The Foundations and the Journey of Becoming a Doctoral-Level Psychologist

Abstract

This course reflection dwells on the foundations and the journey of becoming a doctoral-level psychologist. The reflection touches on my past experiences within the field of psychological education including the interests and motivations that have brought me to this point. The reflection also touches on what I am trying to become and how I expect to accomplish my personal and professional goals.

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Reflection

Education is an imperative aspect of life that aims to teach people new concepts and enhance their understanding of life’s processes. The education process starts right from birth (or even before birth) and ends on the deathbed. Education could be seen as the basis of life since it is through education that people learn how to live comfortably. Education as a course is therefore paramount as it trains people to become competent enough to teach other people and consequently make their life useful and meaningful. Students are very helpful throughout life, more so when it comes to developing the academic process. For instance, the teachers who teach children the alphabet in junior school and those who teach the complexities of life at the university level both appreciate the value of education. Moreover, in this context, both teachers and students are ambassadors of education in their capacities. This paper will explore my experience as a doctorate-level student of education, my goals achievement strategies, and my future endeavors.

My educational journey has been particularly eventful. For example, while conducting a research project there is a host of ethical considerations to be considered. Sometimes these ethical requirements act as an impediment to proper research preparations, findings, presentation, and reporting (Buss, 2015). In addition, some of these ethical aspects touch on the researcher, the subject, and the participants among other important issues. This section will discuss some of the ethical issues that I have encountered in the process of undertaking research projects in this course.

For instance, sometimes the subject matter of the research was sensitive, upsetting, or embarrassing so that it was difficult to approach respondents or present when people were listening. In addition, sometimes the respondents or audience consisted of children, vulnerable groups such as the old or physically challenged who were offended by the research. Furthermore, sometimes the research requires consulting senior people like tutors, which can be hard when a subject is controversial. At other times, as a researcher, I have hindered the research process due to prejudice or conflict of interest often when an inquiry’s finding goes against my deeply held opinions and beliefs. As a student, one is at times tempted to edit the results to suit his/her interests. In my capacity as a scholar, it is also common to encounter hindrances that are even more discouraging like the fact that some respondents do not accept to participate in studies for free and they demand an incentive for the time spent hence the research ends up being very expensive.

Through my experience with my peers, I have been able to realize that I need to work on my leadership skills to unleash my potential in life fully. Often, I used to back off from leading in discussions and presentations for fear of criticism and failure. However, towards the end of the course, I came to learn and appreciate the importance of leadership as it helps one gain even more than they could as observers (Ackley, 2012). I came to know that in order to maintain good performance and morals, I need to be selective about the kind of people and subjects that influence my life. Sometimes I was challenged by how my peers were able to restrict themselves from engaging in basic pleasures but with time, I learned that I could also exercise self-control and manage to save time for important issues in my life. During the various discussions that I have engaged in, I came to realize how uncomfortable I was when discussing extremely controversial or embarrassing subjects such as sex because I feared that my contribution might be labeled as ‘biased’.

My academic journey has also changed me as a person to some extent. Through the course, I have come to gain and lose some of the characteristics and opinions I had. The course has enabled me to believe in myself more, and embrace the fact that I can achieve everything I want so long as I have the right kind of people around me and a spirit of determination. I have also realized that the initial fear that I had when it came to leadership has slowly diminished and I can comfortably lead people in different activities even outside academics. I have gained the ability to be able to say no to certain activities something I could not do earlier for fear that I could hurt my friends or become a ‘black sheep’. I have also been able to participate in discussions touching on sensitive issues such as sex, marriage, and economics among others with the view of improving the current society. I have also begun to notice that because I have made friends who love and enjoy education, my rank as a scholar has greatly improved. As a professional psychologist, I realize I will be required to possess extremely high communication skills, which I have been able to gain in the course of my education (Levine, Perkins, & Levine, 2007).

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When I first ventured into this course, I had an ideal set of behaviors that I envisioned would eventually improve my career prospects. This course has been very vital in causing some important changes in my behavior. Due to the experience that I have garnered while conducting research and discussions, I have been able to change from an unstable social being to an emotionally stable person. This change is important, as I have been able to handle the stress that comes with being a psychologist without breaking down in the process. There have been significant changes in my thinking, as I have changed from being a closed-minded person to one who has an open-minded mode of thinking. This is an important change as it has helped me become ready to tolerate all kinds of people while working as a professional psychologist. The change in my thinking has mainly been influenced by my interaction with peers who hold opinions that are different from mine. The changes in behavior and thinking have been fueled by the vast reading about very successful professionals and how they have conducted their issues in life, which when practiced can cause similar changes in everyone’s life.

