On being a Psychologist
Thoughts on day to day practice as a Psychologist
There are many sentences and cliches you hear over and over when it comes to be a Psychologist. Oh so you can read minds then! Oh I better be careful what I say around you! Are you analysing me now? So tell me what type of person am I? Or sometimes its just a strange look that you receive as someone then quietly sneaks away. Despite the commonality of these reactions none of those reflections even come close to capturing the essence of the day to day experience of a being Psychologist.
People will often look at you in wonder and ask but how do you manage to listen to people’s problems all day? Don't you find it depressing? Do you go home and worry about people at night? The truth is that being a Psychologist is a truly unique and privileged position to be in. Yes I listen to people’s problems and granted sometimes it is challenging to hear so much emotional pain. But and the same time I am also being granted access to people’s innermost thoughts, feelings, desires and experiences. I get to hear that internal talk inside someone's mind that usually only speaks within. I am granted a truly special space of being able to hear an individual’s deepest, unguarded thoughts that often they have released to no one before and possibly no one again. That is something that I hold with the greatest respect to be granted such access.
As a Psychologist, I seek to provide a safe place to release inner pain, express fear, hurt, anger and all those emotions which in a normal day to day experience people feel they must hold inside. Often I'm lucky enough to see someone's new awareness develop that can come with such release. To see recognition and deep acknowledgment in someone’s eyes when they experience a life changing thought. To see the moment that a thought strikes them to the core of their inner being and tears immediately begin to pour. To watch the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis.
There is a profound pleasure in watching people achieve change. To progress through the depths of their misery to find contentment or to see the anxious individual achieve calm or the fighting couple who can then smile and laugh with each other. The moment when the anger finally subsides and someone can then resurface to start undertake positive actions to achieve what they actually want in their life. These are special moments that a Psychologist can share whilst supporting people as they move through their unique journey of life.
I recall a lovely woman in her 70’s a few years ago, who at the conclusion of her therapy shared with me that she was the happiest she had ever been in her life. Imagine after 70 years and I was fortunate enough to see that emerge in her. It is those moments that stay in your heart and mind, not the discussion of all the heartache in between.
The art of therapy is such that it allows you to connect and build a therapeutic relationship with someone in a way that is rare and unique. To be able to listen in a space that you hear everyone’s life stories, their joys, their secrets, their losses and allow their tears to flow with no bias or judgement. This is a truly amazing experience as it allows all of the normal social boundaries and expectations to be removed. It becomes simply a place of comfort and support. It provides a space that at times people have nothing of the like elsewhere.
So as a Psychologist can I read people’s minds? no I can’t. But am I fortunate enough to be able to provide life changing experiences for people, yes absolutely. Yes my empathy allows me to share people's pain and undoubtedly that will resonate with me at different times. But I believe it is crucial to be able to offer and connect with emotion in order to allow others compassion and healing. Undoubtedly it also serves to broaden my knowledge of the human emotional experience. It all becomes part of the amazing journey of witnessing change. I’m passionate about making a difference in this world. Being a Psychologist helps me to do that one person at a time and I wouldn't have it any other way.