On Being Psychologically Minded

Posted on October 30,2010 by jyalofmspp

If you’re considering applying to MSPP's doctoral psychology program, consider this: how you think, view the world and interact with others will forever change. Like getting a tattoo, intensive educational training is, for the most part, permanent. I am finding that this kind of new curiosity is simply the next step in my journey to becoming a full-fledged psychologist, and is perfectly normal. By visiting this blog page, there is a strong possibility that you, too, are looking to learn more about psychology and are curious about human nature.

The question then becomes: which came first? The chicken or the egg? Simply put, were you psychologically minded before you entered the program, which is why you sought it out, or do programs make us more psychologically minded? Like the nature versus nurture debate, I believe it is a combination of the two. When I think of my own development I am very aware that I upon entering this field I was thinking about psychology in relation to my everyday life. I also note that once I graduated from my master’s program, I thought about things on a different level. For example, in a clinical sense when I was sitting across from a client. Now that I go to MSPP, my self-awareness as well as awareness in general is increasing.

Case in point: The other week I was in line behind a family at a coffee shop. There was a grandmother, her son, and his two small children. The woman turned to the son and began to berate him for not ordering quickly enough, whereupon the son turned to his eldest child and yelled at him for not knowing what he wanted to order.

“Family patterns” I immediately thought. The son is learning to treat his children in a similar manner in which he was raised, and continues to be treated, by his own mother. While this isn’t a complex insight, it’s probably not something I’d be hypersensitive to a couple of months ( or years) ago. I turned to my friend after the family had gotten their orders and said, ” Did you notice that?”

” Notice what?”

” The patterns…”

” I was thinking about a pumpkin spice latte,” my friend replied, like a normal human being.

Huh. Intrigued by this notion that how I am thinking is now becoming a part of my daily life, I decided to conduct my own mini-experiment. I was curious if after leaving a graduate program in psychology, this almost new-found daily curiosity would decrease.

I was able to locate a couple of practicing psychologists ( “participants”) and ask them a few questions about how they thought before, during, and after their respective programs. It seems this was the general verdict: Entering a psychology program changes the way you think and the way you interact with others. You tend to become more aware of their feelings, maybe find your own emotions heightened, but generally, the level of intensity diminishes after you graduate. Interesting and not too surprising.

I believe what I am describing ( being changed by your current professional field) holds true in many different professions. For example, some law students may tend to think about certain situations from a judicial perspective after they leave their program. Or, like the “chicken or the egg” perspective, perhaps they have always thought from a judicial perspective.

What seems apparent, comforting, and in my opinion just simply cool is that you’re coming in with a desire to learn and then you’re actually applying it. No longer am I sitting passively in a classroom, reading about a case study. Now I am out in the field, working with actual people. Understanding human interaction, such as the family in the coffee shop, seems understandable, even a part of the learning process.

What MSPP provides is fantastic support. Through clinical seminar classes, supervision at internship and great professors, there is ample opportunity to explore this new aspect of yourself. In fact, I find that you are encouraged to do so.