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Being a therapist


IrmaJean
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I'm not sure this fits anywhere here, but my entire experience in therapy has made me realize that I really would have loved being a therapist myself. It's kind of weird figuring out now so late in life what I should have done 20 years ago. I've always been interested in psychology and human behavior. I also very much enjoy helping others. Going to therapy has really "fed the fire", so to speak. I'm really fascinated and feel as if my eyes have been opened to so many things they hadn't seen before. I feel energized in some new and exciting way. Unfortunately, I'm not 18 and just out of high school. Back then I never would have had the self-confidence to have even considered it. Maybe I can read a lot of books...or offer an encouraging word to others online here and there. I've tried reading about schooling, but it is very confusing. I guess I'll just never say never. I'd have to wait until my kids were a bit older anyhow. I see now that my husband uses anger as a defense mechanism to mask other feelings. And that my friend keeps herself at a distance to avoid feelings she'd rather not deal with. I wonder how one turns off the analyzing after leaving therapy?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi IrmaJean,

If there is one thing I have learned in this life it is that it is never too late. You can become anything you want regardless of your age or circumstances. I know countless numbers of people who returned to school late in life to become medical doctors, lawyers, nurses and etc. All you need is the will and a powerful enough wish.

In fact, Irma, I know someone who just finished her nursing degree to become a Registered Nurse. She is 65 years old. One of my psychotherapy patients prior to my retirement, went back to school at age 45 and became a medical doctor. I have many other stories, too, and they are all true and they are all people I know or have known. The most amazing is of a psychiatrist I worked with in a hospital about 15 years ago. He was 75 and he was beginning his very first year as a full fledged psychiatrist (MD). He want back to school at age 65.

Irma, if you want it you can do it.

Allan :)

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Thanks for the encouraging words. I feel like spreading the good and trying to do something positive. I feel empowered by my experience in therapy. Even if it was just for a few years or with just a few people. I'll keep my options open, even though I'm 40, lol. I'll do some more research on the possibilities. :)

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Actually, interacting with people on here has given me the same idea, and I'm 47 already, and my only career so far has been working with computers!

But that's a job (that I do enjoy, at the best of times), whereas helping people has an entirely different reward system.

No one has ever thanked me for programming something. ;-)

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Some stories that might encourage you:

1) My grandfather received his PhD and Th.D at age 68,

2) A gentleman in my doc and post doc program started with me at age 72 as a freshman undergrad. He finished his PhD. in his 80's.

3) My wife, who has been practicing law for >20 years, is now just enrolled in an MSW program (she's 49) and will stop her practice to become a therapist.

Buena Suerte (Good Luck!)

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  • 4 months later...

I'm wondering how any of you feel about online schooling. My former therapist suggested maybe I could start that way for the time being. Something I hadn't considered, but might be worth considering. Otherwise, I'd probably have to wait at least 5 years. I'd be closing in on 50 by then. The pull is so strong. I'm not sure how to keep it down. The odd thing being that I do really love the job I have now. I don't feel unhappy or unfulfilled there. It just doesn't feel like my life's work.

I'm 41 now Jetliner. :( Old post.

I wanted to add that I do think you'd have to work through most of your own difficulties before you can help another with theirs. You'd want to keep your own "stuff" out of the way as much as possible. That alone would be a major challenge. One would want to try to maintain neutrality without injecting one's own opinions and rather help others to find what works best for them and meets their needs. Tricky. The biggest difficulty for me would likely be becoming too attached. I'd have to work on that a lot, I imagine. Even on here there have been folks who have evoked some pretty strong feelings from me.

Edited by IrmaJean
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Hi IrmaJean,

On line schooling is a brill way of learning in your free time, and you can still keep up with your work commitments. There are various councelling and therapy courses available on line. I had a look at them myself earlier on in the year. Coz I wanted to do something of a night time whilst my kids were sleeping. :)

I'd say if its something that your heart is pulling you towards, go for it :D

You've got nothing to loose, and everything to gain. :)

Just make sure of the qualifications you gain and do the regular checks to make sure it is a reputable company/ college

Oh and one other thing...........

Good Luck Beth :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm wondering how any of you feel about online schooling. It's very much the norm and often just as good if not better than being in a classroom. the work can be Quiet intense. 10 years ago it was not as accepted, but now it is very widespread.

My former therapist suggested maybe I could start that way for the time being. Something I hadn't considered, but might be worth considering. Otherwise, I'd probably have to wait at least 5 years. I'd be closing in on 50 by then. The pull is so strong. I'm not sure how to keep it down. The odd thing being that I do really love the job I have now. I don't feel unhappy or unfulfilled there. It just doesn't feel like my life's work. I feel very "called" to do this as I was do do mission work years ago. As a group of about 40, we traveled every summer to some remote part of the globe to build clinics, homes and churches. We also would go int to devastated areas. I was initially and electrical engineer and thru a very complicated and lengthy process, ended up doing this and have loved every second of it.

