Monday, August 10, 2009
Everybody's talkin' at me...
It's easy to get, and stay, burned out in grad school. I think clinical psychology students in highly research oriented programs are particularly vulnerable to short circuiting. I don't know if this happens to PhD students in other fields, but for me, everyone just keeps talkin' at me. I meet with clients who talk about all of their problems with their lives, which you would think would make me feel relieved that I'm not in their shoes, but it doesn't. I usually sit there felling like, "Oh hell, now how the heck am I going to get them outta this pickle?" It's a lot of pressure. When I meet with my advisor, all she talks about are her problems with my work. I usually sit there and think, "Oh hell, now how the heck am I going to get myself outta this pickle?" Does it stop there? Certainly not. I get calls from family and friends requesting advice (aka free therapy). The sweet thing about working with clients is that if the advice doesn't work, we agree to try something else and I don't seem them for a week, sometimes more if I'm lucky and they cancel. With family and friends, it's a totally different story. There's a certain level of comfort, and lack of filter, between loved ones so if something you suggest doesn't work out, you'll hear about it...over and over again. Getting together for Thanksgiving? "Remember when you told Uncle Vinny to let go of self-imposed limits and follow his dreams? Yeah, well, he ran off to Las Vegas to "find himself", but all he found was a stripper and a pile of debt. Some advice. Your Aunt Stella will never be the same." You're welcome. Always happy to help.
Even people I don't know talk at me incessantly. Strangers often come up to me and just start talking about whatever the hell they seem to think I would be interested in. Lord only knows what message I'm sending out while squeezing peaches at market that seems to convey I'd be interested in hearing about your gastrointestinal complications. I'm not interested in hearing about this, or about your kids, or about the economy, or about how I look exactly like someone you know. While it may seem like I'm an approachable gal, it's just a facade. Don't approach me. I bite.
I suppose listening to the trials and tribulations of others wears on a person, whether it's your job or not. I'm learning, albeit slowly, how to handle this from supervisors and colleagues. Sadly, my own therapist, one of the few people I feel comfortable unloading on, tends to look very bored during our sessions. I'm just hoping he's doing his own kind of self-care to be able to find a nugget of wisdom for my sad lot. Usually, all that comes of these sessions is him showing me a therapy-related New Yorker cartoon, typically ones with dogs in them. Yeah, that's useful. I missed the page in the handbook where you hand a client a cartoon about a dog therapist when you have nothing to say. Note to self...
at 11:55 AM