Like many, I typically associate the start of a new year with themes of resolutions, change, and looking ahead to what lies in store for the coming year. This was particularly relevant for me this past New Year, as it marked the start of my time serving as the Early Career Domain Representative for the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy. As I enter this position with much excitement and enthusiasm, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, reflect on why I value my division membership as an Early Career Psychologist (ECP), and share with you my goals and aspirations for the Society’s Early Career Domain. A new year is also a time to reflect on the past, and for this I want to recognize and sincerely thank those who have helped shape the Society’s Early Career domain to its present form. Specifically, I express much gratitude to the previous Early Career Domain Representative Rayna Markin, PhD, for her many contributions and to the ECP Committee, including Chair Kevin McCarthy, PhD, with whom I look forward to continuing to work in the coming year.
My first introduction to joining a professional organization came (I am somewhat embarrassed to admit) as an extra credit opportunity offered in one of my doctoral courses during my first year of graduate school. One of the organizations I joined as a student member was Division 29. Though the initial decision to join this division was motivated primarily by the Type-A graduate student in me to gain a few extra credit points, what has kept me in organizations like this division are the ways in which they have greatly assisted with my professional development as a psychotherapist. For example, one of my earliest memories of participating in a Division 29 event was attending the Lunch with the Masters for Graduate Students and New Professionals (now Social Hour with the Masters) while participating in my first APA convention early on in graduate school. During the luncheon I was struck by the genuine openness and interest the “Masters” demonstrated towards myself and the fellow attendees and their willingness to reflect on their career paths and inquire about our current work and future goals. The experience of learning from those who have contributed so much to our field and the dedication they exemplified towards helping the future of the field is something that has remained with me. I am also grateful to the faculty members within my graduate program who modeled their own enthusiastic involvement in professional organizations and recruited students, including myself, to take on active roles within these organizations. Doing so helped me to learn the value of not only what these organizations can offer for members, but also what we, in turn, can provide as a means of continuing to foster the growth and development of our field.
Fast forward through internship, postdoctoral fellowship, and licensure, I found myself transitioning into the role of an ECP and seeking opportunities for networking, ongoing learning and professional development, and overall connection with fellow psychotherapists. Like many of us, I wear multiple hats in my various professional roles. For me, this includes engaging in practice, training, and outreach at a university counseling center, and most recently, beginning to develop a part-time psychotherapy practice. Thus, in addition to joining local and state-level psychological associations, I returned to the Society to benefit from the national and international reach it offers to connect with others focused on the advancement of psychotherapy science, teaching, and practice.
So what does the Society have to offer for ECPs? Given the many unique challenges ECPs face (Green & Hawley, 2009) and the transitions in both personal and professional life that is often typical of this stage of an ECP’s career, the value of mentoring for ECPs cannot be overstated. For early career members of the Society, this includes opportunities to establish mentoring relationships with seasoned professionals within the realms of psychotherapy research, teaching and training, or practice. Not looking for a formal mentoring relationship? Plan to attend one of our online ECP Mentoring Hour Series, where ECPs have the opportunity to learn from experts in the field on a given topic, and network with fellow ECPs without needing to leave the comfort of your office. Past Mentoring Hour topics have included How to Establish a Research Agenda and Publish for Days with Jesse Owen, PhD, and Alliance Ruptures in Research and Clinical Practice with Jeremy D. Safran, PhD. Keep on the lookout for announcements for upcoming Mentoring Hours. We will once again be hosting the Society’s Social Hour with the Masters at the upcoming annual APA Convention this August 2017 in Washington, DC. This is an exciting opportunity to meet and talk with experts in the field and fellow ECPs. I look forward to meeting many of you at this event. Furthermore, as Domain Representative, I plan to continue to support both formal and informal mentoring opportunities for ECP members, particularly through the use of technology and other means to accommodate the busy lives of our ECPs.
The Society also has several awards and grant opportunities available related to its commitment to the advancement of psychotherapy, including an Early Career Award acknowledging demonstrated achievement related to psychotherapy theory, practice, research or training. Our Division 29 Listserv is also a great resource for ECPs and all members to communicate and exchange relevant professional information. Additionally, ECP members have the opportunity to submit writings to the Society’s Psychotherapy Bulletin. Whether you are interested in sharing your own experience as an ECP in the Bulletin’s ECP Column, or would like to contribute to another area of the Bulletin, this is a wonderful opportunity to contribute and share with fellow Society members. As we continue to grow as an international association of psychotherapists in study and practice, contributing to the Bulletin can be a great venue for exchange of diverse ideas, findings, and experiences.
Perhaps most importantly, I hope to continue to provide details on services, events, and information that reflect our Society’s ECPs in my time as Domain Representative. Throughout the year I will be reaching out to our ECP members to find out how we can continue to meet the diverse and unique needs of our ECPs as a Society. However, I also invite members to contact me directly (email@example.com) at any time with input on what you may be looking for from the ECP Domain. As we enter this new year, I hope you too will take time and reflect on what involvement in professional organizations, such as the Society, means to you. I truly believe that ECPs can offer fresh and significant contributions to our field and look forward to realizing those contributions together in the road ahead.