My course is meant to improve some of my earlier skills while at the same time helping me gain new ones. The skills and experience gained in this course have helped change my manner of handling issues. I am ashamed to confess now that during my high school days, I could hardly concede defeat especially in discussions even when I knew I was wrong. Up to this point, I have been able to gain new skills such as open-mindedness and improve existing ones such as my willingness to learn from others. It is some of these subtle changes in my life that have made me learn how to accept my mistakes and humble myself.

Besides, ever since I enrolled in this course I have began looking unto discussions as a way of learning and not a channel of self-validation (McDougall, 2015). Another way that this course has helped me change is by helping me gain emotional stability. I have come to realize that most of the stress I had in my earlier life was unwarranted and could be avoided. Before enrolling for this course, I was emotional about any news that seemed to be against my wish. I often found myself stressed up for days, often refusing to eat and even talk to anyone. This used to happen often including when someone reprimanded me or when some bad news concerning my home front broke. As if that was not enough, poor performance in class was also another cause of my emotional turmoil. All these anomalies have been neutralized in the course of my studies.

In my capacity as a scholar and a professional, I often find myself questioning what more I require in order to scale to even greater heights. With the experience that I have gained in this course, it is now easier to handle a lot of stress coming from within and without, with relatively mild effects on my self-esteem and me. However, nothing about this study is static and I am set to encounter various changes in future (Wilkinson, 2009). In a field where people are a constant but ever changing factor, it is never easy to garner all the skills that I require at one place. Consequently, I hope to develop and gain new skills on how to understand people and tolerate their behaviors without getting myself stressed in the process.

As a psychology scholar I have began distinguishing between the different forms of personal-attention and how they work in my favor (Clark, Harden, & Johnson, 2000). Earlier on in my education life, I hardly ever wanted to find myself as the center of attraction especially in discussion groups and class presentations. I did the best I could to avoid meeting new people, and even when we had to meet, I kept the relationship strictly casual, as I felt unsafe expressing myself to new people, and getting people to understand me. Often, I withdrew from discussions as I felt I did not have the convincing power and that no one understood me. However, that has changed now as I enjoy participating in discussions and have no issue being appointed to head focus groups.

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In fact, leading discussions is much more beneficial than just participating because as a leader one gets to interact at a closer level with all the members. Another dimension of attention involves the ability to listen and pay attention to the emotions of other people (Clark, Harden, & Johnson, 2000). Paying close attention enables one to understand and absorb the different types of personalities while improving tolerance towards others. In addition, I no longer consider it a problem to meet new people and make friends because I am able to handle different types of personalities. My relationships with people have changed and I often look forward to meeting new people and seeking psychological help from others whenever I have issues instead of being reserved out of fear.

In a period of eight to ten years, I aim to develop theories that can help solve important issues in society. Consequently, it is my aim to emulate the personalities that currently serve as a beacon of light to my career and studies (Buss, 2015). I aim to help raise awareness on the value of cooperation and correlation not only in academic circles, but also within the entire society. I aim to help people gain leadership skills since these skills might help them explore their potentials and gain the best in life. I also aim to help people know how to deal with self-doubt and untapped potentials.

This skill is important as it will help people who undergo such situations avoid having suicidal feelings and low self-esteem. I also aim to train junior leaders and peer-counselors on how to carry out their duties to make a positive impact on people’s life. In addition to helping others, I also aim to have mastered the applications of skills that will help me gain the most from my life and keep performing above average even when situations are hard. I will continue learning from others as one cannot benefit by living alone. I also aim to participate in curriculum development as a researcher on the approach whereby teachers and students can work together to make the teaching and learning process more productive and beneficial (Levine, Perkins, & Levine, 2007). In clinical matters, I hope to be able to help patients go through talk therapy and emotional stress management in regards to new frontiers of study in the field of psychology.

References

Ackley, S. (2012). Individual rights and professional ethics. Professional Psychology, 3(3), 209-216.

Buss, D. (2015). Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

Clark, R. A., Harden, S. L., & Johnson, W. B. (2000). Mentor relationships in clinical psychology doctoral training: Results of a national survey. Teaching of Psychology, 27(4), 262-268.

Levine, M., Perkins, D. V., & Levine, M. (2007). Principles of community psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

McDougall, W. (2015). An introduction to social psychology. Boston: Psychology Press.

Wilkinson, L. (2009). Statistical methods in psychology journals: guidelines and explanations. American Psychologist, 54(8), 594.

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