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Psychologist Talk with Michaela Kadambi
Michaela Kadambi Ph.D., R. Psych. (she/her): is a BIPOC (South Asian/European) registered psychologist in Edmonton who specializes in anxiety disorders and traumatic stress. Having the highest levels of education and training experiences required for psychologists in Alberta, she offers in-person and telehealth services to individuals and couples. Her clinical work is deeply informed by current research, best practices, advanced clinical training, and over two decades of professional experience. Dr. Kadambi is a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional through Post-Partum International and is a certified consultant in Prolonged Exposure therapy through the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (Division of Pennsylvania State University). Diversity is celebrated in her practice. Clients from all backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, and gender expressions are welcomed for individual or couples counselling.
Psychologists assess and diagnose behavioral, emotional and cognitive disorders, counsel clients, provide therapy, conduct research and apply theory relating to behavior and mental processes. Psychologists help clients work toward the maintenance and enhancement of psychological, physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning. They work in private practice or in clinics, correctional facilities, hospitals, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centres, community service organizations, businesses, schools and universities, and in government and private research agencies.
For Psychologists, over the period 2019-2028, new job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) are expected to total 15,700 , while 13,700 new job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) are expected to be available to fill them.
Although this occupational group has had a balanced market in recent years, projected job openings are expected to be substantially higher to job seekers, creating a shortage of workers over the 2019-2028 period. Job openings are projected to arise from both expansion demand and retirements. Employment growth is expected to be much stronger than the average for all occupations, fueled by the population’s greater awareness of social issues such as population aging, mental health, learning issues/disabilities and violence. On the risk side, this strong growth could potentially be limited by constrains on public spending. Positions left vacant because of retirement are expected to account for about half of available jobs. The retirement rate is expected to be stronger than the average for all occupations. Psychologists are generally substantially older than workers in other occupations, but tend to retire around the same age. This creates strong pressures to fulfill vacant positions, just to maintain employment levels.
With regard to labour supply, psychologists are a regulated occupation and in most provinces in Canada workers need to have a doctorate degree in order to be able to work. Without a PhD degree, workers must work in some closely related occupations for some years before being granted the right to work as a psychologist. As a result, occupational movers are projected to account for the majority of job seekers.
A doctoral degree in psychology is required in order to use the designation “Psychologist” in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.
A master’s degree in psychology is required for the designation “Psychologist” in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
A master’s degree in psychology is required in order to use the designation “Psychological Associate” in Ontario and Manitoba.
In Prince Edward Island, a doctoral degree is required to work in private practice, or a master’s degree with practice limited to institutions and agencies.
A period of supervised practical experience is required in most jurisdictions.
Successful completion of the written Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is required in most provinces.
Oral examinations and board interviews are required in some provinces.
Registration with a regulatory body is required in all provinces, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
Membership in the provincial professional association for psychologists is mandatory in all provinces, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
Psychologists can become specialized in a particular area through training and experience.
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Complete Episode Transcript
I feel so appreciative because I really feel like it is Gen Z that is just like leading the charge in normalizing therapy and talking about it so much more openly.
The Job Talk Podcast shares stories from people who are passionate and love what they do in their careers.
Through conversation, we explore their careers, past work experiences and the education that got them to where they are now.
We are putting together a Career Crisis Ultimate Interview series.
We are asking experts to give their best advice and guidance around work anxiety career pressures, career goal setting, and ultimately career transformation.
To learn more about this special interview series and get notified when it’s available, please visit our web page at thejobtalk.com/help Today’s guest is Michaela Kadambi Here’s our job talk with a psychologist.
What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Oh, that is such a good question.
That is one that we actually get quite frequently.
So both psychologists and psychiatrists are really sort of specialists in mental health, the treatment of mental disorders.
But their disciplines and how we approach things are a little bit different.
So psychiatrists are medical doctors, they go to med school and just kind of like if we take another specialist physician like an ophthalmologist, right? They go through med school and then they do specialized training in ophthalmology.
And they’re, I believe, their residencies and kind of ophthalmology, psychiatry really is just another specialty.
So psychiatrists have a lot of extra special training in in mental health in the sometimes if they’re geriatric psychiatrists, they’re very well versed in sort of like, you know, how the brain ages and sort of the impact of that on mental health.
And psychiatrists and psychologists often work quite closely together because some of our clients really both need both potentially some medical assistance, possibly in the form of medication, as well as some therapy that can also be effective.
And sometimes when we pair those two things together, we get really good results for people.
