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Why I Love Being a Private Practice Psychologist



Over my lifetime, I have watched my closest family members interact with their jobs. They work way too many hours, stress over the details more than anyone else, and feel underappreciated by the people they are serving. Now, is this due to a family trait of perfectionism that I also inherited? Likely. I believe, though, subconsciously, I watched them and knew that I needed a different path for myself.

 

I am forever grateful for my career and it is filled with factors that many other jobs are lacking. Although this is likely not a comprehensive list, I want to explain why I love being a psychologist and why specifically working in a private practice setting is so rewarding.

 

Passion and Fulfillment

 

This is a factor that is hopefully true of all psychology-related jobs. I love having a job that helps people feel better in their day-to-day lives and move toward their values. As I have engaged in cognitive-behavioral therapy hundreds (Am I getting close to thousands?) of times, somehow it still amazes me just how well it works. Seeing success stories is so fulfilling. There’s also an added component of fun working with young people. When I create a silly game for a child and I realize they are understanding the deeper lesson beyond what I would even expect for their age, it’s incredible. My former families sometimes contact me months to years later with new success stories and it fills my heart with joy!

 

Autonomy

 

Before you become licensed, as a trainee, you always have a supervisor telling you what to do. That is wonderful when they are wise and you are lacking in knowledge; it is uncomfortable, to say the least, when they are giving you advice that you question. As psychologists, we are bound to our code of ethics, all applicable laws, and a duty to engage in evidence-based practice. With that being said, as a licensed psychologist in a group private practice, no one is standing over your shoulder telling you every word to say and which move to make next. It gives you freedom to learn while still having plenty of opportunities (and an obligation) to consult with seasoned professionals.

 

Flexible Schedule

 

In more institutional settings, they likely follow the traditional 9-to-5 daily schedule, federal holidays, and set vacation days. In private practice, there is so much more freedom to set your schedule. For myself, I am not a morning person. I love being able to work later in the day rather than trying to have an important conversation at 8:00am. This is also a benefit to my patients; because I work with mostly young people, afternoons are preferred. I work until 7:00pm, which allows me to meet a need that might not be filled in other settings.

 

Beyond the daily schedule, I can decide whether I want to work or not on federal holidays and when I want to take vacation days. (As someone whose other passion is travel, this is a huge perk.)

 

One gratitude moment in this job was when I had a big family emergency last year. There was no question that I would be able to take the time to attend to my family. In another job position, I might have been guilted into staying at work. The flexible schedule prevents burnout and allows me to be more energized to meet the needs of my patients.

 

Variety of Job Roles

 

Having a doctoral degree allows for much more variety in work roles. Although therapy is my primary passion, I am free to engage in other pursuits such as teaching a college or graduate course, supervising a trainee, producing social media content, volunteering, or any other role that might be fitting for a psychologist. I am particularly appreciative of this knowing that over time, my priorities and responsibilities may change and I may need my daily or weekly schedule to look very different from what it is currently.

 

Financial Freedom

 

None of us go into psychology for the money. If we wanted a get rich quick scheme, real estate in Atlanta would probably be the way to go. In private practice, most models do not revolve around a traditional salary. While this could be intimidating to some, to others it shouts freedom. Some choose to work fewer hours to focus on other roles and responsibilities. For now, I am choosing to work with more patients per week while this is the primary focus of my life. It is so rewarding to have control over your work-life balance.

 

 

If you’re someone who is stuck in an unfulfilling career and dreaming of going back to school to become a psychologist, I have created a course for you! You can access it on my Courses tab above or here. I cover the ins-and-outs of applying for a doctorate degree in clinical psychology.

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