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Friday, September 23, 2011

Professional Progress

I began this blog in the beginning of 2010 because that was when I began my education and training as a psychotherapist. I was just half way through my maternity leave with Little A, and struggling with post-partum anxiety and depression. It was a really difficult time for me and I had some difficulty adjusting to my new identity as a student.

Having already spent 10 years in university and obtained 3 degrees - a BA, MA and PhD, it felt rather peculiar to be a 35 year old mother of two, with so much education but with no paid work, no career, two years of MORE school ahead and no guarantee of success. It didn't matter that this was a choice. I had had a career and a job and an income, it just wasn't one I enjoyed or wanted. Nevertheless, starting over at such a late stage made me feel like I had accomplished nothing. This made my fear of failure over this new journey even more intense.

So where am I now?

I am done my course work.

I have completed about 250 of the required 300 minimum hours of practical experience. I have counselled individuals and couples embarking on a wide variety of fertility/family building options (IVF, donated eggs or sperm, surrogacy, etc.). I have also counselling individuals and couples dealing with extreme trauma, anger issues, anxiety, relationship challenges, etc.

I have written about half of my MCP (case study that is required for my degree) on a particular client who is dealing with the repercussions of a severe trauma.

I am still doing phone support with the senior citizen - the volunteer position I started almost 2 years ago. I am not sure how relevant this experience is to my professional goals, but each week when I hear how happy she is to get my call, I know I must continue.

I FINALLY got the definitive word on the research study I tried to initiate at Mount Sinai. It turns out that the hospital ethics board just would not give us permission to proceed because they feel that women who have just been told they lost a pregnancy is a vulnerable population. Duh! That's why we wanted to do a needs assessment and intervention with them!!

Apparently when there is an identified vulnerable population, it is better to provide them with no support at all and to fail to change a gap in health care delivery than to take any action that may assume any risk. Dr. M said she has had an easier passing protocols by the ethics board that involved tissue biopsies! Of course no risk involved in that, right??

I have managed to do some professional networking and this has strengthened my resolve to become a psychotherapist. I FINALLY feel like I have found my true calling, both because of my enjoyment of the practice and because of the comfort, comraderie and stimulation I feel from collaborating with others in the field.

This week I presented at the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society conference and it was a fantastic experience. I met wome fascinating and thoughtful people, I got some tremendous feedback, and I learned a lot about the future of the field. I was on such a high when I left last night that I felt like I floated home.

A lot of my worries and insecurities are starting to diminish. I have realized that I am going to be successful. I will make sure of it. And a lot of great people have my back.

So what's the lesson here? Work hard and you'll achieve your dreams? No. Effort is important, perseverance is too, as is following your passion. But really it's not about me at all, but about the other people in my life. My family for putting up with having to live on one income, my parents for believing in me, my practicum supervisors for the opportunities they have given me, my sister-in-law (who works in the field), for advice and introductions. The list goes on.

I might be a 30 something without a career, I may have made many stupid decisions over the course of my life, but I also must be doing something right to have such a wonderful support network!

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