Elin Pöllänen - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Elin Pöllänen

In 2015, Elin Pöllänen moved from Sweden to the Sunshine Coast with the goal of becoming a psychologist. She enrolled in a three-year Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology), followed by a one-year Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) (Honours). Last year, she completed her final step – a two-year Master of Psychology (Clinical).

“Like most people interested in psychology, I wanted to help people. Before I started my psychology degree, I was working in corporate health coaching people to promote their physical health. However, I soon noticed that to really help people I needed to understand more of human psychology and what drives people to make long-term changes.

“When I started study I didn’t have much knowledge of what I had gotten myself into. I actually think this was beneficial, as it is easy to get overwhelmed if you try to take in the whole study pathway when you first start off. Instead, I focused on completing each step of the way – undergraduate to Honours to master’s – without thinking too much about what was around the corner.

“In the first year of the Master of Psychology (Clinical), you have your first placement in the USC Psychology Clinic at the Thompson Institute, which is where you first get to develop your clinical skills. In the second year, you have two external placements. I was placed with the Sunshine Coast Mental Health Service’s Acute Care Team the first semester, and at a local private practice, Mind Potential Psychology, in the second. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to apply and adapt my clinical skills to both the public and private sectors.

“I’m currently holding a general registration and completing my clinical registrar program at Mind Potential Psychology. I love being a psychologist! I feel extremely privileged to be let into people’s lives, and it is so rewarding when you see a shift in a client’s presentation.

“I often get asked if working with people that are struggling is influencing my own mental health. I haven’t found that to be true, as I focus on the opportunity therapy poses for improving and promoting mental health.

“My advice to aspiring psychologists is to focus on the part of the studies that you are at, at the moment. Worrying about future steps is likely to take your focus away from completing your current studies to the best of your abilities.”