1 Ackerman Lindsay Ackerman Matthew Vetter English 3840J April, 2013

The Languages of Psychology In the culture of today‟s society, there are many different types of literature that one can come across. From academic to informative, entertainment to step-by-step designed projects, one becomes accustomed to the type of literature that they are exposed to the most. A discourse community, as I can explain, is ones specific knowledge of their own particular field of profession and/or interest. A discourse community is what shapes how we communicate with literature within these communities, and is as important as someone‟s background knowledge or training in their particular field. This is so because if one cannot communicate appropriately in their field of interest, then the rate at which they are able to progress is inhibited. A discourse community is not only focused on just the types of literature they use (ie. different genres), but also includes the types of diction or „slang words‟ that are particular to the profession or field of interest. When one becomes submerged in their profession, they will become accustomed to these slang words, or as said by Elizabeth Wardle, “a person can understand clearly how to speak in ways that are acceptable in particular circumstances, but if not endowed with some recognized institutional authority, all the relevant and appropriate words in the world will not command it” (157). This basically means that when one becomes efficient enough in their community, it will allow them to speak in clear and concise ways that make sense with the typical jargon of a discourse community. If someone doesn‟t know how to act or speak in certain circumstances, there is no hope in excelling in one‟s own craft.

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Past research has focused much more on academic writings compared to the arguably more important and abundant writings of professional work places. Chris Anson and Lee Forsberg focused much on the transition of academia to the writings of the work place. They “chose to focus on an important transition that all writers must make when they move beyond the academic community and begin working in professional settings” (204). Other writers, like Anne Beaufort, focus on discourse communities and how the interactions between coworkers and others overlap when working in a professional setting. Beaufort explains that “a discourse community is a social entity distinguished by a set of writing practiced that result from the community‟s shared values and goals, the physical conditions for getting writing done, and individual writers‟ influence on the community” (59). This outlook on discourse community is what got me to thinking about my specific choice of work in psychology and what I should hope to expect from my future profession. The social aspect of writing and discourse communities is something that not many people recognize, and I was hoping to focus on that, and research into this idea further and see how much goes into the psychology community is socially versus structurally constructed. When starting this ethnography research, I had a few ideas in mind. I knew that the best way to get real answers from professionals in my field was to interview, and ask firsthand the questions that I had come up with. I decided to focus my questions more around the specialized language of the field and how someone who is new to the profession can become comfortable/ accepted in the field as a respected member. I hoped to discover what I thought to be the most helpful as an emerging member of the psychological community. Methodology

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For this ethnography, I thought to use two different resources that had pretty different perspectives on the discourse community of psychology, because though I think I am pretty sure what I would like to focus on when I go to graduate school, there are still some things that I would like to learn more about so that I know I am making the right decision on my particular psychology field of interest. First, I contacted a social worker who specialized in substance abuse and other disorders that relate to addiction, we will call her Mrs. Johnson. Second, I decided to contact someone who was more submerged in the academic and research field of psychology, so I asked one of my professors to sit down with me so I could ask her a few questions, and we will call her Dr. Smith. Both of these resources I knew would have very different takes on the main questions I was asking, which is why I picked these two particular individuals. I found Mrs. Johnson through the hospital that a family member of mine works at. They had heard of Mrs. Johnson through the grapevine and told me to get a hold of her for an interview, because she had many years of experience. Mrs. Johnson was a very interesting individual; her knowledge of her field was very apparent and inspiring, which was very reassuring to me that I could get straight, honest answers from her. Although what Mrs. Johnson was practicing some of the issues I would like to specialize in with my future work in the field, she was in the social work community, and I am more interested in the clinical psychology part of the field. So I decided to contact one of my professors who I thought would be more knowledgeable of the clinical side of psychology. She has been working with children for many years, and just as Mrs. Johnson, is extraordinarily knowledgeable of her craft, it‟s such an inspiring thing to see. Needless to say, I achieved all the answers I was looking for and more. Results

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The first interview I completed was with Mrs. Johnson over the phone. Generally, I do not know much about the social work field, so her job responsibilities were a little foreign to me, so I started with questions about her main specialties and job in her field of work. She explained that “[she] does many things, but [her] main specialty is substance abuse and other addiction issues. It is something that took very long for [her] to master, and it is rewarding, but the most stressful thing to do”. Mrs. Johnson elaborated and explained to me that she works typically one on one with her patients, and when she can actually break through and help the families she works with; it is what makes her love what she does. I also asked Mrs. Johnson questions about where she worked, which is in a well-known teaching hospital in Cleveland. She explained that many times it is a “group effort to get through the day”. The hospital she was positioned at is in a testy neighborhood, so one can expect to see all walks of life there. She said she works with her entire floor of the hospital, and they all work together to complete their tasks and research. Apparently, there is a psychology floor that is both inpatient and outpatient clinics. Her job in particular was not exactly as research-based as what I am interested in, but I found that what she does on a typical day is not so different than what I would expect from the job that I am interested in for clinical psychology. The second interview I completed was with Dr. Smith in person. Dr. Smith is one of my professors here at Ohio University, and she focuses more on the clinical track that I am interested in. Her main job description is working with abnormal disorders in children and the treatment of them. I started the interview less formal than the first, because I already had a relationship with this professor. I asked her how she typically networks or communicates with other people in her field. She explained that “networking is not as hard as everyone thinks, and it is nerve wracking at first, but is a definite necessary evil in a field that is so research-based like psychology”. I was

