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By Daniel Holland
Anything can happen in a typical working day for psychologist Jenny Gibbs, and that’s the way she likes it.
I’m a bit of everything. I am a psychologist and I work as a consultant psychologist, so I do a chunk of clinical work, and I do the supervision of other psychologists and recruiting and keeping psychologists happy in our team
It’s a real multi job, it’s a mix of being a practitioner, being a clinical psychologist, being a supervisor of staff, being a consultant for other disciplines, recruiting new staff and supporting them.
The reason I love it so much is that anything can happen in a typical day.
Yesterday an autistic boy in the waiting room saw something in the admin staff’s working area and hurdled over the desk because he was determined to get it. There was the potential for it to all turn pear shaped. There’s this kid who’s not verbal but has fantastic problem solving skills and we’re thinking how could we direct him into athletics or something, because this kid’s amazing.
" Autism is a particular interest of mine. It is a specialist interest that I have developed over the years..."Autism is a particular interest of mine. It is a specialist interest that I have developed over the years so I might be asked to see a particular child, make observations, and see what my thoughts are.
It has been evolutionary; I have grown with the role. A typical day is direct client contact, supervision of staff or interminable meetings. If you had said to me 15 years ago what my job would look like today I would have been terrified by the prospect. But of course one grows with maturity and experience, it’s incremental the changes, and it’s really exciting.
I get to hang out with kids, which is good, and I am still rolling around on the ground after wild ones and I interview a lot of kids and I do psychometric testing of kids, looking at their cognitive abilities as part of understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are.
We deal with the first diagnoses of children and that can be devastating for families. Being with them through that grieving process and linking them with all the supports and helping them understand what the nature of the developmental disability of the child has is a big part of a psychologist’s role here.
My great fear is of being one of those dinosaurs that stay in the same job for their entire life and that everybody sits there muttering, “She should have retired years ago”. That haunts me from time to time. I sit there and think that the job I do is no way near the same job I used to do, it has evolved as I say. When I am racing after a 2-year-old and I need the child’s help to get off the floor then it might be time to stop.
I like the novelty and variety. I think I’d get a bit bored if everything was the same day in day out but people are inherently fascinating and that’s why I chose to be a psychologist in the first place - you know, it’s the ultimate job for someone that’s incurably nosy about other people and what makes them tick.