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Questionnaire: Understanding Yourself as a Psychologist

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 7 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Psychology Psychologist Psychologists

In order to be able to listen to and enlighten others, you need to be comfortable with yourself.

Most psychologists are required to take some counselling of their own as part of their training or studying, so if you are planning to start a career in psychology, you will need to be prepared to understand yourself better before you can start to help others.

The counselling or psychology that you will take can be a very exciting, emotional and draining time. It is a terribly important time, though, as you will be able to know yourself far better than ever before. Depending on the field of psychology that you aim to work in, you will probably need to have some general counselling and more specific sessions relating to the field in which you want to focus.

For example, if you are hoping to work as a child psychologist, you can appreciate that it is imperative that you have dealt with any issues from your own childhood before you get involved in other peoples lives. It would be terribly damaging for a child psychologist to transpose or enable any unhealthy experiences or emotions onto their patients.

That is not to say that undertaking your own counselling or speaking to a psychologist is in any way negative, indeed, many psychologists are passionate advocates on the type of continual personal development that other people find unnecessary.

Ask yourself the following questions in order to gain a greater insight into the types of issues that you may not yet have dealt with in your own life, which shall need to be addressed before you undertake any professional counselling or psychology work.

1) How Do You Feel About Your Childhood?

Many psychology experts, whether they are child psychologists, behavioural psychologists or whatever, appreciate that our childhoods play a major role in the adult we become. The important ‘nature nurture’ debate is a common thread throughout psychology and for those that believe ‘nurture’ is the overriding factor would require ones childhood issues to be discussed and resolved.

2) Have You Had An Eating Disorder?

This also goes for other emotional disorders or addictions that can highlight unresolved issues. If you have a difficult relationship with food, or money or whatever, you will need to deal with the underlying causes in order to be able to help your potential patients.

It is unprofessional and unhelpful to have unresolved issues that may colour your professional advice. However much you would want to be totally objective, it is largely considered impossible if you have not moved on from your own problems. However, some professionals believe that having experienced such issues yourself can make you a better, more empathetic psychologist, as long as you have worked through the issues prior to treating anyone.

3) Have You Experienced Life?

That may sound like too big a question to answer, but in its simplest form, the question is asking if you have a wide enough life experience to draw on to be able to help other people work through their issues. If you imagine you are the patient, would you prefer a fresh faced psychology graduate that knows all the theory but none of the practise, or a person that has had a few scrapes and knows that theory needs some real life experience to make it realistic?

Take it upon yourself to live as much as possible; watch people, talk to people, appreciate that life is light, dark and every shade in between. By understanding yourself better you will be able to understand others.

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