Life After Earning a Graduate Degree
By Lynn Friedman, Ph.D.
Special to washingtonpost.com
You have completed your graduate degree in psychology, counseling or other mental health discipline. You have embarked on a career in which you do psychotherapy, research and/or teaching. You have some basic skills but feel that you are only at the beginning. How do you continue professional development and growth? First, join a professional organization within your discipline. Here are few examples of different ones you can join: Also, join organizations with members who share your professional interests.
If you are a clinician, it is important to seek opportunities to learn from your peers. Join a case consultation group in which clinicians present cases. Seek out your own supervision with a more experienced colleague. Finally, get some advanced training at a psychoanalytic institute, at family therapy organizations, or at cognitive behavioral programs. Pursuing advanced training will allow you to refine and enhance your skills, get to know your colleagues and establish referral relationships.
Clinicians can learn more about themselves using the "tools of the trade," psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. In Washington, D.C., there are a plethora of low fee resources for psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, such as the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute's Clinic (http://www.washpsy.org), the Meyer Treatment Center, the Women's Center, and George Washington's Psy.D. and Ph.D. psychology programs.
For those who are interested in careers in research, there are postdoctoral fellowships to help new and mid-career Ph.D.'s refine their research skills and develop specialty niches. NIH offers fellowship opportunities and funds nationally available programs as do other national organizations. Universities often fund postdoctoral fellowships, too. You can learn more about these opportunities through professional organizations, talking with faculty advisors and reading trade magazines.
People who teach at the college level can pursue a variety of professional opportunities through their universities and other sources. One great resource is the "Chronicle of Higher Education," a newspaper devoted to concerns in higher education.
Your education begins after you earn your advanced degree. Becoming a truly talented professional is a life-long endeavor.
Lynn Friedman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland, who specializes in worklife and organizational consultation and psychotherapy. She provides individual consultation, leads worklife groups, and consults organizations on change management. She has been a washingtonpost.com career advice expert since 1999.