Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Narrative Study of Professional Identity Development in a Group of Men Who Made a Career Change to Become a Psychologist in Midlife

Marney Hoffman, Student, Psychology

This qualitative study explored the experience of men who at midlife changed careers to become a clinical psychologist. The role of gender in professional identity development as described in the adult development theories, the male development theories, and theories of career change formed the conceptual basis for this study. Ten participants, between the ages of 38-62 years, who were near completion of or had completed their doctoral training in psychology, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. The analysis of the data was guided by the multi-layered interpreting approach of the listening guide. The model that emerged included seven themes of personal and professional change that was experienced as the men changed careers to develop an identity as psychologist: (1) awakening, (2) searching, (3) transitioning, (4) adjusting, (5) reviewing, (6) re-emerging, (7) Owning. Within these themes a parallel process of male development was experienced as the men moved through their career change process. For these men, the process of changing careers gave rise to a reorganization of masculine ideology, the creation of a new personal narrative of redemption and a commitment to a new career path. The experience of emotional expressiveness and a collaborative style of interacting with others were experienced by many of the men as they moved through their doctoral training. Evidence of gender role conflict, developmental role conflict, and the experience masculine traits as positive emerged from the narratives as the men told of their experience entering a doctoral program at midlife. 

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