I'm 41 now Jetliner. :( Old post. Ay dios... you are so young!

I wanted to add that I do think you'd have to work through most of your own difficulties before you can help another with theirs. Actually, this I think is a misnomer.. if this was true we'd have very few psychiatrists, psychologists and other clinicians practicing. The key is not that you will have worked thru your stuff, but that you can use your stuff to better understand others and that it makes you more human, compassionate, wise, soulful and intuitive. No one wants to be treated by a sterile clinician or one who is psychologically so hygenic that they are like a neutered creature. My view is that we must protect and guard our symptoms and pains... they are the raw material and life blood of our soul and the place from which we all must craft a life. Not that we seek perfection, but that we are always in the process of evolving and growing.

You'd want to keep your own "stuff" out of the way as much as possible. Yes, only if it interferes in any way, but not if it makes you more effective.

That alone would be a major challenge. One learns over time how to manage this, if they are mature and open to seeing this side of themselves.

One would want to try to maintain neutrality without injecting one's own opinions and rather help others to find what works best for them and meets their needs. Better said than done. The books speak of an objective neutrality but I've known very few clinicians who can and do look for this in themselves or others. Neutrality is where sterile therapy comes from... there truly is no such thing. I think, however, that you can find this neutrality sometimes at the extreme parts of the profession, such as someone who practices using applied behavior analysis only, or classic psychoanalysis.

Tricky. The biggest difficulty for me would likely be becoming too attached. I struggle with this and I think it's b/c of the population I serve (severe mentally ill who are medically indigent and also mostly minorities). I think the trick is to not take it home with you. This you'll learn quickly.

I'd have to work on that a lot, I imagine. Even on here there have been folks who have evoked some pretty strong feelings from me. Me also! Especially those who are my childrens' ages and who have parents who refuse to understand them. I also am pained by those who S/I or whose illness is incapacitating.

Irmajean, there is no reason not to do consider this. I've seen what you write to others and like some folks here, you have an innate knack for this.

Good luck and I hope this helps

David

Edited by David O
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Thanks so much for replying, David. I am really really thinking about this. It feels like who I am and who I've always been... but I just never knew it before now. I was much too fearful and lacked self-confidence in the past so never considered it. I think my own therapy really stirred and awakened some part of me. It's as if some new aspect of my mind has been unlocked. That's pretty exciting for someone my age! It's two-fold for me because I have always had a strong desire to help others, but I am also very fascinated with psychology itself. And I love to watch the unfolding of someone's life story and then discovering with them the hidden pieces of their puzzle. It's very powerful and humbling. There's no question about it now. This is me. The desire is very strong. I think I have to try. I have been researching online schools so we'll see. :)

Actually, this I think is a misnomer.. if this was true we'd have very few psychiatrists, psychologists and other clinicians practicing. The key is not that you will have worked thru your stuff, but that you can use your stuff to better understand others and that it makes you more human, compassionate, wise, soulful and intuitive. No one wants to be treated by a sterile clinician or one who is psychologically so hygenic that they are like a neutered creature. My view is that we must protect and guard our symptoms and pains... they are the raw material and life blood of our soul and the place from which we all must craft a life. Not that we seek perfection, but that we are always in the process of evolving and growing.

I really like that description of protecting and guarding our symptoms and pains. That makes me feel better about things because I know I still have plenty of those. :rolleyes: The key then would be to be aware of oneself in the room. The last thing I'd ever want to be is sterile. I don't think there is really much need to be concerned about that, though. I'm an emotional person who is deeply affected by the pain of others.

I get what you mean about "stuff" possibly making one more effective. I know where my weaknesses are and I would have to stay on top of that and stay aware of myself.

I've talked with my husband and he was very supportive about my pursuing this. Maybe in the spring. I'm hopeful.

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  • 3 months later...

So I've been trying to put together this degree plan for going back to school. I start in May. :) My heart is in helping others and in wanting to counsel in some way, shape or form, but my passion in this field is definitely Psychology. This is where all of the self-tests have taken me. Unfortunately, I'm 41 for starters. Secondly, there is all of this technical math involved...Statistics and whatnot. And then, in order to even take Statistics, I must take Calculus first. This doesn't bode very well for me. :) I already have an associates degree, so I'm halfway to a bachelor's degree, but this will take about 4 years in order for us to be able to afford it. I have to hope that I'm much more intelligent mathematically than I was 20 years ago so I can have the 5% chance of getting into graduate school where all of the interesting Psychology classes...and likely my intelligence...would be. If all of this miraculously works out, I might be there by the time I'm 50. I have to try, though.

