Jan 23, 2010
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Now that the application season is almost over and many people are in the position to put down deposits and begin their professional psychology career, is anyone having fears or doubts as they are about to embark on this long journey not just of challenging classes, training and research in the next 5-7 years but an emotionally and physically challenging career?

I'm 22, and have been certain that I want to pursue a career in Psychology. I've been accepted to a great PsyD program that I plan to attend but there is a small part of me that is hesitant to sign on to this long journey. What if it's not right for me? What if the work becomes too emotionally draining or if I straight up don't like it? I had thought through all of these questions prior to applying but now that it's REAL and TANGIBLE i'm getting cold feet, fears are arising.

Is anyone having a similar experience? Any students who have been at this for a few years care to share their experiences? Is this normal or should I take a serious second look at my decision?
 
Dec 6, 2009
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If things get tough (too tough as you implied) or if you don't like it.... if these types of things happen... so what... chalk it up to experience and start in a new direction.

I'm 34, have a previous Masters in an unrelated field, have worked as a director and project manager for 8 years now and I'm switching fields b/c 1) I don't find the field I'm currently in meaningful enough, 2) I don't like what I'm doing (and I'm very good at what I'm doing by most measures).

The point here is your life is yours... do as you see fit... when you see fit.

However, make wise well thought out decisions ... not just I'm burned out currently knee jerk reactions to a tough semester. My point is if you get to feeling down or burned out or whatever wait until you have some time to process things with old friends and family to make a decision.

Life is yours to live as you like... do it with gusto.
 
Feb 22, 2010
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I think this is normal, and as GreenPsych said, if you get there and do a couple of semesters and find it's not what you want it is still possible to change direction. I know a lot of people who have changed direction after spending a few years on a career or educational path. It can be difficult, even painful, but it's not uncommon and it's not impossible. You just have to trust yourself to stay aware and make the right decisions.
 

AcronymAllergy

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There WILL be times when you doubt your ability (both in general and with respect to the program), your interest in the field, and potentially your sanity. There also WILL be times when you don't perform as well as you feel you should have, you make a mistake, and you see others around you coping with apparent ease. These thoughts and events happen to everyone in our chosen area of study (and likely many others as well, I'd wager).

Just buckle down, grind it out, and you'll be amazed at how quickly the doubts seemingly disappear. And as the others have said--if, after all that, you just don't enjoy psychology, there's nothing stopping you from changing careers.
 

Rivi

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No worries, doubt and stress are definitely part of the process. Grad school and this field in general is just like most things, it is what you make of it. Maybe this field won't be for you, but it is best to find out by trying then dropping out of school now and potentially regretting the decision for many years IMO.
 
Mar 17, 2010
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Now that the application season is almost over and many people are in the position to put down deposits and begin their professional psychology career, is anyone having fears or doubts as they are about to embark on this long journey not just of challenging classes, training and research in the next 5-7 years but an emotionally and physically challenging career?

I'm 22, and have been certain that I want to pursue a career in Psychology. I've been accepted to a great PsyD program that I plan to attend but there is a small part of me that is hesitant to sign on to this long journey. What if it's not right for me? What if the work becomes too emotionally draining or if I straight up don't like it? I had thought through all of these questions prior to applying but now that it's REAL and TANGIBLE i'm getting cold feet, fears are arising.

Is anyone having a similar experience? Any students who have been at this for a few years care to share their experiences? Is this normal or should I take a serious second look at my decision?
YES to everything you said. Part of me is saying "dont think just do" and the other part is saying "no no no think and fear this decision" but there is this other part of me that looks at my acceptance letter (which is hanging on my fridge) and saying to myself "This means that one day you will be a doctor" which seems to make it all worth it! Take some time go to a quiet place (my place was the beach) and really think about it. But it's true most decisions are not permanent you CAN change your mind. You may lose money but either way hopefully the point is to gain happiness! Good Luck!
 