Is their earning potential? Is there a difference between the two? Who can you make more if you’re one or the other? Indeed.
So psychologists. So there’s I in my previous life before I was like fully versed in sort of ending up here before I was a psychologist, I thought, oh, it’s probably it’s probably pretty similar.
It is absolutely not, sadly.
But one of the differences is that, again, thank goodness you can, like psychiatrists, are covered under our health services.
So they are able to kind of like bill for their services under sort of like our our health care psychologists are not.
And so we tend to sort of practice in larger agencies like hospitals, community settings, things like that, where we might be kind of like a salaried position, that sort of thing.
However, you can as a psychologist, work in private practice where, you know, our current recommended fee schedule is, I believe, $200 for a 50 minute session.
And so we can charge that to insurance companies.
Some people have to pay for that privately, which is not the greatest thing because it does make us a bit inaccessible for people.
But certainly the earning potential between psychiatry and psychology is vastly different.
Had I known, I might have made some slightly different choices.
But you know, you will make much more money as a psychiatrist or as a physician than you will psychologist.
That takes care of that question that I have for you.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in psychology? So I was really quite lucky in that in my grade 12 year, our my high school had a course like it was it was, you know, how you take social studies and math and all the things.
In my high school there was a course called psychology.
And I was, you know, as a student, I sort of have one of those brains that requires either urgency or interest to function at its peak.
And I was really not very invested and, you know, not really connected much at all in high school to anything.
We were kind of being taught.
Like, I was certainly doing fine, but I really, I really was kind of a bit lost.
And in that grade 12 year, I remember that course really kind of sparking some initial interest.
It was sort of the first time that I was excited to go to a class where I thought the the information that we were learning was quite interesting and quite novel.
And so going into sort of my first year of my undergraduate work, I sort of had that in the background of my mind.
But like probably many of us, I sort of entered undergrad with the intention, like, Oh, maybe I’ll do law and promptly found out that that was a discipline that requires a lot more attentiveness to detail than I might have.
And, and then for 5 minutes, I thought maybe I’ll be a political journalist.
And I very quickly decided that didn’t maybe have sort of like the level of interest that I would sort of need.
And in my first year, I really just fell in love with intro psychology.
And I sort of in my second year I decided, okay, I’m going to really see what this is.
And so I did a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and minored in sociology.
So I’m assuming that you had excellent grades in high school.
Let’s talk about how what education do you have to take to become a psychologist?
So this is actually kind of an interesting question because in the province of Alberta, so psychology is kind of like it’s own it they kind of it’s it’s a regulated profession.
So we kind of regulate ourselves.
But our jurisdictions is our kind of like provincial.
So there’s not like a national kind of like college that we have.
So every province is slightly different in terms of the level of education and training and some of your coursework that you may have to do to ultimately register as a psychologist in the province of Alberta.
So in this particular province, you need sort of a series of approved courses and certainly graduate level work at the master’s degree like you actually don’t need a Ph.D.
to register as a psychologist in this particular province.
And some of the other provinces is it is a bit different.
And when I was sort of thinking about my education, I was I counseling and clinical psychology is not initially my first love it is my second.
But perhaps my it’s my longest lasting but full working level in psychology generally does tend to be a Ph.D.
And so when I was sort of in my undergrad and I was debating between a couple of different paths in psychology, I had already decided that I probably would need a Ph.D.
So I have a Ph.D.
in psychology, but not all psychologists are going to have a Ph.D.
So what are some of the specific courses that you’re taking when you’re obtaining this psychology degree and your Ph.D.? So for like clinical and counseling and again, there are you can register as a as a psychologist with a like a counseling psychology degree as well as some other different kinds of degrees.
It might be a clinical psychology degree, things like that.
And so pretty typically you are going to have graduate level work in sort of like the biological basis of of sort of like behavior.
You are likely to have classes in personality, in assessment tools, in certainly fundamentals of counseling.
And you’re also very likely if you’re in sort of like a counseling or or a more of a applied sort of like field of psychology, you’re very likely to have also courses that require some practicum where you actually go and are under supervision and you’re kind of like working with clients and, and things like that so that you have to complete.
In our college, just the College of Alberta psychologist really reviews all applicants and their credentials and the kind of are there our governing body that registers at psychologists here.
Can you take this anywhere else if you wanted to explore and take your life into the United States, could you go travel down to the United States and set up shop as a psychologist? And I’m guessing it would probably depend on each state.
Yes. So there is I think that there are some there are some things that you can apply for, like there’s a, I believe, a qualification kind of exam that you can kind of take.
