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Carly Salter - Psychology

Carly Salter BA Psychology ‘13

What first sparked your interest in Psychology?

For me, I have always been of curious mind, a critical thinker, and forever found asking ‘but…why?’

I was fascinated with human interactions. I yearned to understand why adverse life events effected some individuals more than others, and was interested to learn whether we, as individuals, emerge as outcomes of our circumstance or rather if we are active players in our lives, not pre-determined by circumstance.

At 17, whilst approaching my CAO form and considering university course choices, I did not have a specific linear career path in mind. Time and time again I found myself considering, and finally choosing, Psychology to begin my third-level studies chapter, in hope that some if not all of my questions could be answered. This process was supported by a patient and generously-hearted career guidance teacher in my school, whose expertise in career aptitude testing provided data to confirm that psychology and I could be a good fit.

What career path have you taken since graduating?

Having graduated in 2013, I have since pursued a career in counselling. Following on from undergraduate study in Psychology, I pursued postgraduate training in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy, and furthermore have now hold a Masters in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).  I am an Accredited Member of the Irish Council for Counselling and Psychotherapy (I.A.C.P.).

I am currently operating a private counselling practice in south Dublin, where I work therapeutically with a variety of clients along an array of presenting issues including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, OCD, PTSD, bereavement and loss. I work with adults of all ages, and with older adolescents.

My work, whilst challenging, is incredibly rewarding – and having started my studies in UCD without a clear notion of where I would end up, I can look back and attest that on this side of the ‘fence’, having my professional foundation rooted in the study of pure Psychology has benefitted my career far more than I ever could have imagined as a first year university student walking into the Newman Building.

Who or what has influenced you?

Both personally and professionally, I subscribe to the belief that, to a significant extent, we become who we surround ourselves with. Professionally, I have been fortunate enough to study under incredibly gifted therapists who have imparted a wealth of wisdom to me, as well as to pass on their theoretical knowledge. They have influenced my practices strongly, both practices of therapy work and practices of self-care – which is incredibly important as an in-practice therapist

How has your degree helped you along the way?

Holding a degree in Psychology has grounded my therapeutic work in a theoretical understanding of the foundational principles of neuropsychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology and others.

Looking back, I realise that during my studies in UCD, I did not grasp or appreciate fully how strongly my undergraduate studies would support and scaffold my subsequent career path. I reflect, with the benefit of hindsight, and am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to pursue my undergraduate degree in Psychology under the incredibly knowledgeable and generous teaching faculty of the UCD School of Psychology.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Every day, when I arrive to my workplace, I am filled with gratitude. I am acutely aware of the privilege it is to sit with each client in the therapeutic space. When a client enters the therapy room whether for the first time or the fiftieth time, I realise that vulnerable moments are sacred spaced to be treated with utmost reverence and respect, it is important that each counselling session is treated with such respect and care.

In my work, I enjoy hearing each client’s ‘story’; who they are and what has brought them to this point in their life. I enjoy listening actively, attentively, with genuineness, non-judgement and boundless empathy. The boundaried connection between a client and their counsellor is a crucial ingredient in therapeutic work and change, and I enjoy fostering and sustaining connection with each client.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Dr. Brené Brown

I am privy to significant moments of insight, emotional release, healing and change, in an individual’s life. I enjoy each step of the journey with each client; the moments of triumph and yet also the moments of frustration, where determination and grit are allowed to emerge. For me, the courage, bravery and resilience of my clients, continually challenges that courage, bravery and resilience be echoed in me.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Renowned researcher, Dr. Brené Brown, posits that ‘we risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary’. I feel similarly when reflecting upon my proudest achievement to date. The graduations and accolades are well and good, but I believe that reliance on such outward achievements can be risky, when realistically over a lifespan, life is filled with ‘smaller’ proud moments and achievements, more conducive to the maintenance of self-compassion rather than ego. I am filled with gratitude when I stop to think of the extraordinary people who I have encountered and whose journeys I have played a small part of – that is truly what I am most proud of.

What advice would you offer current students considering a similar career path?

For those considering Psychology, I would highly encourage anyone with an interest in the human brain and its behaviour, to pursue a degree in Psychology. If you are considering Psychology, why not invest in any introductory textbook, and evaluate its level of interest to you? If reading about the foundational aspects of Psychology whets your appetite and finds you thirsting for more, then a degree in Psychology may be for you!

For those considering Counselling, I would encourage them to do their research into what’s involved in the work and in the training process. A lot of personal development as well as professional training is involved in this career path. Similarly, I would advise a student considering study in Counselling not to be influenced by fear or insecurity, as these constructs are not solid enough to warrant deterrence from pursuit of such a path. Working one-to-one or in group-based counselling, can be incredibly heavy work, yet incredibly rewarding to be privileged to such vulnerable space with clients. If a career in counselling appeals to you, perhaps take time to research and explore a variety courses and programmes which may align with where you see yourself in five or ten years. If possible, perhaps check-in with a career development professional or someone working in the area of counselling or a discipline of practice-based Psychology.

As a concluding thought, remember that taking a step into a particular area, is not final. Steps can be taken forward and equally steps can be taken backwards, sideways and forward again – in life overall and certainly in Psychology.

UCD College of Social Sciences and Law

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