Category Archives: A bit of fun

A very serious topic…Stationery part 2

If you’re a psychology student, you’ve probably heard of the Five Factor Model. No, not Padesky’s five factor CBT model, but the “Big 5” personality traits developed by Costa and McCrae in 1992. Still lost? You might know the Big 5 better as OCEAN: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. What has this got to do with stationery? Well, all this talk about pens had me wondering what our pen of choice says about us. So I’ve developed…

The “Biro Big 5” 

1. The Biro User

Mr or Ms. no nonsense is your middle name. You are practical but relaxed, enjoying long walks on the beach, candle lit dinners and just kidding!

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2. The Four-Colour Clicky Pen Fan

The clicky pen fans are the multi-taskers of the world. You’re incredibly organised or incredibly disorganised (Barnum alert!), because if you’re not the hardcore colour-coded note-taker, you find it difficult to keep track of more than one pen!

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3. The Promo Pen Pusher

You are the budget conscious individual with eclectic taste. Why else would you put up with black ink pens promoting obscure businesses? Or maybe you’re a philanthropist?

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4. The Novelty Pen Collector

You’ve been places, seen things and have a good sense of humour. You’d need one to put up with this:

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5. The Fountain Pen Conoisseur

You are known for your attention to detail and status earned through your financial, scholastic or employment success. When you become CEO, a Nobel Prize recipient or the next Steve Jobs, don’t forget the rest of us!

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So, what does your pen of choice say about you?

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Filed under A bit of fun, Clinical Phd

A very serious topic…Stationery part 1

Please do me a favour and grab a pen. Really. This won’t work until you do. I’ll wait. . .Take your time….

I’m trusting that you’ve humoured me and grabbed a pen. So, what fine specimen do you have for us? Perhaps it’s the workhorse, a no frills, blue medium  ballpoint? No? Maybe it’s a four colour “clicky” pen or a promotional pen? Have you ever noticed promotional pens almost always come with black ink? What a complete waste of time!  If a company really wanted their business to get exposure they’d use blue ink in their promotional pens, but I digress. Personally, I’m rather partial to fine point blue pens, they render my thought explosions decipherable, well, decipherable if you can get past my rather abstract shorthand that is!

I have two problems with pens. First, the the type of fine point pen I like is a dying breed. I can’t find it at Big W. It isn’t stocked in K-Mart, or Woolies or Foodland. Even the stationery store on campus, whose selection of pens is enough to give  the biggest pen aficionado a case of choice anxiety, no longer stocks them. In fact, there is only one place in town where I can buy these pens and it’s not somewhere I get the chance to wander into regularly.

My second problem with pens, is the pen monster. Perhaps you have had dealings with him already? He’s the reason behind your vanishing pens at work and the culprit for the exodus of the 12-pack of Biros you naïvely thought would replace them. We’re dealing with a professional here and the odds are stacked against us. Why? Well, I’ll let you into a little secret. Is there anyone reading this over your shoulder? No? Good…The pen monster is in cahoots with  the sock fairy, he took lessons from her. I know, shocking isn’t it? The pen monster spends his waking hours plotting to pinch your pens as soon as your back is turned, spiriting them away from bags and coaxing them to roll off tables and into the spaces behind the desks, chairs and cupboards that never see the light of day. Most dastardly of all is his ability to make you simply forget your pens and if he’s feeling particularly vindictive, to use them until he engineers an ‘accident’ in the form of a leaking or ‘dead’ pen. So between the rarity of my favourite pen and the connives of the pen monster, the prognosis for my stationery supply is bleak.

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Filed under A bit of fun, Clinical Phd

