Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Am Only Human

Thank you Willheim for pointing out that psychologists are human beings too.

When it comes to healthcare, we (or at least I) tend to put doctors on a pedestal. There have often been times when my mother has advised me to eat something while I have a fever and I retorted back to her saying, "Doctor has not said anything about eating that!".

Now more and more people are doing that with shrinks. It is not surprising though. When people (especially the first-timers) make that decision to go see a professional for help, its usually after they have tried all else and failed, They then begin to think that only a professional can solve their problems without realizing that they cannot and can only assist people in doing so.

Moreover, people have misconceptions about the things we can do to ourselves!

When I was a victim of identity theft three years ago, and lost a lot of money, I was experiencing rage and sadness. A friend tells me,

"Come on, you have studied psychology so much. Can't you handle yourself?"
Uh no....! I lost some money and feel cheated. Its a hard time!

When I made a mistake about choosing a certain relationship, I was told,

"How come YOU made that mistake of all the people? Surely you knew better!"
Umm...actually not! I do not read people's minds and do not know what their intentions are.

And then my personal favorite (being sarcastic here),

"You counsel so many people. Why can't you counsel yourself?"
Sure! Sounds like a great idea! I will cry one minute on one chair, and then jump onto the other chair and start talking sense with a calm demeanor.

The truth is that when we are in sensitive situations ourselves, no matter what our profession, we are not able to be neutral, nonjudgmental, and clear in our minds. You can read another example of this in an excellent story that Ceedy wrote about a doctor and his family member.

Its funny how people think that because I am a psychologist, I know a lot about teaching, babysitting, nutrition, etc..
So I get asked questions like,

"How can I teach my child to read?"
mmmmm..Maybe ask your child's teacher??

"What kind of a babysitter should I pick for my child?"
Common sense tells me someone you and your child are comfortable with?

"What should I feed my child for better memory?"
My grandmother used to say almonds, so almonds.

The funniest part about all this is that I am not even a child psychologist! But apparently, I am a genius who knows everything about every population. Just like you would go to a gynaecologist if you have kidney stones??

The woe of being a psychologist is that people think you are not entitled to the normal emotions that a human being experience. The truth is, I am a cry baby.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Poll Results & More Questions

I was very sad (but not surprised) to see the results of the poll I had put up on "Short and Sweet" a few weeks ago.

The question was:

If you were suffering from some emotional difficulties, would you go see a counselor?

Yes most definitely! I would like to talk to an expert about it: 6 responses

No, I do not like to talk about my problems with anyone: 1 response

Yes, but only if I know the person: 2 responses

No! I am not crazy!!!: 7 responses

I don't know. I never thought about it: 1 response

As I followed the poll for several days, the trend was for the maximum responses to be "No I am not crazy" while the first option was chosen only in the last few days.

I would like to know from you, the readers of this blog....

1) Do you still feel like only crazy people go to counselors?
2) Has your perspective changed even a bit after reading some of the posts here?
3) Would you go see someone if you experience rocky paths in your life and feel like you cannot handle it on your own?
4) Would you be ashamed about it and keep it a hidden fact from your family and friends?
5) Would you recommend someone to go see a professional if you feel they need the help?

Your honesty is appreciated!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Truth

Thank you for the strong response to the previous question.

Some of you were a bit off track while some of you were right on target!!

It is very troubling to know that people still believe that its only those who suffer from schizophrenia, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, and emotionally "unstable" people need to go see a psychologist, or that only those who have no family or friends to solve their problems will benefit from therapy (or "counseling" to reduce the negative connotation that the word therapy holds).

Some responses also suggested that the common belief is that the psychologist will solve your problems or will be the "know-all". This response is inaccurate, sadly. And also puts us on a pedestal. We do not do much hand-holding. We provide all the support that we can in helping you come to a decision when facing a conflict or putting light on the pros and cons of the solutions to your problems. However, we do not do the work for you. In therapy, you have to work hard yourself!!

Here is a list of some of the problems that I have helped people with in recent times.

Helping my client...

  • Figure out if he is gay or straight.
  • Build social skills to maintain a romantic relationship.
  • Get over her grandmother's loss to death.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle to increase her weight.
  • Build her low self-esteem.
  • Get over her addiction to eating toilet paper.
  • Manage her ADHD.
  • Get over his panic attacks.
  • With his academic problems including poor motivation.
  • Fight his suicidal thoughts and overcome them.
  • Have a smooth transition into college from high school.
  • Deal with homesickness.
  • Resolve family conflicts and improve familial relationships.
  • Rebuild trust after having been cheated on.
  • Connect to the community resources such as the doctor's office after fearing he had contracted an STD.
  • Adjust to the United States

And many many more......................including feelings of sadness, guilt, overwhelming anxiety, phobia, job-related stress, post-traumatic stress, alcohol addiction....

