Imposter Syndrome is a term that many early career psychologists are likely familiar with. It's that nagging feeling that you're not good enough, that your success is undeserved, and that at any moment, you'll be exposed as a fraud. But what many psychologists may not realise is that Imposter Syndrome can impact their performance and overall mental wellbeing. In this article, we'll discuss some ways that psychologists can cope and manage with their Imposter Syndrome.
First and foremost, it's essential to recognise when you're experiencing Imposter Syndrome. It's important to distinguish between a real skills gap and self-doubt. Remember that everyone has areas where they can improve, and most people battle with negative self-talk. Of course, there will also be times when your doubts may be because of a genuine skills deficit. In these instances, it is helpful to reflect on where you are in your career, whether your expectations are too high for yourself, or whether there is some aspect of this you can problem solve, like getting further training or supervision.
Next, be mindful of when these thoughts arise, as they can be incredibly damaging, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression. You may tell yourself that you're not qualified or don't deserve to be where you are. It is helpful to know that many people, regardless of their level of success, will have similar thoughts. Try and catch these thoughts as they come up and practice responding to yourself more adaptively or noticing your thinking, not responding to it, and imagining it float away. If you feel overwhelmed by these thoughts and they are hindering your performance, consider seeking support through therapy or supervision.
Another way to combat Imposter Syndrome is to focus on your achievements. Take some time to reflect on your successes and accomplishments, both big and small. Keep a record of your achievements and revisit them when you're feeling doubtful or insecure. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Recognise that your achievements are a result of your hard work, dedication, and talent. You have gotten to where you are based on your hard work and efforts.
Finally, it's important to embrace failure. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and it's essential to embrace it rather than fear it. Everyone makes mistakes, and failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. When you experience failure, take the time to reflect on what went wrong and how you can do better next time. Use failure as a learning experience rather than a reason to doubt yourself.
In conclusion, Imposter Syndrome is a common experience for early career psychologists, but it can be managed. Remember that you're not alone in feeling this way; respond to yourself in adaptive ways, seek support, focus on your achievements, and embrace failure. With time and practice, you can overcome Imposter Syndrome and develop a more positive and confident mindset. Remember, you deserve to be where you are, and your success is a result of your hard work and dedication. Amanda I'll be running a group supervision in June on Self Care For Psychologists. If you are interested in getting some self-management strategies specific to psychologists, I would love to see you there! If you are a Provisional Psychologist or Clinical Psychology Registrar, this will count as supervision hours towards your internship/registrar program. For more details see here.