10-Year Post-Ph.D. Post


left: my graduate mentor hooding me; middle & right: hooding my first two Ph.D. students

I graduated with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology 10 years ago! I thought I’d reflect on that by responding to a tweet by Nathan C. Hall (check out the full thread of responses to his tweet here, an article on it here, and discussion of it on a podcast here.


1. Don’t despair when you’ve invested a lot of time in a study and the results are not statistically significant. There’s a future process coming that will allow you to publish these studies as long as they’re rigorous (Registered Reports).

2. Even though mentoring graduate students provokes a lot of uncertain/anxious feelings, it will end up being one of the most meaningful aspects of your job.

3. You overestimate how much your treatment of people influences how they treat you. People’s goals, personalities, motivations, and other incentives guide their behavior too (more so than yours in some cases).

4. When deciding what to teach within time constraints, prioritize depth over breadth and make time to teach students about process (e.g., how to find and critically evaluate the research on depression treatment) over content (e.g., reviewing every type of depression treatment currently used).

5. Don’t neglect the importance of sociocultural factors in biopsychosocial models of psychopathology. I didn’t even realize I was almost exclusively focused on biological/psychological factors in my abnormal psychology class until a student commented on it in my evaluations during my first year of teaching. I’m really grateful they did that. It made my subsequent teaching more comprehensive.


6. Demonstrate the importance of course subject matter by taking time to discuss it within its historical context and current real-world significance (e.g., on intelligence – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

7. Even though you think you’ll regret it later, you’ll actually be grateful that you turned down some work opportunities when you were already overloaded with work.

8. If you’re experiencing burnout, try looking at your situation through an operant conditioning lens. Identifying reinforcements, punishments, etc. in your situation can produce problem-solving ideas. This was advice I got from someone else that stuck with me.

9. There are certain types of work in academia that are more frequently and formally recognized and rewarded than others. That doesn’t mean that the other work isn’t of value. Reminding yourself of that with regard to your own and others’ work is important.

10. I don’t know how to phrase this last one except to say that I am extremely grateful for all of the trusted friends and colleagues I have been able to consult when I am unsure of something ranging from scientific to interpersonal aspects of academia. In advice form: don’t hesitate to ask for help from people you trust. And pay it forward when you’re the one who is asked.


One thought on “10-Year Post-Ph.D. Post

  1. Pingback: How Eating Disorders Might Lead To Suicide with Dr. Katie Gordon – #SPSM Chat December 8th, 2019. | SPSMchat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s