How applying for professional training in psychology is a lot like gardening

by Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist

How is applying for professional training in psychology a lot like gardening?

Let me explain......


8 years ago my husband and I moved into our home with our 10 month old baby.


The garden was tiny and cottagey


But we had big dreams of the glory and beauty of wisteria!


So one of the 1st things we did was to head to the garden centre and get ourselves a healthy looking specimen


We expected good things
We were excited!
We watered.
We fed.
We waited.

The 10 month old baby grew into an almost 3 year old, a new baby boy was born


The wisteria focused on its leaves but didn't bother producing any flowers


We would gaze adoringly at all other wisteria looking so resplendent in summer. How did they do it? What was the secret? Could we ever hope to be so successful? We'd look at our own measly specimen and blame it for being a bit rubbish.


And then. this year. Utterly without warning. 8 years after we planted it. When we had absolutely given up hope of it coming to fruition - the wisteria is GLORIOUS! It is laden down with beautiful lilac flowers which drip from beautiful green leaves.


You see. It has spent its time growing supportive structures. Benefitting from the sun, the rain and the shelter of its rose and clematis mates who are also aspirational climbers but were years more established than the wisteria.


The rose and the clematis saw great things ahead for the wisteria & they would keep supporting it and helping it even when it felt impossibly pointless.


The wisteria kept on with the process of growing and adjusting the conditions & making the conditions more favourable for itself by thinking outside of the box & growing over the fence to gain new viewpoints & more opportunities for sunlight.


This morning as I gazed upon it absolutely adoringly and with pride I realised how like a career in psychology this is.


Even the time frame. It can be common that it takes about 8 years post psychology degree to get doctoral training places.


It takes a lot of nurture.
It takes a lot of self belief.
It takes persistence and determination.

It takes not comparing yourself to your peers and more established superiors and concluding that you're not enough.


It takes seeking out the right sort of nutrition from supervision, mentoring and also just a bit of frivolity along the way too.


It takes giving yourself room to grow and a belief that if you keep growing, keep building those supporting structures, keep nourishing yourself that one day it will be your time.


You will be glorious!
You will just be you and that will be enough.
It will just feel like time.

I know this time of year can be incredibly tricky for aspiring psychologists. I want you to know that whatever the outcome of your applications this year that you are growing & learning along the way and that the branches and supports you develop now & over the next few months, maybe even years will be what makes your dreams come to reality.


Thanks for reading. Stay kind to yourself and one day you will be the wisteria and the rose and even the clematis!


To check out Dr Marianne's work including current and upcoming psychology books, podcast and membership click here.
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