Hate my clinical psych doc program

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Hope4Grad, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. SDN is made possible through member donations, sponsorships, and our volunteers. Learn about SDN's nonprofit mission.
  1. Hope4Grad

    Hope4Grad 5+ Year Member

    123
    100
    Jan 19, 2011
    OK, I'm just going to come out and say it: I absolutely hate my program. Actually, the school is fine, it's my cohort that I don't really like. A lot of them are young, and there is definitely a "mean girls" enviornment going on. I know that I have to examine myself and think about how much of this is my doing - and believe me, this program has driven me to enter therapy, so I'm doing that - but I don't know what to do right now. I have solid reasons for being here: it's a good program and I have a level of funding (we're talking a LOT of $$$) that is almost complete which I would lose (as in DEBT) if I went somewhere else. However, I am still thinking about jumping ship. I don't know if things will get better after year 1 or worse, but I am seriously thinking about leaving because the social environment is so toxic. I'm not planning on staying in the area, so I'm not sure if it matters if the mean girls don't like me - i.e., what is the likelihood that I'll need their referals anyway? I have this fantasy that if I'm ambitious enough I can get through this program and blast out of here and never have to deal with these people again. I can build a life outside of the program, but going to class and dealing with all the social cliques is anguishing. If any wants to relate to this thread, feel free. It would be good to hear other people's experiences with this kind of thing... I just need an anonymous place to express my frustration since I obviously can't do it around them, and it would be good to hear about how other people in similar situations got through it. :eek:
     
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Rivi

    Rivi 7+ Year Member

    554
    124
    Jan 29, 2009
    What kinds of stuff are they doing? If there is one thing that pisses me off it's immature, gossip bull****.

    I have fantasized about quitting my program so many times, I can understand what you are going through on some level. In general, for most people I know, the first year is the most difficult. It tends to get a lot better as you adjust to the workload and schedule. If you told me that my first year I wouldn't have believed you, but trust me, it generally does get a lot better (not in terms of workload but in your ability to cope with it).
     
  4. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    9,196
    2,633
    Apr 6, 2007
    I am a married male, so dont know if I can add much but I'll try. I heard that this went on in my program too (I'm on internship now). I, of course, was oblivious to it, as I dont talk much (even when you do get to know me) and could care less about who Sara is dating, slept with, or how drunk she got at da club last weekend. :) Similarly, some girls in my program knew about it and some girls didnt. The girls who didn't know about it were just like me. They weren't rude, but generally had alot of connections outside of school and/or didnt strive to make alot of connections in school (I guess I'm just anti-social, idk). In other words, keep your head down, dont try to make anyone like you, dont be confrotational, dont make waves, but DO make an extra effort to be pleasant and overly helpful or generous when you do have to interact with them. If they still hate you after that, well there not much to do I guess. But, I cant imagine people at that age actively picking on you if just dont engage with them.
     
  5. cara susanna

    cara susanna 7+ Year Member

    5,207
    1,294
    Feb 10, 2008
    East Coast
    My program can be cliquey, too! So I can sympathize.
     
  6. clinpsych

    clinpsych New Member 10+ Year Member

    130
    0
    Dec 8, 2005
    One thing to keep in mind is that next year you could try to befriend people from the next cohort.

    Do you have lab members with whom you could develop relationships?

    It sounds like you're new to your geographic area. Would this program be tolerable if you had social support from people in your area outside of the program?
     
  7. RGirl

    RGirl 2+ Year Member

    98
    1
    Dec 17, 2010
    In my experience, your connection to the cohort will dissipate a lot in the coming years. In my first year, we were really tight. But as the years passed, and we started taking a couple different courses, different practica and working in different labs, we started branching out a lot more. While I still was friendly with my cohort, I became closer friends with lab members and people I met at practica. A lot of people in other programs have told me about similar experiences.

    Also, while grad school life is never big on free time, after the first two years I had a lot more time to interact of people outside of school.

    And, yes, there was drama in my cohort- nothing near your level, but enough for me to feel okay about us going our separate ways.