You know you’re studying to become a psychologist when…

  • You catch yourself identifying the automatic thoughts and core beliefs of soap opera characters
  • You use WISC/WAIS/WIAT/WMS/WPSI (intelligence, memory and achievement tests) as verbs, i.e. I’m WISCing today
  • Your clinical psychology “handbook” text would give the Gutenberg bible a run for its money, it’s huge!
  • You know what Dx, Ax and Rx mean
  • You’ve actually used the phrase “so what brings you here today?”
  • You know your psychological ABCs
  • You’re in touch with ‘what’s in’ with primary and high school kids again
  • People start asking you to weigh in about all sorts of things i.e. schooling, parenting, relationships, work etc., with “great power” comes great responsibility
  • Your class-size has shrunk from 150 to 15.
  • You understand percentile ranks
  • You know that we don’t actually “psycho-analyse” everyone we meet!
  • You realise that designing a therapy program is equal parts theory and creativity
  • You know who Padesky, Carr and Sattler are
  • You paraphrase, reflect and validate during  everyday conversations
  • The number of acronyms you know has increased exponentially: GAD, SAD, BD, PD, CD, ACT, ECT, CBT, FAB, DSIQ, PRI, VCI, DMI, RCT, I/C…
  • Everyone who knows you offers to be one of your clients, a great boost for the morale, until you have to explain to them why they can never be your clients!
  • You’ve endured watching tapes of yourself conducting assessments and therapy
  • You know what the NICE and the Cochrane Collaboration are
  • You’ve practised what you’re (learning to) preach i.e. meditation, behavioural experiments etc. because you can’t really ask a client to do anything you wouldn’t!
  • You won’t be selling your textbooks at the end of the year because you’ll be using them for years to come
  • You have an opinion about the DSM-5
  • You start collecting therapy resources
  • If you’re doing a Clinical PhD, you always have to explain what that actually is
  • You’ve discovered that as with any health profession, there’s a lot of paperwork involved
  • People don’t ask you what the difference between psychology and psychiatry is any more 
  • You have muscles from carrying psych tests around – you really could make a mint designing “Lite” versions!
  • You’ve sat behind a one-way mirror
  • And if my experiences are anything to go by, you get to hang out with a really perceptive and caring bunch of people from all walks of life

Anything to add?

A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy.

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Filed under A bit of fun, A day in the life, classes, Clinical Phd, Practice

Psychology Honours – The Musical

I’ve played the piano since I was eleven years old. It’s been years since I had my last lesson but I teach myself now, finding sheet music where I can*  or learning songs ‘by ear.’ What does this have to do with psychology? Well, in Honours year everyone seems to have developed their own way of dealing with stress, frustration and thesis stalemates. Some people crotchet, others get hooked on television sitcoms, bake or peruse Facebook. Does this sound like any of you? Mostly, I play the piano (or blog). If I’m hitting a brick wall with a thesis draft, can’t get my head around SPSS or just need a short break you’ll hear piano music coming from the room I do most of my thesis work in. Not only do I enjoy it, but when I return to my thesis after these fifteen minute interludes, I often find that things seems more manageable or an unruly paragraph begins to cooperate.

After almost four years of studying psychology, I guess its only natural that I’ve noticed some patterns between my playing and studying behaviour. For instance, if you hear me labouring over a new piece of music, easily identifiable by my stilted playing, I’ve likely just started or finished an assignment or thesis draft. On the other hand, if I’ve turned my hand to one of the pieces I can play with my eyes closed, played in various styles or at breakneck speed for a bit of variety, I’m probably in the middle or towards the end of an assignment or draft. Does anyone else notice their ‘coping’ strategies change? Perhaps your ‘procrastibaking’ reaches fever pitch right before an assignment is due, or you have a Big Bang Theory marathon once you’ve submitted a draft?

I’ve included my Honours ‘soundtrack’ or repertoire below. They say that music can draw you back to a certain time and place so I am sure that these songs will always remind me of this year.


The early days; finding a supervisor and starting classes

  • Brick – Ben Folds Five
  • Bella’s Lullaby – Carter Burwell [Twilight]
  • Superman – Five for Fighting
  • 100 Years – Five for Fighting
  • 1000 Miles – Vanessa Carlton
  • Mad World – Gary Jules

The Research Proposal

  • River Flows in You – Yiruma
  • Comptine d’un autre été: l’après (Life is a song) – Yann Tiersen [‘Amelie,’ though I’ve yet to watch it]
  • Miss Clare Remembers – Enya (learnt by ear)
  • The Meadow – Alexander Desplat [New Moon]
  • The Heart Asks Pleasure First – Michael Newman [‘The Piano,’ I haven’t seen this either]
  • Fix You – Coldplay
  • Postcards From Far Away – Coldplay
  • Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová [‘Once,’ a great film]

Thesis Writing – all the aforementioned songs plus…

  • Take 5 – Dave Brubeck
  • 1st Gymnopédie – Eric Satie
  • Someone Like You – Adele (half improvised because I can’t find sheet music for the melody, only the accompaniment)
  • Lord of the Rings Main Theme – Howard Shore
  • Wherever You Will Go – The Calling

*For any fellow musos out there, this site is fantastic for free sheet music: http://words3music.ph/

I’m off to play ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First,’ so until next time…

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Filed under A bit of fun, Honours year, Piano