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Transitioning from Clinician to Consultant

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

When considering the role of a consultant psychologist – I was intrigued by the possibility of applying evidence-based psychological principles to improve the functioning of organizations. I have always been driven to integrate psychology into settings outside the therapy room. In addition, this would be a challenge to further develop a set of organizational psychology skills – and lifelong learning is one of my values. The process of making this shift has required intention.



Liebowitz & Blattner (2015) provide an outline of considerations – self-assessment of desire for the role, ethical considerations, and recommendations for training. Using this as a guide, along with guidance from colleagues – the journey has been invigorating. Some may question the role of organizational development psychologist. Defining the role is one aspect critical to the work itself. Jay Thomas (2010) outlines special competencies – however, even he acknowledges the varying nature of the work within the field of organizational and business consulting psychology. Given this variance, outlining one’s role with supervisor and colleagues is critical.



My services include support of executive leadership, exploration of issues impacting workplace culture, change management, individual assessment, measuring employee engagement, and use of this data to craft targeted interventions. Some dynamics may seem familiar to the clinician – setting boundaries, partnering, “humble inquiry” (Schein, 2013), here-and-now process feedback, and evoking from your counterparts to provide clarity. The crux of the reframe is in who is defined as the “client.” In my role, this is the organization with which I am working, rather than any one individual. Maintaining boundaries so that OD consulting work is not used punitively is one critical aspect to my work in particular. Others offering consultation may define their services and boundaries with different lines. My transition has been rewarding, and I look forward to networking across Kentucky with other psychologists in the role of consultant. Special thanks to Dr. Andy Meyer & Dr. Kate McVey for mentorship.

References

Liebowitz, B., & Blattner, J. (2015). On becoming a consultant: The transition for a clinical psychologist. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 67(2), 144–161.

Edgar H. Schein. (2013). Humble Inquiry : The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling: Vol. First edition. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Jay C. Thomas Ph.D. (2010). Specialty Competencies in Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology. Oxford University Press

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