How I left IT in psychology

[Experience of transition to psychology]. On Habré there are quite a lot of articles on how to become a programmer , system administrator, networker and many more by whom. There are much fewer materials on how to leave IT, and today I will try to fill this gap.

PPKS. Source:

Disclaimer : I in no way pretend to the universality of the solutions presented in this post, I do not urge anyone to repeat the path described here - it is very specific, I just share my personal story, recalling that I once searched for similar material but he was gone. Perhaps for someone it will be relevant now.

And yes, under the cut again there are a lot of letters.

Synopsis A brief history of everything in my life and career

During my higher education (“Applied Informatics in Economics” at a local institute of fence construction, if anyone is interested), I, like many of my classmates, got a job as a “fake programmer” —wrote reports in 1C-ke for a not-too-large price-list, which then I did the little things on VBA and generally helped in every possible way to automate the fulfillment of the routine duties of line personnel.

In the fifth year I was brought into system administration - a large state lazy office gave a good salary for a student, the ability to write a diploma during working hours and go to sleep off home, saying at work that I was married, and at the university that I went to work.

I do not belong to the constellation of “star IT people” who from the youngest nails on their knees collect their first computers from beer cans and program Hello World in independently developed languages. An ordinary nerd, not too talented, not too assiduous, not too efficient.

Probably, in order to become a skilled IT specialist, I really miss something, but I know that there are many of us, and, in fact, for this audience (mainly) I write this text: it is unlikely to be interesting more advanced representatives of the IT industry.

But for this part of the community, it is also important that they notice it, and that some materials appear that are aimed not at super-heroes, but at ordinary “average peasants” missing nothing from the sky.

My first serious, real job was at the Evil Corporation , where I lasted for five years as an enikeyschik-admin-tech support. Then a proposal for relocation to the capital, a refusal due to health reasons, work in a large American vendor - first as a pre-sale engineer, then transfer to sales.

After - a significant decrease in the company’s presence on the Russian market due to sanctions imposed by the US government, reduction with a golden parachute, debts, depression, manifestation of the disease (many diagnoses were made, he left the hospital with an official “schizotypal personality disorder”), a psychiatric hospital, an immersion in psychology and a resurgence in the professional market already as a psychologist.

Almost seven years ago, I asked a question on one of the most popular forums at that time: “ Where to get away from Enikeystvo ”, and today I can answer it myself. Recently, I regularly get in a personal question about how I live after this transition, so this post will be issued as a FAQ, in which I will try to answer the most common of them.

Why psychology?

A combination of one's own disturbance (mental and even psychiatric problems) and life circumstances.

In 2015, by the will of fate, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital, where it was very boring. Large (inadequately large relative to the symptoms) doses of antipsychotics did not contribute to the desire and ability to study something, but there was so much free time and sitting in the ward was so boring that I decided to brighten up my leisure time with reading.

During one of the stages of the examination - in fact, a pathopsychological diagnosis - I met my future wife ( stanimira ), and she revived in me a long-standing interest in psycho * disciplines (I remember that in my youth I was read by Freud, not understanding then that neither his works have not been related to psychiatry, nor even to a wide layer of modern psychology for a very long time).

So, under the influence of a hellish mixture of unsatisfied youthful interest in the topic, terrible boredom in the department, the understanding that the doctor will not cure me (the prescribed pills became worse and worse), as well as the personal charm of my clinical psychologist, I decided to study the topic a little.

Having quickly figured out how the psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst differ from each other, I was very disappointed: training for a psychiatrist (my dream so far) was too expensive, but there was an option to enter the mental health industry on the other hand, and I began to gradually master the materials on psychology and psychotherapy (the psychologist has no right to introduce himself as a psychotherapist, but he can imagine himself using the methods and approaches developed within the framework of various therapeutic schools).

Those. Psychology was chosen by me as a kind of intersection of the set of those types of activities where I wanted to go (including to self-medicate more efficiently) and those where I could get due to organizational and financial circumstances.

Why did you quit IT?

In fact, I can’t say that I had no chance to return to the industry: for some time after returning from a psychiatric hospital, I still received offers, and they were not always completely meaningless.

