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Interview with Dr. Tracy Ochester, Psychologist in Kansas and Missouri

Dr. Ochester is a psychologist in Kansas and Missouri and also the creator of the blog, Facticity. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Greater Kansas city and Missouri Psychological Associations, the LGBT-Affirmative Therapists Guild of Greater Kansas, and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. In this interview, Dr. Ochester lends concrete suggestions for the individual who is entering the field of psychology. She also points out those qualities that are most important to the clinical psychologist and the role of being a lifetime student. Dr. Tracy Ochester got her start by listening to those who were already in the field of psychology. She believes that listening is a central component to being a quality psychologist.

What led you to begin a career in psychology?

tracy-ochesterI was working as a stringer for a newspaper after college and I interviewed some psychologists for a story I was involved in. The experience reminded me how much I had enjoyed my psychology classes in high school and college and it inspired me to pursue my post-graduate education in psychology.

What are some challenges you have faced in your career in psychology and the steps you took to overcome them?

Going to graduate school was a challenge because nobody in my immediate family and none of my close friends or neighbors at the time had done such a thing. It was a whole new world and involved quite the learning curve. I did a lot of research and worked up the courage to consult professionals in the field. This early experience was invaluable because I did it again when I was considering going into private practice.

What is your best advice for those about to embark on the field of psychology?

Have patience, be humble and open to new experiences, and ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to seek out information and advice from those who have gone before you.

What is one of the most interesting things that has happened in your career so far?

Because of client confidentiality I cannot discuss cases, but I can say that my job is always interesting and there have been more fulfilling experiences than I can count, both in my early training and in my professional life. I feel very grateful to have a job in which I can be of assistance to others and do something meaningful to me. I think I have grown more from my work with clients than I have from anything else in my life.

Could you suggest three guidelines for the individual who is entering the field of psychology?

It is helpful if you are open minded (non-judgmental), patient, and a good listener. Don’t worry – these characteristics can be cultivated with practice.

Graduate school is competitive, so work hard at getting good grades and building a network of professionals who know your work. Understand that this career requires you to be a lifelong learner, so be prepared to be a student (of sorts) far into the future.

Realize that if you are going to do clinical work, your reward will be the fulfillment you get from helping others rather than material wealth. If you are motivated by helping others, this career can be very rewarding.

As an accomplished author of a blog related to psychology what advice would you offer an individual entering the field of psychology concerning the role of social media?

Social media is a great forum for getting the word out about psychology; however, like any tool, social media must be used wisely. Psychologists are required to protect the privacy and confidentiality of our clients, so we must never divulge information that might identify a client. We must also be mindful about personal information we share about ourselves because it can impact the therapeutic relationship we have with our clients. Just like physicians, our first ethical responsibility is to “do no harm.”

Which of the strengths that you bring to the table do you think is most important in your job?

I believe that my natural interest in people’s life stories (and human behavior in general) makes me a good listener and observer. Good listeners are actually pretty rare outside of the therapy office, in my opinion. If you can cultivate the ability to slow down and really attend to others with an open mind, suspending judgment, this may be an advantage to you in many different careers.

We thank Dr. Ochester for generously sharing her insights and advice with our audience. You can learn more about Dr. Ochester at her blog, Facticity.