And there are some provisions, I think, for a lot of like either state or provincial jurisdictions to have a process by which you can register within their jurisdiction.
If you have registered as a psychologist in another jurisdiction.
But again, sometimes due to the fact that there might be differing standards, you might be able to kind of like register as a psychological assistant like that might be sort of a title that you might have, rather than sort of like being able to register as a full psychologist.
So there, there is capacity for mobility.
Sometimes you will also have extra exams to kind of write.
So there might be, I think, for example, if I wanted to register and practice in B.C., I would need to certainly submit an application to their college.
And I would also have to write a jurisprudence examination for full registration.
As a psychologist in a particular province.
What other professions can you look at having a major in psychology? Oh, good, a good question.
So, you know, the you and I are both Gen-Xers, so, you know, we’ve grown up at a certain time and had our undergrads probably like at a certain time and, you know, the the joke was so like, you know, in my family was, okay, so you’re going to go get this psych degree and then like you’re going to go basically like be a barista.
And that’s not true.
Okay. Like, absolutely not true.
So I think like with an undergrad in psychology, like you can do a lot of things, right? And there are lots of levels of professionals like there’s lots of different professionals that are like basically involved in helping people.
We have like addictions counselors and we might have sort of like support workers who work in group homes with like adolescents.
I know for me, when I had my undergraduate degree, one of the jobs that I had that I really loved was I’m kind of from a town in Manitoba that had a very large mental health center.
And I was lucky in that when I graduated, the hospital was in the process of really sort of like being decommissioned And so they were really shifting to community services.
And so one of the jobs that I had as an undergrad in psychology was I was an outreach worker for the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society.
And that job, it really involved doing a lot of actually direct support to people in the community who were struggling with schizophrenia.
So I got to work a lot one on one and in some groups, but I also was involved in doing a lot of public health education, going into schools, talking about some mental health issues, that sort of thing.
So there’s you can sort of branch off into many different roles, off of kind of helping.
I know that you can also kind of do work as psychonutrition where you are basically helping.
Usually it’s a psychologist administer administer tests to people that they’re using as part of their practice.
So there’s there’s many different things that you can kind of do.
You can also do an after degree in other things.
So you might have a psychology degree and sort of end up going back.
I want to see that my grade 12 teacher was probably somebody who did have a psychology degree and didn’t after degree in education then therefore sort of like brought some of that coursework and and a bit of that material into Grade 12 I love how it’s not always a straight line and all of these doors will open up for people as they go through their education and go through through life.
Yeah. Let’s talk about your practice right now.
If you could tell us a little bit about the services that you provide and what you’re doing.
So I so my day to day is very different today than it was even eight months ago.
So I, as of January, have left at post-secondary institution that I was at for over two decades.
And my lovely, fantastic colleagues, I miss them every single day just to pursue private practice full time.
So as a private practitioner, that means that I’m kind of in business for myself and which I love because I have to ask nobody for vacation time.
I can start whenever I want.
I can work as much or as little as I want, which is great.
And so in private practice, pretty typically I see about I do about five client hours every single day.
And so those client hours are where I’m working with people directly doing therapy and in any given day I might see, you know, a few individuals and I also work with, with couples.
So I’ll see a mixture of individuals and couples. And because I’m in private practice and again, I can sort of like I can sort of like narrow my practice to the things that I think I am these days, like at least decently good at and also that I really like working with.
I specialize in treating anxiety disorders as well as trauma.
And I also work with a lot of people who might be experiencing perinatal mental health concerns.
So and again, a lot of that is overlap.
A lot of people in the perinatal period have anxiety disorders or mood disorders or things like that and can also be struggling with with trauma.
So I see five clients a day for various kinds of issues, but certain only i.
I. My practice involves a lot of exposure based therapy.
I wish I met you four years ago when I spiraled out of a 20 year career and it was all due to anxiety.
I did seek help.
I think we live in a time now where people are understanding mental health issues and they’re what word am I looking for? We’re not just asked to tough it out like we have been in the past.
Did you notice an increase in how many patients were coming to you after the pandemic that we just went through? Nearly all of us have.
And I think let’s give credit where credit is due because I, I feel like Gen Z gets such a bad rap.
And the early on, my favorite humans, I feel so appreciative because I really feel like it is Gen Z that is just like leading the charge in normalizing therapy and talking about it so much more openly.
in normalizing therapy and talking about it so much more openly.
I really I just appreciate so much the just how much the stigma has has kind of dropped with that generation’s kind of experience of it, but certainly since the pandemic.
