Saturday, November 14, 2009

The job

I've been stalling on this post because the jury's been out on the new job. It most definately isn't what I expected, or for that matter what I'd been told it would be. However as my husband, who has picked up a little too much psychology over the last 10 years, says, I do this with every new job. So I remain optimistic and try to find opportunities to find my own place in this new environment. So from the beginning...

The new job, and the reason that we moved, is a staff psychologist position at a large women's prison. From what I understood, I was going to be starting a chronic pain program and carrying a caseload of therapy clients. The reality is that I'm part of this program that is not quite developed yet. It's me and one other psychologist who's never worked with inmates before, which is a whole other issue. We'll talk/rant about that one later. I'm also doing this triage thing where I essentially hang out in the living units and see everyone before they get referred to a therapist. I also deal with any emergencies that may come up in my area. The kicker though? The best part? On the days that I'm on the units I may be expected to ride a tricycle. Seriously, a tricycle.

The chronic pain program, and it's other groups, are still totally undeveloped. The mental health staff is bigger than any other place I've worked, and there's all these political cliques that are complicated and super nasty. I'm working my way through them, but every day feels like I'm walking in a minefield. Also, no one uses first names. At all. Ever. So every meeting, every walk down the hallway, every silly chat in the mailroom sounds like some Monty Python skit. It's only been a couple of months since I've been able to officially use the title, but I'm already tired of being called "Doctor." On top of that, some people, including my new partner, shorten it by just calling people by their last names. So now I'm being beckoned by people just yelling "Chiconky!" in the courtyard. I don't have an office, or a desk, or even a drawer to keep my stuff. That's been pretty humbling in and of itself.

It's not all bad though. My boss seems to really like and appreciate my style (even calling me "abnormally normal"). Because the program is so new, I have the chance to develop it in a way that works for me, and because my partner is new to the population I can take more of a leadership role. The needs are so great that I can start pretty much any groups I want and there will be a need. For example, I'm going to start a group for sleep issues while I get my pain program up and running. The population is awesome and the officers have been great. I've already had quite a few really cool opportunities, like sitting in on a treatment team meeting in segregation and seeing Condemned Row. I've also met a few really great psychologists. My supervisors are great, and a lot of the staff is right out of internship. It's nice not to be in the minority.

So like I said, the jury's still out. I'm hoping that as I get more comfortable I'll begin to like the job more. It's definately not what I signed up for, and a lot of the time I'm thinking to myself "What the f*$# is going on here?", but all in all I think it will be okay. Plus, E and C are doing so well that it makes it a lot easier to put up with some of the BS. C says "There's a club for people who don't like their jobs. It's called 'Everybody' and they meet at the bar."


  1. Who knew you'd speak so favorably about the inmates and trash talk the staff, eh? I agree with C, it's called "work" for a reason - but nobody wants to suffer through grad. school to hate their job. It'll shape up, I'm sure. So nice to hear what's up!

  2. Hmm, I hope this isn't way over stepping bounds of not really knowing each other. But I do know people who go into psychology and we tend to be people who like to analyze and solve problems. I mean really like to analyze and solve problems. We do it automatically, it is sort of our thing, how we are made. Psychology, be it therapy or research, gives us the knowledge and tools to build our schema and add to our natural intuitive disposition. I personally think that the program not being developed is going to turn into something quite awesome. You will get to make it exactly as you know it needs to be. So much better than arriving to a program that you know isn't right and having to fight the red tape to make any changes at all. Your amazing problem solving skills will start getting endorphin highs as you put the pieces together. Your analytical skills will be working over time on figuring out exactly what the women of this prison need. And the best part is your boss completely supports you. The trike sounds nuts. But the formality seems to fit a prison setting. Although, I would find being called by just my last name rather annoying. Come on, if I wanted that I would of tried being a football player. All jobs start out more or less exactly like you are describing. It is a new culture, and it is going to feel strange and slightly wrong. New cultures always do. Only time will tell if the culture is actually dysfunctional. If it turns out it is then it may be time to leave. Is Coffee Creek in Wilsonville hiring?

  3. Well Im no psyhological expert..but I do think things have a tendancy to work themselves out. And bonus--chicks on trikes are super hott. So hot I had to use two t's.