I’m officially on my short but much needed Christmas break (YAHOO)! Hopefully taking some time to recharge my batteries before placement begins in early January will clear away the rest of that little black cloud of research ennui that’s still hanging around. Now that I’ve finally got some time to call my own though, I thought I’d revisit my hopes and dreams for the year to see how they played out.
In terms of the clinical components of my degree, I’d wanted to soak up as much experience and knowledge as I could on my first placement from my supervisor, clients and fellow trainees to develop my skills and confidence in practice psychology. I definitely achieved all of the above and consequently feel much more confident about my upcoming second placement than I did with my first.
The outcomes of my coursework aspirations were a bit of a mixed bag though. In many respects, the coursework component of my degee exceeded my expectations. My final topic, which was about health psychology, proved to be my favourite and exposed me to another area of psychology that I might like to work in at some point in my career. As I had hoped, I gained the classes and assignments provided me with a deeper knowledge of psychology and reiterated that I’m more competent than I give myself credit for. However, I had wanted to apply the theory I had learned. Though case conceptualisation and our self-examination of our therapy skills proved useful on placement, I wasn’t able to put my cognitive therapy knowledge into practice as much as I would have liked. Hopefully that will change in the coming year. It still seems surreal to think that next year there won’t be any more coursework. Though I’ll miss the discussions and seeing my classmates each week (we had some great extra-curricular celebrations too 🙂 ), after 19 straight years of formal lessons, I’m more than ready to step out of the classroom!
Similarly, I had mixed outcomes in achieving the goals for the research components of my degree. Some of my aspirations didn’t quite come to fruition as I had planned. For instance, I didn’t manage to write regularly, but I did almost complete the first chapter of my PhD and make a start on the second. Other things can clearly be crossed off my list of goals however, including finding better ways to let potential participants know about my studies, meeting data collection quotas and fostering friendships with fellow students. I can’t recommend using social media enough to promote your research and, I can attest that there’s nothing like exploring a foreign country to really get to know people! Perhaps my biggest success was in developing my critical analysis skills. Thanks to my work as a research assistant, my own research and a bit of a stats boot camp by another student, I’ve developed my reading muscle, ability to critique and understand studies and I’ve been introduced to new analysis techniques.
But did I achieve my most important goal for 2013, to pull off all the above and not lose myself or my social life in the process? Well, yes and no. Work, placement and classes certainly drove me into hermitude at times. My immune system packed its bags on me several times this last semester as well, to the extent that one of my eyes decided that a conference workshop was the perfect time to begin watering so profusely that it looked like I was crying!! How embarrassing. Despite all that, I did have a lot of fun along the way too, making time to catch-up with family and friends, see Muse in concert and join a dance class. So, I think I’ll give myself a B minus on the achieving balance assignment… Onwards and upwards for next year.
I hope you had successful 2013, and that you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 🙂