    So if you can hold out, I would do it-- after you finish this first year, you'll no longer have to be so close knit with these people, and you'll have more opportunities to meet others. Good luck!!
     
    polarbearscafe likes this.
  8. ClinApp

    ClinApp Member 7+ Year Member

    145
    0
    Feb 2, 2005
    Second this and similar posts. Once you move along in your program and focus more on research and clinical activities, you can avoid people you don't like, foster new relationships, and get done what you need to do in grad school - changing programs is pretty dicey so if you like the program generally, I'd advise sticking it out and pouring your efforts into work and social outlets or hobbies outside the program. Plus, if you're feeling a little bitter or mean-spirited toward the "mean girls," nothing is better revenge than success in your program, a nice bonus!
     
  9. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    6,818
    1,132
    Jan 7, 2010
    Psychologist
    If everything except the social situation is great at your current school, I'd definitely recommend against transferring. The rampant/frequent gossiping seems to be a fairly consistent trend across clinical psych graduate programs, so it's not something you're likely to escape by moving to a different program.

    As others have suggested, just work on remaining civil with these people, trying to make friends outside of school (this is what made my grad experience much, much more enjoyable), and spending time with those members of your program (older and, in the years to come, newer) with whom you do get along. I can definitely attest to the fact that the overall social attitude can substantially differ from cohort to cohort, so it's very possible that next year's group of incoming students will be much more compatible with you.
     
    polarbearscafe likes this.
  10. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist 5+ Year Member

    2,967
    402
    Dec 29, 2011
    Psychologist
    Yeah I wouldn't leave just because you have idiots in your cohort. Unless there is some kind of systemic issue in the selection process, chances are the other cohorts are not/will not be the same.

    I had a great cohort, but we still didn't hang out 24/7. It is important to have other friends and relationships outside of grad school.

    Another point is that you are going to inevitably encounter this in life at various points. Learning to manage this situation will build your resilience and social skills. Running away from it doesn't help you for if it happens again. What if you get another crappy cohort? Then you ahve that problem again AND have to explain to people why you left the other program.
     
    polarbearscafe likes this.
  11. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA 5+ Year Member

    591
    323
    Aug 31, 2011
    New England
    Psychologist
    Have you spoke with your mentor or the DCT about this? If it's just a matter of people not getting along, hanging out, etc., then some of the above advice is good. However, it can be a fine line between petty gossip and bullying/harassment. If you haven't, you might want to ask your advisor or DCT if they have any suggestions about what you could do about the situation. From your OP, it sounds like they have invested significant time and money into your being a student at their program, and thus have a heavily vested interest in your completing the program. They also have an interest in the overall professional development of all the students. If it is rising to level of harassment or if some of the social stuff is spilling over onto campus, then they need to know about. Things like not being invited to hang out at group functions on the weekends (though hurtful and somewhat immature), just happen in many programs. When it becomes more active exclusion or is in any way demeaning or harassing, it needs to be addressed by the faculty.

    Request a meeting with your advisor or the DCT. Rather than starting off by focusing on the actions of the others, it might help ease into it by saying something along the lines of "I'm sure you've dealt with this kind of thing before, but I'm having some problems with some of the social aspects of the program and would like some advice about strategies that you have seen work in the past." This might help get the discussion going in solution focused direction. The faculty HAVE dealt with this stuff before (it's part of their job). Look to them for help.
     
  12. simplesimon

    simplesimon 2+ Year Member

    41
    16
    Feb 2, 2010
    I second this response. I entered my program as the oldest in the class. I have not had the bad experience that it sounds like you have had, but as time has gone by, I have interacted more with the outside community and less with my cohort. Life will get better as your program becomes more clinical and less about your classes.
     
  13. 3rdWave

    3rdWave Licensed Psychologist 2+ Year Member

    72
    0
    Aug 25, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I am sure that this is very upsetting and frustrating for you, but I would definitely try to hang in there. The point that you could transfer and end up in another mean cohort is a very good one. I don't feel particularly close to people in my cohort and that was definitely a bummer during the first few years of grad school, but it becomes less important as time goes on. Seek out other social outlets away from school and cultivate other interests/hobbies as much as you can.

