For the Commitment-Phobe

When you make the decision to attend a doctoral program you are embarking on a major commitment. It can be daunting; you are choosing to dedicate a part of your life to a career,  deciding to take out an extensive amount of loan money, thinking about possibly relocating, and on and on…

I completely understand. Making the decision to enter a Psy.D program was something that I struggled with.  I had entered college knowing I wanted to be a psychologist one day, and in the beginning of my junior year, I took a step back to make sure the choice I made was the right one for me. I divided this post into 3 sections in case you are 1) unsure if this is the field/route for you 2) if you’re 100% gung-ho or 3) if you want a career that involves a little bit of everything, and how to get that within this field.

If You’re Debating If Psychology Is For You…

For a while, I had thought about getting my MFA in Creative Writing, or a higher degree in English Lit. I came to the conclusion that although I love fiction writing, I don’t need another degree to write. I love reading, but I didn’t want to focus on it for x amount of years. I also have an interest in history, but also ruled out this as a career for a number of reasons.  Psychology ( of fiction characters/ characters in books/people in history) was also a common denominator in all of these areas.

My biggest influence when I decided to not go the MFA route was an internship I had when I studied abroad in London. I interned at a small publishing house and spent hours reading manuscripts, as well as writing up reader’s reports. Although I enjoyed it, it was extremely isolating and I knew then that psychology was a profession I saw myself in long-term. I have spoken to other students in MSPP’s program, and I know that many people have similar interests outside of psychology and are dynamic, fun people.

Throughout my “journey” to getting a Psy.D., I didn’t doubt that I wanted to be a therapist. I just knew that dedicating these next years to this degree would mean slowing down my involvement in other interests, and this idea made me a bit sad at first. I think having these doubts are natural, and even necessary. It can be a good idea to “shop around” when it comes to careers. Volunteer, intern, whatever it takes.

Or, you can do as I did, and check out master’s programs. My 2 year program made me realize that I definitely wanted to learn more about psychology, was eager to continue the internship experience and was excited to continue seeing clients.

If You’re 100% Committed

If you decide, or have already decided that psychology is the field for you, then welcome!  Perhaps you’ve always thought this was the career for you since as long as you can remember, or maybe you realized you loved psychology when you took your first psychology course in college. Whatever gripped you, good luck pursuing this passion of yours. Checking out the MSPP blog is a great way to learn about what you can do to prepare for the admission process.

If You Want a Career That Offers a Little Bit of Everything…

…Then psychology is a fantastic option. The beauty of this field is that it offers a taste of everything and can offer opportunities as you develop as an individual. For example,  you may find yourself wanting to work with children if you have children, families if you are starting one, couples counseling if you’re in a couple, etc. Of course, you may want to work with these populations if you are not a part of that specific group, which is great. Psychology is also a science, and involves research, which involves numbers, and if you enjoy math there is definitely the opportunity to take classes in Statistics and Research. I also discovered that courses such as Psychoanalysis and Literature exist ( at colleges). This is a course that combines talking about, well, psychoanalysis in different works of literature. The course History and Systems is taught at MSPP, which I’ve heard is great. Cool! Two courses I would love to teach down the line. It’s nice to know that I can combine everything I’m into in this one fantastic field! Clients by day, teaching by night, fun on the weekends and writing by…well, I’ll find time!

Revisiting the Idea of Moving from Out of State…

I went to Philly this past weekend to visit friends and family, and had such a great time. It was nice to take a break from everything and reconnect with close friends. We went apple picking and then out Saturday night. Although had an awesome time, I also felt that Boston is becoming my new home, I am building a life here, and that thought became very real over the past weekend. It was a bit scary, but also exciting. On my way back to Boston it was clear that making the decision to leave my comfortable life in Philly was a bigger deal than I originally anticipated, and I was glad to have taken the leap to follow my aspirations.

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3 Responses to For the Commitment-Phobe

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  2. Hi TJ,
    Thanks so much for your response. It’s always exciting to me to hear from people who are able to pursue a number of interests, and it’s also an inspiration! Best of luck with your writing. If you feel comfortable posting it up here, I’d love to know the name of one of your novels so I can check it out. I will continue to enjoy MSPP while I’m still here!

  3. TJ says:

    Hey Jennifer,

    Nice post. I’d like to let you know that as an MSPP alum that there is indeed a way to integrate your interests post grad school. I’m in the middle of my third book (novel) and have found my work as a psychologist has offered me a unique insight into people and the world of ideas, that gets expressed quite naturally in my writing. You can have it all ;-}
    best of luck, MSPP is such a great place, enjoy it while you’re there, it goes by quickly.

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