This is an issue that has been simmering under the surface of my skin for many years now. I am currently a psychology student, as well as a clinical worker for a nonprofit group home for teens with histories of trauma and behavioral challenges. I know certain systems of therapy and treatment inside and out, having been both a patient and a professional. I study and work with amazingly kindhearted, passionate people who want nothing more than to help others and serve their community.
That’s why it gets me so riled up when I am met with such ignorant comments to my disclosure of studying psychology. Often times, people get wary or awkward around me, as if I will start judging them. I am told frequently that I must love watching people on the street and picking out what is wrong with them. Or that I would have a field day psychoanalyzing their families. I have even had people ask me to read their minds. I know some of these comments are well meaning or said in a joking manner, but they all are a reflection of how little people know about psychology as a field and the actual role of psychologists. I have no desire to just categorize people or label them as diseased. The profession was not built around judging people and telling them that there is something wrong with them. Psychologists, like any other people in the medical field, first and foremost want to help others.
The job of a psychologist is to help their clients with any concerns they have that are interfering with their ability to function or diminishing their quality of life. The labels psychologists/psychiatrists use (such as schizophrenia or OCD) are just there to help catalogue and access tested ways that have assisted people with similar difficulties in the past. They also are necessary when dealing with insurance companies to approve certain medications or levels of treatment and when communicating between different health providers or centers of care.
People do not go into the field of psychology to make fun of others behind their backs or judge what it means to be ͞normal or not. People become psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists to help people and teach them the tools that would help them live the quality of life they want to live. This may sound like a small or petty complaint for me to have, but it is just a reflection of how skewed perceptions often are of the field of psychology and its purpose. There is so much stigma behind seeking help for mental illness or everyday challenges of life. If we can help change the misconceptions behind what psychologists do and what different forms of therapy look like, maybe we can empower more people to seek the help that they need and further protect those people who already receive treatment from being ridiculed or unfair judgment. The mental health field is so necessary, and I wish that is was given all of the credit and validation that it deserves as a legitimate and beneficial field of medicine.
I'm a bi female undergraduate student majoring in Psychology, with minors in Women and Gender Studies and African American Studies. I am passionate about issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, and intend to get my masters in social work in order to serve those populations.