But there was a little problem: at that moment I had a painful concept that I “could not work with anyone at all”. This was part of my illness, and it was logically impossible to convince me: neither job offers coming to the post office, nor reviews of colleagues, nor calls from recruitment agencies convinced me and could not convince me: such things should be treated pharmacologically, and the pills were chosen incorrectly.

Actually, that's why I left. Not from IT, but from work in general. By the time of the end of the second hospitalization, a mixture of am ** zine with pepper *** m brought me to a state of total maladaptation, and not only work in IT, I was not always able to get to the right room in the apartment without outside help.

I ran out of cash, debts grew to some inconceivable scale, and the only person who supported me was ( stanimira ). It was she who rented the apartment for us in which I lived for almost a year after discharge.

How did you leave?

As quite clearly follows from the answer to the previous question, I left what is called "nowhere." I did not have the slightest idea as to where I will now work, and indeed whether I will.

And this, it seems to me, was the key point: there was nothing to lose, and I was ready to try to implement the craziest ideas.

Who helped you?

I don’t want the reader to have the impression that I am so cool: not only did I cure myself, but also changed my profession: it’s completely not so.

A variety of people helped me: first of all, stanimira , who helped me find the treatment, readers of my blog who periodically donated until I reached a stable level of earnings (Galina, if you read this, I would like to thank you separately), my first clients who entrusted me with their psychological troubles, despite the absence at that time of formal education and any experience in this area.

Like any other person, I owe a lot of my achievements to the huge number of other people who made all this possible.

Was it scary to drop everything and change the scope of activity?

Despite the fact that in the circumstances described above this fear may seem completely unfounded, yes, it was scary. I’m not one of those people who can just take and change something in their life, and such a radical transition to a completely different activity frightened me with my uncertainty.

I’m still not sure if I could have decided on this, had my employer not left the region, and hadn’t been the reduction of staff. It is likely that I would sit now and write articles on completely different topics (and, perhaps, would be more useful for the habrasociety, who knows).

What helped to decide? That it was not necessary to decide: the circumstances did everything for me, leaving no choice (when the idea that you can’t work and the pills do not help, you really can’t work, is firmly stuck in your head).

How can one become a psychologist? How much time and money does it take?

In contrast to the serious and expensive in mastering the profession of a psychiatrist, you can go to psychologists with a minimum of costs. It is quite expensive to become a good specialist, but the entry threshold is low. I can’t call my scenario optimal, but the tags are “personal experience”, so I will rely on it.

So, I began to work, having no formal education at all in this area. The first person who hired me to interpret drawing tests (God, what nonsense I was doing!) Did it for fun (thank you very much!).

Having earned someone else’s desire to pass the time reading the results of fortune-telling on the coffee grounds of the interpretation of the “Human Drawing” test, I became inspired and decided to tell the world that I was ready to consult. Well-deserved rotten tomatoes will fly into me here and the density of fire will increase when I say that my first client was a psychotic (according to the level of organization of personality, if we take the Kernberg / Mc Williams classification).

I worked with the first client for experience, there was no payment in any form. Then came the other, already paid orders.

After some time, I decided that I needed at least some piece of paper, and filed documents for professional retraining in the specialty “Clinical Psychology” (45 thousand rubles).

Naturally, this did not make me a true clinical psychologist - the office that I chose, as it turned out, was just “trading in pieces of paper” without real knowledge, but it gave me the right to call myself that.

After that, there was a certain amount of studies already for psychologists on CBT (about 20,000 rubles), after - studies at NEI in psychopharmacology and psychiatry (somehow you had to treat yourself somehow, 250 USD). Here from this study I still have the most pleasant memories

DISCLAIMER : I do not urge anyone to self-medicate, especially in the case of mental illness. My story, at best, is the survivor's mistake. Self-medication is dangerous and, as a rule, does not lead to the desired results. Seek help from qualified psychiatrists, this is the only thing I can advise you if such assistance is required.

