One on one
In the late 70s as part of my A-level Psychology I read Luria’s The Working Brain: An Introduction to Neuropsychology. This shaped my understanding of the brain and the role neuropsychology had to play, and developed my passion for investigation, scientific exploration and psychology.
One moment that changed my career
Deciding that the career in music I was following was not ‘my first love’. I took the radical step to leave music college and take up a post as a Student Registered Mental Nurse. This enabled me to see how brain mechanisms support mental processes in health and disease. I was able to complete a specialist placement in the neurology department where I saw my first craniotomy, and all that I had read in Luria’s book. I was hooked!
One book every psychologist should read
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan. This is a book about feelings – feelings that cannot always be simply expressed in words. It tells a story about the power of hope, renewal and inspiration. This is the journey we walk with our patients but all so often forget to walk ourselves.
One proud moment
I am particularly proud of the work completed with colleagues with regard to highlighting the needs of children with MS. Recently I was sent a message signed by hundreds of people saying ‘thank you for the difference you have and still make in the lives of people with MS in South Africa’. I also recently became the chair of Acquired Brain Injury Forum London, which enables me to continue the campaign for excellence in the care and rehabilitation of ABI victims.
One problem psychology should deal with
One pressure that many psychologists face in today’s climate is to provide brief interventions at a higher rate. This means as a professional it is becoming increasingly more difficult to remain a professional of integrity. However, as an organised professional body we have become fractionated, which is confusing to the general public and to the healthcare profession, so in order to deal with the pressures we face I believe we need to provide a united front and ensure society understands psychology in its totality.
One thing that organised psychology could do better
Psychology is an empirically based subject with psychologists being scientist practitioners, yet all too often reported research is far beyond the reach of the majority of the world. Research tends to be based on Western, developed-world paradigms often making psychology irrelevant to the more Eastern and undeveloped world. I have been acutely aware of this in my work in India and South Africa and at times here in the UK! The challenge to our profession is to make psychology available to all regardless of race or culture.
One life recommendation
One thing I would recommend all psychologists to do is to invest in ‘self-care’. This is something we preach but frequently do not practise! I belong to a church where I gain good social support,
I swim daily and visit South Africa regularly. OK, this might be to work but I ensure I have plenty of down time with family, friends and good red wine!
To be like Wendy Marvell, aka ‘Priestess of the Sky’, and be able to heal even the most damaged people.
One final thought
‘Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.
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