Untrained Psychologist Meeets Professional Psychologist

I can’t contain my excitement about beginning prerequisites for a PhD in Psychology. Some strippers make close to, or over six figures, but I can’t say I’m among them. However, I have acted as something of an amateur psychologist over the course of many years as a bartender, and of course, as a dancer, which could prove a foundation for professional counseling. Due to the short shelf life of stripping and the fact I’m starting to age out of it, I have started seriously contemplating my transition into white collar, age-proof work.

I have a Bachelor’s, but didn’t choose my major based on a solid career goal; I studied foreign languages and simply wanted to be proficient, if not fluent, in them, debunking the stereotype of shamelessly monolingual Americans. I have spent a good six years post-undergrad floundering around the work force, settling for unsuitable office jobs out of financial urgency, struggling as a proud, but broke freelancer who didn’t have to deal with office culture, and working gigs I was overqualified for like Liquor Promos, bartending/waitressing followed by stripping. I’ve been predominantly in the adult business since January 2010, save a hiatus the second half of that year, and much like career bartenders, haven’t broken free of the dead-end instant cash source of income.

In my still-subsiding “military phase,” of dating, I’ve noted how cliche’ it is for servicemen to become firefighters, cops or correctional officers, which is perfectly fine and logical. It’s plenty cliche’ for strippers to study and work toward a future in counseling or Pschology. Some become true writers like Diablo Cody and Lily Burana and I started this blog with the same aspirations. But we all need a plan B.

As any of you familiar with my blog know, I have a long way to go managing my own mental health and substance abuse issues. I’m abusing my friend’s Adderall this very moment, not only to focus, but to suppress my appetite. In addition to giving the trial and error process of medication a chance, I could use some anger management, talk therapy I stick with and, most importantly, an ability to be compassionate without being too affected by the emotions of others. A middle ground between cold as stone and empathetic on a professional, non-boundary-crossing, level.

Because I am only taking prerequisites now, I can always rethink whether a career in Psychology is realistic, but I hope this zeal isn’t just another phase. Prerequisites allow me to dip my toes in the subject, which I never took undergrad, and gain contacts for recommendation letters. Psychology PhD’s are incredibly competitive and according to a family friend who practices, schools are favoring 22 year olds who majored in it as undergrads. Superior maturity and “real life” experience outside the bubble of academia are not terribly appreciated these days. There’s something to be said for making ends meet without student loans, even and especially, through stripping. It builds character, gives you perspective and exposes you to less-sheltered, less coddling environments, making you more scrappy and resilient.

I initially considered psychology because, in my own experience, I never enjoyed the separation between my pill-pusher doctors and talk therapists. My new therapist, who I love, actually has a firm grasp of various medications, unlike certain hack social workers I’ve dealt with. I always pined for the Doctor Melfi of The Sopranos treatment: talk to me for an hour and prescribe as you feel appropriate. The system makes this rather hard to come by, so it’s a no-brainer that I’d prefer speaking to patients and gettting a Psych PhD instead of going to med school (the latter would never happen thanks to my squeamishness.)

I like my current therapist because she is not afraid to be sarcastic and straight-talking. A primary goal of hers is to increase my self esteem and help me toward my goal of having a real romantic relationship where I take myself and the guy seriously. She will call a guy cheap if I paint him that way and say “He’s a loser, get rid of him.” She’ll also remind me I’m a good catch, smart and pretty, and discourage me from using my struggles as an excuse to feel unworthy and be used as a “filler” sex toy between “real” girlfriends. I have to get over the attitude I’ll never be wife or mother material, and that this ho truly can’t be made a housewife (by housewife I mean dual-income earner someone loves coming home to.)

I didn’t initially like my psychopharmacologist when I saw her in 2007 to treat me for ADHD (which has many overlapping symptoms with Bipolar Disorder.) During our first or second appointment, which was in the morning before work, she was digging into my past in a Freudian way, pushing me to talk about my mother’s death. That put me in a sombre mood, interfering with the work day. I’ve come around big time to her now. She is a one-woman counseling department at a community healthcare center I’ve used since 2007 and, while she is small potatoes compared to the renowned Psych department at Mass General Hospital, she suits me just fine. Compared with a previous doctor, it’s clear she hasn’t been wined and dined by specific drug companies. Many patients of means turn their noses up at Community Health Centers, since they serve lower class individuals on subsidized insurance. But I think the nature of the public, versus private, health care operation, helps my pill doctor not to be swayed by drug companies. Plus, my primary care provider is easy to book on very short notice, instead of the ridiculous intake waits and advanced appointment requirements of more snob-friendly doctors.

Because I have suffered trauma in the past and dated a Marine with severe PTSD, I’m interested in being a VA Psychologist and/or private practitioner specializing in PTSD and related issues such as anxiety and depression. I am big on suicide prevention and would get great satisfaction out of helping veterans and adolescents avoid ending it all in lieu of healing their personal wounds to the best extent possible. As I said before, I hope to avoid oversensitivity to the emotions of others, because as of now, the thought of losing patients to suicide, or “failing” them is a tough cross to bear, even though one can only do so much and often don’t see it coming.

