Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Typical Day In My Life

Here goes...a typical day in my life since I started with my doctoral degree in psychology. However, bear in mind, that every day looks very different. Its just that the schedule remains the same!

I am picking a day from my 3rd year (Its a 5-year program and am currently in my 4th year)

7:45 am: Wake up, snooze, whine, drag self out of bed, get dressed.

8:15: Rush out in a hurry, speed to class (10 miles away)

8:30-11:30: Class that I try not to sleep in.

11:30: Meet with advisor or whatever or whoever or just hurry out before advisor catches you to ask you about your progress on dissertation.

11:45: Reach home, pack a diet coke, string cheese, crackers, cereal bar, chocolate, and whatever else you can set your hands on.

12:00 pm: Either walk to work (if on campus) or rush out again and speed to practicum (15 miles away). I used to call my practicum clinic " factory" because it made me slog!

12:30 pm-8:00 pm: Work, work, work, work, see time, sigh, eat, work, work, text message, work.

8:30: Come home, go to the kitchen to either find nothing cooked or something disgusting on the gas stove, put noodles to cook, change, eat.

9:00: study, study, talk on the phone, study, study, cry.

2:00 am: fall asleep instantly as soon as lights are off.

Its not easy taking 15 credits, working 36 hours, working on your thesis, studying for qualifiers, having crazy roommates, be sleep-deprived, live like a pauper, avoiding your advisor at any given time, and all that jazz.

And yet, all that I have to think about during these times is...

In July 2009, I will be DR. SOLITAIRE!!!! :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

Maybe sometimes. I was happy when I was ignorant about what it would take to become a psychologist. And now I think I was stupid!

Of course, I knew I needed a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Master's degree too.

But when I came to the United States, I realized that was NOT ENOUGH.
I earned my Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Michigan, which is one of the few states that allows Masters-Level Psychologists. But in order to practice, I needed to work 1000 hours to get a TLLP (Temp Limited License), thereafter work 2000 hours to get an LLP (Limited License in Psychology) only to realize that this license will never allow me to practice independently, without supervision.

So I decided to pursue a doctoral degree (and you guys already know about the psy.d/ph.d distinction). In this program, I realized that after I graduate, I have to work 2000 hours (oh no..not again) before I can take a licensing exam. This exam varies from state to state. Some have a written exam, while some also add an oral component to it. I also need to take a national licensing exam. And once I pass these exams (pass rate is 70%), I can be a fully-licensed psychologist!!

That's not all! Over and above that, we have to earn 6 continuing education credits each year.

WHY OH WHY!!!!! Maybe I should have stuck to my dream of becoming a teacher.....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Does the child in TZP need the help of a psychologist?

YES!! and YES!!

Psychologists deal with emotional problems-TRUE!!

But how do you think that a child will be diagnosed with a learning disability such as dyslexia, disorder of written expression, math disorder, (yes all these do exist!), mental retardation, or ADHD?Not everyone has an Aamir Khan working in their school to recognize that a child is any of the above. Morever, even if they did, that is no way of labeling a child with certainty!

The truth is that there are several (thousands and thousands) of tests that will aid in the process and help a clinician come to that conclusion. Yes! It is ONLY a clinician or a psychologist that is allowed to administer these tests, not a teacher, not a parent, not a neighbor or a layman, NOT the internet, either.

Some of these tests including the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and the Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement. It takes hours to administer the test, there are set protocols for doing so, the tests are normed for certain population through standardized procedures, and only people with certain credentials (read psychologists) are allowed to administer, score, and write up reports on the results.

Moreover, the psychologist will work with the parents on extending their support and giving them pointers on how to help their child and accelerate his/her progress. Apart from that, the psychologist will also work with the school and teachers on recommending some special services and accommodations for the child so that he/she can perform to the best of their ability despite their weakness. And last of all, the psychologist may choose to work with the child on their self esteem!!

Cutting a long story short...the child in TZP needs the help of a psychologist. I would not have minded helping him as long as Aamir Khan had continued to be his teacher!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


One of the many woes of a psychologist is the ethical responsibility of confidentiality. Even though, I am protecting my client's identity on my posts, I still am uncomfortable at the thought of a client reading my blog and realizing its about him/her.

Therefore, this blog is going private on MARCH 20, 2008!

Those who want to continue reading this blog, please send me your email addresses.


Is it ok to publish your email addresses in the comments section?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


One of the many woes of a psychologist is the "lack of appreciation".

Granted that we are in a "non-profit" industry, sometimes barely making enough to make ends meet (contrary to popular belief that psychologists mint money). But sometimes, when we come home from a long day, listening to people's messed-up life stories, their pain, their losses, their insecurities, their frustrations, we need someone to tell us,

"You did a good job".

I get this message from my client when he or she says,
"I think I am feeling much better now and do not need to come in anymore."

This message sometimes takes days, more often, months to come to me. The biggest reinforcement for a psychologist comes from the fact that their patient visibly looks different, expresses greater satisfaction with life, and is able to deal with daily stressors without any assistance after having expressed at some point that life is not worth living amidst tears.

It helps when someone appreciates your hard work and the efforts you put in bringing your patient to that point in their life. It also helps when people do not criticize you for being a psychologist and avoid you like plaque for fear that you will analyze their life story to shreds. This appreciation has come to me through this blog.

You say thank you for writing this blog and giving you a perspective that you did not give close attention to in the past. I say thank you for giving me the appreciation that boosts me to work harder in this industry. We share a symbiotic relationship.

A special thanks to Keshi who announced her appreciation (and almost got me out of business through the first part of her post) on her blog. Good things come in small packages, I guess. And when unexpected, they create joy which know no bounds.

Thank you all!!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

All Day Long...

"Don't you go crazy listening to people's problems all day long?"

I get this question all the time.

In the beginning, my answer was yes. I constantly worried about my clients after I had gone home. And I would constantly dread seeing them again because I was sure that my mind would shut down the moment they started talking about their abusive husband, spoilt children, unfair teachers, disloyal friend, and their singlehood. That was the beginning.

Gradually, I learned how to zone them out the moment they stepped out of the office.
In fact, I also used to tell my friend jokingly, "I work in a factory!" because I felt like I was producing a new item every hour, one after the other, relentlessly, without any breaks, as clients walked in on time and stepped out exactly 5o minutes later, giving me enough time to write up a progress note and briefly glance over the next person's file.

The problem begins when I drag myself home exhausted and then start getting calls, "I need to talk to you urgently. I had a fight with my boyfriend." or an offliner on yahoo saying, ":( I need free therapy", or worse still, a long email which can be made into a book chapter about how heartbroken my friend is. These are the things that I have not learned to zone out from. Because no matter what, there are more emotions attached when a loved one or a friend is in distress. But when these distresses clearly become a figment of their imagination because free psychotherapy is easily available (long after the problem has been resolved), my emotions change from genuine concern to nonchalance, and ultimately, annoyance.

So how do I do it all day long? The 9 am to 5 pm is the easiest part. It is the rest of the day that becomes challenging. After all, who likes working overtime without being paid or without any appreciation or without getting a break?

P.S: Now I know why I should not call a doctor friend after hours if something can wait until next morning.
And now I understand why my uncle who worked as an engineer in the electricity company hated getting complaints in the middle of the night.