Feb 28, 2010
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I am totally having similar feelings! I am also 22 and have always wanted to be a doctor of psychology, and also got accepted to one (so far) amazing PsyD program! BUT I am very nervous and am doubting myself! I am super excited, but also super scared!!!:confused:
 

bmedclinic

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I am totally having similar feelings! I am also 22 and have always wanted to be a doctor of psychology, and also got accepted to one (so far) amazing PsyD program! BUT I am very nervous and am doubting myself! I am super excited, but also super scared!!!:confused:
Guys-
I've been exactly where you were twice.
Once for the masters, and the second time starting the phd.
Both times I felt like somehow I didnt measure up, didnt belong, and would suck at what they asked me to do. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I did everything perfectly (even got straight up yelled at twice for my GA) but, looking back it all makes sense.

Just like you, I was selected for my programs becuase they knew I'd succeed. I was (and you are) what your admissions committees want. If you werent, seriously, they wouldnt have taken you. (My DCT has said exactly that about every applicant; she's gone so far as to say that if they had 4 spots and only 3 good applicants, they'd only take 3-- they just wont take supbar people.)

I'm just hoping that a little advice from the other side will help.

As for doing therapy, it is emotionally tough. You already know as much.

The most important thing is that the experience you're going to embark on will be mind blowing, and later, be confidence building. You'll do fine, but there will be bumps along the way. You've already been chosen as someone they believe can and will make it, and someone they believe they can work with, who they trust can work with others.
 

Metta

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As others have said, I think the feelings and concerns you describe are both normal and common. One technique I've used to counter them is to create a "collection" of positive experiences related to my decision to pursue a doctorate in psychology -- for instance, positive or supportive comments from friends, mentors, clients, and classmates, memories of times from school, research, and clinical experiences when I've had that "YES, THIS IS WHERE I BELONG!!!" feeling, and so on. (I write them in a journal, others may prefer a different method.) When I'm feeling stressed or discouraged, I can go back and read them, and remind myself of why I'm doing this.
 
Jan 23, 2010
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Thanks for the positive replies everyone. It is nice to know that others have significant fears going into this experience, especially after hearing all of the overjoyed statements from people as they get accepted. I, as well, was ecstatic over my first victory (getting accepted) but have since been really considering the reality of what this all means for the next 5 years and beyond in my career. Thanks everyone!
 
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I've had all of these fears. I'm also having some anxiety about moving across the country by myself. Part of me is really excited about this because I'm lucky to be going to a fantastic school in a very lovely city. And rationally, I know that I have the potential to grow a lot more by living 1700 vs. 12 miles away from my parents, who can be a bit smothering at times. But then I worry that no one will like me and I'll have no nearby support system since all of my friends and family will be 1000+ miles away.
 
Mar 17, 2010
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I've had all of these fears. I'm also having some anxiety about moving across the country by myself. Part of me is really excited about this because I'm lucky to be going to a fantastic school in a very lovely city. And rationally, I know that I have the potential to grow a lot more by living 1700 vs. 12 miles away from my parents, who can be a bit smothering at times. But then I worry that no one will like me and I'll have no nearby support system since all of my friends and family will be 1000+ miles away.
I moved for my masters all by myself..Before I was only 10 minutes away from my family by car and now I am a 3 hour plane ride away from them..BUT I lived in an amazing new city and loved the experience for what it was. I was here for 4 years and decided to apply to doctorate programs upon graduating from my MA. Got accepted near my family and am SO EXCITED to be going back home! The experience away was amazing though and made me grow so much and appreciate so many things that I took for granted both in my education and personal life. Good Luck to you! Just remember that your family is a phone call and or plane ride away at all times! I am a different person than I was when I first moved here. I am so happy with my decision to move away for grad school.
 

PhDToBe

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I am also really nervous that I am "not as smart as the rest of the cohort/applicants." I got into a program that I thought was way too prestigious and "better than me." I am just hoping that I actually will be able to do well in those hard stats courses.

Also, I read that How to Not Live in a Box thread recently, and made a short list of the great advice people listed in there. If you haven't already, read that thread! Also, I added a few things to my personal list (or at least I don't remember them being in the thread). They are little things, but could be helpful:

-Buy ear plugs- this is important for working if you don't have your own office, or if you live in a noisy area

-Buy one of those tiny umbrellas that can fit in your bag without taking up too much space.

