Where and what is your current position?
My practice activities at the clinic (www.nssac.ca) include assessment and evidence-based treatment services for concerns related to anxiety, stress, depression, perinatal mental health, pain, and self-esteem issues. I practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help clients gain self-understanding and learn new ways to solve problems, manage symptoms, and cope with stress. Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are used as needed. In addition to working with clients, I liaise with professionals in health care, law, and insurance fields. As part of my professional service activities, I engage in education, training and knowledge translation activities. I am currently editing a second edition of a book for students on applying for internships. I serve on the Board of Directors for a non-profit organization called AnxietyBC (anxietybc.com), a non-profit organization that increases awareness, promotes education, and provides resources for people who are dealing with anxiety. My role includes speaking to the media and the public about anxiety, contributing written materials, and providing scientific review.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
No. I began graduate school at UBC intending to focus on research and teaching. Along the way, I fell in love with clinical work. I still enjoy research and teaching but clinical work is now my passion. Over time, I also became very interested in knowledge translation - getting the research data to the people. I am engaged in knowledge translation and health literacy activities through my work as a Board Director at a non-profit organization called AnxietyBC (www.anxietybc.com).
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
My current work directly relates to my graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. In addition to learning clinical techniques, my strong research training helps me evaluate, apply, and translate research to help people improve their health and wellness.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I was drawn to the Scientist-Practitioner Program in Clinical Psychology as it allowed me to simultaneously build my research and clinical skills. I was also attracted to the surrounding mountains and ocean.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
The friends I made.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
Keep your eyes on your values. I really care about helping people and sharing knowledge. I have tried to do this through my clinical, teaching, and research endeavours - this has kept me grounded and focused on where I can be most effective. Initially, I thought this would be in the area of research and teaching but this has shifted over time. Being flexible and open to new experiences can be an asset.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
I have two pieces of advice. 1. "Play to your strengths". Graduate studies is a fantastic time to learn about one's own strengths and relative weaknesses. It can be easy to feel alone and fall into a pit of despair focusing on your weaknesses. Instead, recognize everyone has relative strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths - the activities that come easy to you, that you find fun, where things seem to "flow". If you have areas of weakness - don't dwell on those - either build competency and skills or figure out how you can outsource that activity to be successful. For example, maybe you will be a researcher who uses stats consultants. That is not a big deal in the real world. 2. Think about what you want to be the "expert" in. Prior to my university defence, my research advisor wrote in an email "you are officially the world expert in...". I encourage students to think about this phrase as it applies to them and choose a research topic that they are passionate about.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
I had some unplanned breaks in my education due to personal and family health problems. My career progressed at a slower rate as a result but I gained a deeper understanding into the challenges faced by people living with health problems. Life is not a race.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
Dr. Rami Nader, R.Psych., who was a labmate of mine during grad school in the Psychology Department at UBC, invited me out for lunch one day to discuss opportunities at the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic (www.nssac.ca). I am so lucky to work with such a fantastic group of people at the clinic - many of them are UBC alum.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
I tend to "think big". While I appreciate my creative and expansive tendencies, it took me a long time to complete my dissertation.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
In addition to formal postings at institutions or in professional organization publications, word of mouth is often used to recruit suitable candidates.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I enjoy applying a collaborative and goal oriented approach to help people achieve change. I find it challenging that there is stigma associated with mental health and there are more people in need of services than resources available.