Academic journal article Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

The Lived Experiences of Professional Clinical Psychologists Who Recently Started a New Academic Career

Academic journal article Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

The Lived Experiences of Professional Clinical Psychologists Who Recently Started a New Academic Career

Article excerpt


Employing an adapted Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method, the experience of practicing Clinical Psychologists entering academia is explored. The article explores the recursive process between individual and institution as professional and academic identities develop in the context of a multiplicity of trajectories emerging at the intersection of professional and personal boundaries of identity, rhetoric and reality. The three authors, all of whom are practicing Clinical Psychologists new to academia and who constitute the focus of this study, engaged in a hermeneutic discussion regarding their experience. Exploration of the data gathered from this discussion using the adapted IPA methodology evidenced three central themes, namely: (1) The 'nuts and bolts' of academia; (2) Surviving versus thriving; and (3) It's always personal. These themes are discussed in the context of contemporary literature exploring the experiences of new academics in general and Clinical Psychologists entering academia in particular. The pharmakon (sic.) that carts the Clinical Psychologists interviewed in the study from professional practice to academia is positioned in the context of an emergent meta-theme where the questions are asked: "What is good and what is not good?" and "who will teach us these things?" In the process of contextualizing, exploring and analyzing the emergent themes, the researchers/ participants gradually evidence a response that is less of an answer to the conundrum than it is a koan whereby the questions lose meaning as growth in identity has taken them to the point of the rhetorical response: "Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?"

In Plato's (c. 360 BC/2002) the Phaedrus, Socrates meets Phaedrus on the outskirts of Athens where "sick with passion for hearing speeches" (p. 78) he engages with Phaedrus in a dialogue that spans a plethoric and diverse range of topics. Much of the dialogue centres on themes of madness, occult virtues, cryptic depths and divine inspiration, the ambivalence of which refuse to submit to analysis (Culler, 2003). It is Plato's only dialogue that places Socrates outside of Athens where operating through the seduction of the pharmakon (sic.) Socrates is drawn from his general, natural, habitual paths and laws (Culler, 2003) and placed at a crossroads of madness, wisdom, non-identity and inspiration.

Before lying down to the dilemma, he laments that "a hungry animal can be driven by a dangling carrot or a bit of green stuff in front of it; similarly if you proffer me speeches bound in books I don't doubt that you can cart me all round Attica, and anywhere else you please" (Plato, c. 360 BC/2002, p. 80). Whether for the simple attraction to speeches bound in books or for some other pharmakon (sic.) concoction of madness, wisdom, non-identity and inspiration, the decision by Clinical Psychologists to leave their habitual paths and laws for the halls of academia results in singular dialogue and multiplicity of constructions. In this research article we examine this decision and reflect on our own experiences as Clinical Psychologists embarking on academic careers.

Review of Existing Literature

In their work The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide Darley, Zanna and Roediger (2004) reflect on the formal and informal processes of operation that are evident in academia in general and academic psychology in particular. They stressed the critical importance of the informal, usually unwritten, processes that go beyond the formal delimitations of department and faculty. Bootzin (2004) underscored the potential complexities and multiplicities that may confront Clinical Psychologists in academia in particular; emphasizing the "interactions at the boundaries and across subareas" (p. 329) as the crucial crossroads at which Clinical Psychologists in academia are able to flourish. In essence, his argument posits the necessity of managing a multiplicity of roles that undeniably stray from the general, natural, habitual paths and laws of the Clinical Psychologist in private practice. …

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