So certainly from my experience and also sort of like talking with a lot of colleagues, psychologists have kind of never been busier, unfortunately.
Like if we’re pretty busy, like, you know, people are not doing that great.
It nearly all of us are completely booked.
It’s it’s challenging sometimes to get in appointments, certainly with with the frequency that we sometimes need.
And I know especially for any therapists right now that are seeing couples, there’s been a real kind of like uptick in the need for couples therapy.
And and part of that is probably as well, like we’ve all been in really close quarters with our partners, which often has the effect of kind of turning up the volume on maybe some of the things that, you know, we’re kind of like livable.
Before you were kind of like, again, stuck in a lockdown with them.
So for sure, that has changed.
And the other really interesting thing that’s that’s happened and it’s kind of been such a surprise for nearly all of us, is that our work has fundamentally changed almost overnight with with with the pandemic pre-pandemic.
Very, very few of us would have offered any kind of psychological care that was not in person.
And I confess I and I will fully admit to being somebody who, you know, if you ask me, like, do you think you could do something like virtual therapy? I would have been like, no, I don’t know about that.
And it’s really been out of there was always sort of like certainly psychologists around the world who are doing this for various kinds of reasons.
But as as a kind of group, we were not delivering our service like that.
And really kind of overnight we were forced to kind of regroup.
And a lot of us, you know, probably pretty hesitantly went into the world of kind of like, you know, seeing people virtually.
And that has really changed for a lot of people, our accessibility.
So for people in small communities that might not have access to specialist services or anything like that, I can sort of like, you know, see them when they are sort of like maybe in a remote community as long as they have the Internet.
So it’s been kind of an interesting shift that we’ve been busier than we ever have.
But also our access has kind of changed in a little in in some ways.
So I know what’s the what’s the ceiling on Gen Z.
I want to know if. Oh good. Question.
I want to see so that.
Okay, so elder millennials are turning 40.
I want to say that it is it’s on my website.
I know like the, the bottom of it is, I think 2012, but I tend to think about Gen Z is like people in their twenties.
Okay. To you.
That may be unfair apologies to any millennials, but yeah, it’s it’s this younger generation like like our generation.
I don’t know if you would agree with this, but like, boy, oh, boy.
Like, if you were seeing a psychologist that was like like, you would not be talking about it, let alone doing a tick tock on your latest.
Yeah. No, on your latest session.
I understand that.
I’m really interested in this next question I have for you.
And you hear a lot of trauma in the work that you do.
How do you take care of your mental well-being? Oh, good question.
It’s for me.
And, you know, it’s funny that you asked me this question just because my academic research was actually around, like, what is the impact of working with trauma on therapists? And there’s a lot of things that can happen to therapists who, you know, wade around in a lot of really difficult stories and people who are really having a hard time.
And there’s a lot of things that that help many of us.
But for me, I think one of the most important things has been really kind of my connection with colleagues.
And I have been so fortunate in my career, like I think abnormally fortunate to have like colleagues that I just consider like, like, first of all, like among the best people I know, fantastic clinicians who are also friends.
And I think it’s it’s really important to kind of like have a community around you that can support you, that really knows, like some of the difficulties and sometimes how you can be haunted by some of this stuff.
And conversely, I sort of joke a lot about having civilian friends which, which, you know, just in my sort of world, civilians are kind of like people that are not in mental health.
So I, I, I have some fantastic friends that I’ve had since kindergarten who is we like to joke.
We’ve lived different lives.
We’ve just completely, you know, different career path, different life choices. And when I really value about those friendships and people again, who just have no idea sometimes when I’m like, you know, I make some kind of reference that I think is a really funny joke that like really contains enough jargon that only another psychologist is going to get big.
They’re just such touchstones, touchstones, sort of like, you know, just like, oh yeah, I got to remember, like, my, my sort of like view into the world sometimes is skewed and sometimes it’s a bit hard to kind of like, you know, remember that.
But my friends who are not in mental health are, are fantastic and I love that, you know, I am sort of like, you know, not talking about sort of like, you know, what the work day was was kind of like.
So I think having that balance is really important.
And I think, you know, it’s interesting because I was thinking about this question has like, oh, gosh, and I was thinking about like you really need sort of like some kind of philosophical stance to that you can kind of fall back on like there needs to be some kind of cognitive scaffold that helps you to kind of like show up every day and, and do the work that you do because because some of the stories that people have are stories of just unimaginable horror.
And for some people, that might be religion.