Anyone out there ever taken Statistics?

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Good morning Irmajean,

Here's my story of pain and woe with the numbers game... I have 36 graduate hours in research design and statistical analysis (for 5 years of post doc study, the PhD and the Masters), plus 18 hours undergrad in stats (that's 54 hours).

In addition, as a former engineer, I have >90 hours in calculus, applied and discrete mathematics, topology, physics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, bio-engineering and who knows what else with strange symbols such as ∑∫ƒ∕ in some long-winded formula that now is all Greek to me!

So back to my initial post, which should spur you on:

Some stories that might encourage you:

1) My "grandfather" received his PhD and Th.D at age 68,

2) A gentleman in my doc and post doc program started with me at age 72 as a freshman undergrad. He finished his PhD in his 80's.

3) My wife, who has been practicing law for >20 years, is now just enrolled in an MSW program (she's 49) and will stop her practice to become a therapist.

So, Irmajean, if a little ole Hispanic with limited English can do this, what would keep a bright young chica such as yourself from accomplishing the same.

Incidentally, choose carefully, a masters in psych will get you little more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, you now need a PhD in almsot all if not all states, to practice; whereas, an MSW or masters in counseling will allow you to practice once you're licensed. In addition, insurance companies are often more prone to pay for a masters level clinician than a PhD level one-- they're less expensive and the outcomes are often the same if not better.

THE COCONUT IS HARD TO BREAK ONLY TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT HUNGRY!

Good luck chica linda,

David

Edited by David O
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Congratulations on setting your goal, now stick to it and get to helping people. Just from reading here I feel quite sure this is what you are meant to do. :)

I am inspired by this thread! Since this all happened to me and my husband (his cheating with prostitutes and us staying together and determined to make our marriage better than ever before) I have seriously thought about finishing my bachelor's (I have one class but screwed up my student loans so have to pay out of pocket now) in Marketing and Communications and then finding out how to move on to some degree that will allow me to practice relationship therapy. There are so few within 50 miles of me and I can see now how important this field can be to help people.

If you all think I'm strange already, this will put your mind at ease that you were completely right..lol. I am a paranormal investigator (have been for 20+ years, since waaaay before it was cool). I went on an investigation with a group in Gettysburg last year and one of the women in the group was a psychic, who gave a presentation after the hunt. After it was all over, she looked for me in the parking lot and wanted to talk to me, because she sensed my psychic energies. Now, I've never claimed to be a psychic or anything more than perhaps an empath, but she came looking for me so I stopped to hear what she had to say. She asked me to place my hands on top of hers for a minute. When she was done she asked me how often I get sick. I said almost never, and if I feel like I'm about to get sick I seem to be able to tell myself that it's not a good time to be sick and it goes away. She then proceeded to tell me that I am a psychic healer and, with practice, could do this for others - heal them or keep them from getting sick. I'm not sure I believe her completely, but everything else she told me about myself was right on. At any rate, I've been seriously considering the pursuit of some type of energy healing training and possibly career, and if I could use that to help couples save their relationships that would be awesome! My mother has always told me that I need to be in some kind of social work job because I've always cared more about helping people in trouble than I did even about myself, but unfortunately I never really listened to what my parents told me back when it counted.

I'm 44 years old and was in a horrible auto accident two months ago, which has effectively ended my career in retail management. The docs have told me that I need to find something to do that puts less stress on my body. Maybe now is the perfect opportunity to start something new and rewarding, even though I may be too old to practice by the time I'm done..lol. Irma Jean, you have inspired me, as have everyone here who's given her the encouragement to pursue her dreams regardless of age. Thank you all... and good luck Irma!

Hey, I'm in OH - CT is only a few (9'ish) hours commute! :)

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Thanks for the encouragement. My former therapist is a clinical psychologist Psyd with a MA and he has his own practice here in my home state. Hopefully he doesn't mind my talking about him here. I've read that becoming a Pysd doesn't require as much research/statistics/math as becoming a Phd would. I've also been told that pursuing a MSW would be an easier route to becoming a counselor, as you have suggested David, but I am still torn about this. Psychology is such a passion for me. I've always been interested in it, but the whole therapy experience enlightened my mind in a very big way. I was in the middle of this strong transference reaction to my therapist and in the midst of some of the difficult ensuing emotions, some part of me was thinking how incredibly fascinating and cool it was too. In discovering the meaning of all of that and how it tied so much with my past and who I am as a person...my mind just took off after that. The insights started pouring in and they have been everywhere. Things are suddenly clearer...not just with myself, but with others as well. My H and I had a disagreement once and several hours later I very suddenly understood (after 20 years of marriage) why this stuff sometimes happens between us. His behaviors also made more sense. The light switch went on, so to speak.

