Unsure if qualified

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Doubting your competencies 



As an intern, you will have lots of doubts; you may feel intimidated and incompetent at the beginning of your clinical training. Many are conscientious of their lack of experience, which for them means incompetent and not qualified. Of course, there are specific problems and conditions that require a certain level of expertise. Still, overall, there are some fundamental principles that would help beginner therapists (interns) be competent clinicians. First of all, confidence in yourself is vital, though this does take time to develop, I feel it is mostly in the clinician's head in overthinking what the clients might think if the clinicians will be exposed as a nonexpert. These are common thoughts among beginner interns, and I get it, I've been there, but you need to recognize at least that the therapeutic process is collaborative and at least in the initial part of your clinical training you are not alone, as you are being mentored by your supervisor.


Now, you may hear or have heard some stories from other interns, or perhaps you have experienced yourself already, of clients questioning clinicians' abilities as they are questioned if they have children or married or anything that clients apparently think is a requirement to work with them. Perhaps indeed, sharing some common knowledge and or experience may help with "understanding" and being empathetic to the case and therefore provide "effective" therapy; however, there is no guarantee that having some affinity with clients will result in a successful therapeutic outcome. There are many variables to consider when determining the effectiveness of a clinician's work, but assuming and ruling out a clinician's ability for not having certain life experiences is judgmental and limiting to the potential of success. In any case, to you, I say remember you are not an expert of your client's life experience but of the therapeutic process and if you feel you are not an expert of therapy (models, interventions, etc.) don't worry you not expected to apply textbook theories and models to a T; the real world is not a test. As you meet with your supervisor weekly, you will conceptualize cases addressing the pertinent aspects (problem, culture, systems, etc.) and implications to be considered in developing the treatment approach/plan accordingly.


So, what do you do to feel and be more "qualified" and "competent?" Throughout your clinical journey, you would continue to dive into the research and literature includes video and outside training in particular theories, models, and interventions to develop further your insight and skills in applying them in accordance to certain problems and populations accordingly; also, of course, seeking supervision is key to the developmental process. And how about those clients that may question your abilities, you can assure them you may not have first-hand experience in X, but you would love the opportunity to understand it and help in whichever way. Depending on the situation, the clinician will help the clients feel safe, respected, and heard to allow a therapeutic alliance, which is fundamental to any successful outcome.


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