I may explore a career in Psychology that is more research-oriented, with less face to face interaction. I like the idea of writing articles for medical or mental health trade publications about my findings, fusing one career goal with another.

Besides my aformentioned apprehensions, I have one particular beef with the field of Psychology. I have a lot to learn, but given the recent controversy over the DSM-V’s release, I’ve gained some understanding of how things work. Assigning a diagnostic code to a person equals money in the bank insurance claim-wise. Instead of saying “I think it’s appropriate to see a doctor for antidepressants as you recover from grief over the loss of someone close to you,” many are inclined to put the diagnostic label on a possibly temporary problem. This new defiance disorder where kids don’t obey their parents? That’s called being a kid who, with proper parenting and some unmedicated professional counseling, can grow out of it. I’m not against the recent inclusion of overeating without purging as a mental health disorder, because anorexia and bulimia certainly are, but I’m sure some unapologetic overeaters may recieve the diagnosis when it’s less related to mental health than being in a community where bigger women are appreciated, or having a blissfully care-free attitude toward body image, which is quite the opposite of obsessing over food and body dysmorphia.

In any case, I don’t want to make diagnosis’ on commission, assuming it works a tad that way. While watching the key Psychologist for the prosecution of Jodi Arias, I was fascinated, taking copious notes as she and the prosecutor addressed diagnostic criteria for PTSD and Borderline Personality at length. I was surprised by how few of the criteria have to be met for a diagnosis, though I was grateful for the layperson-friendly descriptions.

I’ve been told by an army friend the VA almost force-feeds returning vets PTSD and it’s definitely a “diagnosis du jour.” I’ve formed a habit of diagnosing people I know, such as a fellow blogger who demonstrates insanely high levels of Narcissism (takes one to know one, but she is truly extreme.) I’ve diagnosed several family members in my own mind as having anxiety and manic-depression. They say these things are genetic, and if I have to have a stigmatized label, why shouldn’t they be fairly assessed, instead of judging me as the scapegoat on the extreme level by comparison?

I think it’s time to stop rambling, but I’d love to hear what some of you think. Over and out!

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8 Responses to “Untrained Psychologist Meeets Professional Psychologist”

  1. Sex Mahoney Says:

    I remember people saying “[t]hat’s called being a kid who, with proper parenting and some unmedicated professional counseling, can grow out of it” about ADHD when I was younger (and the diagnosis becoming more prevalent).

    Do you think academia’s resistance to “real life” and work experience is a consequence of the field’s relative youth? Or is the behavior typical of academic departments across fields?

  2. j Says:

    Yes, Go for it!
    And hold on!

  3. williambartee@yahoo.com Says:

    I wonder if they would take you serious due to being a former stripper and bar tender but I think it’s cool go for your dreams … By the way what’s considered aging out age or more important how old are you I forgot and its not trying to be rude.ok?

  4. williambartee@yahoo.com Says:

    Also I do have anxiety and depression but it doesn’t show unless you know my way of acting plus suffer from Asperger’s syndrome but instead I found out it really wasn’t suffering it was a ability and it helped me with art work and math for doing change of material by temperatures or measurements .maybe by you having felt the worlds weight on you At a time you are more suited to bear the gift of a healthy insightful social helper

  5. patrickbatemanblog Says:

    Interesting post. I’ve met plenty of bad psychologists over the years. Was wronlgy labelled with dyslexia for 9 years, and struggled with another condition due to people not cross-checking reports. It is important to pinpoint what the problem is when it’s a problem, as you say, but having a small temp issue and getting a lifelong label must be counterproductive for those affeced. Did you know over 50% of Americans have a “disorder?” “Disorder” is starting to sound like “order” now- but it is still important that those that need the help get it.

  6. Jay Says:

    Nice post, this is my first time reading your blog 🙂 Maybe I did not read it close enough, but from what I gather, you want to be a therapist but also be able to prescribe them meds? You would have to be a psychiatrist to do this, not a psychologist and it would require going to med school.

  7. VisiFoto Says:

    Sounds like you’ve found your calling. I think u will b excellent at it, but beware the Pschopathic Peter Principle. My ATF UTR stripper GFE wants to be a drug counselor, if she can survive her recurring detox next week. I tell her she already has a PhD in manipulating men to get what she wants (over $200,000 for drugs). All addicts are by definition psychopaths (a word censored from the DSM5 by the psychopaths who run the medical industrial complex). The missing link from MDs is nutrition, the only cure for mental illnesses and addictions. For example megadose Niacin (Vitamin B6) is the secret cure for addictions, depression anxiety etc. No profit in that for Big Pharma.

  8. Randall Says:

    Just found your blog and can’t stop reading.

    I went to grad school later in life (law). Even later than you. But I had a blast and it was worth it. My sister and cousin both obtained their PhD’s in Psychology. It worked out well for one of them! The other did her specialty in an area it turned out she didn’t like dealing with in real life (developmentally disabled kids). She loved dealing with the kids, just not their parents. Go figure.

    I understand there’s quite a bit of politics involved in the PhD track in psych. As a result, I think you would be well advised to kiss a lot of prof ass and rarely let your guard down among classmates.

    Wishing you luck and pulling for you!

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