Hate my clinical psych doc program

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

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  1. Hope4Grad

    Hope4Grad 5+ Year Member

    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:
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  3. Rivi

    Rivi 7+ Year Member

    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-VA 10+ Year Member

    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

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

    clinpsych New Member 10+ Year Member

    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

    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!!
  8. ClinApp

    ClinApp Member 7+ Year Member

    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

    Jan 7, 2010
    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.
  10. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist 5+ Year Member

    Dec 29, 2011
    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.
  11. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA 5+ Year Member

    Aug 31, 2011
    New England
    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

    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

    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

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    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

    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

    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.

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