Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students

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

that the most frequently cited component of “well-functioning” was self-awareness or self-monitoring.

Assume that you have blind spots, that those blind spots can change over time, and that you can work on them to reduce their negative effects. For example, some psychologists may have difficulty working with people of particular ages, cultural or religious affiliations, felony histories, and so forth. They may have difficulty with the financial aspects of their practices, or with the undergraduate courses they are obliged to teach. Working on these blind spots may take the form of careful thought and self-exploration, additional training, consultation, supervision, and/or your own therapy.


Get a Life

This final advice is not as flippant as you might think. Psychology is a noble profession, but it may be dangerous to believe that actualizing our professional aspirations is enough. In speaking about therapy, Gutheil and Gabbard (1993) stated, “Trouble begins precisely when the therapist stops thinking of therapy as work” (p. 192). When we believe that our identity as human beings is dependent exclusively on the professional success we have, then the therapeutic or educational progress of each client and student becomes too important. At that point our motivation and judgment may be diminished and we become prime candidates for unethical behavior. Getting a life means putting your professional activities in perspective.

Obviously, our professional roles are the source of much satisfaction in our lives. However, they are not the only source of satisfaction, and some needs simply cannot be met by teaching, therapy, research, or consultation. Getting a life means being enough of a well-rounded human being that you can find ways to get your emotional (especially romantic and sexual) needs met outside the professional arena.


Conclusion

In summary, learning to become ethical involves the same level of dedication and work as learning to become a good clinician, researcher, consultant, or teacher. Becoming ethical is more than good intentions and technical expertise. And staying ethical involves continuing to expand our ethical knowledge and skills.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This chapter benefitted greatly from the expert editorial input of Margie Krest and the professional and ethical wisdom of William Sobesky.


REFERENCES

Abeles, N. (1980). Teaching ethical principles by means of values confrontation. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 17, 384–391.

American Psychological Association. (1991). Guidelines for providers of psychological services to ethnic, linguistic, and culturally diverse populations. Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (1992). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 47, 1597–1611.

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