Each month, we will be bringing you an interview with one of our mental health professional team. This month, we’re talking to MyMind psychologist Beatriz Moreno.
What attracted you to psychology?
I was always very interested in psychology. When I was a child, I wanted to be a nurse and then a doctor – I was always interested in helping people. What drew me to psychology was my interest in people – how people react in life and in different ways to very similar situations. One of my family members suffers from depression so from a very young age I was interested in what could be done to help someone experiencing mental health difficulties.
What study/training was involved to become a psychologist?
I studied psychology for my Leaving Certificate when I was 17 and really loved it. I studied philosophy as well, and my teacher really encouraged me to study psychology. I would have been reading psychology books at home all the time and loved it straight away. I then went on to do a five year psychology degree which was very intense. It was then time to choose what I wanted to specialise in and I did my Masters in CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
What drew you to CBT as an approach?
The practicality of it. The approach focuses on the present. I do agree that our reactions to things are affected by our experiences in the past, but I think it’s very effective for clients to believe they have power to do something about how they are feeling or acting. You would feel hopeless if you felt things in your present life could not be changed. CBT makes people realise that they have control over their feelings, thoughts and emotions. It also helps people make connections between thoughts and feelings and understand why they act in certain ways and behave in life.
What are the main difference between CBT and psychoanalysis?
While I practice CBT, I’m very interested in psychoanalysis. The main difference is that CBT focuses on the present while psychoanalysis looks into your past and how you experienced something before. Psychoanalysis looks more at why a person is acting or feeling a certain way and goes from there, while CBT is more focused on what they can do to change this.
What are the most common issues you come across as a therapist?
Anxiety, fear, and depression are all common issues, especially social anxiety and a fear of the future. I find that many young people are faced with uncertainty about what their future will bring, especially after the economic crisis. It is common to be worried about not knowing where we’re going to be in a year and beyond, and to have a fear of what people are going to think of us.
What are the main challenges you face as a therapist?
As a therapist, it is important to see things from your client’s perspective, to try to understand someone’s life without judgement. It is important to listen and understand – to put yourself in their shoes without getting emotionally involved. Also, something that can be difficult is not to take responsibility for someone’s life or experiences. I also have to work hard to not project my experiences, fears or judgement onto any of my clients.
What helps you with these challenges?
Talking things through with my supervisor helps a lot. If I find myself thinking about work and worrying about it, I’ll go a walk or talk to someone. It’s important to express how you feel and not bottle it up. If I did, I don’t think I could do my job very well.
If you weren’t a therapist, what would you do?
I think I’d be a nurse. That said, I love what I do and am happy with the road I’ve chosen.
Do you think being a therapist makes you immune to negative feelings?
Not really, we’re all human! A question I get a lot from my family is, ‘Why are you feeling sad, you’re a psychologist!’ My answer to that is ‘well a surgeon doesn’t operate on themselves!’ Talking to others about how I’m feeling is very important. I couldn’t do my job right if I didn’t address my feelings and work through them. We are very lucky to have such good people at MyMind and I have great colleagues who offer great support when I need to talk.