We do not take into account self-education - it seems to me that the audience of Habr is clear that it was in very large numbers. Book prices do not differ on average from good books on IT (2-7 thousand rubles), but sometimes there is the possibility of free familiarization with the content on all known resources.

Finally, having reached some more or less acceptable income level, I was able to afford the “standard set of beginner” psychologist: personal therapy (2-5 thousand rubles per week), supervision (2.5 thousand rubles per week) ), group therapy (1.5 thousand rubles per week).

I plan, if everything goes well with finances, in the fall to undergo training (30 thousand rubles) and then go on long-term studies on the modality that interests me (280 thousand rubles).

As you can see, in this sense, psychology is not particularly different from IT: you have to invest significant resources (temporary, financial, etc.) in your own development, to flee to stay in place.

You're crazy, how do you work? How do you work as a psychologist?

Working in general (i.e., overcoming the conviction that I was fundamentally incapable of this) helped me with some experience, it became very unprofitable to talk about it after making certain amendments to the civil code (but I will try to someday write an article on this topic without violating the requirements of the Law). These experiences helped me to restructure my ideas about myself and the world and get rid of this concept.

Often they ask a question like “How do you treat if you yourself need to be treated?” In response, I usually say that, firstly, I do not heal anyone (the psychologist does not heal, the doctor heals), and secondly, I refer to “ Wounded Healer ” Rollo May, the experience of Sullivan, Jung and other “untreated” ones.

And yes, I have several professionals (personal therapist, group therapist, spouse, supervisor) who monitor my condition and are ready, in which case, to provide the necessary assistance.

What were the difficulties, and how did you manage to overcome them?

The main difficulty for me was the struggle with my own mental illness. It (the disease) did not allow to study and work productively, it ate a lot of money for medicines that did not always work, and specialists who did not always help.

It killed every possibility of faith in oneself and one’s strength, it raised the alarm to such a level that I generally ceased to understand where I was and what I was.

However, some successes in treatment gradually appeared, the pills began to work, unnamed experiments brought their results, and all this paid off.

I could afford to give up the donation button in the blog about two years after its registration.

However, I really like the work (and liked it from the very beginning), so the activity itself did not add any difficulties.

How to unwind a psychologist? Where did you take / take clients?

Now there are a huge number of paid and free promotion courses for psychologists (and maybe someday I will make my own), but none of them impressed me so much that I used it (although, I confess, I looked at several demos on the topic , - horror).

My clients find me mainly through a blog on LiveJournal and other social networks. I tried to give targeted advertising once, but, apparently, somewhere very much messed up (I don’t know, I or the performer), but there was no effect.

On the whole, I can describe my promotion path (although initially this goal was not set at all) as follows: at first it was a “whining pack”, which had no readers, except for a couple of my friends. Then I went to the analogue of the reddit AMA on one of Runet’s resources, then - the non-thematic community in LJ published my post - and a small, but stable readership appeared, some of which eventually became customers.

Further - I began to write articles on Habr and other popular resources, started a channel on Telegram, started and already managed to abandon Instagram, for some time I tried to do podcasts on my knees, write answers in Yandex services, in general, I tried and try to somehow fill the Internet with your content.

It doesn’t always work out well, many posts (perhaps this one will not be an exception) go into minuses in thematic (and not so) communities, but on the whole all this, plus the effect of word of mouth allows you to have some client traffic.

In general, I just try to work in such a way as to bring some real benefit to my clients, it pays off.

How has your gross income changed?

On average, it is believed that the work of a psychologist is paid at a significantly lower rate than the work of an IT specialist. I could not find a reliable source of statistics on psychologists, so I’ll give you this picture:


Compare this with the statistics on the salary of developers given here on Habré:


It seems that psychologists are all quite sad with the salary, and in communicating with some colleagues this hypothesis is confirmed.

At first, during the entry phase, my personal income fell very much. It happened that in the aggregate it amounted to less than 10 thousand rubles. per month.

Now it has grown 3-4.5 times compared to my personal maximum in IT in ruble terms, excluding inflation, or about 2.6 times in dollar terms (excluding inflation, again).

