and exercises from Bennett-Levy et al. (2015). The techniques, for example, are the Socratic question, Downward-arrow questions, and the Negative Automatic Thoughts ( NATs). The exercises, for example, are Identifying My Maintenance Cycles, Using a Thought Record to Test NATs, My Cognitive Bias, My Selective attention, My Avoidance or Escape, My Specific Safety Behaviors, My Unhelpful Repetitive Thinking, My Problem Formulation, Including Vulnerability Factors, Underlying Patterns, and Strengths (cf. p. 130).

    Each technique and exercise have its benefits for me, and the NATs record provided me the most insight about myself as a person or therapist. I like the logic of the instruction of this exercise, it asked” What ideas or evidence led me to this conclusion? What evidence does not support this? perspective/more balanced view (How much do I believe it: 0–100%?) emotion (anxiety, guilt), and intensity now (0–100%)”.

    Using a Thought Record to Test my NATs, I see there is a relationship between events, negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes. My negative automatic thinking about an event has put me in an unsettled, unhappy, and disappointed emotion. My body sensation gets of pain and fatigue.
    I think using a Thought Record to Test my NATs, is so helpful for me because this process helps me develop my version of self-assessment in identifying my automatic thoughts and sets the stage for eventual evaluation and modification of negative automatic thoughts. But to be honest, it is uncomfortable to write down a negative thought automatically because when I look back, I feel embarrassed about my thoughts at that moment. However, if I often keep the act of writing down negative automatic thoughts and visually seeing the words. I stimulate the evaluation process of my thinking patterns. I asked myself why did I think that? It makes no sense. Is there another explanation for what happened other than? What is the outcome of believing that?

    Reply

    • Elizabeth Baker
      Jun 27, 2022 @ 03:06:11

      Hello Yen!

      I like how you described your further understanding of professional identity! It is such a vast, expanding, and transformative concept that builds each day. There is so much to consider when thinking about our professional identity, it sometimes gets overwhelming for me.
      With your comment on feeling embarrassed when looking back to written negative thoughts, it is certainly tough to get negative thoughts onto paper and we sometimes do look down on or find it silly that we had these negative thoughts. Even so, looking back at these negative thoughts may be embarrassing, but it also helps you understand how you have matured in the sense of emotional and cognitive processing! These self-reflective strategies not only help us find patterns and cognitive distortions, but also areas of growth!

      Reply

  6. Elizabeth Baker
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 14:03:14

    1) The term professional identity depicts a picture of how one views themselves in means of skills, experiences, presentation, and mentality. It is something that is often always in question and certainly always developing whether we are aware of it or not. It is something separate from our typical self-identity, since this identity is related to our occupation(s). My professional identity, for example, is how I perceive and want to be perceived as a therapist; I want to make sure I look and sound professional, utilize my skills to provide the best quality sessions, continue advancing current skills and learning new ones, to be better than I was the day before, and to have future goals to continue aiding my growth. I have always questioned my professional identity entering this field, and I believe that means I am highly aware of my areas of improvement.
    I think being a student has influenced my questioning and developing professional identity, because I often ask myself, “What’s next?” “How does this help my future?” “What can I do with this?” and the biggest one, “Who am I after graduating?” I have been a student for the majority of my life, and the idea of not being in school and working full-time in my occupation puzzles my sense of self and professional identity. I would also say my mom has influenced me greatly, as she is always encouraging me to do with what I have, to use my skills regardless if they are relevant to this field or not. She is always increasing her skill set whether it is something related to her current occupation, or something that has piqued her interest. I am also one to become bored with focusing on one thing, I thrive when I am invested in various topics and opportunities to gain new skills. My professional identity is continuously defining, redefining, and expanding through these opportunities.

    2) Two techniques that have been helpful throughout this journey of becoming a therapist and a confident individual are using my own version of thought records and self-reflection journals. I tend to overthink about situations that make me upset or do not go as expected, to the point of it spiking my anxiety, stress, and negative moods. When I catch myself overthinking about an unexpected situation, I have tried to identify what the situation was, how it made me feel, what exactly upset me, and if it is worth being upset about. If I find the answer is yes, I will force myself to start journaling, either with prompts or freely. I find when I do this, not only am I releasing jumbled thoughts onto paper, but also finding the main “theme” as to why something so insignificant or significant is bothering me (i.e., questioning self-identity). I also notice that I tend to ruminate so I do not forget how the situation made me feel, and writing it down is a great way to relieve this self-induced stress. If I find the answer to this is no, I attempt to make light of the situation and alter my mindset to obtain something positive. I may still journal these thoughts, as I sometimes find myself still getting upset over something seemingly trivial.