-Also, this is a little different, but if you are prone to stomach aches / cramps, buy an electrical heating pad, so you can keep working through the pain!! lol.
 

AcronymAllergy

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I am also really nervous that I am "not as smart as the rest of the cohort/applicants." I got into a program that I thought was way too prestigious and "better than me." I am just hoping that I actually will be able to do well in those hard stats courses.

Also, I read that How to Not Live in a Box thread recently, and made a short list of the great advice people listed in there. If you haven't already, read that thread! Also, I added a few things to my personal list (or at least I don't remember them being in the thread). They are little things, but could be helpful:

-Buy ear plugs- this is important for working if you don't have your own office, or if you live in a noisy area

-Buy one of those tiny umbrellas that can fit in your bag without taking up too much space.

-Also, this is a little different, but if you are prone to stomach aches / cramps, buy an electrical heating pad, so you can keep working through the pain!! lol.
This is actually a big one for me personally at the moment, as my neighbors are great at inadvertantly irritating me just as I'm about to start reading. Fortunately, my office on campus (where I'm typing this message, as a matter of fact) is nice and quiet, especially on weekends.

Also, if you're not a big fan of ear plugs, you could look into a white noise machine or CD. They also have white noise apps for the iPhone apparently (I'm not yet "with the times" enough to have a smart phone, but colleagues have said the app is amazing). And finally, if nothing else, you can always do what I did--pick up a cheap $20 fan and run that whenever you don't want to be distracted.
 

Occlumentia

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I think most people have at least one moment of sheer panic when embarking on any kind of doctoral route!

I'm a psych student now, a couple of years away from entering a doctoral program, and while I feel very optimistic towards my future life and career, I too have moments when I think to myself: "Wtf am I doing? Committing myself to a long stretch of studying hard, earning little to no money, and in the end I will have to deal with difficult problems and a lot of responsibility on a daily basis? Argh!"...Lol. It happens.

But then I think to myself that I used to have a comfortable job in a respectable industry in my "previous life"...and that it didn't make me happy! There's a reason we choose to pursue psychology...the long road and the involved professional life ahead are worth it.

Also - psychology is one of the most diverse fields out there and I reckon you can move between different aspects of the field if you don't like what you're doing. Just off the top of my head, here are some jobs associated with psychology:

* Clinical work, obviously (treating patients)
* Pure research work in the field of your choice - if you have a good track record you can move between research fields, within reason
* Combine the two!
* Statistician, if you're good with numbers
* Behaviour Analyst
* Marketing and advertising (JB Watson was HUGE in advertising!)
* Health journalist/columnist (if you're good with the science side of psych)

Etc etc etc. We are great critical thinkers and communicators. I think a psych qualification is very versatile :)
 
Feb 22, 2010
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One of my fears is a bit different that what has been discussed so far. Sometimes when I read clinical material in class I start to apply it to my own life, and I'm afraid that when I'm studying the material more intensely it will become a problem. I know that (1) this is a natural tendency, and (2) it's a bad idea, but I have a hard time shutting it off. I find it particularly hard when reading case material from a psychodynamic perspective.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to handle this?
 

PhDToBe

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Lexicon, are you talking about when you read the descriptions of disorders, like bi-polar I, borderline personality d/o, etc. you find incidences in your life when some of the qualifying factors apply to you, and you worry you have the disorder?
 
Feb 22, 2010
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Lexicon, are you talking about when you read the descriptions of disorders, like bi-polar I, borderline personality d/o, etc. you find incidences in your life when some of the qualifying factors apply to you, and you worry you have the disorder?
LOL not exactly. I was just reading a case the other day and the clinician was describing the "toxic" family dynamics in which the patient grew up and how the patient was compensating for it now. The family dynamics part felt very familiar (though not the coping mechanisms!) and then I started thinking "Well how do I compensate for XYZ from my childhood?" Does that make sense?
 

ltj999

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No I'm in the same boat as many of you. Accepted to a great PsyD and kinda apprehensive about embarking on this long journey. But then again, in a way I like and/or respect the apprehension. I gives me the reassurance that when I question my motives i.e. "wtf are you doing moving/debt etc?" and I come out the other side saying "yes this is worth it," then I know I'm doing the right thing for myself.