    Also, consider asking yourself if there is something you can easily change about yourself to fit in better. For example I have a very close friend who is in great shape and always wears very tight/skimpy clothing. Her grad school cohort girls were teasing her in a mean way about her "sexy clothes!" Toning it down a bit and being more casual with her dress would definitely have helped to lessen the teasing.
     
  14. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    21,119
    2,000
    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    Faculty
    Here are some things that I did to try and not go nuts with an overly involved cohort:

    1. I made sure to live with someone who had no idea or interest in psych. We agreed to not talk about work because I had no idea how he did what he did (electrical engineering).

    2. Find friends/activities outside of your program. You probably won't have much time, but 1 afternoon/evening a week with people who function outside of the academic/psych bubble can do wonders for a person's sanity. I joined an intramural/club sport and intentionally signed up as a 'house player', so I'd get placed on a random team. People often make the mistake of doing a intramural sport...but then invite everyone they see at school, so it just offers another place to talk about work.

    3. Don't get caught up in the drama. Gossip can get ugly, so try not to be a conduit.

    4. Study groups can be a good way to be "present" with your cohort, but not get as easily pulled into the social drama. I prefer to study alone and with my own outlines, but I forced myself to join in study groups during my first year. From that I found someone who had a similar study routine as myself, and we studied together for most of our core classes (as needed).

    5. Find a therapist. Seriously. Grad school can be stressful, and if you can find someone (sliding scale?), it may be a nice outlet. Contact your state psych association and see if anyone offers sliding scale fees for grad students (it seems pretty common, though there might be limited times/days).
     
  15. wigflip

    wigflip 2+ Year Member

    1,549
    4
    Oct 18, 2010
    Good luck, OP. I just want to validate what you're feeling. My cohort was similar: petty, constant microaggressions. No point in complaining to the faculty, since they are the same and actively use their grad students as a means of spreading gossip. It was worse than high school. I stayed and the result is that I have become completely disillusioned with my field and subfield. But I'm not in clin psych, so there are few job opportunities outside the academic environment that I've come to feel is pretty toxic (actually there are job few opportunities inside academia either, but that is another thread :rolleyes:...)
     
  16. RayneeDeigh

    RayneeDeigh 5+ Year Member

    1,346
    1
    Feb 4, 2007
    I was in the exact same boat around the end of my first year of grad school. Fully funded, new to the area (and had no intention of staying), generally intolerable cohort, etc. I thought about leaving. I even started planning to leave.

    And then it hit me that I had wanted this career as long as I could remember, and I had certainly been through worse in my life. So I stuck it out. And now I'm in my 5th year and I'm done all my courses and practicum so I moved back home while I apply for internship. It was totally worth the four years of hell.

    If you really can't handle it anymore then of course leave for your own sanity, but if you think you can stick it out then do it. You'll emerge a lot stronger, I promise. Grad school is NOT REAL LIFE and once you get through it and re-enter the world you'll be happy again. You won't feel like this forever.
     
  17. Jd72

    Jd72

    1
    0
    Jun 3, 2017
    .
    Hi, Hope4Grad,
    I stumbled upon your post after googling "I hate my cohort". Now I know Hate is a very strong word and I understand you did not imply that, its just what I am feeling after completing my 1st year. I don't know how to handle them, and after reading your post I realized there are other people out there who are trying so hard to pursue their passions and yet are faced with this immaturity of having to deal with girls who are mean, jealous, or whatever it is.. I don't get it. I don't even want to try to get them. I'm the oldest in my cohort and I'm dealing with 24 year old little bitches that think they are all that. Its so annoying. I understand the age group difference and I think that is a huge factor for me, but I also feel like they are jealous, which I don't know why they would be. They are all smart and we all having everything going for ourselves, so I don't understand why they need to go out of their way to be mean. I just ignore them and do my own thing but that seems to bother other members in the cohort. Why would it? I need advice on how to make my second year better. Help anyone???
     
  18. MCParent

    MCParent Bronze Donor 5+ Year Member

    1,350
    918
    Jan 10, 2012
    Faculty
    You might want to engage in some self-examination.
     