    Reply

    • Abby Robinson
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 16:47:30

      Hi Elizabeth!

      I think that I also worry about my professional life after graduation. Having the support of school has become such a big part of my life, it seems scary moving on in our careers without it! Hopefully we are able to get the same type of support at our future jobs!
      See you in class!

      Reply

    • Yen Pham
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 23:36:18

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I agree with you that self-reflection journals have many benefits and they helped us to become a better therapist. As you pointed out that self-reflection helped you to clarify your thinking: Taking time for reflection can help you to clarify your thoughts about things. Your brain is so busy with lots of tasks and thoughts. In my own opinion, I think self-reflection also helped us to self-improvement: In general, when we start practicing self-reflection, we learn about ways we could improve ourselves. If we’re not paying attention, it’s difficult to figure out where things are off course and could be changed.

      Reply

  7. Maya Lopez
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 14:49:28

    When I think of professional identity I suppose I think of people who are career oriented who make their job a large part of their validation system and identity. I understand there is a different personality that comes to work than we may express outside of work however I don’t believe my work or professional side will become a part of my identity because it is much more than career things. I sort of thought about this when working at spectrum and understand being a professional person comes with different responsibilities and standards but that was the extent of which I thought about it. Dr. Brenda King (my intern class professor) had a large impact on how I view work, therapy, professionalism and she has influenced me strongly.

    I have found a lot of insight when using the downward arrow technique. I remember first learning this in class and revealing 1. that it was very hard to answer the questions but also 2. it forced me to ponder things in a way I never had before. along with that and the general practice of questioning my thoughts especially the negative ones it helped me to identify and work to reframe negative thoughts I noticed. I also find writing self-reflections and focusing on gratitude has been very significant for my improving my mood and well-being. So as a therapist I have learned the difficulty however relevance to doing the downward arrow with a client but also have a lot of empathy for how hard it can be and how novel the emotions feel when revealing new insight.

    Reply

    • Brianna Walls
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 16:02:45

      Hi Maya, Dr. Brenda King had a large impact on how I view our profession too. She was very influential and when I think of “professional identity” I picture her. She is definitely someone who has clear boundaries, values, and beliefs.

      Reply

    • Alexa Berry
      Jun 24, 2022 @ 09:49:59

      Hi Maya,

      I think it’s so cool that you have been practicing gratitude and having a good experience with it! I took a positive psychology course in undergrad that examined the mental-health benefits of practicing gratitude, and the outcomes are really remarkable. If you have any gratitude exercises that are your favorite I would love to know more (if you’re willing to share!)

      Reply

  8. Abby Robinson
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 16:37:01

    1.) When I hear the word professional identity, the thing that comes to my mind would just be my work title (what job I have). After working in my internship, I would like to add my skillset, my strengths and what I love to do into my professional identity too. I also think that your professional identity can change with different types of classes, trainings, experience, etc. You can continuously add to your professional identity with more experience and what works best with who you are as a therapist. I think that as a clinician, my supervisor and colleagues have influenced my Clinical career the most. But overall in my life I think that my family members who I am close with also influence my professional identity (even though they’re not therapists) because this is something that we confide in each other often.
    2.) I think that the self reflection journals provided a good amount of insight for as I think that it helps me process daily life. I normally just continuously go through the motions throughout the day without actually processing anything (getting what I need to get done). Having the self reflection journal has helped me realize.

    Reply

    • Nicole Giannetto
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 17:03:48

      Hi Abby! When I wrote about what has influenced my own professional identity, I mainly focused on my academic and career-related factors. I liked that you discussed how important and influential your family is related to your own personal identity. This brought up the idea for me that our relationships with others can come through in how we conduct ourselves in our careers, which I find interesting to consider.

      Reply

    • Laura Wheeler
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 18:33:05

      Hi Abby,

      I really liked your perspective about being able to add to your professional identity. I never specifically thought of it as being something permanent, but I also never really considered the idea that we can change and grow our professional identity with time- just like we would in any other way. I also found there were things I want to improve upon after completing my internship, so the idea of being able to expand our education and training to help grow and evolve our professional identity is exciting.

