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Baggage Check: Don’t rush into your higher yearning

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I’m trying to decide whether to go to grad school after college. I know I’m interested in being a therapist but also can’t imagine getting a Ph.D. when I am already so burned-out on college. I’m a junior. Any words of wisdom?

There are ways to become a therapist without getting a Ph.D. – going to a social work master’s program is one. But I’m loath to tell anyone to take on a heaping pile of graduate school if they’re already feeling burned-out on college, especially since graduate school can have many of the bad aspects of college but with less social life and even more ramen noodles.

You’ve really got to like school for it not to be excruciating (and sometimes it still is). But look, you also don’t have to view your long-range goal as having to begin the moment you graduate. You can look into jobs that appeal to you and might help you decide whether being a therapist still interests you. That would not be time wasted.

It might also garner you some savings and a break from an academic workload. And starting graduate school with more focus and more cash in the bank is never a bad thing.

Q: I am going to be blunt about this. My 14-year-old daughter is too overweight to dress the way she does. She wears provocative clothing, and it looks awful. I worry she is giving the wrong impression. She and I battle over her clothes all the time and we’re at a standstill. She looks trashy, although I wouldn’t use that word to her. Help.

I urge you to view this problem not as “my daughter shouldn’t wear those clothes because she’s too fat to look good,” but instead as “my daughter is too young to be dressing provocatively.”

You might notice that every time you give her the idea that her body is ugly or repulsive or embarrassing, it’s only going to push her further away from ever respecting it herself.

When you can have a real discussion, use this sample script: “You are 14 years old, and I’m your mother who loves you dearly. I believe you are too young to wear things that are x, y or z. I’m the parent here and get to set the rules. But I want to hear what you feel good in, so we can go shopping together and find where our middle ground is – and I’ll treat you to a few new outfits that we both can agree on.”

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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