Effects of a Career in Counselling Psychology on the Evolution of Identity
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A career in counselling psychology may have important effects on the identity development of counselling psychologists through interpersonal work with clients from diverse populations. This literature review examines the experiences of counselling psychologists and graduate students in counselling psychology and the effects of those experiences on identity development. In order to define the various facets of identity that may be affected, this review utilizes an intersectional framework and focuses on the specific aspects of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity and religion/spirituality, and how these identity facets are impacted through the experience of working as a counselling psychologist. The experiences of graduate students in counselling psychology are included within the scope of this review, as considerable research has been conducted on this population. The key findings indicate that the effects of the career appear to be largely beneficial, with a high degree of career satisfaction world-wide. Vicarious trauma, burn-out, and compassion fatigue can be experienced; however, the literature suggests this may be prevented through practices such as self-care and social connection. Common experiences exist across the spectrums of age and gender with respect to self-efficacy and a sense of feeling drawn to the career. As well, the literature indicates that a career in counselling psychology can lead to identity growth and integration in the areas of sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and religion/spirituality. Implications and recommendations to advance the field of counselling psychology are also discussed.