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Imposter Syndrome

Training for a professional career or embarking on your new career as a newly qualified practitioner can be nerve wracking to say the least.  There cannot be many people who have experienced self-doubt or experienced unhelpful power dynamics at these times.  The following advice is aimed at helping you navigate training or being newly qualified.  Remember, you literally are the future of the profession, and that should never be forgotten by all stakeholders.

The feeling that you are not really qualified or experienced enough to be in a role is actually extremely common, and can in many cases carry on throughout a long career.  I experience this feeling on a regular basis (at least once a week) despite a career spanning two decades.

A number of things might help at times when your mind is telling you that you are just ‘lucky’ to be where you are, or don’t deserve the status you have.  Incidentally, if you have had some negative feedback, or something has gone wrong in practice, these feelings can be quite debilitating and result in defensive practice and/or perfectionism.

Daily affirmations

Take time every day to think about yourself with a best friend or family mind.   What is it about you that you would like your friends or family to be saying about you as a person in general, and a practitioner in particular.  What you come up with will almost certainly be the qualities that you strive to be every day, in other words, what you value about yourself.  Try to think about how these qualities have emerged in what you do on a daily basis.

Get objective feedback

Try and gain feedback from trusted colleagues regularly, and be willing to embrace criticism also.  If you ask people for honest feedback, they will almost always provide you with positive qualities or things they like about you as a practitioner.  If the relationship is good enough, you might also get some pointers to reflect on and improve your practice.  The process of doing this will help you realise that, what you are doing is literally good practice i.e. you are being a good and responsible practitioner by following this process

Name your mind

Give your mind a name (as if it were another person).  Our minds are often needlessly and irrationally self-critical.  We would not tolerate from others what our minds say to us on a daily basis, but self-criticisms often lack validity to say the least!  If you give your mind a name, you can be more mindful in the face of self-criticism.  For example, I call my mind ‘Victor’, and regularly catch it out when it provides an opinion, “Vic is now telling me I’m a rubbish psychologist and I don’t deserve to be working in the position I do”.  That way you are less likely to seek other affirmative memories, and you can knuckle down to what you value (your job, and the learning that comes with it).

Written by Mark Smith.

Review the ‘Tools’ section on ways to support you. 

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