One on one... with Dr Mohammadrasool Yadegarfard
In my 10 years as a counselling psychologist, there have been times when I found it difficult to have compassion for myself. To be kind, empathic and compassionate to ourselves all the time requires constant reminders and practice. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer offers a step-by-step practical approach to cultivating emotional well-being by breaking away from self-judgment and impossible standards.
One psychological superpower
‘Wisdom’ encapsulates all the essentials such as experience, knowledge and good judgement, which consequently are associated with being unbiased, non-judgemental and compassionate. I cannot claim that I am already there, but I think having the ability to self-reflect, practising in three different countries, working with diverse clients on various issues and presentations, keeping myself informed and up to date with new research, and receiving regular supervision have all helped my CPD and kept me moving in the right direction.
One thing psychologists should be proud of
We contribute to a better society, whether through research and producing knowledge or by practice and helping people with their mental health or empowering them. I strongly believe that when anyone helps another human being, they are in fact helping society.
‘I’m still here’ by Sia is about overcoming hardship and trauma, more like a victory cry. The song speaks of how our past trauma can keep coming back to torment us and drag us down, but Sia continues the good fight. She also knows there’s no-one else that could fight this battle for her. I’ve had a few clients who had experienced trauma in the past or were battling with drugs and alcohol, and they found this song inspirational.
One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists
Throughout my career, I have learned that there are four main ingredients to being a successful psychologist. (1) Self-awareness: I have learned to reflect on my own life experiences, from my upbringing, my relationship with my parents, and significant events in my life, to the culture and religion that I was brought up with, and how all these experiences have shaped and formed me as a person. (2) Learning is an ongoing process: I have found that it is important to keep searching for new knowledge and stay up to date by conducting new research and pursuing CPD. (3) Practice makes perfect: There’s no substitute for practicing and working with a diverse group of clients and benefiting from regular supervision. (4) Professional networking: It’s important to communicate with other professionals in your field and exchange experience and knowledge.
One challenge in my job
I work as part of a multiagency team within family safeguarding. I receive my referrals directly from social workers for assessment for therapy and psychological interventions. As can be expected, there are clients who are reluctant or feel under pressure from their family or social workers for committing them to therapy. Many of them do not think they need therapy and others do not know how therapy might help them. Among these clients, the most challenging are those who hold a false belief about psychologists’ power and their ability to solve their problems with a magic wand without any actual effort and commitment from them. The first and most important goal with these clients is to work on their belief about psychologists and their role in the process of psychological intervention and its structure and limitations, as well as their own commitment, expectations and goals in the therapeutic process.
One article from The Psychologist
‘AWEsome Work’ by Anna Sutton (February issue). Sutton discusses how promoting authenticity can enhance well-being and engagement at work. In the introduction, Sutton looks at different definitions of authenticity, well-being and engagement and their relationships with each other, and then she continues with the challenges of inauthenticity until finally, she elaborates how employers can encourage, promote and support authenticity at work for a well-functioning workplace. The article is unique, well-written, and I believe, timely, as due to Covid-19, many employers now are taking their employees’ well-being more seriously and looking at all contributing factors in order for them to support their workers in the best possible way. I found this article useful not only for myself as an NHS employee but also when working with my clients who are employed.
One lesson learnt
I would not have lasted this long as a psychological practitioner if I did not take self-care seriously. Exercise in particular has been one of my main strategies, which is testament to the fact that regular physical activity is the best medicine for many psychical and mental health problems.
One thing about the BPS
It’s a reliable source for psychologist and clients, a place that helps psychologists to connect, exchange knowledge and share ideas with each other. For many trainee psychologists, BPS is a place that helps them to grow and find a direction in their career.
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