    WisNeuro and super.ego like this.
  19. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    720
    331
    Oct 5, 2015
    Especially this part:

    Is "trying to get" people, especially when they are being difficult, a crucial skillset and perspective for someone wanting a career in clinical psychology?
     
    Amarysso likes this.
  20. CWard12213

    CWard12213

    204
    96
    Apr 2, 2016
    I'm sorry if this comes off as callous, but why is this such a big deal? You are there to learn and advance your career. Other than the occasional group assignment, I just don't see why not getting along with your cohort would really impact your life. I hardly talked to anyone from mine.
     
  21. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    720
    331
    Oct 5, 2015
    Well, aren't a lot of the first and maybe second year foundational courses (e.g. intervention, assessment, psychopathology, stats, etc.) are going to be exclusively with your cohort?

    And it matters for other people, because they want to establish good relationships for future networking opportunities.
     
  22. Amarysso

    Amarysso SDN Bronze Donor Bronze Donor 5+ Year Member

    17
    1
    Mar 29, 2012
    Denver

    I can assume from the "they are young" comment that you are older, and I can attest this can definitely create a rift between you and your cohort. That said, if you are older, you have probably spent more time and energy getting into this program, and thinking very seriously about what this means for you and your future goals. As CWard mentioned, being in a doctoral program is not about making friends - although that would definitely be nice. It's about taking advantage of all the learning opportunities you have. I can also see how the first year of a program would be the most difficult, but once you start doing your externship and taking classes with people outside your cohort you will have ample opportunities to connect with other people and create a strong network with people you like and esteem, which is much more valuable anyway.
    Lastly, "examining yourself" and why it is so important to you that these girls like you, would be very valuable. After all you dont seem to hold them in high regard, so why is it worth your time?

    Just some thoughts. Hope it helps
     
  23. super.ego

    super.ego

    26
    20
    Mar 11, 2017
    My personal experience resonates with your view, but I'm empathetic to the OP's experience and wonder how cohort interconnectivity/reliance relates to an individual's attachement style.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  24. CWard12213

    CWard12213

    204
    96
    Apr 2, 2016
    Yes you will be in most/all classes with the same people, but they are classes. I don't see how liking or not liking the other people in the classroom has that big an impact on someone's quality of life. I couldn't even tell you if most of my cohort liked me or not. I was there to advance my life professionally not socially. It really seems odd to me that the OP is so in tune with how her cohort feels about her that she is considering leaving the program. I would think most of ones time in a classroom would be spent listening, taking notes, thinking about clinical applications of the material, etc. I don't get why "do these other people like me?" even makes the top 10.
     
  25. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

    6,781
    4,467
    Feb 15, 2009
    Somewhere
    Psychologist
    The program and its setup is a moderating variable here. In smaller cohorts, where you work more closely with these classmates, the relationship can, and does impact your quality of life. You can mitigate it, but it will have a significant effect. If you go to some diploma mill with 30+ people in your class who have other priorities than getting a doctoral education, I imagine the cohort relationship is a pretty insignificant detail.
     
    psych.meout likes this.
  26. CWard12213

    CWard12213

    204
    96
    Apr 2, 2016
    To the extent that you would require therapy and consider leaving your funded PhD the program? It seems unusual. Consider that the value of a funded PhD program is several hundred thousand dollars. I think most people could tolerate being around people they don't particularly like for that (and most people do; how many people really like their co-workers?). Unless there is some kind of abuse going on this seems like an incredibly disproportionate response, and if there was something like that going on that needs to be reported to the board. I doubt that is the case, especially considering the OP didn't actually say what is wrong with her cohort other than vaguely describing them as mean. The only concrete "problem" she has identified is that they are young. And she has a "Fantasy" that she can graduate and never have to deal with them? How is this a fantasy.
     
  27. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

    6,781
    4,467
    Feb 15, 2009
    Somewhere
    Psychologist
    I was responding more in general than to the OP or reviving poster, I think other things are in play there. It was more a comment on how much your cohort can actually influence your QOL to an extent, something which has been discounted here. In reputable programs, you are with these people a very significant chunk of your time, especially in the first 2-3 years. Having a strong, somewhat cohesive group that you can get along and commiserate with can be a strong protective factor in a relatively stressful time period. Saying that they are irrelevant factors is just naive and uniformed in most situations.
     
