What Do Psychologists Do? A 10-Year-Old's AnswerI’m not a big one for entertaining, but once a year my husband and I invite a boatload of family to spend the day with us. I usually invite them for noon, but since they feel totally comfortable with us, they arrive… whenever. After the hugs and kisses, we catch up on what’s new, munch down as much unhealthy food as we can, and when all are gathered, the children participate in our annual scavenger hunt.

To augment the hunt (these kids are so clever, they find things too quickly), there is also a Q&A section called “Things to Know about your Family.” That way the kids can find out interesting stuff about their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Typical questions: Who is on their school’s track team? (Answer: Cousin Dylan) Which of Aunt Naomi’s many talents makes Uncle Brian a happy man? (Answer: Gourmet Cooking) Which two people in the family are psychologists? (Answer: Aunt Linda & Uncle Ron) What do psychologists do? (Answer: Help Crazy People!)

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What Do Psychologists Do? A 10-Year-Old’s Answer

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  1. Thank you for this article! I love the picture painted of a family getting together to share a bonding experience “just because,” and I love the ultimate message -one I’d dare to claim universally true, and I’d support this claim using the list in the blog (ex: increased self understanding, resilience, strength, etc) because a good therapeutic relationship will journey with both therapist and client as they achieve whichever of those things the give and take in their relationship gives them an opportunity to experience. But I struggle to share an opinion that any of these expansions into ones self, how they see and experience the world and who they believe they are in context to it, are anything at all, much less important, meaningful, fulfilling or (dare I make a judgement) good and even positive in any way at all.

    I suppose if everyone on the planet earth who we may chance to interact with on an everyday (or any day) basis were already self actualized, and despite reaching actualization they continued to condition and grow as a person, emerging from a therapeutic process having satisfied any deficits in life that until then prevented us from achieving the same thing, then all outcomes would be positive and heroic. But the problem is, and I’ve never once heard anyone in the fields of psychiatry/psychology/therapy or counseling touch even a crumb on, is the fact that most adults have only matured to an adolescent level before they began avoiding growth because of the risk involved. So the majority of people are operating on a level that is never actualized, and that’s totally okay, but this creates significant problems for an adult seeking counseling because their adult (read: adolescent) relationships don’t quite work. This person comes in initially because they want to connect. Keep this in mind.

    Five years go by and without ever asking to attain or desiring to achieve any form of existential reemergence inline with the academic ideal of “whoever,” the client matriculates with expanded consciousness and feels ready to stand on their own . They have all the understanding now they’ll ever need to maintain good relationships, right? Wrong. Now they’re even more isolated. Because they’re the only adult in an adolescent world where their they don’t mind exposing who they are in relationships that should be able to handle it, only to discover the other people haven’t dealt with much and are repulsed by their common insecurities.

    Professionals in the field are surrounded by other people who share their ideals regarding who and what is and isn’t appropriate, when where and how. And that’s great. But how many people from the community at large will go through therapy, and of those who do, what is the percentage they’ve undergone remotely similar therapeutic processes? By and large the client will not be surrounded by others who can relate at all, and we know how great we are as people with accepting people, opinions, beliefs, etcetera, when we don’t understand them.

    So the disconnected client goes back into the world believing them self stronger – and they are – but that strength can not be applied onward that which they’d intended. Instead, that strength gets applied toward keeping them self afloat despite the mystery of being a person who is fundamentally disconnectable.

    It’s just one experience. Certainly not all former clients of the process identify this way.
    It’s not something I hear anyone talk about though, and with that said I do hope you’ll keep it in mind as a psychologist. The experience to avoid is taking client and, like a doll, dressing them to your emotional ideal. Instead, I hope people will consider the world that client has to then live in. It’s mostly sick. So don’t heal is to the extend that we become lonely, isolated and lost.

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