And having sort of faith and and sort of some of the ideas of religion can be really comforting.
And I think one of the really helpful things for me as as somebody who identifies as an atheist has been just the faith that I have in the treatments that we can provide right? Especially with things like PTSD.
We have empirically validated treatments that we know work that really alleviate people’s suffering.
And I have done enough work in that area for me to like.
My hope is really easily accessible because I have seen a lot of people through that process and I have a lot of hope for what is on the other side.
Even when we start in a place where people might be helpless.
So I have a lot of faith in actually sort of like some of the techniques that I do.
And I’m also kind of I’m seasoned, obscure now for all so that instead of call myself all of them, like I’m seasoned, right? But I’ve worked with people really long enough to kind of like really be quite struck by just how resilient people are.
And, and just like. How.
Like how incredible some people can be when their life circumstances have been.
Absolutely like so far beyond ideal.
It’s kind of amazing.
So I, I always have that kind of in the back of my mind that really sort of helps me.
And of course the usual suspects about like taking time off and having vacation.
And and there’s also some like research around, there’s some work related variables like having control over your schedule or, you know, how I book clients.
Like if somebody has some really heavy work to do, I might sort of like, you know, make sure I’m doing that on a day where I have other clients where it’s kind of like really different work.
So there’s some pragmatic strategies, but I think fundamentally if you were to talk to many psychologists or many sort of people that that help people who have experienced a lot of trauma, that there’s something there’s there’s kind of some fundamental ideas about people.
The world that really sort of help hold space for them is as the kind of like navigate really hard stuff with people.
That’s probably the biggest challenge in your day to day work is hearing the traumatic stories.
Are there any other challenges that that, you know, stand out to you? Stick out to you? You know, I was thinking about this cause you gave me a little primer of questions.
And, you know, I was thinking because, of course.
Yes, that that’s kind of like going to be an obvious challenge.
And again, like therapists are at risk for things like burnout and vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress.
But, you know, if I really think about my career in in kind of like a big picture.
So just across the years, what’s been the most challenging? It is actually really not the work itself.
For me, what it’s been is sort of the context in which the work occurs and I I’ve spent like, you know, the majority of my career, not in private practice with all this lovely control and, you know, like independent decision making and and things like that.
But I’ve spent, you know, a lot of time in community organizations, a little bit of time in hospitals and post-secondary institutions.
And and a lot of psychologists, we work in larger systems.
And the reality, very unfortunately, is that mental health care in this country is fundamentally underfunded at every level of government and unfortunately, that kind of trickles down into pressure on systems that are already taxed.
And so what ends up happening is a lot of tension kind of can develop or moral injury can kind of like happen when you know, you’re somebody who is called to kind of like really, you know, provide a particular kind of like just to provide care that people might need.
And unfortunately, given the very real limitations on many of these systems, you really aren’t able to do that all of the time.
Right? There is not enough resources right there for some people.
For some people it’s going to be enough.
But there’s a lot of people, particularly for people who are perhaps most in need, that are not the best served.
And that is very challenging, I think, to kind of like navigate that.
And I think part of the issue is also the nature of our work.
Gen-Z is changing this, which I appreciate, but you know, our, the work that I do with people is almost completely invisible and is so on sort of like many levels of that we would do it in.
So like our work happens privately, it’s behind a closed door.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about like what it is that is happening kind of behind that closed door, whether we’re just having a chat with somebody or if we’re just like good people to talk to, which is not really the case.
And so I think, you know, certainly all health professions right now are probably not okay given the state of things.
But I think psychology in particular is often sort of like sort of misunderstood, undervalued and overlooked just because we we don’t do our work in a very visible way.
Very few people kind of like see us doing our work due to the confidential nature of it.
Yeah, I have a specific question about a counseling session.
What nonverbal cues are you looking for when when you’re talking to a patient? Nonverbal cues.
It you know, it can kind of we’re always monitoring for like how somebody is kind of like experiencing the therapy from moment to moment.
How much monitoring and what you might monitor in a therapy session is actually quite dependent on probably the therapeutic model that you work from.
So for example, if you are an emotion focused therapist, you’re going to be very sort of, you know, attentive to emotional kinds of material that might sort of come up in a session.
So some emotion like almost all of our emotions, right? Have some facial expressions that are associated with them.
You’re going to watch for sort of like some things I, I watch for emotions a lot in couples therapy and I am watching for the good ones, but particularly attentive to the not so good ones like contempt.
Which is kind of like this, you know, you’re kind of left upper lip kind of like curls up a little bit.