      Reply

    • Elizabeth Baker
      Jun 27, 2022 @ 02:55:42

      Hello Abby!

      I liked and can relate to your point of feeling like you are just going through the motions. When there is so much to get done or when we are overwhelmed/burnt out, it feels like we switch to autopilot and swift through our needed activities throughout the day without processing them or maybe even the other events of the day. Having a day or week like that fills me with so much dissatisfaction, since it feels like I have wasted so much time. I am not sure if you feel the same way. Journaling is one of the ways I too attempt to process what happened during a really stressful day or what happened during the week, I am glad to hear this allows you to backtrack and (in a way) re-live moments of your day!

      Reply

  9. Nicole Giannetto
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 17:00:41

    (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?
    Personal identity, to me, is a term that refers to an individual’s own traits, skills, and experience related to a working/professional setting. I definitely have considered my own personal identity throughout my academic career (more thoughtfully and confidently beginning in undergrad). I think this topic comes up more for me when I am engaging in career-related experiences, like writing a resume, completing an application, or prepping for an interview. For me, I think my academic experiences, specifically, the courses that spurred the most interest and passion for me, my internship experiences, and my past and current work experience all contributed a lot to how I identify myself professionally. I think, apart of my professional identity is made up of my own personality traits, which sets me, and others apart from one another.

    (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.

    I found the section on planning pleasurable and necessary activities to be insightful. Although I do try to implement this in my clinical approach, I find that I don’t always apply the approach to my own life. What I learned from the reading was that through incorporating and scheduling both the leisure or hobby activities with the necessary and important activities, like laundry or doing dishes, I can gain more control over my daily schedule. I would like to develop a more consistent and balanced schedule for myself, so I found that this activity was helpful for me to brainstorm ideas to try this.

    Reply

    • Beth Martin
      Jun 24, 2022 @ 13:09:31

      Hi Nicole!

      I agree completely on the need for pleasurable activities day to day! I’ve noticed that I’m good at making sure I do them when I’m working, but the moment I have free time I focus on chores etc – scheduling has helped with that a lot!

      I like your take on your professional identity still being closely tied to who you are as a person; there’s often a real separation of the traits we mention as professional that don’t include compassion or other “warm” qualities.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  10. Laura Wheeler
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 17:22:23

    Admittedly, I have not spent much time (if any) considering my professional identity, or really even considering the phrase/idea in general. I guess professional identity, to me, would include several things. First, with any other kind of identity, it might include the things I want it to include, or the aspects of my career and professional existence that I value and are important to me. Second, I also think professional identity will include the way I/we are perceived by others based on our actions, the way we carry ourselves, the things we invest our time into, and so on. I hope that my professional identity eventually encompasses working with/for my community, setting a good example for others, being organized and reliable, and being compassionate and accepting of everyone. Thus far there have been two people who I feel have been highly influential in my career path and professional identity- the first is a professor from Worcester State (Dr. Tom Conroy, if anyone knows him) who is simply the most brilliant and inspiring person I have ever known- he changed my whole educational/professional trajectory and I aspire to hold any of the professional characteristics he has. I know that sounds cheesy, but he is the most approachable, open, accepting, and non-judgmental individual, despite his position of authority as a professor/department chair. Second, is a supervisor from the CASA organization in Worcester, (they do amazing work, if anyone is interested) Jim Steele. Jim personifies hard work, dedication to the underserved members of our community, deeply respected professionalism, and kindness- all of which I hope to also hold within my professional identity.

    As for the SP/SR activity modules, I found the scheduling/mood activities to provide the most insight for me. I find that in a therapist role, it is easy to suggest certain practices or activities to clients with the expectation that they will complete it and then make necessary change, but this is so much easier said than done. What I mean by that is, I know I don’t *love* my current employment situation, but I accept it for what it is. Even though I have that rational awareness (such as financially needing to maintain employment), I am still experiencing the lack of fulfillment, and completing the schedule and mood activities reminded me of that. I can look at a daily log where I tracked my mood and see a clear pattern of stress increase in the morning before work, and stress decrease the second I leave work. As a therapist, I might hope that a client would see this pattern and make a change, but as an adult who is responsible for bringing home an income, I can see how a change isn’t possible right now. These particular exercises have helped me to remember that even when a client has a clear antecedent for difficult thoughts/feelings, there might be a need for finding alternative ways to decrease their distress without being able to eliminate the direct stressor.