I can’t say that this is some kind of space earnings, but I have enough. But the main changes are not in income (especially since now a significant part of this income is spent on drugs, therapy, supervision, studies and other means of maintaining one's professional level).

Why not get a job in a new profession somewhere?

Quite simple: see the salary chart above? This is not enough to provide for a family, especially if one of its members is a 75-pound Newfoundland.

To my regret, finding a formal, interesting and well-paid job in Russia is quite difficult for a psychologist.

What has changed in your life?

Almost all. I got two things that my entire conscious life dreamed of: a business that I really like, and a lack of attachment to one particular employer.

This allowed me to live in different cities (albeit within the same region), and, paradoxically, gave me greater confidence in the future (there is no single point of failure - an employer who can fire me), freed up a lot of free time (I work online, I no need to spend a few hours to get to work, and a few more to get back).

I was able to get a dog: before that, such a turn in my life was impossible, I simply did not have time to deal with a pet.

But the main thing, of course, is a completely different level of comfort in the profession: when you really like what you do, many “sharp” working moments are perceived much easier.

If everything goes well next, I’ll buy a house in the village, surf the Internet and forget about the busy cities as a nightmare. But so far - only dreams.

How did you formalize your activity?

The new tax regime - a tax on professional income - was very useful here. Not too burdensome, transparent, easy.

There are, of course, disadvantages: they do not give credit with such a regime (or they give, but very reluctantly), no seniority is accrued, etc.

On the other hand, for me personally, these benefits of official white employment are not very interesting, so I am quite happy with this type of organization.

Pros and cons of working for yourself in a free schedule?

I think that I will retell for the hundredth time the obvious truths known to any freelancer, but I will answer.

From the pros: I control my workload myself (I want to earn more - I take a client, I want to relax - I write a post on Habr or I walk a dog with a dog), I do not need to get to work and back (for me this is a very important point), if I need to to leave, I just plan the schedule so that there is no work that day, no one tells me how to work, no dress code, etc.

The main disadvantages: the need to provide client flow (i.e., engage not only in psychology, but also in pr, advertising, sales, promotion), the inability to apply for a mortgage (for me it’s important), the difficulty of relocation to other countries (it’s important for emigrants to emigrate easier than a psychologist), lack of holidays and weekends (but I often didn’t have them in IT either), lack of paid sick leave and VHI.

What do you recommend to those who want to become a psychologist?

Think ten times if you need it. If you are young, full of energy, you have good working capacity and some reserve of financial resources - study for a psychiatrist. It’s a huge pain when you see a client, you understand that he needs pills, and not at all the ones that he takes, but all you can do is sadly tell him: “Consult a [different] psychiatrist” .

It’s simple and inexpensive to turn from a psychiatrist to psychologists - on the contrary, it is practically impossible.

In addition, strangely enough, the fundamentals of clinical disciplines will have to be studied, even if you are a psychologist, just to track when the client’s case is definitely not yours and to be able (understanding that this should be done) to send him to the doctor.

But if, despite all this, you want to be a psychologist, then the most important advice is to take a long course of personal therapy. And second, find a qualified supervisor. Everything else is not that important.

What modality do you work in?

Since the resource is more about IT than psychology, I’ll answer briefly: I’m torn between psychodynamics and CBT, trying to create a Frankenstein for each individual client and hoping that the resulting chimera will be effective.

How do you sleep at night if you know about Popper’s test?

I remember that I once loved trolling psychologists with this question. For myself, I answered it simply: practical (the one used in counseling) psychology is not a science, and there is nothing to blame it for not conforming to the ideology of the scientific method.

This is the same craft as carpentry, management, cooking, or driving trams.

But what really pisses me off is psychologists with huge FAQs who claim that, they say, they are no match for any astrologers and others. There is no big difference between us, even if we are KPT-shniki.

At one time I wrote an emotional essay on this topic, I will allow myself to leave a link here to text in Google Docs (so as not to be considered a bloc advertisement):

Do you feel that you are deceiving people?

I feel that I am trying to avoid this with all my might: not to make impossible promises, to send doctors to consult if necessary, not to say that the methods I use are absolutely scientific, and the models of my mind that are close to me are the only true ones.

