Original Articles

The Lived Experiences of Professional Clinical Psychologists who Recently Started a New Academic Career


Employing an adapted Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method, the experience of practicing Clinical Psychologists entering academia is explored. The article explores the recursive process between individual and institution as professional and academic identities develop in the context of a multiplicity of trajectories emerging at the intersection of professional and personal boundaries of identity, rhetoric and reality. The three authors, all of whom are practicing Clinical Psychologists new to academia and who constitute the focus of this study, engaged in a hermeneutic discussion regarding their experience. Exploration of the data gathered from this discussion using the adapted IPA methodology evidenced three central themes, namely: (1) The ‘nuts and bolts’ of academia; (2) Surviving versus thriving; and (3) It’s always personal. These themes are discussed in the context of contemporary literature exploring the experiences of new academics in general and Clinical Psychologists entering academia in particular. The pharmakon (sic.) that carts the Clinical Psychologists interviewed in the study from professional practice to academia is positioned in the context of an emergent meta-theme where the questions are asked: “What is good and what is not good?” and “who will teach us these things?” In the process of contextualizing, exploring and analyzing the emergent themes, the researchers/participants gradually evidence a response that is less of an answer to the conundrum than it is a koan whereby the questions lose meaning as growth in identity has taken them to the point of the rhetorical response: “Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?”

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