    Reply

    • Alexa Berry
      Jun 24, 2022 @ 09:44:30

      Hi Laura,

      I had a similar experience in considering professional identity overall. It never really occurred to me to think of what qualities I think characterize those who do have strong alignment with their professional identity. At least for me, still being a student has kind of impeded my ability to see myself as a professional! I love that you included specific people who embody what you would want to encompass in your own professional identity. I think that relates a lot to who we see as role models that have had a positive impact on our lives 🙂

      Reply

  11. Alexa Berry
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 17:46:34

    Prior to this week’s readings, if you asked me what came to mind when I thought about “professional identity”, I would have returned with elevator music. The components that comprise professional identity development make a lot of sense though once I actually knew what I was supposed to be looking for. Without even knowing what the term professional identity referred to, I found myself giving details about my own professional identity to an MD who wasn’t all that familiar with the mental health field processes. Some major components of my professional identity development thus far are obviously related to the program, degree type, theoretical orientation I will use, and licensure I will seek. Something I find myself distinguishing to others who are not in the field is the difference between different types of licensures, and what individuals in those roles do/ how they all differ (even if only slightly). I also believe that specialization and population served are a large part of my current professional identity. I am excited to transition from saying “I am pursuing a concentration in child and family interventions” to “I specialize in child and family interventions” because my anticipated population to be served was one of the main reasons I even wanted to become a counselor!

    The technique that was most useful for me from the Bennett-Levy readings was identifying pleasurable and necessary activities. I have a really bad habit of overscheduling myself (especially during the semester!) that when I have down time, I really do not know what to do with myself because I’m so used to my time being filled up with something that I “have to” do. I think this exercise made me consider how finding activities that I genuinely enjoy and finding a place for them during the week can change the way my weeks go!

    Reply

    • Anna Lindgren
      Jun 25, 2022 @ 17:08:11

      Hi Alexa!

      I’m also excited to identify as a child and family counselor once we are done with the program! That is definitely a key part of our professional identity as counselors, I think: who we serve. I also agree with you on the identifying pleasurable and necessary activities technique, I found that to be very helpful!

      Reply

  12. Carly Moris
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 18:15:21

    1
    I think about professional identity as the way you are viewed in the field by your colleges, as well as your reputation in the community. It is important to have a good professional identity among your colleges because it can help you find more professional opportunities (jobs, client referrals). You also want to have a good reputation in the community you are working in so that you are seen as a trustworthy and competent clinician. If you have a bad reputation then no one will want to have you as their therapist. My parents and watching my father start his own business had a significant impact on how I view professional development. Your reputation has a large impact on your business, which is important if you want to start your own private practice; and that people remember how you treat them.

    2
    I found the scheduling pleasurable and necessary activities exercises to be helpful because this is something that I struggle with balancing. When I get stressed/burnt out I tend to neglect the necessary activities that I like the least. This defiantly leads to me feeling worse. For example I am the worst at keeping up with my laundry. When this piles up my space gets messy and that makes me feel worse. So scheduling a time to do this and sticking to it will defiantly help keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

    Reply

    • Anna Lindgren
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 18:33:13

      Hi Carly!

      I had a similar experience with the scheduling pleasurable and necessary activities exercise, and I definitely tend to let chores pile up when I’m stressed. Trying to balance responsibilities and r&r can be so difficult!

      Reply

    • Connor Belland
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 22:31:48

      Hi Carly,
      I agree that when I get burnt out I really procrastinate the necessary activities like chores and such, but also sometimes in these situations I will stop planning the pleasurable activities as well, just go home and sit on the couch instead of planning to go out with friends or cook a nice dinner which are equally necessary in a way.

      Reply

  13. Anna Lindgren
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 18:29:24

    When I think of the phrase “professional identity” I think about how mine is shifting. I have had so many different jobs and roles, and am about to start my second “career” before turning 30, which is not out of the ordinary these days! When I was working in the summer camp/outdoor ed field, my professional identity was one that was centered around youth development, education, fun, engaging teaching methods in the outdoors, and knowing a lot of repeat-after-me songs. As I shifted into an administrator, my necessary skillset became more about communicating clearly to large groups of students, teachers, and parents, conflict resolution, programming, problem-solving, and staff management. I learned how to be confident, or at least appear confident even when things were going wrong, so that everyone at camp had confidence in who was steering the ship, so to speak. A lot of these skills I think are transferable to our work as counselors, and I hope to keep some of the skills in getting people to engage in the material that I picked up from that experience in my work as a counselor. My parents have played a big role in shaping my professional identity, as they are both confident and knowledgable in their fields, and have good work boundaries.

