Burn out and Job Options

Postby neverfyeo » Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:58 pm

Hi all! Thanks so much for reading!

I am a recent graduate and postdoc working in clinical psychology. I love psychology and there are pieces of therapy I love but I am starting to question my path. Even as a young professional I am starting to feel burnt out. I take little job in working with clients who would ordinarily be awesome to work with. I am exhausted all of the time and fantasize about having a job in fast food or a desk job where messing up doesn't have consequences involving suicide. I went straight through undergrad to my doctorate program, to a postdoc position and never stopped and took time to consider the less savory parts of the job. In addition, I work in a place where I am required to do after hours work relatively awesome and do not get "comp time." This is not uncommon but it is hard on me. I struggle to work late and then come in and do my best early the next morning. Add on to all of this that I am currently studying for licensure. I know some of it would get better after postdoc, but I think there may just be parts of the job that are just really hard on me as a human (dealing with risk constantly, having to do a bunch of outside work to help connect clients with a million resources, which is wonderful, but also taxing, etc.). I am in debt (lots of it), have a doctorate, and can't just quit and work at Subway, but I am wondering if there are other job options I am unaware of that I could do with a clinical psych degree that are more administrative. I don't have the publications to be in academia or a research lab but, for instance, I know that insurance companies hire psychologists to review things, etc. so I figure there must be other jobs like that that are more "desk jobs." I would even do something in a related field as long as the would accept my degree. Anyone know of options?

Thanks so much!
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:40 pm

You messing up does not have suicide as a consequence. There is no job in the world that has that as a consequence. People take their own lives, you don't, nor are you responsible. I responded to plenty of suicides and potential suicides. I had one guy blow his face off a few days after I talked with him. Am I suppose to feel bad about that? If so, no one gave me that memo.

Granted, if you are grossly negligent then there is some culpability, but saying you have consequences involving suicide is putting unjustified stress upon yourself. If that is your thought process, if you truly believe you are culpable, even in cases where you were not grossly negligent then you are definitely in the wrong role in life. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is good you are finding out now, before you are the one ending up getting counseling.

If I were in your position I would join LinkedIn and network. You can get a job in academia. You don't need publications, you simply explain you are brand new, just starting out. Go to conferences like APA. Here are two links.


Getting a job in an organization will be harder without first having academic credentials. I'm not saying it is not possible, just much more difficult. You can also try consulting, but once again it has to do with networking more than anything else.

And I would also transition over time if I were you from clinical to some other field of psychology. Maybe explore social psychology.
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Postby Elyse » Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:05 am

Hi Neverfyeo,

I can understand your predicament. It can get heavy walking around with the 'what if' always in the back of your mind, what if I say the wrong thing? What if I give the wrong advice?

If you begin to question your path, the best question to ask yourself is, what is my destination? What would you like to accomplish in your brief time on this Earth plane?

If you want to help people, which it is clear that you do, how would you like to help them? In what way?

There are so many ways of helping people that doesn't involve putting such a heavy load on your shoulders. But the best way to learn how to help others is by first helping yourself.

Bring peace to your mind and your world, then the way will be clear towards helping others to do the same. The best way to help others is through your deeds, not your words.

What is your major purpose in life? How can you achieve it? Only until you can answer these questions, will you then know how can you help others to do the same =)

I hope this helps, take care of yourself.


Elyse Hargreaves
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Postby Reality » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:26 am

Hello neverfyeo.

Burnout is common when the practitioner feels responsible for the client.
Many students or early in practice practitioners may still feel that they have not, or cannot, remember everything they had learnt. So they may feel inadequate, and inefficient. But nobody is perfect.

Reality is, we can only do the best we can at the moment. On reflection our idea thoughts will always find a better way. But in the moment, in the present time, we often don't get much chance or time to reflect upon our knowledge base.
The other reality is, that we are only responsible for our own thoughts and actions, nobody else.

So at the end of the session, or day, we may recollect alternatives, of better ways. But we must be content that under the circumstances and the present time on counselling we did our best. We have to accept that.
Also, what the client thinks and does is totally their own responsibility too, though they may not think so.

I have worked in this field for over twenty years now and never burnt out from the work.
However it got warm sometimes, but talking with my mentor always clarifies whatever I cannot see for the drama (story).
Remember, the truth (that will set them free) is never in the story.
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