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Clinical Psychologist Shares Practical Work Experiences with CU Students

A Clinical Psychologist, Miss Favour Afoma Okpala, has stated that in practice, a Clinical Psychologist is faced with some unique experiences which are peculiar to each work environment, patient encountered, and how the encounters took place; this includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.

She made this assertion while making a presentation titled, "Unique Experiences of a Practicing Clinical Psychologist," at a recent Town and Gown Seminar of the Department of Psychology, Covenant University, Ota, where she was a Guest Speaker. 

Miss Okpala, who is also the Lead Clinical Psychologist at Constellation Coaching Group, Lagos, stated that "the good" fit into a wide range of professional experiences gained in interaction with various patients, leading to the development of an analytical mind which is solution-focused and culminates in impacting more lives.

"The bad" for a practicing Clinical Psychologist is the real struggle in balancing work and personal life, as achieving that can be tough due to the amount of emotional energy required in giving therapy to patients. She also mentioned the challenge of hyper vigilance due to emotional strain from the job. One of the ugly issues in Clinical Psychology practice, she said, is Compassion Fatigue which is primarily caused by the stress of having to give so much emotional energy to patients depending on the depth of their trauma or psychological issues, as the case may be.

Miss Okpala described Clinical Psychology as a psychological specialty that provides ongoing and comprehensive mental and behavioral health care for individuals and families, as well as consultation to agencies and communities.

She established the functional skills of a Clinical Psychologist to include the fact that the individual should have an understanding of psychopathology and diagnostic/intervention considerations; mental health issues across the lifespan; and assessments. She added that the ability to consult with other health and behavioral healthcare professionals and organizations is also key.

According to Miss Okpala, one of the issues bedeviling the profession in this part of the world is a lack of information about mental health and issues associated with it. This is because issues of mental health are considered a stigma and this has led to many sufferers avoiding seeing a professional, and in many cases, she said, sufferers are ignorant of their status.

She pointed out that one of the ways forward is to end the stigma of mental health diagnosis via adequate information and necessary corporation between the two professional arms connected with mental health management, which include Psychologists and Psychiatrists.

Not only that, she stressed the need to have more young graduates join the Medical Psychology practice and be open to working in all environments in order to be well-rounded and more useful in the fight against mental health challenges in Nigeria.

She encouraged students who plan to build a career in Clinical Psychology to imbibe some habits which would help them succeed and they include, "remaining objective in handling clinical cases; enforcing multi-disciplinary interventions in handling cases; maintaining Continued education and self-development; being open to learn new things; making it a point to always ‘debrief yourself’ from time to time; and finally, she said,  always remember the reason you chose this profession in the first place when you get discouraged."

In her opening remarks at the event, the Head of Department, Psychology, Dr. S. O. Adeusi, appreciated the Guest Speaker, the school Management and members of the Department for being instrumental to the success of the event and enjoined the students to give full attention to the lecture of the day, especially because the Speaker is a seasoned professional who has worked in a number of varied sectors and thus would bring a lot of different situations to bear in her presentation.

Also present at the event were other senior members of the faculty and staff of the Department.

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