Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Elaine MacDonald from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Elaine MacDonald

Psychologist - Clinical

St. Michael's House

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  Elaine MacDonald

Make sure you are willing to go the full distance in terms of the time needed to train as a Clinical Psychologist – it’s typically at least six years academic study, and invariably this period is interspersed with work in a relevant field.

Do be as confident as you can that you’re happy being a “listener” and “observer”, as you will spend significant amounts of time in your work life as a Clinical Psychologist being in this role, as well as being in the “do-er” role and being in the limelight.

To have a good ‘fit’ with this career you’ll need to be happy working with people – as individuals on a one to one basis, with groups (e.g. families), and as part of a team in the workplace.

You need to have a good attention to detail as the job needs good observation skills, record keeping, and organisation skills.

Be prepared for learning and self-development to be on-going for the whole of your career because, as a Clinical Psychologist, you’ll be learning and using techniques and intervention approaches that are being constantly developed, and be working in accordance with policies and laws that are also constantly evolving.

The last piece of advice I’d give to someone considering this job is to be as sure as you can that you feel comfortable and even excited at the prospect of your career revolving around people and groups with all the varied, diverse, and unpredictable rewards and challenges that this brings!

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Creative 
Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be drawn towards the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
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Parents Guide
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Parents as Career Coach

A coach is someone who is on your side, and who wants to help you achieve the best that you can. As a parent, adopting the role of a 'career coach' gives you the best chance of providing useful guidance without too much or too little interference in the process.

As a coach you are a helper, supporter, encourager and partner. You are not the boss, you don't command or direct, you show by example, you listen, you reflect and share your experience.

Becoming a coach means...

  • helping your child find their passions and explore their interests
  • exploring career and educational options together
  • helping your child set challenging but achievable career goals
  • supporting your child in career-related choices and through their mistakes
  • encouraging your child to 'try on' careers by volunteering or through work experience or job-shadowing opportunities at school or in the community

Parents consistently show up in research as having the greatest influence on a childs career path. Taking the time to discuss your childs concerns with a friendly and encouraging 'coaching' attitude will ensure the greatis likelihood of a successful outcome.

Understanding Your Child
By the time your child has reached the teenage years, you will know them well in many respects. Yet the teenage years throw up particular challenges in maintaining and growing your relationship with them. You want to provide the best emotional and motivational support for career and life choices but somehow other issues can get in the way.

It helps to remember that the young person is unique in personality, temperament and preferences and that they are hurtling through a sometimes difficult process of emerging from childhood, through adolescence into adulthood.  It’s helpful to recognise the unique needs of your child at this stage. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows that our most basic needs unfold in the following order:

  1. PHYSIOLOGICAL – to breathe, eat, drink, sleep, maintain stable bodily function and basic biological needs.  
  2. SAFETY – personal, physical, emotional and material security. 
  3. NEED TO LOVE AND BELONG - through family, friends and romantic partners.  
  4. ESTEEM – our self esteem, confidence, sense of achievement, respect of and by others.
  5. Finally there is SELF-ACTUALISATION - when we become the person we are meant to be – morally, creatively, intellectually, occupationally, with spontaneity, lack of prejudice and acceptance.

When the basic physiological needs are met we progress to fulfilling other needs. This is a useful theory to help you understand the development of your child but each person’s development journey is unique to them.

As parent or guardian you have provided your child’s physiological, safety, love & belonging and esteem needs. The Career Journey is part of Self-Actualisation.

Sometimes you’ll be on the shore proudly waving them off. Sometimes you’ll be in the boat rowing with them or tactfully trying to edge them off the rocks. From time to time you may end up quietly cursing the engine or wishing for better weather or wondering how the neighbours’ rusty old dingy got such a head start.

In the final analysis, each young person’s needs are unique and their career journey will be too. Recognising your child’s distinctive needs and helping them on their individual journey is one of the most exciting challenges facing parents.