This winter, we sat down with Associate Dean of the College of Psychology Dr. Alvin McLean to gain some insight into working in the mental health field. This three-part blog series documents Dr. McLean’s in-depth answers to each of three questions about the field. Read on for question and answer #3.

What has been your most rewarding experience working in this field?

There have been two types of very rewarding experiences for me. The first one is common to anybody in the helping professions—what gets you excited is seeing people get better. My personal experience in this regard came after leaving academia and taking a more entrepreneurial approach to healthcare. The most rewarding part of this track has been designing and implementing a residential treatment program for people with traumatic brain injury. Seeing people who had been in a coma, unable to move or speak, return to their family members and careers in just two years—you can’t beat that.

The other type of rewarding experience for me is seeing students walk across the stage with their doctoral degree. Having seen them through the grad program and their clinical training and struggling through their dissertations, it’s like seeing one of your children make progress. Then you see them on the other side doing good clinical work in the community. That’s equally as exciting as the entrepreneurial aspect for me.

That’s the end of our discussion series. We hope you’ve gotten some good insight into how to discover if psychology might be the right field for you, how to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and diversify its presence in our communities, and the rewards that might be in store for someone who pursues a career in any of the various areas of psychology.

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