As soon as I seriously say that it isn't worth it (and I'm not including those stressed out in the moment feelings which are totally normal and expected on some level), I'll go find myself another job : )
 

Metta

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One of my fears is a bit different that what has been discussed so far. Sometimes when I read clinical material in class I start to apply it to my own life, and I'm afraid that when I'm studying the material more intensely it will become a problem. I know that (1) this is a natural tendency, and (2) it's a bad idea, but I have a hard time shutting it off. I find it particularly hard when reading case material from a psychodynamic perspective.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to handle this?
First of all, recognize that it's a matter of degree. Most people are sad or down once in a while, distracted once in a while, have a sudden mood swing once in a while, or whatever; it's not until the symptoms become especially severe and frequent that we might diagnose, for instance, depression, ADHD, or bipolar disorder. Until/unless an issue you identify in yourself is creating a significant problem in your life, it's likely to be well within the realm of normal functioning.

Also, it becomes less and less of a concern as you move from reading clinical material to seeing clinical patients. With the latter, you develop a much fuller understanding of mental health diagnoses and issues as they appear in real life, and the tendency to see them in yourself and (mentally healthy) others starts to disappear.
 

AcronymAllergy

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LOL not exactly. I was just reading a case the other day and the clinician was describing the "toxic" family dynamics in which the patient grew up and how the patient was compensating for it now. The family dynamics part felt very familiar (though not the coping mechanisms!) and then I started thinking "Well how do I compensate for XYZ from my childhood?" Does that make sense?
We don't receive psychodynamic training in my program, but I apply CBT principles to myself all the time--it can actually end up being quite helpful for little things like procrastination, or a little spurt of irritability.

Then again, just keep in mind that hardly anyone can be a good therapist for himself/herself. It usually takes that outside perspective to spur us in the correct direction.
 

EY1

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When I start in the fall, I'll have been gainfully employed in another industry for 4 years. I could continue on this path and do just fine.

I'm scared as hell. But I'm excited too. So, it'll be just fine.
 

ltj999

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LOL not exactly. I was just reading a case the other day and the clinician was describing the "toxic" family dynamics in which the patient grew up and how the patient was compensating for it now. The family dynamics part felt very familiar (though not the coping mechanisms!) and then I started thinking "Well how do I compensate for XYZ from my childhood?" Does that make sense?
I actually like this part of psychology. To be a therapist you must be in therapy is a key axiom in my conceptualization of psychology as a field.

We all have our own experiences that shape and define how we relate to others, including our clients. Thus, in order to better understand the client, we must have a clear picture of our own lens. (aka understand the counter transference in the session).

We are all human and I think to understand we all have our own demons and are not so unlike our clients is a very positive mindset to have and reduce any stigma or sentiment against the client.

Just my 2 cents : )
 

PhDToBe

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LOL not exactly. I was just reading a case the other day and the clinician was describing the "toxic" family dynamics in which the patient grew up and how the patient was compensating for it now. The family dynamics part felt very familiar (though not the coping mechanisms!) and then I started thinking "Well how do I compensate for XYZ from my childhood?" Does that make sense?

haha okay, yeah that makes sense. i just remember the first day of by abnormal psych class the prof said something along the lines of "you're all going to think you meet the criteria for many of these disorders, but i promise you you probably don't," because we all start diagnosing ourselves and stuff...so, sorry about that, lol
 
Jan 23, 2010
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This question might sound silly, but I'm considering all different avenues a PsyD can take in his/her career. If you have a PsyD do you necessarily have to be a "therapist". If not, what are other options? I know someone earlier posted some options but I guess I'm looking for more specific information on that. I applied to PsyD programs because i'm interested in practicing Psychology (as opposed to applying to PhD programs and focusing mainly on research) but I'm coming to realize that I don't necessarily want to practice as a therapist in my early career. Have I made a mistake in applying to PsyD programs? After all this work of applying and actually getting in, I'm having serious doubts about this path now which feels strange to me because I was so sure of myself going into the application process. Thoughts?
 
