I chose Psychology as my undergrad because I knew that I wanted to get into therapy of some kind, but I wasn't sure what. Within this discipline, for those who actually want to work with people rather than just doing research on people, Clinical Psychology is the Holy Grail of Graduate Programs. So all through my Bachelors degree I imagined that Clinical was my goal (it being the hardest program to get into), I'd work my butt off, and then make an actual decision about what I wanted to do once I was a little more knowledgeable about the field and the possibilities.
When the time came, in September of my final year, to start picking grad programs/applying for scholarships/contacting researchers to work with etc... a curious sequence of events led me to the exact place I feel I am meant to be. Maybe that sounds a little kooky and dramatic, but whatev's... I do feel that OT is my true vocation. Anyway... here's how it went down:
- I wrote my GREs in August and got acceptable, but not out of this world, scores.
- I was advised by one of my Prof's and mentors that with my okay GREs and 87% average that I would not get into a Clinical program.
- My heart broke.
- I railed at the universe.
- On what planet is an 87% not good enough?!?!
- I moped.
- Then I said to myself "Self... what is it about Clinical that appealed to you? Maybe there's another way to achieve that goal."
- And I replied, "I want to work with people in a therapeutic capacity. I want to work in a health care setting. I am interested in research that addresses the mind-body connection and factors influencing health and happiness."
When I found a few, I read their papers and then sent them emails to ask if they were accepting students in September of 2009 and would they be willing to meet with me.
Now, as I'm doing this it is with a heavy heart. While I enjoy research and have an aptitude for it (I think I was the only person in my 3rd year stats class that liked it), what I wanted to do was help people. And my researcher friends would try and cheer me up with the argument that research does help people... and I know it does... but it always felt to me that it was sterile and removed from the actual helping bit. I wanted to get my hands dirty!
So one of the researchers I contacted did a lovely thing. She replied to my inquiry that she was not accepting new students, but that based on what I had written to her about the aspects of her research that interested me, I should contact her colleague Dr. XX.
When I looked Dr. XX up it turned out that she was at the same university, but in a different department... the School of Rehabilitation Sciences!! It was like a partition was taken away and suddenly there was this whole new world available to me!
As soon as I read the program description/mission statement/values it felt like I'd found my home. I was like the ugly duckling trying to find a Masters of Duckiness program who suddenly realized she was a swan! OT is a helping profession, it's in healthcare, they do research and practice, there's an incredible diversity in what an OT can do over the course of her/his professional life... and best of all, the profession's approach to wellbeing is that people find happiness through engaging in meaningful activities, which marries beautifully with the theories of Positive Psychology I personally subscribe to.
Since I discovered the program I've done a LOT of research, through websites and journals, on occupational therapy and everything I've read has only affirmed my initial reaction. It's even caused me to look back over the course of my life and realize all the many ways that OTs been there all along, without my properly labelling it as such. From the time I had a compound fracture of my leg and had help learning to do all my ADLs with a full leg cast, to the training I got on how to do ergonomic adjustments on the workstations at the call centre where I once worked.
I've applied to three Masters of Occupational Therapy programs to begin in September 2009, and not applied to any Psychology programs. I know this is what I was meant to be doing all along... I simply didn't know it, until I did. :)
Now, I post this entry just so that readers will know a little about me and my background. This was my journey. Yours may be different. One person's process is no better than an other's, so please don't judge. And maybe if you're in a good mood, while you're not judging me you'll also send some good ju-ju out into the universe for me that helps me get into one of the programs!!
Many thanks in advance for the success ju-ju!