Of all the people above, no one can be labeled crazy or mentally unstable, at least not in American terms. But I am sure in India they will be. And plus, the stereotype that I get to hear everytime I tell people about my profession is

"Oh you will make a lot of money. People in America are crazy".

Of all the problems listed above, how many can you identify with? I am sure, at least one.
Let's be fair. If the people listed above are crazy, are you not one of them too?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Question For You!

I have a question for all of you before I proceed to my next write-up.

According to all of you, what kind of people normally would go to see a psychologist?

In other words, what are the problems that usually make people go see a shrink?

Awaiting your responses in my comments section and will respond to your comments with a new post!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Psy.D vs. Ph.D in Clinical Psychology

Ok, I lied in my last post. I don't have a Ph.D. I am on my way to getting a Psy.D.

Uh no..not SIDEY..its Psy.D=Doctor of Psychology.

Yes, there is such a thing. I am not making it up. I still qualify to being a false doctor.

What's the difference between a Ph.D and a Psy.D, you may ask, as do the millions who drop their jaws when I tell them what I am doing, and wait for the answer before they run for the door.

This difference is basic. A Ph.D degree is more focused on research, publications, and collection of data while a Psy.D degree is more focused on field experiences, intensive practicum, and lots of real patients before we graduate.

So which one is better? Go figure. I personally feel that Psy.D's can do more justice to you because they have had the real experiences as opposed to bookish or theoretical knowledge, while under supervision. But that is my own personal bias.

Most states in the United States do not give the title of a "psychologist" to anyone who does not have a doctorate degree and the appropriate license to practice (which is a whole new story). So if there is someone who has a Master's degree and poses to be a psychologist, they are probably fooling you or ripping you off! So beware!!!

Why so much education for someone who just sits on their butt and listens to people drone? Because we are dealing with real lives here. Real people. It is no joke.

So if you have taken a psychology 101 class in your undergraduate coursework, please refrain from doing "psychoanalysis" on other people. That is one of my pet peeves. And then I wonder, "If I could do psychoanalysis by taking one class, what the heck am I doing in this "sidey" program for 5 freaking years only to be paid a measly $60,000 a year?"


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist?

A very common question, this is posed to me, at least once a month if not more, ever since I got into the field.

The difference is basic.

Psychiatrists prescribe medication and are able to perform surgeries if needed. And in order to do that, they require a degree in medicine. This is a plain explanation in layman's terms. And when people hear this, they usually say, "Oh that means all that you (psychologists) do is talk! And you are not a real doctor". Never said I was. The Ph.D makes me a false doctor.

In the beginning, I was patient (no pun intended) enough to explain that the talking that they think happens in there is not really saying "I understand" at the end of every sentence that the client utters. There are techniques to it, there are certain theories to be followed, some systems and protocols in place, and not just a blah blah session. Oh well, these days, I only heave out huge sighs of frustration in my head and manage to control all my aggressive instincts.

Ok basically, psychiatrists prescribe and we talk, or rather listen.

Contrary to popular notion, there are no couches in there, no one is lying down, no one is being hypnotized, and no one is reading the other's mind. This used to happen centuries ago. Not anymore.

After this conversation follows a burst of laughter, giggles, guffaws, and one sentence,

"I am going to be your first patient". This seems to be a much coveted position. THE FIRST PATIENT.

Sorry my friend, that privilege has been given to someone else. You see, I have had several "first patient" offers already. Sadly, I also had my first patient several years ago. Better luck next time!

When The Journey Began

When I decided to become a psychologist (in elementary school), I was surely in la-la-land. I thought it would be fun to solve people's problems and envisioned myself to be the agony aunt of the whole world. I basked in imagined glory and felt proud of things that I thought I would do but had not yet done.

And then, a few years later, my bubble broke. When I started doing my bachelors in psychology, people would ask me,

"Are you reading my mind?"
"Are you analyzing me?"
"Can you tell me what I am thinking?"

And the worst, "I need to talk to you" in a hushed tone suggesting someone in dire need of help and forming beads of perspiration on my forehead. All this from someone who had not even graduated with a degree!!

It never got better. You would think that with the advent of Star TV and what not, people would become more aware of what psychology is all about and what psychologists actually do. Much to my chagrin, people continued to bask in the disillusions that I had when I was a child.

And like a brave soul, I thought I would fight it all. I still am. And in this blog, you will read about all my fights! Some funny, some eye-opening, some disgusting, and some just plain stories.

Come back for more!