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PsychedCaryn said:
I'm 22, and have been certain that I want to pursue a career in Psychology. I've been accepted to a great PsyD program that I plan to attend but there is a small part of me that is hesitant to sign on to this long journey. What if it's not right for me? What if the work becomes too emotionally draining or if I straight up don't like it? I had thought through all of these questions prior to applying but now that it's REAL and TANGIBLE i'm getting cold feet, fears are arising.

Is anyone having a similar experience? Any students who have been at this for a few years care to share their experiences? Is this normal or should I take a serious second look at my decision?
I feel like I'm reading my own words! I have the opportunity to go to a well-reputed PsyD program and here I am, still languishing about whether or not I should take the offer! I was trying to figure out if I was just getting cold feet because of the 5-year commitment and the fears that I wouldn't be cut out for the work or that I wouldn't like the program, etc. or if I was holding back because I wasn't sure if this is really the career path I want to take. I didn't want to pigeon-hole myself so early on and was wondering if I should just get my hands dirty in the work field and kind of feel out where it is I'm supposed to be.

Honestly, I'm still thinking hard about the offer (but there's so little time left!) but everyone's comments on SDN sure have helped a lot.

This question might sound silly, but I'm considering all different avenues a PsyD can take in his/her career. If you have a PsyD do you necessarily have to be a "therapist". If not, what are other options? I know someone earlier posted some options but I guess I'm looking for more specific information on that. I applied to PsyD programs because i'm interested in practicing Psychology (as opposed to applying to PhD programs and focusing mainly on research) but I'm coming to realize that I don't necessarily want to practice as a therapist in my early career. Have I made a mistake in applying to PsyD programs? After all this work of applying and actually getting in, I'm having serious doubts about this path now which feels strange to me because I was so sure of myself going into the application process. Thoughts?
I'm curious about this too!
 

PhDToBe

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This question might sound silly, but I'm considering all different avenues a PsyD can take in his/her career. If you have a PsyD do you necessarily have to be a "therapist". If not, what are other options? I know someone earlier posted some options but I guess I'm looking for more specific information on that. I applied to PsyD programs because i'm interested in practicing Psychology (as opposed to applying to PhD programs and focusing mainly on research) but I'm coming to realize that I don't necessarily want to practice as a therapist in my early career. Have I made a mistake in applying to PsyD programs? After all this work of applying and actually getting in, I'm having serious doubts about this path now which feels strange to me because I was so sure of myself going into the application process. Thoughts?
A Psy.D. can do assessment work. You could also work at a hospital or prison, which may entai lsome therapy, but I think that is more for the MSWs. You'd be doing more intakes, assessment work, and probably minor therapy. I could be wrong about what you'd do in a hospital...but I do know you can do assessment work with the degree.
 
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242598

This question might sound silly, but I'm considering all different avenues a PsyD can take in his/her career. If you have a PsyD do you necessarily have to be a "therapist". If not, what are other options? I know someone earlier posted some options but I guess I'm looking for more specific information on that. I applied to PsyD programs because i'm interested in practicing Psychology (as opposed to applying to PhD programs and focusing mainly on research) but I'm coming to realize that I don't necessarily want to practice as a therapist in my early career. Have I made a mistake in applying to PsyD programs? After all this work of applying and actually getting in, I'm having serious doubts about this path now which feels strange to me because I was so sure of myself going into the application process. Thoughts?
I didn't apply to any PsyD programs but there are some that are pretty research heavy, yes? In any case, I know a PsyD who does primarily research, basically the same amount as the researchers with PhDs at the same center.
 

AcronymAllergy

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I didn't apply to any PsyD programs but there are some that are pretty research heavy, yes? In any case, I know a PsyD who does primarily research, basically the same amount as the researchers with PhDs at the same center.
There are definitely PsyD programs that are more research-heavy than others, as well as those that allow you to choose between a research-based or lit-review-based dissertation, I believe. Although I don't know if there would be any PsyD program that would be considered "research heavy" in an absolute sense. At least that's the sentiment I picked up from speaking with various PsyD students.