So we might be attentive to those kinds of things, right? In cognitive behavioral therapy, because I work a lot with anxiety disorders, I will sort of just kind of like be attentive to kind of like the rate of like somebody’s breathing.
You can usually kind of see if it’s picking up, flushing.
There’s the I call it the anxiety rash.
All therapists know about it where somebody is talking and all of a sudden, like this blotchy rash comes up and we’re like, oh, we’re just kind of assessing for that, that activation.
But what you’re tending to non-verbally and what would be important to you really is probably going to be highly dependent on what therapy model you kind of use to help people.
Yeah, I was just looking in your into your office behind you to see if you had a box of Kleenex.
And from my experience, that was always when I’d go to counseling sessions, the absolute first thing that I would reach for would be the Kleenex box.
Because I imagine you have to give a little time in the beginning to let their emotions or let a person get composed before they start to tell you their story.
And you know, one of the things that’s so important and I make this joke quite frequently and it’s in part funny because it’s true, but that, you know, we’re kind of strangers when people, you know, first come to see us and, you know, and we’re kind of like, Oh, it’s Tuesday.
It’s like, okay, like let’s you know, sometimes it’s like, okay, let’s get into it.
Like, I spend 8 hours a day in a lot of like pretty deep conversation.
But like, I think one of the things to know, you know, if you’re thinking about, you know, going in for therapy is that goodness of fit that you have with your mental health professional is like so critical.
And I absolutely will admit to doing far more research and investigation into hair stylist than I ever have to into like any psychologist I’ve ever see.
Like, so, you know, sort of like for clients that kind of like easing into things is actually like really important.
And sometimes like, you know, when you get connected with somebody that maybe your friend saw that had a great connection and it won’t be a good connection, you know, for you, in which case it’s really kind of important to kind of like maybe go like, I’m not really sure that we’re a great fit in to maybe try somebody else.
Yeah, I was going to ask you that happens, right? If if it’s not a good fit, you find someone.
And I find that again, as kind of therapy is more normalized and there’s more conversation about it.
I hear far less these days about, you know, prior experiences in therapy where, you know, I just really hear about like it was not helpful.
But in part because we kind of really it wasn’t it just wasn’t a great connection and I didn’t think I could change.
Yeah, I used to hear a lot of that.
And you know what? Probably over the past decade I’ve really heard sort of like some new awareness about like, oh, what’s really important.
And, you know, I’ve interviewed or I’m kind of like just having a session with you just to see about our connection, which I really think is great.
You touched on it.
Misconceptions about psychologists.
Is there anything you’d like to dispel and explain to our listeners? Maybe something isn’t true that people believe.
Something isn’t true.
Oh, there’s a lot of jokes about us being sort of like among the most neurotic, which I would argue, and those are a bit funny.
They’re a bit true.
But I do think this so and I again, I think it’s fueled because of the private nature of our work, like people like when’s the last time you might have seen, like, you know, a therapy session, right? That’s maybe more accurately on TV.
Like, we’re always depicted in these weird kind of ways in TV very few times.
Are we depicted with any kind of like I’m like, Oh, that’s actually a decent depiction.
But I do think that there is kind of this myth that, you know, coming to talk to a psychologist is kind of like just like basically just come in to talk to a friend and that, you know, what happens behind the closed door is just kind of like a conversation that you kind of have.
And again there’s nothing necessarily special about that conversation.
And I think that I think that a lot of people would be surprised.
I think a lot of people are surprised sometimes about the level of education, training and also continued training that happens throughout one’s career that you need to do to kind of like really sort of like, you know, stay up on best practices, clinical research, all that kind of stuff.
I think a lot of people would be surprised at, you know, sort of the the depth of knowledge and skill that that person is kind of bringing with them.
And some of us are warm and friendly, like not not everybody, not all psychologists are like super extroverted and really warm and friendly.
And that’s totally okay.
But it’s but all of us in, in a therapeutic session or setting are using our total ourselves to kind of create a therapeutic relationship with somebody in order to kind of like facilitate change.
And I think that a lot of people don’t fully kind of understand, sort of like what like all the education, the training and the intention that is behind that.
So it’s not like coming to talk to friends.
You don’t need to pay me $200 if if you just need to talk to over like nope.
And also we’re kind of a profession that really does have the most kind of like advanced training, knowledge and skills in the provision of psychotherapy.
So there are there are kind of professions that will kind of offer counseling, which is not a restricted term, I don’t believe.