I do not consider psychologists charlatans if they do not appear to be psychiatrists and do not promise miraculous healings.

And if someone is ready to pay another person for what he is listening to, will share a certain view from the outside and give some (not the fact that the truth!) Explanation of the processes, it is entirely his right.

Does your previous IT experience help you in your new job?

Yes, especially with customers from this industry. The fact is that IT specialists have a rather specific outlook on life, and the fact that I once belonged to this community helps me better understand them.

I don’t know, for this reason or not, but most of my clients in one way or another relate to the field of information technology by professional affiliation.

Again, when the client says that he “stupid and uploaded the test build to production”, and you do not need a dictionary and translator, communication is greatly simplified, and the interaction efficiency (communication) is significantly increased: more meaning can be conveyed in fewer words.

In fact, I am very very glad that I had experience in the field of information technology, I learned a lot during that period: quickly and efficiently searching for information, working with voluminous data sources, the basics of programming (VBA skills were useful, for example, in the time of writing one work on psychology, when it was necessary to quickly process and visualize a large amount of data), knowledge of specific terminology allows you to expand the list of metaphors used, etc.

Do you miss IT?

Yes, at times. Sometimes I want to open the editor and program some garbage like automating a battery of tests used in the same pathopsychological diagnosis, and I even sometimes try to do it, but for a long time I miss.

In addition, the question of economic efficiency arises here: it is often cheaper to outsource the task to professionals than to try to solve it yourself: the skills are not the same, and much has been forgotten.

Sometimes, when I talk with my friends from the industry, I hear a description of new cool technologies, I want to try all this, but ...

It does not last long and passes quickly enough. It feels more like nostalgia for youth, for the times when the disease did not take away my strength, and I could be effective in working without a bunch of pills.

In this sense, I look like a caricature of an emigrant who misses birches, but is not going to return from his new country of residence.

Pleasant melancholy - so I can describe the feelings that arise when I think about the world of information technology.

Do you regret leaving IT?

Sometimes, especially when I look at the salary schedules of developers and psychologists.

At such moments, CBT helps me : I simply dispute with my automatic thoughts with a simple argument: "personally, for you as a psychologist, in fact they give more money than as an IT specialist, but you never worked as a developer."

In addition, the new field of activity makes me much more willing to deal with something, learn new things, and in my free unpaid time (outside my studies) I still read psycho-psychological / psychiatric literature, and not books and articles on IT.

What will you do if you have to return?

A couple of years ago, I was panicky afraid of it, but the right pills and personal therapy work wonders: I began to relate to this opportunity much easier.

If for some reason I have to return to the industry, I’ll study some popular programming language and go to juniors - where to get it.

Enikeystvo, and a serious sysadminism - not mine. It's rather strange when Enikey spends almost 80% of its time on programming all kinds of pieces (even though they are Powershell scripts, but some of them were quite voluminous - up to 10K lines of code).

The experience of moving to a completely different sphere gave me the feeling that I could, if necessary, master the profession of a developer. I am not building illusions for myself on the topic of becoming a “star” in this field, but it is quite possible to reach a certain average paid level.

Will you come back if you offer good conditions?

Not.I like my new work, and I like it with its content, as well as with the freedom that it gives.

I understand that in IT the same level of freedom is quite possible to get, but people have become more interesting to me than technologies. And with money / bonuses / working conditions, this interest cannot be interrupted.

Who do you see yourself in our company in five years?

One of the advantages of freelancing (not just psychological, any) is the lack of the need for interviews with similar questions.

But seriously, the plans include building up professional skills in psychology, taking full-fledged training courses in Jungian analysis and cognitive-behavioral therapy (I know that these are very different and poorly combined with each other things, but I would like to go through such a training track) .

And in dreams - lechfak and psychiatry. It sounds like something impossible, but if someone had told me four years ago that I would become a psychologist, I would not have believed it. Life is a complex and diverse thing, much more complicated than any of our ideas about it, and dreams - for that and dreams, to be something that is very difficult, but one wants to achieve.

PS: I will put interesting questions from the comments into the main post along with the answers.


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