What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
Higher education can expand your range of opportunities. At this stage in my career, I have the luxury of creating my own balance of the various activities I like to do – clinical practice, consulting, teaching, service, media, speaking, and writing. Clinical: As a Registered Psychologist at the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic (www.nssac.ca), I provide assessment and evidence-based psychotherapy for concerns related to anxiety, stress, self-esteem and life transitions. Consulting: As an Industry Expert with MyWorkplaceHealth (www.myworkplacehealth.com), I help leaders clarify their vision and put their values into action using effective psychological strategies. Teaching: As Associate Faculty (Part-time) at Yorkville University, I enjoy teaching in the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology Program. Service: I serve on the Board of Directors for Anxiety Canada (anxietycanada.com) and am also involved in the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (CACBT) and Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). Media: I am regularly interviewed by the media on topics related to mental health. My Media Expert Affiliations include Informed Opinions (informedopinions.org) and 500 Women Scientists (500womenscientists.org). Speaking: I enjoy delivering talks and workshops on psychology related topics to professional and community groups. I am a Licensed In-House Tutor for The Association for Psychological Therapies. Writing: I enjoy writing blog posts and educational materials. Match Made on Earth (2nd Edition), a book for students on applying for internships is now available from The Canadian Council for Professional Psychology Programs at https://ccppp.ca.
How does your current work 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, synthesize, translate, and apply research to help people improve their health and wellness.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I enjoy applying a collaborative, research-based and goal oriented approach to help people achieve change. Challenges abound in the field of psychological health, especially related to limited resources. However, opportunities to further our knowledge and effect positive health change abound.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
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 I spend the majority of my time on clinical work and psychological health consulting. Over time, I also became very interested in knowledge translation - getting the research to the people. I do this in a number of ways – speaking to the media and creating evidence based resources. When I started graduate school, I had never even heard of knowledge translation. A decade ago – I would never have had the confidence to speak with the media. My PhD has opened doors to me that I did not even know existed when I was a student. “Not all those who wander are lost” (J. R. R. Tolkein).
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. My research supervisor was a legend in the field. As an added bonus, BC is beautiful - I was attracted to the surrounding mountains and ocean.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
Without a doubt, the amazing people I met at UBC were the highlight of my time as a graduate student.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
Clarifying my values and strategically putting them into action is key. I really care about helping people and sharing knowledge. I have done this through my clinical, teaching, research, consulting and knowledge translation endeavours - this has kept me grounded and focused on where I can be most effective. Being flexible and open to new experiences is an asset.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
"Play to your strengths". Graduate school is a fantastic place to learn about your own strengths and growth opportunities. It can be easy to feel alone and fall into a pit of despair focusing on your weaknesses. Instead, recognize everyone has something to offer. 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 instead of doing the stats yourself. That is not a big deal in the real world. Perhaps knowledge creation is not as exciting to you as real world application – a career outside academia can be awesome. Become who you are. Bonus tip: Think about what you want to be the "expert" in. Before my university defence, my research advisor said, "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?
Although I am frequently recruited, the opportunities I have accepted recently have been ones that happened organically through people I know or professional networks.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
I experienced personal health challenges and loss during my graduate career. It slowed me down. But when we stop moving fast, sometimes we can see more clearly. I gained a depth of understanding about the challenges clients, students and employees in difficult times and have been able to draw upon my personal experiences to help others.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
In addition to formal postings at institutions or in professional organization publications, LinkedIN and word of mouth are often used to recruit suitable candidates.