The WHY of being a psychologist

That’s a good question: reflection on the WHY of being a psychologist

 I had just been called into my interview, for a spot in the clinical psychology masters program. We (myself and a few other candidates) were sat in an office waiting for 9 am.

My hands were trembling, I had butterflies in my stomach, and my thoughts were racing 1 million miles an hour.

Take a breath, that’s all you can control at the moment.

To be honest, I did not think I would have gotten an interview. My grades were not all High Distinctions, and I had NO “relevant experience”. Worst case scenario, I would stay in my stable admin job and apply again next year..

After taking a few slow breaths, I was feeling calmer. I had also been focusing my attention on the sounds of the office around me, and the smell of someone’s perfume.

Had I remembered to put deodorant on?! That was the last thought I had before being called into the interview room.

So… Caitlin, Let’s get started.

Why do you want to be a psychologist?

My heart was pounding. “That’s a good question” I found myself saying aloud almost sarcastically..

Snap, I probably shouldn’t have started with that..

Maybe it was some unconscious communication that slipped out.

It was a good question. Why did I want to be a psychologist???

It’s not as if I had wanted to be a psychologist ever since I was a young child. Yes. I wanted to make a difference in society, to people.. But there are many different ways to help people…

Blank stares from the interviewers..

After my answer, which seemed to go on for longer than it needed to. The interviewers nodded and moved on to another question..

I can’t exactly remember how I answered the question. It is all a blur now.

In the end, I was offered a position in the training program. Fast forward a few more years. And here we are, in 2022.

Now I have had experience working as a psychologist, rather than imagining why I would want to be one. I am so grateful to be in this job.

I think my answer to the question would be a little different now. I would say something like:

I may be biased. But being a psychologist is the most honourable job one can have. To sit with another human, and bear witness to another person’s story. Their gutwrenching pains, their triumphs, and the twists and turns of life. To see another exactly as they are, and hold up a mirror. So they can gain insight into their own history, and make changes because THEY want to. To see another person flourish and enjoy life. Is so darn REWARDING.

Being a psychologist is certainly not a job for the faint-hearted. It can be so difficult, to sit across from another person in pain, sitting with your own uncertainty.

Or, wanting to reach out and problem solve, and give advice to your patient.

But the most generous gift we as psychologists can give to our patients is to listen, really listen. To listen so deeply, that we hear the real melody of the words of their tune.

To be really heard is so healing for a person.

To give the gift of listening – That is the reason I want to be a psychologist.


P.S To be honest. During my master’s, there was a time I was doubtful about being a psychologist. (But denial of that feeling protected me, and helped me get through the two years).

Lucky for me. Since master’s, I discovered psychodynamic therapy. A therapy that was more aligned with who I am, than Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. (The foundational/core therapy we are taught).

My love and joy for wanting to be a psychologist was once again reignited.

However, that story is for another time.


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