Education, study and knowledge

8 tips for beginning psychologists

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Starting to work with patients in a psychology practice is an exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming from the first week. There are so many things to deal with, and so many situations that can go wrong, that if insecurity gains ground we can make foolish mistakes as a result of anxiety and decisions made in a way hasty.

To ensure that this does not happen, here are a series of Tips for Beginning Psychologists looking for a way to start in this exciting career field.

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Tips for the Beginning Psychologist

Take the following guidelines as a way to guide your efforts when applying the knowledge that you have been acquiring. Lack of experience may make things difficult, but that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel just when it all starts. Any professional career has its zero minute.

1. Start building from what you master the most

Some people believe that psychology is about understanding people, like this, in the abstract. As if a profession enables anyone to understand and find any form of human behavior predictable. This myth can lead us to make the mistake of trying to cover more than we really know how to do.

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That is why, especially when starting out, it is good focus efforts on dealing with those problems on which our training has focused.

Specializing in these "niches" will allow us to build the rest of our future skills from there, which is interesting. because in our first months of work the fact of adapting to everything that it means to practice as novice psychologists can already reach overflow; let alone face cases that are totally new to us.

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2. Don't compare yourself to an idealization of the perfect psychologist

If you have become a beginning psychologist or psychologist, it is because you deserve to be where you are: you have earned it. What it is about now is to start to gain experience in a consistent way, making professional practice add quality to the service we provide. It is a process of constant growth in which there is never an end: in a way, all psychologists are newbies, always. Human behavior is too complex for a single person to fully understand.

That is why you should not compare yourself to an idealization of what it means to be a psychologist. Don't let impostor syndrome block you.

3. Work your way to build trust

Control of personal spaces is very important to create a therapeutic relationship in which patients feel safe.

If we are nervous, we may tend to use non-verbal language that shows a defensive and withdrawn attitude. such as crossing your arms, keeping too much distance from the other, or even putting your hands on the pockets. You have to avoid this and find a balance between professionalism and proximity. In the beginning, to achieve this, it is necessary to avoid making the mistakes that I have mentioned and, at the same time, follow the guidelines of active listening and assertiveness.

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4. Keep in mind that your work has a value

Psychology is an extremely vocational field of work, so the desire to offer our services for free often appears.

However, keep in mind that although occasionally you can do it for free, the work you are doing doing it has a value, since if you can do it it has been thanks to the effort and money invested in the training. If the usual thing is that you do not charge, unless you only work with people of very little economic power, the profession is devalued. Which leads to the next recommendation.

5. Your job is not to give advice

Having this very clear is essential. If you consider your job as a service that consists of giving "knowledge pills" for some minutes about the philosophy by which the other person should live life, you'll be doing things wrong. This means that normally it will be necessary to plan about moments and resources that must be dedicated to carrying out several sessions with the same person or group. Talking only once to each patient or client is useless.

Psychologists can inform, but when they do, the topics covered are very specific: for example, on how to perform relaxation techniques at home. The part of psychotherapy aimed at helping patients in their deepest and most emotional aspects consists of listening rather than talking, and in offer concrete solutions that allow meeting those needs.

  • Related article: "Why we psychologists do not give advice"

6. Anticipates possible conflict situations and their consequences

As novice psychologists, it is very possible that at some point a patient begins to adopt a defensive or even hostile attitude towards us, judging us out loud.

In these cases, there are two possible options: or this is taken as a phenomenon inherent to what is happening to the therapy and to the problems of the person that emerge in it, so that the situation can be redirected, or it is taken as a fact that goes beyond the therapeutic framework and that It deserves the cancellation of the session or even of the therapeutic relationship, in case it is considered a clear attack on one's own dignity.

In order not to react in an improvised and inconsistent way, It is good to foresee this kind of scenario and define certain rules that should not be violated so that sessions with one person run their course.

7. Train yourself to avoid skewed questions

It is very important to learn not to ask biased questions that already have the answer implicit, because in this way the person who comes to the consultation will not be able to express themselves freely. A clear example of this is something like: "Do you prefer to ignore your father's problems so as not to leave your comfort zone, or do you think it would be good to help him?" In these cases, it is necessary to that it is not very apparent what would be the answer we would like to hear.

8. Above all, remember that we are human

What happens in the context of the consultation does not happen outside the real world, no matter how much it has its own rules. That is why these situations should not be taken as a simulation; a certain therapeutic distancing is necessary in order not to treat the other person as we would a friend, or to take possible attacks personally; However, beyond that, it is important not to stop empathizing in any moment.
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