But we’re kind of the profession that is going to have sort of like advanced level training in providing psychotherapy.
I hate calling these failures, but have you experienced we’ll call it a mistake.
Have you experienced a mistake? And what did you learn from it? And how did you how did your daily intuition. Oh.
If you say daily. Yeah.
So I it’s funny that you say I hate calling this a failure.
I’m like, no, it’s delicious, delicious, delicious.
I love some of the work by Angela Duckworth, who does a lot of work around grit and one of the like.
I always sort of say this to people, I’m like, when is the last time that you heard, you know, somebody on an interview and some interviewer is going like, tell me about a time that you learned the most and that person responds with It was a Tuesday, 1985, and everything came up roses.
Like it’s like, you know, so failure I love failure I, I encourage people to fail with some regularity and sometimes spectacularly okay.
And it’s, it’s something that’s totally unavoidable, right? Like it’s we cannot walk through our lives or walk through any job with perfection, like It’s just not a thing.
And I think sort of like recognizing that and embracing that really puts you in a beautiful position just to learn, right? Like and I think, you know, and I often find myself kind of talking with clients about this because a lot of us have this kind of orientation, myself included.
I got to catch myself as well.
But to kind of like really get critical with ourselves when we fail.
And when you get critical, you really miss out on the curiosity.
That is the alternative.
And the curiosity is stuff like, Oh, that went terribly.
What’s, what are we going to do next time? And I’m very fortunate in that I have one like little superpower which has proved so valuable to me, which is if I can find it funny, it’s like totally fair game.
I like and oftentimes like I therapist where I’m like, like my failures are like, not like, oh, that was like a small slip.
It’s, it’s, it’s like the burning basket into hell.
But you’re an atheist.
There’s like a fair enough. Fair enough.
It’s it’s sort of like it’s it’s it’s it’s often sort of a bit spectacular.
And I find it really easy to kind of, like, laugh at myself.
And I’m like, you know, like, like it’s not like it’s not like I think, you know, when people go like, oh, a really good psychologist, they think that all we’re having is like these good will hunting moments, like every session, you know, just like, oh, like hugs and high fives.
It’s like we are people.
It is not. We make mistakes.
We might I might forget a person’s partner’s name.
Like, I’d be like, oh, gosh.
And like, I’ll be like and you know, mentally I’ll be like, okay, wait.
Is this this story or are we just this other story? And you know what? It’s great modeling, right, for me to go like, okay, I think I’ve made a mistake here, right? Like and to model that with my clients, I’m like, Ooh, I think I might have like zigged when I should have say it right? And to kind of normalize.
I love mistakes when things have gone sideways.
And I think you just touched on something.
It’s very important to admit when you make a mistake and I think you run into many problems in life when you don’t admit your mistake and try to sneak past it.
What do you love about being a psychologist coming in? So many things.
I love many, many, many things. But I love, of course, anybody in a helping profession, of course, is going to give you a version of this, which is it legitimately is incredibly rewarding and meaningful to really sort of like be with people in sometimes like their worst or most vulnerable or most difficult times in their life and kind of like really bear witness to that process, provide assistance to them in that process and sort of like be a part of their healing incredibly meaningful.
There’s there’s no doubt about that.
But if I think about like, you know, what I specifically love about this job, there’s some other things that that might be a bit less obvious about what I do.
And I’ve been doing it a long time.
And like, I just was kind of thinking, I’m like, you know, the great news is that as long as my brain is okay.
Like literally the only thing that probably and my ears would probably a little bit of eye sight, but as long as all that kind of okay, everything from the neck up is fine.
I can work for as long as I want and I’m like, Oh, I might do that.
I might be sort of like, you know, hanging around at 90 just like taking a couple of clients.
So the first thing that I really love about it is and I mentioned this to you before, kind of like off camera, I’m a complete nerd and I wear that title with pride and part of what I think about sort of is being a nerd is like we’re just like people that always are interested in learning.
Like, I probably would have a Ph.D.
in something else every time I watch Nova or like, I don’t know, David Attenborough is like dinosaur problem.
So I’m like, hang out.
Maybe Maybe I would go back to school if I won the lottery and do that.
I think that seems really interesting.
So this job requires you really to be a lifelong learner, and I love that.
And at any given time, whether it’s been at the beginning, at the middle or I guess the winter now as I enter my fifties, half of my career, I I’ve always had kind of something that’s a bit new to me that I’m kind of working on developing competency in.
And that’s, that’s not necessarily something that’s comfortable for everybody.
