Tag Archives: psychology

On Being a Psychologist and Why Dentists get Tooth Decay!

Portrait B/W white edge


“Hi my name is Monica! And I’m a Psychologist!” are words that never leave my mouth!!!!

Usually when I’m out socially outside of work hours, I avoid answering the question “So what do you do for work?” I desperately avoid answering, not because I’m embarrassed about what I do. But because the conversation always changes once I announce that I’m a psychologist. Over the last 10 years I’ve noticed a pattern in peoples’ reactions once they find out Im a psychologist.

First, the most common response  from overly sleazy males is “So are you psychoanalysing me now?” My reply to this response is typically “I wouldn’t be wasting my time with you deary!!” Which has proved to be an especially useful retort  to  get rid of said sleazy males!

Second, next most common response is “You only went to university to study Psychology to work yourself out!”  Depending on my mood at the time, I have either of two replies in this scenario. I can quickly reply “Yes – so what!” and  then walk away leaving their blank looks behind. Effectively rendering the person’s cheeky comment useless and  redundant. Or I reply “Yes! But would you rather see a psychologist who has known pain and suffering,  got through and survived, and then made something of them self? Or would you prefer to see a psychologist who has never known pain and suffering and who has zero life experience?”

Obviously most people state they would rather see the first type of psychologist. The one who’s experienced pain and suffering, travelled the path of self discovery, and  made it through successfully. Newsflash! Yes – psychologist’s get depressed. Yes – psychologists get anxious. Yes – psychologists suffer extreme trauma.

Excuse me for stating the obvious, but psychologists are human. Regular human beings who also suffer the whole spectrum of psychological issues and mental health conditions just like non-psychologists. Just like dentists get tooth decay, and oncologists get cancer, and nurse’s get sick. We’re all human! Just because a psychologist has studied psychology doesn’t mean they don’t become mentally unwell. Just because a psychologist has studied psychology doesn’t mean they can  prevent the onset of debilitating mental health issues in their own self. Psychologists will hopefully recognise symptoms in themselves, and can even apply various psychological interventions and therapies to help them selves. But just because a psychologist knows how to treat their own condition, doesn’t mean a psychologist will never fall victim to adverse mental health conditions.

And if you’re worried about the quality of care from psychologists who may be suffering from mental illness – Don’t! Our industry is closely regulated by controlling registry bodies and ethical codes, and any psychologist suffering from a mental illness is required to temporarily suspend professional practise  while they seek help and recover.

So back to my original story line……the third common response always involves people asking me to help someone for free, and often sounds like  “Hey my sister is going through a really bad divorce at the moment. Could you phone her for a quick chat? She really needs some help!”

Breathe Monica Breathe!

Please know that I love helping people and derive much satisfaction watching individuals growing emotionally, changing their lives for the better. Obviously. Why else would I be a psychologist? It certainly isn’t for the money! Those specialist dentists get paid much more!! (Ouch is my tooth sore?) But I definitely don’t work for free.

I have completed nearly 10 years of university study. Spent thousands of dollars on text books and university fees. Sacrificed so much along the way. And just because when you pay for my psychological service you don’t walk away with a shopping bag full of goodies, it doesn’t mean you can ask for a freebie. My skills are worth good money. My skills are not displayed in some flashy shop front window. I keep them stored carefully  in my head, catalogued away, ready for activation and application whenever I’m treating a paying client or patient. I value my skills. Please could you value my skills too? Please don’t ask psychologists for freebies.  Instead ask where we practise, and how you can get your friend or family member an appointment.

Lastly, my favourite (although restricted ) reply to the original question,  “What do you do for work?”  is my cheeky answer, “I make people cry for a living!” Once the stifled giggles subside, people  generally enquire whether I’m a counsellor or a Dominatrix! Amusing! Once a man even asked if I was a lawyer!!! Obviously by this time I confess to being a psychologist.  Who knows what trouble I’d find myself getting mixed up with if I claimed to be a Dominatrix!

So during a social occasion, if you ever meet a psychologist please resist any urges to deliver some smart comment! I personally have heard them all. And please remember psychologists are human too, and sometimes psychologists need offers of help from their own friends and family.