Second Quarter of Grad School!

“Shit really feels like it’s getting real this quarter,” I said to my therapist this morning.

“Did it feel like you were ‘playing school’ last quarter and just taking some classes?”


(If you missed it, I’m going back to school to become a therapist myself. Eep! Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of my first quarter.)

Last quarter, my classes were largely more theoretical—one about psychoanalysis, one about culture and one that was a bit more practical, about psychopathology. My quarter ended two days before California began shutting things down. My last day of classes got canceled that morning. It was a weird time.

my very serious student face

Right now, of course, everything is online. It’s amazing to me how quickly some of this can become our new normal. Like how it’s weird now to see a crowded place on TV. I had some Zoom anxiety, but once we all logged in (I’m in a cohort), it was SO nice to see my classmates again.

The first quarter felt like an introduction to psychology and grad school; it feels very clear now that I am definitely in grad school to become a therapist. There’s more papers (two out of my four classes have a paper due every week), we’re going to begin therapist-client roleplays (EEEEEP) in one class, we’re diving into examining family systems. It is scary in some ways to begin to really dive into what it will like to be a therapist, but I’m also really excited—and honored that this is something I will get to do starting as a trainee next year.

The classes I’m taking:

Process of Interpersonal Psychotherapy: This is what I’m calling the How to Be a Therapist 101 class. It is, quite literally, about the process of therapy from initial consultation through to ending a relationship with a client. This is the class where we’ll begin to roleplay being therapists. For that reason, this isn’t really an ideal class to be taking virtually, but um, nothing is really ideal right now, so. The idea of roleplaying makes me nauseous, but I’m told it’s normal to be nervous. With this class, I think it will be fascinating to learn about the process of therapy while I am simultaneously in therapy. I can’t wait to learn why my therapist chooses different approaches. (We’re actually required to be in therapy for two quarters out of our eight, but unfortunately I can’t get extra credit for being in therapy all eight quarters!)

Professional Ethics and the Law: This class brings me the most calm. I love ethics classes. I am a rules-following nerd, and I love me a good framework to follow to uphold a chosen career. (Journalism ethics was one of my favorite classes in college, and not just because my professor was really hot, but he was.)

Systems Theory and the Family: Even though I’m not interested in working with families (and I’m leaning towards the LPCC license, not the LMFT license), this is a core class I have to take. And…it makes sense. Even if you are working with an individual, they still came from a family of origin. We’ll be doing a lot of examining our own families (HOOOO BOY) to understand how family dynamics play out.

Field Study: This is another one that will be challenging given our online-only world right now. We each choose three different communities/populations to learn about, in order to understand communities we might serve in the future. Usually, this is through site visits, in-person interviews, etc, but given social distancing, this will all be virtual. We’ll be doing things like attending webinars or doing phone/Zoom interviews. (As a sidenote, if Zoom goes down, we are collectively fucked.)

It’s a lot of work, but I’m both nervous and excited. I’m also so happy for school to be back in session to bring some semblance of normalcy back into my life. Take it where we can get it these days, right?

2 comments on “Second Quarter of Grad School!

  1. Anne

    Sorry for the late comment, but this was so good to read. I’m so glad that you’re into the part of grad school that relates more closely to what you do. I’m a professor at a school of nursing, and I know I experienced similar anxiety with role playing and interacting with patients (gulp!) during school. It does become more natural over time, but it’s so different from what more “typical” education looks like! It seems like your personal experiences will really help inform your work as a therapist, and I’m so excited to be able to follow your journey here. Take care, and stay safe.


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