We asked Aubrie Musselman, our administrator and psychometrist (meaning that she also helps administer and score psychological assessments), to write about her experience with applying (and being accepted!) to graduate programs in the field of psychology. Here is what she wrote:
Depending on one’s perspective, an educational end goal can take on many different forms. For many, learning to read and write is a monumental accomplishment that will precipitate many important opportunities in life. For others, obtaining an undergraduate diploma is a sign of academic achievement and completion. For a smaller population of individuals, possession of a graduate degree is the ideal academic destination.
Motivation for obtaining graduate level training is always multi-faceted and for psychologists, there are several poignant reasons why they spend countless hours in pursuit of their academic and professional goals.
When applying to psychology graduate programs, many essay prompts ask individuals to identify reasons they want to study psychology beyond a desire merely to help people. However, when we get to the heart of why psychologists do what they do, the answer truly is to help others. Although this simple answer is applicable to all mental health professionals, this desire to help can be broken down to smaller factors and is manifested in many different ways.
Aspiring psychologists pursue professional training because they have an ever-present thirst for knowledge. Matriculation through graduate training programs is not an easy feat and only those truly dedicated to a lifetime of learning successfully complete their training. This desire to constantly add to their knowledge base enables psychologists to successfully serve their clients at the highest level.
In addition to career-related and academic motivators, psychologists do what they do for relational and existential reasons. Psychologists have a deep seeded hunger for creating meaning in their lives. They achieve this meaning through building relationships with their clients in which they have the ability to help guide decisions and provide insight. For many psychologists, this desire stems from personal experiences that they realize they could have navigated in a more effective way and therefore strive to help others change their own situations. For others, the drive to create meaning in their careers is propagated by someone who helped them and they seek out a profession in which they can pay the service forward. Psychologists strive to serve their clients but clients often do not realize that they too influence and benefit their therapists. Psychologists are people deeply invested in self-improvement and self-inquiry. In relationships with clients, therapists witness and observe growth and they grow in turn. Through client-clinician relationships, the omnipresent goal of bettering society is evident.
Ultimately, each individual psychologist has a unique answer in explaining why he or she chose to pursue higher education. Their respective experiences vary greatly but there are always common threads in their answers. This unity in core motivators is a testament to the solidarity of the profession and it is manifested through the work that psychologists do every day.