Dealing with Imposter Syndrome as a Mental Health Professional
Have you always done your best to maintain the best grades and be the best student throughout college? Now that you are pursuing a career as a mental health professional, are you worried that you do not possess the abilities for success? Or maybe you are in the field for a decade or more and still questioning your worth? Yep, I went there. I am talking to you – and to me – to all of us in this field who have human moments.
Even the best of us have dealt with imposter syndrome. As a mental health professional, you have probably worried that dealing with this simply solidifies the feeling that you are not qualified for your work. It does not matter if you graduated top of your class or constantly received high praises from your professors throughout your college career. Once you begin your career, you are no longer simply working toward a grade. You are now responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of your patients.
The pressure that comes with your career can present you with doubts about your abilities, your qualifications, and your intelligence. Your inner voice does not care about how much confidence everyone else has in you, how hard you worked to get here, or about how well you know your stuff. All that your inner voice is screaming at you is that you do not belong here and are not qualified to do this.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is an experience that will leave you feeling as though you do not belong in the place you worked so hard to get to. If you are experiencing imposter syndrome, it is likely that you feel as though you are a fraud who only got where they are through sheer luck, despite the fact that you have been through years and years of schooling to get where you are today. It does not matter how achieved you are, how smart you are, or who you are. Imposter syndrome can attack anyone at any time.
Those who are experiencing feelings of imposter syndrome will begin to doubt themselves from their abilities all the way to their achievements. Despite how talented and well-versed in their subject they are, those who are struggling with imposter syndrome will typically feel as though they are lacking in the skills department. If you are experiencing it, you may fear that you will fail your patients or that you are not qualified for the responsibilities granted to you as a mental health professional.
Oftentimes, people who are struggling with imposter syndrome will credit their success and achievements to outside sources rather than to their own hard work. Imposter syndrome can leave you feeling anxious that you will fail others, being unable to live up to their expectations for you. In order to make up for the fact that you feel like a fraud, you will likely find yourself being an overachiever or sabotaging yourself. You will likely set unachievable goals and feel angry with yourself when you cannot meet them.
Regardless of how many achievements or successes you experience, imposter syndrome will not allow you to find your confidence. Accomplishments will simply be credited to external sources because imposter syndrome just will not allow you to give credit to yourself for them.
How to Cope with Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome can really begin to take a toll on your mental health. The constant feelings of fear and anxiety can escalate into more serious mental health issues like depression. You may find yourself struggling at work due to the constant fear and anxiety brought upon you by your imposter syndrome. Finding tools and strategies to help you work your way through your imposter syndrome is crucial for your own mental health and well-being.
In order to move past your feelings and beliefs that you are a fraud, you must learn what thinking patterns have led you to feel this way. The more aware you become of negative thought patterns that are feeding your imposter syndrome, the better you will become at confronting them. There are a few strategies you can utilize to successfully confront these negative thought patterns. They include:
- Journaling. Journaling can help you observe your thoughts in a physical way. If you are experiencing feelings of imposter syndrome, sit down with your thoughts and get them all down on paper. Once you are done, observe them and confront them on paper. Write down your achievements, past successes, and abilities. Viewing your doubts alongside these strengths you possess can work as an exercise to get you feeling more confident in your abilities to help your patients.
- Talking to others. Sharing your doubts and fears with somebody who you trust can help you feel as though a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Sometimes, hearing an outside perspective on our own abilities can help us fight through the feelings of inadequacy imposed on us by our imposter syndrome.
- Be mindful of your thoughts. If you find yourself doubting your abilities, stop and ask yourself why you may be thinking this way. Are your doubts rational? Are you thinking logically or being overcome by your fears? Mindfulness about your thoughts will help you combat your imposter syndrome.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. We all possess different strengths and weaknesses. When we get into the habit of comparing ourselves, we tend to lose sight of our own strengths and only focus on our weaknesses and faults. This will simply fuel your imposter syndrome, depleting your confidence.
- Be kind to yourself. Understand that you are human. Constantly striving for perfection will do nothing more than leaving you feeling stressed. Reward yourself for little wins and be gentle with yourself if you make a mistake.
Imposter syndrome can be experienced by anyone at any time. Know that you are not alone in these feelings. The good news is, imposter syndrome is typically a symptom of success. If you find yourself feeling this way, it likely means that you are climbing your way up the ladder and successfully following your dreams. Don’t let imposter syndrome impose on your achievements. Mental health professionals must go through years of training and work to become qualified before they are granted their license. If you are still struggling with imposter syndrome, speaking to a therapist may help you understand and confront those negative thoughts that are feeding these feelings.
If you need help working embracing who you are as a human, as well as a professional – let’s chat!
I provide online therapy in Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, California, Texas, and Pennsylvania. I’m proud to offer online therapy for helping professionals, online therapy for busy professionals, and Therapy for Therapists™. I specialize in treating imposter syndrome, burnout, and anxiety using The Daring Way™ and offer online workshops to clients who want to overcome shame. Contact me today and let’s be rockstars together!
As always, take care of you and know that you are not alone –