Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students

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

to be supportive and non-critical individuals” (Carifio & Hess, 1987, p. 244). The fortunate student will have a supervisor who acts as if he or she lives by John Masefield's credo: “Once in a century a person may be ruined or made insufferable by praise. But surely once in a minute something generous dies for want of it.”


After All, Why Do We Want to be Clinical Psychologists?

There is an adage that when one becomes a teacher, one learns from students. The psychotherapy relationship is special in that it allows for “bridging” connections. Although “bonding” connections sustain us (bonding relationships are those with others who are like ourselves and with whom we interact either voluntarily or within an existing familial bond), the bridging relationships help us grow as human beings in special relationships that allow for intimacy between people who would otherwise never know each other. Thus psychotherapy offers the opportunity to interact with the profoundly mentally disordered, the retarded, those addicted to drugs, those who rent out their bodies for sexual favors, or those who appear to have all the privileges of life but experience internally driven despair. When we enter into the psychotherapeutic experience with them, we can begin to see beyond the diagnostic label or the face of the person and understand their character. The unfolding of a person's essence in a relationship, particularly one as focused as psychotherapy, is an awesome experience. The therapist can see the person's life as they experience it, beyond their physical, fiscal, and other objective features. Antonio, in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night realizes the transparency of facade and the importance of depth of character:

Antonio: But O how vile an idol proves this god! Thou hast, Sebastian, done good feature shame. In nature there's no blemish but the mind; None can be call'd deform'd but the unkind: Virtue is beauty but the beauteous-evil Are empty trunks o'erflourish'd by the devil. (Act III, Scene IV)

Bridging connections to the essence of the other allow us to connect across differences and find the truth in Sullivan's one-genus postulate: “We are all so much more human than otherwise.”


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I am grateful to Jon Jensen for comments on an earlier version of this chapter, and to Kathryn D. Hess and Tanya H. Hess for comments on this version.


REFERENCES

Aldrich, L. G. (1982). Construction of mixed standard scales for the rating of psychotherapy supervisors. Thesis, Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

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

Aronson, S. (2000). Analytic supervision: All work and no play? Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 36, 121–132.

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