Friday, March 26, 2010

Freudian Slippers

Academia. My Dad was a UQ man, my husband is an academic, and I've been at Uni myself on and off since the mid-1980s - so I can't say I wasn't warned. For those who are curious, I'll attempt to describe a week in the life of a new lecturer.

Monday. Is supposed to be my writing day. My dropping-the-kids working-from-home writing-without-interruptions day. We're way into March and this is the first Monday that it's actually worked out. And I've woken up with a splitting headache and an upset stomach. Luckily I've just joined a writing group based on the helpful guide "How to Write a Lot". These writing groups are springing up all over the School: small cells of academics huddle together and contract to meet specific writing goals during the week to which they hold one another accountable. So I can't crawl back to bed and be sick. Must. meet. writing. goals.

Tuesday. Start the day with an hour of clinical supervision. I love clinical supervision. You get to work on fascinating cases without the direct responsibility for treatment. Today's cases include a teenager who has been badly bullied for his effeminate ways. I watch a DVD of a session in which the teenager is explaining his anger management strategies to my intern on the whiteboard. I'm proud of my intern. This client is going to be ok.

Lunchtime: RHD committee meeting (that's research higher degree). Due to the large numbers of RHD students in Psychology, including the large number of out-of-load PhD students (a parlous state that I myself am familiar with), Eric and co have worked up a set of milestones to help students keep on track: confirmation; mid-candidature review and thesis review. It's anxiety provoking for the students and its anxiety provoking for me because I now have 4 milestone meetings to chair and I'm falling behind. I wonder if it's possible to be out-of-load in my committee job?

Wednesday. Big day. There are 25 first year undergrads due to start my "Tuned In" program today – a music based emotion regulation program designed as an alternative to CBT. My Doctorate student Carly is leading six groups (3 now and 3 wait listed control groups) and we have interns as co-therapist in each group. I’m nervous about how the Uni students will respond to the program. Carly texts on Wed evening that they all turned up and gave the activities a go: drawing their imagery; describing their body sensations; the meaning of lyrics. Relief.

Meanwhile I'm giving an evening lecture to 150 third year students on Psychoanalysis. Freud’s theories are easily criticised in this place and time so I have to work hard to make them relevant and interesting. I consider wearing my Freudian slippers to the lecture but my superego wins and they end up on a slide instead.

Thursday. Meetings. An interesting meeting with Kim (the Director of Clinical Programs) and a visiting academic from NZ who is touring clinical programs here and in the UK to benchmark the way clinical training is done. Listening to Kim it’s hard not to catch his enthusiasm about what we're doing.

Friday. Start revising a rejected paper in preparation for our writing group at 2. Everyone has met their goal this week and Natalie gives us immediate chocolate rewards. More clinical supervision and then finally 4pm Friday comes around – staff club time. Everyone said the first year with all new teaching, new systems and policies to figure out is a killer. It is. But the rewards are great. So far so good anyway....

-- Gen Dingle

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