I consider myself a positive person and I know that whatever profession that I end up in will be involved with helping people through the lens of my psychology degree. I always knew that those jobs would involve writing, but when I imagined what that looked like I admit that my mind immediately jumped to the image of some Freudian-style Psychoanalyst writing “mother issues” into a notebook while their client vented their life’s frustrations from a leather chaise lounge chair.
Obviously I had a pretty limited idea of what I could do with a career in psychology. What jobs were out there for me? What kind of writing would I be expected to do?
If you've found yourself asking similar questions then you've come to the right place! Keep reading if you want to see what answers I was able to get from two knowledgeable women in psychology related fields!
Entry Level Position - Youth Counselor: Caitie Judith
For those who are pursuing or have gotten a bachelor's degree in Psychology and have an interest in working with kids, a job as a youth counselor can be a great opportunity!
I spoke to Caitie Judith, a youth counselor at Woodland Hills Academy in Duluth Minnesota who works with groups of kids between the ages of 13 and 17.
Writing as a Youth Counselor:
As a youth counselor, Caitie told me that about half of her time was spent writing while the other half was spent interacting with the kids. The majority of her writing was logging behaviors. Here were some tips for successful behavior logging:
Career - Mary Pat Grupe:
Getting to know about writing for an entry level job was great, but what should a person considering a career in psychology expect for further down the road?
I spoke to Mary Pat Grupe whose career has spanned from an Early Childhood Educator in 1977, to becoming a director for adults with developmental disabilities in 1997. When I asked Mary Pat what percentage of her time as a director of a group home was spent writing, she laughed and told me, "97.3 %". Her writing included evaluations, assessments, employee reviews, as well as varied forms of communication with the state, lawyers and doctors. She was also responsible for reading daily logs from employees as well as up to date regulations and policies.
Terminology and a positive mindset
Mary Pat emphasized the importance of word choice when writing in professions that deal with developmentally disabled adults. In her career she had read descriptions of her clients from other professionals that used words such as "imbecile", "vegetative", and "untrainable".
Not only were those words cruel, they also misrepresented who her clients were and what they were capable of. This impacted the care and help that her clients would receive.
Instead, Mary Pat emphasized using a positive outlook that focuses on what clients can do.
This could include mentioning a client's interests, tasks they can do on their own, and abilities that might not be obvious such as their use of sign language instead of speaking.
There are so many different directions a person can go professionally when they pursue an education in Psychology, but most of these will involve a great deal of writing. This writing should be clear, simple and -most importantly- should advocate through compassion and mindfulness.