Why God didn’t get a PhD / EdD…
1.He had only one major publication.
2.It had no references and it wasn't published in a refereed journal.
3.The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.
4.When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.
That’s probably enough of a bad, but hopefully not offensive, graduate student joke. When I was taking my comprehensive examination I had this, and about 20 other tawdry teasers, posted on my wall. What I have found, especially while working on a dissertation, is that a good dose of absurdity is just what the ABD (a.k.a. doctor) ordered. Why? Because writing a dissertation and being ABD (All But Dissertation) is best addressed with a happy heart. Humor and supporting one another – that’s what this blog is all about!
This blog is for folks who relate or, at some point, will relate. Counselors who have, want to, or currently are ABD. I also welcome those writing their masters-level thesis. But before I go on, I can’t resist an ABD sidebar. What exactly does this mean anyway? Have you ever heard any counselor-in-training say, “I’m ABC…All But Comps”? My sister, a physician, never called herself an ABMD? What about my mechanic? Do I want he/she doing anything which falls under “all but?” Okay, I am getting a bit surly. ABD validates many years of diligent work. I just wish the student loan people would understand so I could stop having the “I’m-not-technically-taking-classes-but-I-still-can’t-pay-you-back” conversation.
In the spirit of being kind to oneself this process doesn’t have to be agonizing and, at least for me, it can mostly be traced back to fear. Fear of not finishing, people not being interested in my topic, not being able to “pull off” this experiment, navigating the scary waters of research, and good ol’ imposter syndrome. But if I think back to my doctoral coursework, especially the comps, these are not unfamiliar fears. Motivated by my goals of teaching and becoming a better clinical supervisor, I have always been able to surpass these concerns. I also know my program exceeded my expectations – as things I am afraid of often do. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work with people whom I genuinely admire and I continue to learn a ton from them. I encourage you to find these people.
So I ask – why should the dissertation be any different? Counselors have numerous skills, both interpersonally and externally, which are beneficial during this time. We also have an enormous network of support and experience. As I trudge – which means to walk with purpose – through this process, I will share my challenges, strengths, knowledge and hope with you and I welcome your comments. It’s about supporting one another and helping those who come along after us. To quote a famous doctor, Dr. Suess, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer."
Stephanie Dailey is a counselor and a doctoral student.