  28. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    720
    331
    Oct 5, 2015
    I agree that Hope4Grad and JD72 are taking things to disproportionate extremes, but I also think that "hardly talking to" your cohort borders on the extreme in the other direction. Yes, you are in the program to further your educational professional career, but, as WisNeuro pointed out, the people around you do affect your quality of life, as well as the connections you make for the future. And when you're talking about the small cohorts typical of funded doctoral programs, it would be weird to not have some kind of interaction with your cohort.
     
  29. justcallmepsych4life

    justcallmepsych4life

    46
    5
    May 26, 2017
    I can relate to this so much. I am glad someone is speaking up about it. It's so bad in my cohort, but it's the only bad aspect of the program so I'm just ignoring them. I don't think you need any of them for your career either.
     
    Hope4Grad likes this.
  30. CWard12213

    CWard12213

    204
    96
    Apr 2, 2016
    It would have been more accurate to say I had no interactions with them outside of class. We would do group assignments and discuss case vignettes and whatnot, but the subject of "do you like me?" never came up in those situations.
     
  31. singasongofjoy

    singasongofjoy 2+ Year Member

    508
    328
    Dec 4, 2014
    Psychologist
    Is it possible that earlier in the year they invited you to hang out and you kept turning them down, maybe not really thinking twice about it because you had some other plans, but then they just stopped asking? I was on the older side for my cohort but there was one student who was several years older even than me; I and a few other students asked her to join us probably like 5 times the first semester and she always declined so we eventually stopped asking. I recall having a conversation with another student because I was kind of befuddled why she would decline even if we hadn't set a time or even really settled on plans yet (e.g., "let's figure out a time that works for all of us to go to that Mexican restaurant to celebrate my birthday because I like their flan- do you want to come?") I stopped trying after that because seemed we didn't have any common interests, she had no time, or both. I liked her OK I guess though didn't have many interactions with her outside of class, but I did later hear that she felt like she didn't get along well with her cohort- maybe there were other things going on, but from the outside in it seemed like she didn't put forth any effort so others stopped trying. Maybe there are some students in your cohort you would get along well with but you're writing them off because of your feelings about a couple of folks you don't like overshadowing everyone. Surely there are at least a couple of "neutral" students in your program you could make an effort to get to know?
     
    PhDToBe likes this.
  32. justcallmepsych4life

    justcallmepsych4life

    46
    5
    May 26, 2017
    Is this program in Indiana?
     
  33. PSYDNEUROGUY

    PSYDNEUROGUY

    56
    10
    Jul 28, 2016
    Sorry to hear that you are going through that. Seeing how you posted this in 2012 and it is now 2017, I am sure decisions have been made one way or another. I can relate in some ways, especially with the clique element. I am 28, going on 29, I am married and also live pretty far from the university. Most of my cohort lives within 10 minutes of the campus. That being said, I have my own personality, which may or may not work for some, which I won't fret over. I would characterize my cohort primarily in their early 20's (e.g., 20, 21, 22, 23). There are some, including myself who are 28-32. The reason I mention this is because the interpersonal dynamics between myself and some of my colleagues is different not just because we have different personality styles, but also different family and personal responsibilities that dramatically differ from those who are single, dating a new person every month and constantly hitting the bars, clubs, etc. No judgement, I am just pointing out facts. That being said, that very dynamic can present itself as an arbitrary difference for which people may judge others on. I may not be able to nor really care to go out with people in my cohort to bars or clubs because I either have responsibilities at home, or, simply because I prefer the comfort of my husband and our puppy dog.

    I hope you didn't get dissuaded by your colleagues; for me, I don't like belonging to groups. I had a therapist a while back that gave me some solid advice which was "only the people who get you, deserve you." It resonated with me because, rather than getting bent out of shape whether or not somebody likes you or includes you in unofficial cohort outings; you are there to become a psychologist.
     