And yes, to respond to a previous poster, PsyD's can of course focus on assessment and/or forensic work (e.g., IME's) rather than therapy. A big portion of that variance, though, is based upon where/for whom you work.
 

bmedclinic

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haha okay, yeah that makes sense. i just remember the first day of by abnormal psych class the prof said something along the lines of "you're all going to think you meet the criteria for many of these disorders, but i promise you you probably don't," because we all start diagnosing ourselves and stuff...so, sorry about that, lol

I actually had a lot of fun using this in my first psychopathology course in grad school.
At one point while learning about the criteria, I rationalized a way for myself to be a non-purging bulimic. Now mind you, I really am not, but I used it (instead of a way to be a hypochondriac) as a way to view the severity of symptoms necessary to meet the criteria. Honestly, now that I'm further along in grad school I really feel this kinda helped me gain perspective on things.

Speaking of perspective, that's what all this is about in my opinion. As another poster said, I love that I can take my life situations and a differing viewpoint of therapy (Gestalt, Psychodynamic, CBT, etc) and use it to challenge the way I think about myself, my past, and who I am as well as how I've gotten to where I am. Though I am not of the opinion that psychotherapy should be a requirement for psychologists in training, I will say that I think the more insightful you can be, the better you can do your job. What I think you might be doing is a symptom of being insightful: you're taking different theories in, applying them to you, and seeing if they fit so you can understand yourself better. That's GREAT! Just dont get too carried away with it!
 
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Am I the only person who is worried about age? I am 24 now so I won't be done with my PsyD until I'm 30...I know that this isn't old, but somehow I feel that until I am able to support myself in the real sense and have a job that will pay the bills, my life is on hold in a way i.e. I;m in no position to buy a house, start a family, be financially independent etc. I guess I'm having a hard time sitting with the idea that my life won't "start" until then, or maybe I'm looking at this wrong, I don't know. Also, the part that is making it harder for me is that I am graduating from a master's program next month and could get my license and begin working right now in the field if I wanted to. I am just scared to death that I am going to spend all this extra money and time and it won't be worth it, that I will regret not just remaining a master's level clinician. Does anyone else feel this way?
 
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Am I the only person who is worried about age? I am 24 now so I won't be done with my PsyD until I'm 30...I know that this isn't old, but somehow I feel that until I am able to support myself in the real sense and have a job that will pay the bills, my life is on hold in a way i.e. I;m in no position to buy a house, start a family, be financially independent etc. I guess I'm having a hard time sitting with the idea that my life won't "start" until then, or maybe I'm looking at this wrong, I don't know. Also, the part that is making it harder for me is that I am graduating from a master's program next month and could get my license and begin working right now in the field if I wanted to. I am just scared to death that I am going to spend all this extra money and time and it won't be worth it, that I will regret not just remaining a master's level clinician. Does anyone else feel this way?
I am way older than you, but I completely understand. It is really easy to start panicking when you think that you are going to be spending the rest of your 20s in school. But, what is your alternative? Is there another career out there that you would be passionate about that would not require years of study?

I think it is normal to worry about committing to something for 5-7 years. I just know that there is nothing else that I want to do. I have explored other options, and I didn't like them.

Like you, I have a master's degree. At least for me, it is a very limiting degree. Every single time I found a position that interested me, it required a PhD. Maybe where you live a master's degree opens more doors. But, I ended up going into counseling jobs that did not challenge me intellectually. So, for me, the time commitment, the sacrifices I will have to make, are worth it because I will be able to do exactly what I want with my PhD.
 

krisrox

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I am way older than you, but I completely understand. It is really easy to start panicking when you think that you are going to be spending the rest of your 20s in school. But, what is your alternative? Is there another career out there that you would be passionate about that would not require years of study?

I think it is normal to worry about committing to something for 5-7 years. I just know that there is nothing else that I want to do. I have explored other options, and I didn't like them.

