Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students

By Steven Walfish; Allen K. Hess | Go to book overview

STRATEGIES FOR OTHER MINORITY GROUPS

Whether your minority status is more obvious and “traditional, ” such as a physical disability, or less recognized, such as being older, younger, or spiritually minded, we encourage you to use the principles outlined in the preceding sections. This includes finding support with peers and professional role models where possible. Develop connections and support groups, informal and formal, with peers who share your minority experience. Create or organize coursework, curricula, and training sites that meet your needs and interests. Seek out professional organizations and their divisions that may address your minority status (e.g., APA Division 22 for Rehabilitation Psychology at www.apa.org/divisions/div22; Division 36 for Psychology of Religion at www.apa.org/about/division/div36.html; and Division 20 for Adult Development and Aging at www.iog.wayne.edu/APADIV20/APADIV20.HTM). These may also help you find educational and validating reading lists as well as funding opportunities. As you probably already know from your life experience, you can expect people to speak or act in inappropriate or ignorant ways at times. Often you can educate them, but you also need not be discouraged by others' lack of consciousness. Finally, be willing to lead the way and create groups or opportunities for yourself to figure out how to integrate your minority status into your professional identity.


CONCLUSION

The bad news is that prejudice and discrimination are alive and continue in the world. The good news is that there is progress, such as a heightened awareness and many more resources for combating the ill effects of such ignorant and sometimes illegal behavior. Varied types of discrimination and prejudice create adverse psychological and physiological effects. There are active ways of coping through accessing mentors, resources, information, social support, and reading. More passive means of coping, such as internal cognitive reframing, prayer, and meditation, are also options. Expect that most people will try to treat you fairly. However, you may also have to educate some people who may speak or act hurtfully out of either ignorance or malice. Remember, people's attitudes change just by being exposed to a positive, living, breathing member of a minority group. Thanks to the work of those before them, most members of under represented groups can now create the career and professional identity that they want for themselves.


REFERENCES

Berkman, C. S., & Zinberg, G. (1997). Homophobia and heterosexism in social workers. Social Work, 42, 319–332.

Biaggio, M., Duffy, R., & Staffelbach, D. (1997). Obstacles to addressing professional misconduct. Clinical Psychology Review, 18, 273–285.

Black, M., & Holden, E. W. (1998). The impact of gender on productivity and satisfaction among medical school psychologists. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 5, 117–131.

Cantor, J. (1994). APAGS guide to graduate school for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. Available from APAGS, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002–4242.

Clark, R., Anderson, N. B., Clark, V. R., & Williams, D. R. (1999). Racism as a stressor for African Americans: A biopsychosocial model. American Psychologist, 54, 805–816.

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