Previously in marketing and PR, Harper West made a sweeping career change in middle age. Now as a psychotherapist, she specializes in helping individuals improve compassionate self-acceptance, strengthen self-worth, manage fear and shame, and develop mindfulness.
Also making her mark as an author, she was one of the mental health experts assessing the president in the best seller, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”
Here she answers a few questions about pursuing her passion in a new career path.
Q. What compelled you to change careers?
A. I did a radical career change from communication to psychology at middle age because I had discovered psychotherapy as my passion. Although I enjoyed marketing and PR, I had gained so much insight and personal growth from being in therapy that I felt compelled to change careers.
Q. What was the key turning point?
A. I had gotten divorced, had been going through major personal growth and self-examination, and had for some time felt a vague dissatisfaction with my career, at that time as a freelance writer and communication consultant. I had been casting about for a new career but not had any luck feeling really certain of any path. Then one day, as if it were an epiphany, I realized that I loved reading self-help books, loved talking about psychology and relationships and loved helping friends with their personal problems. Although I at first dismissed the idea because it seemed like an expensive and years-long path through graduate school, I am glad I listened to my intuition and pursued a career in psychology. Once I made the decision, it immediately felt right, and I have never had any doubt about it.
Q. What is a major challenge you faced?
A. Changing careers so drastically, while ultimately very fulfilling, is a struggle financially and as a time commitment. I worked as a freelance writer through my second bachelor’s degree, but then only worked a few hours a week in graduate school and clinical training. Juggling the time commitment of studying, plus home life and social life, was a challenge. Going through the early career struggles of looking for a job with no credentials at the age of 50 was also no picnic! Feeling like a novice again can be unnerving, of course!
Q. What is the best advice you’ve gotten?
A. Stop trying to BE the right thing and just DO the right thing. (A quote from myself!) I had to give up my approval-seeking and people-pleasing behaviors and make choices based on what is correct and self-compassionate ̶ to do the right thing morally and the right thing for me, which may include assertively standing up for myself.
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Harper West, MA, LLP, is a co-author of #1 Amazon and #4 New York Times best-selling book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, – 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” She is the award-winning author of “Pack Leader Psychology” and developer of Self-Acceptance Psychology. Click here to visit her website.
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