Like you, I have a master's degree. At least for me, it is a very limiting degree. Every single time I found a position that interested me, it required a PhD. Maybe where you live a master's degree opens more doors. But, I ended up going into counseling jobs that did not challenge me intellectually. So, for me, the time commitment, the sacrifices I will have to make, are worth it because I will be able to do exactly what I want with my PhD.
I think many people forget that life doesn't have to stop while you get your PhD. We're all smart people; we can figure out how to go on "business as usual" while we're busy getting our doctorates. I, personally, have never sacrificed spending time with close friends although I worked a research job, had 18 hours of classes, studies for the GRE and trained for a marathon. It's not impossible to have a life.
 
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I think many people forget that life doesn't have to stop while you get your PhD. We're all smart people; we can figure out how to go on "business as usual" while we're busy getting our doctorates. I, personally, have never sacrificed spending time with close friends although I worked a research job, had 18 hours of classes, studies for the GRE and trained for a marathon. It's not impossible to have a life.
Agreed. Good point! It's important to have a life outside of graduate school. But, I can still understand why some people in their early 20s (or actually at any age) would worry about the time commitment. Wtih graduate school, there will be some sacrifices. (I don't need to tell you that, krisrox. Anyone who has followed your posts knows the sacrifice you are making for your education.) But no one should sacrifice living and enjoying life.
 
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Therapist4Chnge

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I'm 34, have a previous Masters in an unrelated field, have worked as a director and project manager for 8 years now and I'm switching fields b/c 1) I don't find the field I'm currently in meaningful enough, 2) I don't like what I'm doing (and I'm very good at what I'm doing by most measures).
This was my exact situation. I was very very good at something I hated doing. If I saved/made a company another million dollars, I'd get fun "thank you" gifts, but no personal satisfaction for my 70-80+ hr weeks. I am infinitely poorer now from a financial perspective, but I get up most mornings and love what I do, and I can't say that for my previous career.

Also, I read that How to Not Live in a Box thread recently, and made a short list of the great advice people listed in there.
This is still one of my favorite thread titles of all time.

I think most people have at least one moment of sheer panic when embarking on any kind of doctoral route!
Most likely more than one.

My first moment of sheer panic was the day I received my 1st midterm back in Adult Psychopathology, I received a 78. I remember pulling into my garage, turning off my car, and thinking, "What am I doing? I left a stable career to move 2,000+ miles away and get my butt handed to me?" I salvaged a B, and learned more in that one class than almost any other class I took in graduate school.

I had a similar feeling around year 3 when I was working 80+ hrs a week because I took too many classes on top of my research and my practicum hours. The feeling came again in my 4th and 5th years for a number of reasons. Ultimately I matched to a great site, so that was good.

The last time it came was on internship when I was up to my neck in fellowship applications and I had no idea if I'd get a single interview, which made me think about having to scrounge for any job that would give me supervision hours...after 6 years of doctoral training. That would come and go for a few months, as the process can take quite awhile. I ended up fielding interviews for the top programs in the country for my area of interest.

Now that I have a fellowship in hand, my effort seems to have paid off. You'll most likely stress out a lot during your training, but it works out for most people.

One of my fears is a bit different that what has been discussed so far. Sometimes when I read clinical material in class I start to apply it to my own life, and I'm afraid that when I'm studying the material more intensely it will become a problem.
Your first few classes of Adult Psychopathology you will not only Dx yourself, but most of your family. Your first trip back for the holidays will be like a weekend long test on differential Dx'ing.

If you have a PsyD do you necessarily have to be a "therapist". If not, what are other options?
There are many options within the field and also outside of the field. I'm a Psy.D. and you couldn't pay me enough money to do therapy. I have 12 more weeks until I can be done with traditional talk therapy. I prefer to do mostly assessment and consultation work (in a medical setting). I'd like to eventually do some teaching and mentoring, as well as be on a research team. There are many opportunities, you just need to figure out where you fit. It can change during your training too. I went into training thinking I wanted to do a good bit of therapy (50% therapy/assessment, 30% consulting, 20% teaching/researching)....and obviously that changed. Even my username is a bit of a misnomber now. :D