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curious about this particular issue in clinical psychology because it is such an important part to keep up with new research and learning from your peers and other people in your particular specialty area. I then started talking to Dr. Smith about different types of text that she could expect to write or read in a particular day. She explained that since she is a teacher as well as a therapist, she can read and write such a “variety of things every day. [She] can expect to read large amounts of emails and course materials, grade papers and other class related activities. With the therapy also being such a big part of [her] job, [she] needs to make sure to keep in contact with patients and their families constantly”. I never really realized how much work that a professor in college really needs to put in if they‟re also a practicing therapist. Dr. Smith was so knowledgeable about her craft, and so passionate about her students and patients, it was inspiring. Conclusion This study was a very enlightening experience for me. I examined two very different subtypes of the psychology field of work. It brought me to realize that even though each job can seem similar in the overall goal, it is clear that there is much more work put into each day than I would have ever expected. I knew before starting this that psychology is a lot of work and will definitely be a stressful job when I am a beginning professional and starting off in the field. I in particular really appreciated the talk that I had with Dr. Smith, especially the networking advice and insight that she gave me. Networking was never really anything I thought I needed to consider such an important part of the field. Yet, it makes sense that something like communicating and keeping ties with others in your particular area of work is crucial for furthering your expertise and research. I was told that specialties don‟t come through classes or collegiate programs, but from training and experience that can only come with hands-on training.

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The social work subtype of psychology never really interested me until I was recommended to talk to Mrs. Johnson. I was intrigued at first because of her specialties with substance abuse. That has always been something that interested me, and I liked that she has been working in the field for over 20 years. It was a good opportunity to be able to ask questions to someone who was in a hospital setting, because that is where I see myself ending up rather than a school-type setting like Dr. Smith. I liked the insight of the team-like setting that she explained about the psychology floor of the hospital. It makes sense to me that the entire floor and psychology faculty would work together and share new information. She said that without her colleagues being so willing to help each other, it would be very difficult to grow in her craft. In the beginning of this project, I was looking to find out more about the social aspects of the professional psychology discourse community. I found that there seems to be a lot of teamwork involved here, more than I thought. The importance of information exchange and the ability to network and ask other coworkers for help and other things like new research and questions about other specialties is much more in depth than I would have expected. I assumed it was going to be a huge part of the field in general, but I did not exactly grasp exactly how crucial it was. I liked the questions I chose to use, because it helped me get to my overall goal to understand the socially important aspects of the professional field of psychology. There definitely should be more research done on the social aspect of research based fields because I feel most people don‟t realize how important colleague interactions are for the success of these professions.

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Works Cited Anson, Chris. Forsberg, Lee. “Moving Beyond the Academic Community”. Written Communication. 7.2 (1990). 200-231. Sage Publications. Print Beaufort, Anne. “The Institutional Site of Composing: Converging and Overlapping Discourse Communities. Writing in the Real World: Making the Transition from School to Work. Teachers college press. 1999. 31-61. Print “In-person Interview with Dr. Smith” Formal interview. April 2013. “Phone Interview with Mrs. Johnson.” Telephone interview. April 2013. Wardle, Elizabeth. “Identity, Authority, and Learning to Write in New Workplaces”. Enculturation. 5.2 (2004): http://enculturation.gmu.edu/5_2/wardle.html. Print.

Appendix Interview questions: What is exactly your main job/specialties in the field you work in? How long have you been doing this? What kind of texts are a necessary part of this job? What is needed to be written or read on a daily basis? How does one usually network or communicate with other psychology professionals? Other communities?

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Reflective Essay

I feel that this project was very interesting for me. It was difficult to get started because I was not completely sure exactly what it was that we actually needed to be doing here. After we went over the example essay in class though I thought that it was much easier to understand. I also found it hard to do the synthesis on this project. I was struggling there to think of something new that the other readings did not already think to write about. I really enjoyed that we needed to get interviews for this project because like I explained in my essay, networking is a very important part of growing in this career. The project forced me to make these new connections and I thought that it was very constructive for me. Also, I think that getting the advice and expertise from people who have been in their field of interest for a number of years was very enlightening and interesting to be able to hear about. I thought that the readings that were assigned for this project were a little unnecessary, and I am glad that we cut some of them out. They started to become redundant, especially the ones on discourse community because we have learned so much about that already from the previous sections and projects. I did find that the ones I used quotes from helpful for my point, which is obviously why I used them. I thought that those particular three readings helped me guide myself to find a overall goal for this project because I was struggling so much before I started rereading the texts and reminding myself of other peoples points of research. I think that metacognitively this knowledge that I learned will help me when I am beginning in my field after graduate school. The enlightened thoughts of the two professionals I talked to really showed me that I won‟t feel comfortable in practicing this field until I am trained through experience, it is something that you learn firsthand and not through a book. I actually was pointed in the direction of the first phone interview from my mother. She works in the same hospital and when I was telling her about my project and what I

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would need/expected to be doing and she said that she would look around and ask people if anyone would be willing to help, and she found this „Mrs. Johnson‟. I really enjoyed the connections I made with both professionals. I think for the feedback I will need help with the synthesis and maybe how to make a stronger argument for this ethnography because I feel like I finally got there, but it is lacking something, I just cant put my finger on it.

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