1st Edition

Lessons from An Early Career Therapist Managing Mistakes, Missteps, and Other Minor Disasters

By A. Dana Ménard Copyright 2025
    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is a reassuring guide both for novice therapists and those further along in their journey, normalizing, validating, and empathizing with the human aspects of the profession and supporting readers to feel empowered and confident managing real- life situations with real- life clients.

    Dr. Ménard shares lessons she learned in her early training years as well as those learned as a "grown- up" psychologist, addressing the perils and pitfalls of connecting with clients, working in diverse settings with different supervisors, balancing work and home life, and, perhaps most importantly, repairing and recovering from therapeutic stumbles and missteps with humor and compassion. Chapters address topics such as internship and licensure, therapist self- care, professionalism, diversity, supervision, and teletherapy and include important questions about clinical training and professional development like "What do I do when my client isn’t making progress?", "How do I know when I’m too sick to work?", "Is it okay to curse in session?", "Do I even belong in this program?", and "What should I do if there is a wildlife invasion of my office?"

    This book will provide mental health professionals with the tools and skills they need to problem- solve these situations and others on the road from graduate school and licensure to independent practice.

    Introduction PART 1 The training years 1 Junior grad student 2 Senior grad student 3 Supervisee 4 Internship and licensure 5 Self- care 6 Professionalism PART 2 The "grown- up" years 7 Outpatient settings 8 Couple therapy 9 Inpatient settings 10 Diversity 11 Supervisor 12 Virtual therapy Conclusion


    A. Dana Ménard, PhD, C.Psych, is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Windsor (Windsor, ON) and has held previous academic appointments at the University of Western Ontario (London, ON) and at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). As a clinician, Dr. Ménard has worked at Detroit Receiving Hospital, the London Health Sciences Centre, the Royal Ottawa Hospital and the Ottawa Hospital, among others. She is the co- author of Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers (2020, Routledge) with Peggy Kleinplatz, which won the 2021 Consumer Book Award from the Society of Sex Therapy and Research.

    "This book is smart and funny and chockful of stuff that will help both beginners and seasoned therapists navigate the twists and turns of our very human mental-health professions. I nodded in agreement, laughed out loud, and sometimes thought “Gosh, I wish I had known that then.” Highly recommended!"

    Michael F. Hoyt, Ph.D., editor of Therapist Stories of Inspiration, Passion, and Renewal and author of Brief Therapy and Beyond: Stories, Language, Love, Hope, and Time 

    "This book addresses issues that may arise as a graduate trainee and early-career psychologist – glitches and snags that you don’t read about in textbooks or have covered in graduate courses. With humorous anecdotes and engaging stories, Dr. Menard helps the reader come to grips with the fact that we are all fallible and fosters the idea that mistakes are a critical element of personal and professional growth. This book will be a validating resource for anyone wishing to pursue clinical work as a profession."

    David J. A. Dozois, PhD, CPsych, professor of Psychology and director of the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, University of Western Ontario

    "From managing therapeutic stumbles to gracefully recovering from unexpected challenges of the early stages of a career in mental health, this book is a beacon of support and an invaluable resource for graduate students and aspiring clinicians alike."

    Nawal Mustafa, PhD, Neuropsychology and founder of Brain Equilibrium.

    “This wonderful new book is filled with helpful tips for new therapists. It is personal, candid, and funny, and loaded with important information that nobody out there seems to talk about. I highly recommend it for anyone who is learning to provide therapy, recently trained therapists, those who supervise therapists in training, and even seasoned therapists.”

    Martin M. Antony, PhD, ABPP, Department of Psychology, Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, co-editor, Handbook of Assessment and Treatment Planning for Psychological Disorders, 3rd ed


    "This is a book for anyone starting out in the field, and anyone who’s trying to support anyone starting out in the field. I won’t be the first, nor the last, to pick up this book and wonder where it was when I was starting out. Seems a bit unfair that young grad students/interns/early career psychologists get this leg up, when back in MY day we had to flail around, learning everything the HARD way, while beating ourselves up for not knowing what we didn’t know before we knew it. Then along comes Dr Dana Menard with her warmth, wisdom, humility, and willingness to use metaphors involving cheap toilet paper (hint: The good stuff is worth the money, people!). It’s not only a book with good ideas—I’ve got plenty of those sitting on my bookshelf. I’ve even managed to finish a few of them. It’s a book with good ideas that’s a pleasure to read—and that really is something special."

    Dr Jonathan Douglas PhD CPsych, host of “On Psych: Presented by the Ontario Psychological Association” podcast


    "This wise, practical, charming guide is a must for anyone who is interested in becoming a therapist, or is in the early stages of their therapist career. But even if you’re not on that track, I recommend Dana’s book. If you’re in therapy and want to get insight into the other side of the couch – or if you’re at all interested in mental health and helping others – this is just a great read. It’s funny, entertaining, and thought-provoking. It’s like Maybe You Should Talk to Someone mixed with What Color is Your Parachute."

    A.J. Jacobs. author of Drop Dead Healthy, The Year of Living Constitutionally and The Know-It-All.


    "Lessons from an Early Career Therapist: Managing Mistakes, Missteps, and Other Minor Disasters is funny, authentic, informative, and deeply compassionate. Dr. Menard encourages us all to learn from our mistakes and missteps and embrace our humanity as therapists.  This is the book we all needed to read in graduate school to bring to life the human side of our profession. A must-read for every mental health professional whether newly accepted to their graduate program or therapists settled in their profession."

    Dr. Tracy Dalgleish, author, psychologist, and couples therapist