Denise Renye, M.A., PsyD. discusses why the many years of studying is totally worth it to become a psychologist (instead of her childhood dream of becoming a nun).
Do you believe there is such a thing as a “Dream Job?”
Oh sure! I think it’s completely subjective though. One person’s dream job may be another person’s nightmare. I think landing a dream job involves a whole lot of inner work on the level of the psyche. It doesn’t just “happen.” It takes a lot of “know thyself-ing”.
Have you ever had anything close to a “Dream Job?”
I feel like I am currently working in what I would consider my “dream job.” I am working as a psychologist (post doc). I work part time private practice and part time in a college counseling center. I also do conflict mediation in corporations mainly working with engineers and foreman on construction sites and with tech companies.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, marine biologist or a nun.
Do you currently know what you want to be when you grow up?
Oh hecks yeah. I want to be a psychologist who focuses on the evolution of consciousness. I want to (and do) focus on the somatic, psychological and spiritual experiences of individuals and the collective.
Do you have a set career path or just let things happen?
The trajectory of my career path has been an interesting one. Since I was 12 years old, I have been in the helping field. I started volunteering at a nursing home and just followed where my mind and heart wanted to go from there. I’ve worked in restaurants, retail, a karate studio, a traumatic brain injury facility, selling shoes (that was a very interpersonally dynamic gig!), working with children/infants and families, in a rape crisis counseling center, at some nightclubs, as a face and body airbrushing artist and as a children’s party clown. I’ve done a variety of jobs over the years to make ends meet.
While my career as a psychologist was evolving, so was my career as an artist. I’ve been making art since I was very young and that has had an interesting path of its own too. Currently I do silversmithing and sell my jewelry through some gallery spaces.
Have you had to overcome setbacks in your career?
Oh, for sure! I’ve had lots of financial setbacks that coincided with setbacks in my levels of confidence. Because I come from a very blue collar family and culture, it’s quite the leap for me to take into the white collar world of practicing as a psychologist. There have been many setbacks due to classism and sexism, both external as well as internalized.
What is a typical day like at your job?
In my private practice I see patients for long term, depth psychotherapy and at the university I see students for short-term psychotherapy. There is lots of paperwork to do too and reading of peer reviewed journals, as well as writing. I’m also in a number of consultation groups and individual consultation so I’m typically writing up notes and presenting in a variety of fashions throughout the week. I just turned this question into “typical week.”
What do you like most about your job?
I love connecting with people. I like the space wherein you meet a patient, the space in between. It’s (sometimes) a space of honesty, vulnerability and rawness in a way that isn’t found in a lot of other places in life.
What do you dislike about your job?
How frequently do you look forward to going to work?
How frequently do you not look forward to going to work?
I can’t say at this point in my career there are many days I don’t look forward to going to work.
Do you have a career role model or mentor?
I have several. They are honest, hardworking individuals who are generous with their time and expertise. I feel very fortunate to work with the mentors I work with and have worked with in the past. (MaryEllen McMonigle, PhD., Genie Dvorak, PsyD; Megan Rundel, PhD; Clara Kwun, LCSW, Sue Nestler, PsyD, Thich Naht Hanh). I haven’t worked with Thich Naht Hahn over a span of time though I did meet him and learned the overlap of psychotherapy and Buddhist thought during a group workshop.
What advice would you give to others interested in your career?
Believe in yourself, take it slow and gentle and know that even though the path may seem arduous and never-ending, you are working towards something worthwhile and rewarding on a multitude of levels.
Anything else you want to tell us about your line of work?
It’s so rewarding and there’s nothing like it! I never thought I’d be able to honestly say that I absolutely love my line of work.