    I always find looking for evidence for and against my negative automatic thoughts to be a helpful tactic when I’m feeling anxious. It will often help me to realize that I’m catastrophizing or using black and white thinking. I also found the exercise identifying pleasurable and necessary activities to be a helpful exercise.

    Reply

    • Connor Belland
      Jun 23, 2022 @ 22:13:16

      Hey Anna,
      I agree its super helpful to be able to catch those negative thoughts before I catastrophize about something too much. When I have a tough case or have to do something new in a professional workplace I will start to psych myself out when really I can handle anything and it won’t be as bad a I expect.

      Reply

    • Anne Marie
      Jun 25, 2022 @ 10:01:47

      Hi Anna,
      I love that you have such great role models that have showed you how to be proficient in their field but maintain boundaries. I think it puts you at an advantage as I still sometimes struggle with saying no to additional work requests. All of the experience that you noted sounds like it has set a great foundation to build upon. My guess is that your professional identity will continue to shift throughout your career. I am certain that you will excel in whatever path you choose.

      Reply

  14. Anne Marie
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 18:38:31

    When I hear the word professional identity I think this is a fluid term that changes as we change and grow into our profession and build experience. For example, I started my career as a residential counselor and initially only viewed it as a job versus now I see it as a foundation building block to my career as a helper. However, it is not something that I have given much thought to previously. Initially I am drawn to kids. My experience has primarily been working with children and adolescents. However, as a parent and believer that children are primarily influenced by their environments, I am now drawn to working more towards educating caretakers.
    While Module 2 wasn’t specifically assigned I found the five part formulation to be a helpful visual to better reflect on what I find triggering and how I react to them cognitively, physiologically, behaviorally and emotionally. I typically keep my focus on the client. Therefore, this exercise gave me an opportunity to stop and reflect on my own responses to them. In addition, Module 4- Identifying Unhelpful Thinking and Behavior is the heart of how to make effective changes to meet goals.

    Reply

  15. Connor Belland
    Jun 23, 2022 @ 21:58:14

    1. When I think of professional identity the first thing that comes to mind is a world where the people I work with know a different Connor than the Connor my friends and family know. I do think I will struggle a little bit establishing what my professional identity is. I definitely think of dressing nicer and carrying a briefcase and doing those things has helped me feel more like a professional. I think making money for doing a job like this will also make it feel more professional as well as building confidence in myself and my abilities as a counselor. One thing I have been working on to make myself feel and seem more professional is changing the way I talk, saying “like” less or “ummmmm” less in my mind would help me feel and sound more professional.
    2. The technique/exercise that resonated with me the most was the scheduling pleasurable and necessary activities. I really need to work on scheduling things, and keeping an updated planner which will help me feel more organized and the more organized I am the more professional I will feel. I also know there are some activities like doing paperwork or notes that I will procrastinate so scheduling the necessary activities like that will be important. But making time for pleasurable activities might be even more important to prevent burnout.

    Reply

    • Beth Martin
      Jun 24, 2022 @ 14:20:33

      Hi Connor!

      I really struggle with using those “filler” words too, and often worry that they’re making me sound unprofessional or like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve taken to viewing them as human, my clients say them, my supervisor says them, and I still respect and think of them highly. I think being new to the field means we overthink how we’re presenting ourselves, but most people don’t seem to notice! That being said, I still cringe inside every time I do it!
      I love the idea of using a planner to schedule fun and pleasurable things too – it gives them equal importance!

      Thanks for sharing

      Thank you for sharing

      Reply

    • Anne Marie
      Jun 25, 2022 @ 09:55:09

      Hi Connor,
      I feel like you will be able to be your authentic self and be professional once you find an organization that is a good fit for you. Having people take you seriously as a young person just starting out was something that I struggled with but overtime you will find your footing. Creating a schedule for pleasurable activities has helped me immensely. I’m still working on not procrastinating the things I hate to do.

      Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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