A day in the life of a Psychologist

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What does a psychologist do? Therapy Focus Psychologist Laura Keane, who works as part of our South West Team, talks us through a recent day at work.

Due to the wide geographical areas that our regional team covers, some of my days are spent working from our office in Margaret River, but others are very much on the road! This is a good example from last week of an “inland” day with my colleague, Speech Pathologist  Jordan Duncan.

8:30am – 9:00am
After dropping my son off at day care, I meet Jordan in the office and we gather what we will need for the day (including a cuppa for the road!)

We often try and schedule our inland days with a colleague as it saves travel expenses and we can use the travel time to liaise in regards to shared clients, or consult on cases if we feel our clients could benefit some input from another discipline. Plus it’s great to have company!

Jordan and I get on the road after some debate about the weather, as it’s been hailing this morning and the wind is howling outside… Not the inviting country drive that you might hope for!  We have apps on our phones that we often check in regards to severe weather warnings, as there are large distances that we cover inland with no phone reception. But we decide the coast is looking relatively clear and the weather is going to ease throughout the day, so we turn on the GPS tracking devices we have installed in our vehicles and hit the road.

9:00am – 10:30am
We travel to Manjimup, stopping half way in Nannup to change drivers.  Jordan and I spend an hour of this time liaising about clients, and a bit of time chatting about the weekend!

10:30am – 11:00am
We enter the Enable WA office in Manjimup to meet with the coordinator of our shared client. This is an 18 year-old client with Down Syndrome who is engaging in some very challenging behaviour at home and out in the community.  The client is also at the office, so after some initial introductions I leave Jordan to complete her assessment with the client and I meet with the coordinator to catch up on recent developments.

Jordan has had some difficulty conducting the assessment with our client, so I debrief with her and together we encourage our client to reflect on what he found difficult and how he might have managed his feelings in a different way, using the strategies we have previously discussed together.

psychologist explains a document to client11:00am – 12:30pm
Jordan and I then meet with our client’s mother and his broader support team. His team are based in Manjimup, so we all meet there on a monthly basis in order to debrief on challenging behaviours and to discuss strategies for addressing them. I recently completed an observation and assessment with him and his carers, and have since completed a Positive Behaviour Support report outlining strategies and recommendations. We go through this report and discuss any concerns and barriers there might be for implementing strategies. We discuss the importance of consistency and predictability for this client and outline how we can assist him with understanding any changes in his routine and reducing his anxiety.

12:30pm – 1:00pm
The entire town is without power due to the weather, so Jordan and I struggle but eventually find somewhere that we can grab a sandwich and a hot drink!

1:00pm – 2:00pm
Its still raining so Jordan drops me off at another client’s house, which is just outside the school where she needs to be for her appointment – luckily for me!

This client is young mother of two and has cerebral palsy. Conducting a session with her two young children is a bit of a challenge, but we manage to work around it and have a very productive session. One of our Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists have worked with this client recently to help her manage getting her children into the car without assistance. This has enabled her to do more activities with her family, so she is feeling much more positive and her quality of life has improved greatly. She has also made great progress in developing the self-care and coping skills we have been working on over the past few weeks. This will also support her to achieve better quality of life.

2:00pm – 3:00pm
I’m back on the road with Jordan, this time travelling to Nannup. We debrief on our sessions and liaise regarding other cases.

3:00pm – 4:00pm
For our final visit of the day we meet with a client who has some cognitive impairments as a result of past surgeries to remove brain tumours. In addition to supporting him with long-term symptoms of depression, we have done some work around a medical phobia that he has developed following brain surgery. This client has a complex trauma history, which has been complicated by his experiences of helplessness and fear whilst undergoing surgery in the past.

He is having a brain scan next week and his Neurologist has indicated that, based on his reported symptoms, his tumour is mostly likely growing again. There has been a lot of fear and avoidance around this appointment, so I spend time listening to and validating his feelings, and we look at how he would manage his anxiety and look after himself in the days leading up to his appointment.

Learn more about our Psychology services and how our Psychologist work as part of our transdisciplinary therapy teams. 

Interested in working at Therapy Focus? Learn more about Careers at Therapy Focus

psychologist talking to client at table
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