Each month Krystal Burt finds out what makes our doctors tick, this month it's our Clinical Psychologist, Dr Paul Lenny.
What inspired you to become a psychologist?
I had an epiphany at a wedding.
I found myself talking someone through their marital issues, along with another lady at the table who was studying psychology. It was at that moment that I realised this was something I could do as a career! I quit my job and enrolled at university and have never looked back.
What are your long term plans?
I hope to be able to continue to practice in this profession until I choose to retire in old age.
How would you describe the role of a psychologist?
I don't think there is one specific role as psychology is quite a broad profession. I practice psychodynamic psychotherapy, which focuses on understanding the cause of the person's suffering, rather than solely treating a symptom. We want to resolve those things that prevent someone from living an authentic and meaningful life. The symptoms inform the treatment once we can understand their meaning. For me, one of the main roles is being able to form a trusting therapeutic relationship with someone, so that he or she feels ready to share their deepest pain, and for the two of us to be able to sit there and bear it together. Everyone wants to *do* something, but sometimes we really need to just learn to sit with our feelings and accept them as they are before we can move beyond them.
What days to you work, do you have set roster or does it change?
I work a set roster every Tuesday to Saturday.
What are the main issues that people see a psychologist for?
People seek out help for the same reasons they always have since time immemorial - life is hard and the human condition is still a struggle for us all. Everyone has a story and terms like "anxiety" and "depression" tell us nothing about the person, their life, their trials and tribulations. These "conditions" are a response to the difficulties of one's inner world and must be understood before they can be addressed.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests outside of work?
As you can see in the picture above, I have become quite passionate about photography. Mostly wildlife and landscape at this stage. I enjoy donning my full camouflage outfit and heading out early morning to see what I can capture through the lens. It has helped to teach me patience and increased my animal knowledge too.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I have a couple of quotes hanging up in my office that sum up why I practice the style of therapy that I do: "It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found." by Donald Winnicott; and "Until you make the unconscious, conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." by Carl Jung. These are the struggles we face on a daily basis.
What are your areas of interest in psychology, and why?
I tend to prefer to work with people who may have complex presenting issues, for example, multiple relationships have failed, childhood trauma, people who want to be better parents, and those who are at a point where they want to truly understand themselves and resolve long-standing patterns or problems. Psychodynamic psychotherapy allows me to work well with these people if they are ready to commit to the big investment and difficult process that the treatment requires for the potential long-term benefits.
Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?
Batman. Always bet on Batman.
If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked out of a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Green Day - Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - It's a beautiful song and I am a huge Seinfeld fan so it has that association too.