We dread it more on an airplane when we are trapped.
That's right, the question, "So, what do you do for a living?" can be a dreaded question for psychologists. When I say I'm a school psychologist, I get:
-Wow! So you teach? What grade? ("School" must trip people up) -Whoa! What am I thinking RIGHT NOW (um, psychologist, not psychic) -Are you analyzing me right now? (Yes. Unless I'm tired.) -I have a daughter/son with X problem...... -That must be so rewarding (Erm....most days...) -I totally need a psychologist (Darn. My expertise ends at age 18, unless you are super immature).
and my favorite (someone really asked this):
-What is your favorite kid problem? (ooh! ooh! I love when they can't read!)*
It is sometimes hard to say what exactly it is that a school psychologist does, because we have 8 hojillion hats to wear, but I usually go with "It's like a child psychologist in the school setting. If there is a student who isn't learning, I try to understand why, and I provide interventions or recommendations. I specialize in what gets in the way of learning (e.g. emotional problems, behavior problems, disabilities) and what helps learning. I do some prevention activities, but mostly I do interventions with kids, like testing students for disabilities, counseling, and consulting with teachers and parents." I'm sure NASP has a better definition, but that is my "elevator speech" about my job. But sometimes, after the job description, you get trapped in a very long and unwelcome discussion about your profession...
In case you missed me posting this on my Facey Face page, I recently did this interview for the New York Times about psychologists trapped on airplanes in uncomfortable situations. Enjoy. In a schadenfreude kind of way.
*Like my friend Beth, I really wish there was a universal sarcastic font. ** I love this article. I love all of it. The only thing that made me have a Dr. Evil moment was reading "Ms. Branstetter" instead of Dr. Branstetter. (In Dr. Evil voice): "I did not go to 6 years of evil graduate school to be called Ms." But who am I to criticize the New York Times? THE New York Times. I feel lucky to even be referred to incorrectly in it at all. And in true Me-Monstery fashion, I got a bunch of copies when it came out in print. Stocking stuffers, maybe?