That’s why the nation’s nearly 2 million federal workers are the subject of both fascination and concern for government therapists, also known as industrial organization psychologists or IO’s, some of whom recently spoke to local members of Congress on a panel about the feelings of low self-esteem and existential brooding that afflicted some federal workers after the shutdown.
“They feel betrayed, like a family member or friend made them a promise for stable work and then turned on them,” said David Costanza, who directs the doctoral program in IO psychology at George Washington University and works with several government agencies. “Every organization has a culture, just like a family does. How they deal with conflict, choose new members and evolve is at the center of our work.”
Whether it’s inside the secretive offices of the National Security Agency, on a forward operating military base in Afghanistan, or with a group of astronauts in outer space, these psychologists essentially offer group therapy for the federal workplace.