Graduate School Chronicles: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Photo of Cortni Alexander, MFT Student Ambassador

A blog post by SOLES MA in Marital and Family Therapy Student Ambassador Cortni Alexander

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud”.

Starting your clinical year is both an exciting and terrifying time. On one hand, all of the years of school, and all of the training, are finally paying off. On the other hand, you are now the professional in the room and you may be put in a position where you are responsible for others. Suddenly, all of the hours spent theorizing and debating in class, are supposed to translate to actions.

Like many others on their first day of practicum, I had on the outfit and the name tag, but I did not feel like a therapist. It did not matter how many times I reread the manuals and studied the theories, I could not shake the feeling that I wasn’t ready. I second-guessed my decisions and went over every word I said to clients, in an effort to find the flaw in my ways. Then it happened, my first dangerous client, and I was suddenly thrust into the process of dealing with a suicidal client. Without a second thought, I got in touch with my supervisor, and reread the suicide policy. I was able to navigate the situation, and do my part in protecting my client’s safety. But most importantly, I realized that no matter how seasoned a clinician is, there will always be resources that are accessible in emergency situations. It is true, you know more than you think, and you can handle the situations that are ahead of you.

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