The concept for the Mental Work podcast predates the first episode by a couple of years! I was sitting on the idea until about November 2021. At the time, I was 1.5 years post-full registration and had just completed my first year as a solo private practitioner. I was utterly exhausted, and it suddenly dawned on me: Being a psychologist is terrifying, and this is just the start. All that responsibility for client’s lives, handing over the tissue box day-in day-out, and staying out of judgement all while managing my own life as an imperfect human… that’s going to continue. How am I going to survive?
I knew from speaking with my peers that I wasn’t alone in this feeling, but then why did no-one seem to be talking about it? To be fair, there were people talking about the realities of being a psychologist on a few podcasts I knew of, but they were all based in the US and hosted by people who were very removed from day-to-day psychological work. I needed a down to earth, genuinely earworthy podcast that could connect to my experiences working on the mental health frontline. The kind of podcast where I could get help, guidance, and connection while not being bored out of my brain. Mental Work was conceived to bridge this gap and provide a sense of connection between early-career peers.
I come across as confident when you listen to me on the podcast, but overcoming my self-doubt was my biggest hurdle to getting started! I almost stopped the podcast very early because I struggled with the confidence to reach out to potential guests and with creating solo episodes. My partner’s belief in me and his insistence that I was on to something good really helped me to keep going.
My favourite episodes have been on the real issues affecting early-career psychologists that haven’t been talked about nearly enough, including ‘Therapists in Therapy’ with fellow AAPi director Carly Dober and ‘Working as a neurodivergent psychologist’ with Monique Mitchelson of the Neurodivergent Woman podcast. The episode on the 2-tier divide in the psychology profession with fellow AAPi director Sahra O’Doherty left a lasting impression on me because it highlighted just how much division the 2-tier Medicare system has created in psychology and how it continues to disadvantage vulnerable members of the Australian community.
I’ve noticed a lot of improvements as I experimented and settled on the vibe of the podcast. All of Mental Work’s episodes are tailored for early-career psychologists, and the podcast isn’t afraid to speak to taboo and difficult topics that might make more senior psychologists tut in disapproval. That’s ok – I’m of the mind that if you’re not ruffling some feathers then your content is too comfortable. Comfort is the antithesis of change and I want change in the profession, so I need to create discomfort!
I’ve formed so many enriching connections through podcasting, which I am very grateful for. Having had a harmful supervisory experience during my time as a provisional psychologist that left me with a great sense of mistrust, meeting my guests has firmly restored my faith in the profession and shown me that many passionate, ethical, and inspirational psychologists exist. I have learned so much from them which I know has helped me to become a better psychologist, and I hope that it has done the same for my listeners.
The reception from listeners has been incredible! I wasn’t sure if anyone would listen to the podcast, so to have listeners tell me how much of a difference the podcast has made to their journey has been amazing! A sincere ‘thank you’ to everyone who has listened to the podcast, shared an episode, posted a review, sent me an email, become a Patron, and bought me a virtual coffee! The podcast is made solely for listeners, so your contributions help it to keep on going!
I hope that the Mental Work podcast will continue for the next few years, and that when I move into my mid-career phase I can handover the podcasting reigns to another early-career psychologist. Before then, I want to continue delivering weekly episodes and speaking up about the issues directly affecting early-career psychologists so they can be better equipped to face them and, moreover, so that they be remedied (e.g., through AAPi’s advocacy!). Something I’m working on in the background is creating an annual survey for early-career psychologists on what they envisage the future of the psychology profession to be, and publishing the results in a peer-reviewed journal article so that their voices can improve the collective working lives of Australian psychologists.
All in all, I know I talk a lot about difficulties encountered as psychologists on the podcast, but I am genuinely hopeful for the future of psychology. Doing this podcast has shown me that I am one of many early-career psychologists who want sustainable careers, a united profession, and to positively impact vulnerable Australians and society more broadly with our psychology expertise. I’m excited to see what the future holds!
Dr Bronwyn Milkins (PhD, MPsych Professional)
Director, Australian Association of Psychologists Inc (AAPi)
Mental Work is available from wherever you get your podcasts from, including Apple, Spotify, and online at www.mentalworkpodcast.com
Mental Work is hosted by Dr Bronwyn Milkins (PhD, MPsych Professional) and edited by Dr Michael English (PhD).