To Student Loan or Not to Student Loan – That is The Question | The Socjournal

Thinking about going to university? What a great idea that is! Post-secondary education opens doors and increase income. But hold it. Not sure if you’re smart enough? Not sure if you’ve got the IQ, or the talent, or the ability? Idea of massive student loans weighing your emotional systems down? Take a deep breath and relax. Ignore the nonsense about IQ and intelligence and focus on the master within! You have it within you to succeed.

It might be strange for some to consider, especially since my graduate degrees are in sociology and therefore I am a Sociologist and not a Psychologist, but I run, along with my wife, a successful psychological counseling practice. In that practice we deal with all sorts of issues from eating disorders to depression to OCD to domestic abuse and relationships and even schizophrenia and bipolar.  We have even been successful with some extremely difficult cases that traditional psychologists (i.e. psychologists without a sociological background) have been unable to treat.

The reason for our success?

Social context!

Despite what the psychologists want to tell you, we have found that the primary cause of most psychological distress is to be found in the toxic parental/social/work environments of the clients we treat, conditions that hurt the individual and that often require the development of pathological mechanisms of coping and defense. It is not pretty, and it is not simple, but it is, we have found, always treatable especially when the client is motivated, open, and willing to listen to advice and guidance.

So why am I telling you this? Well, for a couple reasons. Reason one is to point out one possible career path for people interested in Sociology. It is true that I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, but with my sociological expertise and insight I make an extremely effective psychological counselor. So if you are a Sociology student, or if you are interested in becoming one but have held back because you’ve also got an interest in psychology, never fear! You can combine both.

The other reason I’m telling you this is motivational. We often get people in our psychological practice who want more out of their life. They are working in this job or that job, find it oppressive and stultifying, want to get out and move up, would like to get post-secondary training of some sort, but can’t seem to find it within them to make the move forward. The are stuck not because they are stupid or incompetent, but because their developmental background has left them without the psychological foundations and self confidence to take on what (for them) are seemingly insurmountable goals. And it’s not just that they feel they can’t do a university course! They also feel they can’t handle the debt burden of the student loan, or the lost income, or the time away. From the absence of basic study skills to the black-emotional-pit of low self-esteem to the insurmountable walls of student finance, it’s just too much, too soon, too fast.

So what do we do? Well, I’d like to say treatment is simple but it is not.  Treatment involves a gentle process of undoing repressions, rebuilding self esteem, helping with study skills, even pointing out the financial, political, and social class realities of this planet that are oppressive and stultifying (for example, did you know that the education you get in K12 is different depending on the social class background of the school you are in?). It is one part career counseling, one part psychological counseling, one part sociological sophistication, one part parenting (to replace notable absence of good parents in their own life), and one part guidance and support. It does pay off, if the clients that we’ve had who have moved onto post-secondary work are any indication, but it does take work, effort, and trust.

And the biggest obstacle?

Not the abuse, not the damage, and not even the misconception. The biggest obstacle is the belief, instilled by parents and teachers, and perpetrated by our own popular culture, that it all comes down to genetics, karma, grace, or talent. Truth be told it has nothing to do with any of that and everything to do with you believing in yourself.


Anyon, Jean (1980). Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work. Journal of Education, 163: 1. [h]

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