Some people really like kind of like just like kind of like learning something, really having competency in it that just like stays constant.
And, and I think for a lot of psychologists, we’re kind of people, you know, people are very complex, right.
And research is always happening about how we can help people better and what treatments go with what and what we know about certain clinical disorders.
So there’s kind of always this sort of like if here’s what we know now, but that could kind of change.
And you can always sort of like be learning about something or getting better at it.
So I kind of love that there’s not really an end to the learning, which is great.
And I also really love how this work challenges me to think.
And I think one of the things it’s also a bit of a myth is that, you know, to be a good psychologist, you have to, you know, like helping people.
Of course, that’s important, of course.
But you also have to be a really strong thinker.
And, you know, this job every single hour, every day will challenge my brain to really sort of like think quite scientifically.
I am constantly in a process of kind of like really conceptual izing, something I’m tracking sort of where are we in this process? And my client and I are kind of collecting data on things and we’re kind of like really sort of collaborating to see we’re kind of playing detectives together a lot of the time just to see if we are on the right track.
And I kind of like love that I am constantly kind of tested to maybe reconsider what I’m thinking.
Change when I’m thinking, get creative with how I might think about something.
So I absolutely love, love, love, love, love that.
And I like the diversity this job has really provided.
So again, right now I primarily do therapy, but you know, in other stages of my career I’ve done a bit of teaching and I have done supervision as well as just some, even some preventative kind of care.
So the diversity has been great.
And as I again into my old age, my fully seasoned age, I also appreciate that it’s kind of a career.
It really kind of like these days is really got a lot more flexibility.
I could in theory, I could be in a villa in Italy for like several months of the year and still work.
Which is again something that has kind of just been a recent option.
So I really like kind of the flexibility.
As you know, I age or my life circumstance has changed that I have a lot of control over, you know, how much I would work and how like how that work kind of occurs.
I think I can answer my next question with what you just said, but maybe you can summarize.
If you were speaking to my daughter, who’s in grade 12, what would you say to her? Why should she pursue a career to become a psychologist? Well, I think my advice might be a little bit different.
I think, you know, my advice always to for like, you know, kids in grade 12 or even first year university is is to not narrow too quickly actually is to kind of you know really I kind of love still that idea about you know like a general arts degree and how you have electives and stuff that you’re like, why would I take that? And then you take it and you go, Oh gosh, that’s far more interesting than I would have thought.
And I think like in generally the career advice is to to really lean into the discomfort of how daunting it is.
You know, when you go from grade 12 and, you know, into those first year years of university to figure out what you want to do, it is not a comfortable process.
It is developmental at a time where it’s actually normal for people to be really kind of struggling with like, I don’t know what and that’s okay.
And I sort of tell people like, you know what? That that discomfort has a lot of value.
It feels messy, it feels over like confusing, it feels overwhelming.
And I always sort of advise people like really kind of embrace that.
That’s that’s what it looks like.
And if you can kind of like not panic and like choose something just like, okay, I’m going to decide this is sometimes that ends you, you know, end up with like, you know, a degree where, you know, on your graduation you come into my office and you’re like, I’ve made a huge mistake.
And I’m like, okay, let’s kind of help you through this.
But, but I really sort of encourage people to value the discomfort of the process.
It many of us go through it and oftentimes it’s not a process that can be avoided.
So I often think about it’s pay now, pay later.
Right. And, and we’re we’re all comfortable making some of those decisions.
Right? So don’t make it too hastily be open to some things.
And I think that if you’re if, let’s say your target for sure, this is the path I’m going to.
What’s your advice? I would certainly say something along those lines, which is, you know, your training experiences really matter.
And I would encourage anybody thinking about, you know, becoming like a psychologist, particularly, I think, a counseling psychologist or a clinical psychologist to, you know, get into the best educational program that you can get, the best supervision you can, and and also get the best colleagues that you can, like surround yourself with with people who are better than you.
And I think there’s that I am not really a sports person, but I understand that there is little saying in sports like, you know, when you play when you play with people who are better than you, you raise your game.
And I think that that is particularly true when when you’re talking about sort of like clinical skills and things like that.
So that would kind of be my advice to them.
You are completely as advertised.
I loved talking to you.
It was a great pleasure.
Congratulations on picking a career that will always be in demand.
And thank you for taking time to talk to us today.
Thank you for having me.
It’s been a delight.
Thank you for tuning in to The Job Talk Podcast.
For more information, please visit us at thejobtalk.com Our podcast music was created by our friend Mike Malone in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.