75. Sick Versus Slick: 9. Why Did the Psychologist Cross the Road?

For the better part of my early adult life I attended university. In my case, I studied clinical psychology. From start to finish, that path required 10 post-secondary years of school, one year residency, and roughly two years of post-residency registration including professional examinations and licensing. During that time, you spend the majority of your days reading about, writing about, and practicing your profession.

Typically, the audience for your work consists of two people — yourself and your professor, or your supervisor, or your client.  That is a lot of effort for a very small audience. Not don’t get me wrong, the ultimate outcome is wonderful and you are allowed to do what you love and your efforts benefit others and yourself.

Most clinical psychologists (and health care providers) stop learning with the same intensity once they are past all of these academic and professional hurdles. This is natural. One cannot keep that pace indefinitely and the demands of clinical practice soon become all-consuming. As well, for many of us, life goals such as marriage, children, and mortgages had been deferred during our education and we now choose to place our energies and time focused there.

Training in clinical psychology is somewhat odd. It is requires a high level of knowledge of research design and statistics and, in PhD programs, demands that you complete original research to graduate. At the same time, you must also learn the practical art and craft of therapy.  This is why training to become a clinical psychologist is often said to follow a scientist-practitioner model.

Yet, upon completion of our degree and training, very few clinical psychologists will continue to pursue any further original research.  It is not that we are incapable of doing this research.  We simply choose to not do this work.  Excluding dissertation publications, the modal number of publications for clinical psychologists following graduation is exactly zero.

There are number of reasons for this, such as an absence of a post-graduate university affiliation, lack of research funding, and inability to gain ethics clearance. More fundamentally, actively pursuing research is somewhat boring and lacks the level of emotional fulfillment that one achieves through helping clients realize their potential to overcome life obstacles.

Which, ironically, brings me full circle. In my clinical practice, I began to notice that quite a few of my otherwise physically healthy male clients were being prescribed testosterone replacement treatment. Which I found odd and inconsistent with my knowledge of the endocrine system, the mechanics of human sexuality, and the nature of intimate relationships. Very few men I saw were being helped by this medication. Quite the contrary.  Most suffered uncomfortable and negative side effects and did not realize any change in their sexual potency or improvement in their intimate relationships.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to use my research skills and dig through the literature. In part, I wanted to bring that information to my clients and I needed a place to park that information.  However, I also realized that I missed writing as I once did back in my formative years.

And that is why I began to blog.

And the audience is greater than two.

Your Friendly Druggist