Anyway, when I consider such courses in education as existential psychology, psychoanalysis or evolutionary psychology, my mind just lights up. I'd really love to dig into this stuff. So, yes, I'd love to go the whole route with this and become a psychologist...that is what I truly want. The stuff excites me, as weird as that may be. That's where my brains have been hiding for the better part of 40 years behind all of my fears and self-doubts. It isn't about money, though. I don't care about money, beyond what is necessary for the basics of making ends meet and taking care of my family. I don't care much about having possessions or fancy things anyhow. (Well, except maybe my laptop :)) I'd be doing it because it would be very meaningful for me to be doing it. I'd be doing it because I want a more caring world, a world with less pain or, at the very least, a world where we try to help one another whenever possible. My heart tells me to go for what I want so I can attempt to help others in the way that I am most capable of. My mind thinks I may fail if I attempt it this way, but my heart tells me I have to try. My heart always leads the way anyhow. Sometimes it comes back to bite me in the end, but this is who I am. The age thing, however, is a downer. If I were to analyze myself, though, I'd realize that my age is a downer simply because I regret having let this time pass without acting and not because I'm too old to try.

This has been very helpful then. Thanks to both of you. Mrs. Wife, I think you should also pursue your dreams. Let's go for it. :)

Calculus and Statistics....:confused: I will do my best. I'm hungry enough to break the coconut... or at least to give it my best shot. Wow. That was long-winded. Thanks.

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IrmaJean:

You probably know of the concept of the 'Wounded Healer' but just in case someone else doesn't:

"The Catholic spiritual writer Henri Nouwen first developed the idea of the wounded healer and argued the need for all ‘people workers’ to recognise how their own experiences of abuse and pain can contribute towards a greater awareness of the needs of other people (Nouwen, 1977)."

David O is a splendid example of a wounded healer. And you're an inspiration in yourself, David! I'll never get to see you in therapy, but in hearing your story and your responses to others, I'm benefiting enormously. You're proof that overcoming is possible and that means a lot for my own path.

And you'd be a 'wounded healer too", IrmaJean. :(

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Good morning Señora Irmajean,

You're right, the PsyD requires almost no hours in stats and research design and analysis... if I recall, I think the max was 6, which is minimal (and the program lessens your time in school). You may also not need to do a dissertation (I can't recall that one for sure), which also reduces your time by 1-2 years.

For many years the PhD's snubbed their noses at the PsyD's (not me tho-- I'm rather saintly:rolleyes:), seeing them as the inferior clinician and scientist, but that is no more. Early on it was considered a paper degree with little real clinical value; however, it is now highly respected and equivalent to the PhD outside of academia... but that too is quickly changing. PsyD programs are everywhere and many are exceptional training sites. The difference between the programs is now only in stats hours and dissertation requirements, other than that, they're near identical as the American Psychological Association has set standards for graduation before a program is accredited. Be sure and look for this before you enter a program (accreditation from the APA) and before you accept an internship, as this may prevent you from getting licensed.

Admission to a program is extremely competitive, 10X more than for med students or law students. On average, there may be 30-125 applicants for every open slot; whereas for med students 3-5 for every open slot. For law school the numbers are even lower as congress has recently asked the American Bar Association to stop building new Law schools or expanding and has asked universities to consider greatly expanding med schools since there are too few MD's, especially family docs!

In terms of pay for a PsyD or PhD, it varies, at the low end around $60-70K and at the higher end at around 120-160K-- this is all based on hustle and more hustle. Incidentally, one of my partners makes >$1,000,000 per year since he owns a large practice. But as you know, it ain't about money (although that's important)-- it's about feeling, knowing or believing one is called to a higher purpose-- one greater than them-self.

Irmajean-- way to go chica!!!!!

David

PS: Luna, thanks so much for the compliment... it means a lot to me.

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Thanks, David. I very much appreciate all of the information you've given me here.

A wise friend of mine once told me that those who had made positive changes in their own lives were the most capable of helping others. I also believe that it would be wise to consider that none of us are immune to the challenges that life brings. All letters aside, I believe a good therapist helps a client learn how to best help themselves.

This does feel very much like a calling which won't be denied. When I wrote my former therapist last year and told him I never knew this part of me had even existed until just then, he told me that he had always known it existed. This was very eye-opening. Awareness of the self is so vital in life.

I have found a local college that has a PsyD program with a 10% chance of being admitted to their program. I must practice learning to believe in myself. Anyhow, this would be a long way away. One step at a time. One class at a time. Should be interesting.

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Well, if it helps you believe in yourself a bit more, Beth, you're probably the most empathic person I've ever met. To me, that'll help more than all the math you might ever learn. And I volunteer myself to help you with the calculus and stats, if David's too old to remember his. :-)

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