Online only - One on one with Deborah Christie

…with Deborah Christie, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychological Services, UCL Hospitals NHS Trust [email protected]

One person who inspired you
My dad, who died in October, was my greatest inspiration – he was proud of everything that I did and taught me how to teach and talk, how to debate, but most of all taught me that as long as you have a dream you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

One moment that changed the course of your career

My research professor telling me I would make a better clinician than a researcher and offering to fund my training

One book that you think all psychologists should read

Kolb and Whishaw’s Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology - great for understanding basic brain behaviour relationships and underpinning good neuropsychological assessments. And I am going to cheat and also say Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people. My dad again – he loved this book and gave it to me when I was about 12.  Understanding how to engage with people and influence change at personal, professional and institutional level is fascinating and as relevant today as it was when it was first published over 50 years ago.

One thing that you would change about psychology / psychologists
Their apparent allergy to research
and measuring outcomes.

One challenge you think psychology faces
I think we need to clearly demonstrate our value in the context of the medical model we are often working in and articulate clearly what we can bring to paediatrics and adolescent medicine.

One regret
Je ne regret rien.

One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists
Find a mentor and role model and work your socks off for them
.  Do the stuff that seems easy really well and volunteer for anything and everything. Always look interested – even when you are bored. Show people your enthusiasm and your passion and ask questions all the time.

One cultural recommendation (i.e. Book, film, music)
Milan Kundera’s The unbearable lightness of being,
and Annie because the sun’ll come out tomorrow.

One alternative career path you may have chosen
West End Stage musical lead (my grandpa was a musical hall artiste!!) – I still have frustrated ambitions and have to stop myself auditioning for the X factor

One hero / heroine from psychology past or present
Maslow - my dad gave me a book when I was about 12 all about the hierarchy of needs and what motivates people – and I was hooked.

One thing that organised psychology (e.g. the BPS / APA) could do better
Communicate more with psychologists, be a lot more visible and less inward looking.

One great thing that psychology has achieved
Creating alternative non-pathologising discourses to explain behaviour and emotional distress

One problem that psychology should deal with

One hope for the future of psychology
The dedicated and determined young people who put up with being unpaid assistant psychologists in order to get onto training courses.

One proud moment

Isn't pride a sin? How about (sparkling) moments of intense joy instead......Too many for just one… being at my oldest son's wedding… being at my youngest son's graduation defense in Italy… my dad climbing Ben Nevis 2 years ago at 80… my 83-year-old mum joining in a Zumba class at New Year… our diabetes team winning this years Health Services Journal award… I could go on and on.

One psychological superpower I’d like to have
To always know the one question to ask that will make the difference


One resource of your own
My resource is the amazing team that I have the privilege to work with at UCLH – their skills, enthusiasm and commitment to improving the lives of children, young people and their families is awe inspiring. They are also great fun to work with and make coming to work (most days) a pleasure.

One final thought
I always liked the song 'The cowboys and the Farmers should be friends’. I would love to be able to rewrite it as the psychologists and the psychiatrists should be friends. There has to be a way for psychiatrists and psychologists to stop competing and work together creatively and collaboratively instead of the current situation.

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