In This Issue

From the Early Career Committee

Can professional women have it all?

By Dana Castellano, PsyD

Recently there has been much uproar about an article published in The Atlantic proposing that professional women still cannot "have it all." While this may be true (gender inequities aside), I've spent most of my life aiming to come close. So it's not surprising that upon transitioning from graduate student to postdoc to early career psychologist, I find myself juggling several balls at a time and hoping not to drop too many. I ponder about how to be a good enough therapist, teacher, and supervisor, when it seems just yesterday I was a patient, student, and supervisee. (Actually, it was just yesterday as far as the former is concerned.) Having been born two months premature and skipped kindergarten, I am all too aware of the ways in which prematurity and precociousness inform who I am in a variety of self-states. And yet these early experiences also parallel my professional self-states, having leapt as an ECP first into private practice, and then teaching, supervising, consulting, publishing, becoming the training director at my local therapy institute, and being elected as a division officer. Did I mention I also have a four and a six year old (and a husband)? Well, I like to get at least six hours of sleep and some physical activity in as well. Is this what it means to have "balance"? And how will I add analytic training to my plate next year? If anyone reading this knows, I'm all ears.

I am filled with gratitude (and anxiety) about all the new directions my career is taking, and continue to be awed by my passion for my work. Most days I wake up excited to go to the office. Yet I also fret about the effects on my children of having a mother who spends her day taking care of other people and wonder if I have enough left over for them when I return. I stress over not being a good enough wife when I tell my husband his time is up after listening to him vent about his day; I worry about my sanity upon realizing I tend to do this after roughly forty-five minutes. Each time a patient leaves treatment, I fear the phone will never ring again. What does it mean to be good enough, particularly in the early stages of creating a family and a career as an analytic practitioner?

This essay seems to contain as many questions as answers, but that feels exactly right in explicating the experience of an ECP. I've learned that the opportunities to experience imposter syndrome do not fade upon receiving one's diploma; in fact, they increase exponentially with every step into a new role. Yet at the same time, I find myself growing increasingly comfortable in my skin and my chair: I recognize my part in an enactment a little bit more quickly than in the past; a supervisee tells me that something I said helped clarify a question about a patient; the phone does, in fact, ring again; a patient asks to start coming more than once a week. Or, I find myself sitting on the floor with my family after work playing Chutes and Ladders, completely absorbed in our game. There are still countless questions to ask and much ahead to learn. Maybe I still don't have it all and probably never will. But I get to wear many fabulous hats, and as an ECP perhaps that is good enough.

The Early Career Committee of Division 39 is currently focused on increasing opportunities for engagement in the division. Our mission is to broaden the scope, depth and breadth, of experiences and opportunities that early career clinicians are able to find within our organization. We encourage inquiry and provide support in a variety of ways, i.e., mentorship, professional guidance, and connections to seasoned clinicians and analysts in our division. Please contact our chairs if you have any questions or need any additional information. We offer many ways to get involved.

Early Career Committee Co-chairs

Marilyn Charles
Heather-Ayn Indelicato

About the Author

This essay is contributed by Dana Castellano, PsyD. She graduated from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in December 2010. In addition to being in private practice in Boulder, Colo., she teaches, supervises and is the acting training director for the Boulder Institute for Psychotherapy and Research. Dana is proud to be a member of both "EC" Committees: the Early Career Committee and the Executive Committee, as the division's incoming secretary-elect. She will commence her three-year term in January 2013.