    Hope4Grad likes this.
  34. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    720
    331
    Oct 5, 2015
    Which program in Indiana are you thinking of?
     
  35. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    720
    331
    Oct 5, 2015
    Right, if it's a just a mismatch in priorities, culture, age, etc., it's probably not a big deal and you probably shouldn't fret over it. The problem, though, is assuring that this is what is actually going on. I'm not saying someone should endlessly ruminate about it, but it would be helpful to do a bit of reflection and self-analysis to determine what is exactly going on that is causing any conflict, or even just perceived conflict or distance, between you and your cohort, especially as you ostensibly have a lot in common in terms of professional interests and career goals. It's important to do this, because you are entering a human service field and need to be cognizant of how you come off to other people and how you react to them, as these things can affect your interactions and relationships with patients, research participants, colleagues, etc.
     
    singasongofjoy likes this.
  36. PSYDNEUROGUY

    PSYDNEUROGUY

    56
    10
    Jul 28, 2016
    Very true. I will add a caveat and say that I compartmentalize very well, so, for me, I may act one way in my personal life at home and different in my professional life at school, with patients and with my supervisors and faculty. I believe an adaptive approach work best for me in the sense that I can still act professionally with somebody despite a personal rift between us. Perhaps that's what I developed working in corporate America for a bit, but allows me to know that I can have my own feelings about others, and other people can have feelings about me, but we can still operate on a level that gets the job done. If I have a classmate who I don't care for and we have a project together, we will restrict our conversations to the project, we can implement interpersonal techniques that allow for both of us to contribute equally rather than let our personal feelings dictate how we speak to each other.
     
    psyguy83 and singasongofjoy like this.
  37. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    720
    331
    Oct 5, 2015
    I was speaking more generally, but also somewhat alluding to a couple other posters here referring to their cohort as "little bitches" or insinuating that their cohort is jealous of them.
     
  38. PSYDNEUROGUY

    PSYDNEUROGUY

    56
    10
    Jul 28, 2016
    Ah...well, that's a shame. I generally like my cohort, I may have 2-3 people I don't care for but to generalize my feelings to my cohort would be pre-mature and distorted. I spend my time developing my professional skills, watching videos to better my interviewing and therapy skills, focus on my research, my leadership responsibilities with the organizations I am involved with on campus. I really don't have too much time to ruminate about stuff like that.
     
    Hope4Grad likes this.
  39. Hope4Grad

    Hope4Grad 5+ Year Member

    123
    100
    Jan 19, 2011
    Wow, that's a really inappropriate and judgmental thing to write. To those struggling, ignore the quoted comment entirely. This person does not know you or your specific situation and frankly it's unethical and deeply unempathic to do that level of armchair analyzation of people based on one post about struggles in grad school. It's sad to see budding psychologists take down colleagues based on complete irreverence for the guiding principles of our field (I.e., this poster needs to revisit the guiding principles of the APA Ethics Code!)
     
  40. Hope4Grad

    Hope4Grad 5+ Year Member

    123
    100
    Jan 19, 2011
    Hi Jd72,
    This topic is clearly of interest not only to you but also to others - and I'm glad there is an anonymous space to discuss it. Yes, my cohort was pretty bad - I still think they were very immature. And I think it was largely about age/experience. You asked about advice... 1) I learned a lot from all that strife about relating to younger people. It's a perspective and skill that has actually held me in good stead both personally and professionally. So, you will learn a lot from this pain. 2) I learned about my own interpersonal weaknesses and blind spots. 3) I wish I had taken the high road more often with them - meaning not gotten so upset and into analyzing them or situations involving them. I would have been happier sooner.
     
    justcallmepsych4life likes this.
  41. super.ego

    super.ego

    26
    20
    Mar 11, 2017
    Wow, I'm really confused by your reaction. It was not my intention to pass judgment.
     
  42. temppsych123

    temppsych123

    181
    135
    Nov 4, 2015
    I wonder if Hope4Grad was trying to quote the person who you were quoting (which seemed more related to Hope4Grad's reply)? I know sometimes the reply/quote options on the board can be kind of finicky...
     

Share This Page