I’ve now passed the half way mark of my first placement as a trainee psychologist. So, it’s time to pull together the threads of all the lessons I’m learning.
- The unexpected is challenging. While it goes without saying that the unfamiliar is challenging, I’ve also learned that a number of little things I never anticipated being difficult are deceptively tricky. For example, my placement’s EFTPOS machine and I are not yet friends nor is calculating ‘age at testing’ on the Wechsler Scales intuitive for me yet.
- Everything is heightened. My four years of undergraduate training taught me about psychological theory, writing, statistics, critical thinking and gave me an appreciation that while I know more now than before, there is always so much more to learn. My first forays into becoming a trainee psychologist have brought me right back to the beginning again as I develop another set of skills. With this return to being a complete novice comes the heightened frustration and excitement. On the one hand, I can clearly see the gap between where my skills are now and where I would like them to be when I’m a fully fledged psychologist, but on the other hand I have the excitement of slowly watching this gap become smaller and realising that I’m now achieving the milestones in my learning that just a month ago seemed daunting.
- You need a balanced picture. Picture for me if you will a see-saw. On one side is your sense of competence and on the other your awareness of the things you can’t yet do, or not as well as you would like. Reviewing therapy sessions with my supervisor has helped me gain a balanced picture of areas for improvement and my current competence.
- I’m really enjoying this. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it’s a lot of work. And yes, I’ve had to dive right out of my comfort zone, but I am really enjoying my placement. There are so many positives: the camaraderie with my fellow students and supervisors, working with parents and children, schools and other health professionals and those moments when I can see myself, one day not so far from now, as a registered psychologist. I’m still adamant that for me this picture will also involve research/lecturing, but I would like to incorporate practising as a psychologist too.
For anyone out there about to dive into their own placement adventures, I thought I’d finish off by sharing what a wise person said to me before I started placement: you’re going to love it!