Dr John Roodenburg FAPS MCEDP MCCOUNP
Rewarding work as a school psychologist in North Eastern Victoria for over 20 years: weekly trips driving down the Ovens valley; Frosty winter mornings, pristine blue skies, magnificent snow capped peaks; Summer 42° winds blowing on the plains at Boorhaman, still entrancing. But the people made the work so fulfilling: hard working country people and collegial educators; dropping into smaller schools on the way to larger centres, sharing over a coffee, checking informally on a child, discussing some proactive strategy.
Then the home visits: common understanding with farmers because of our own small farm; whenever wherever we went, knowing who lived here, farmed there, or taught in that school. With opportunities for making a difference came a sense of community and belonging.
So why move to the city? Two main reasons: anonymity and digging deeper. With a wife also a psychologist, we had seen over 3,000 clients between us in a district of 25,000. Rarely could we go anywhere without bumping into a past client who saw an opportunity to update us on their current lives.
The variety of presenting needs and the limited availability of other professionals made for a broad but never boring range of work. But, that could be stressful, denying the satisfaction of deeper knowledge.
Coming to the city gave us a wonderful opportunity for reflection, further study (PhDs for both of us), deepening expertise, and a rewarding opportunity to mentor an inspiring new generation of psychologists, teaching at Monash University. While anonymity is wonderful, country interests and loves never leave, and city depersonalisation can be troubling, nowhere more so than in university life. Despite professional experience and practice being undervalued in a climate of ‘publish or perish,’ we have still been able to progress exciting projects and high quality training because of fine colleagues, committed students, and external accrediting bodies.
Looking back, we are struck by the fulfilling life experiences, personal and intellectual challenges, opportunities, and transitions within our fields of psychology.
Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on December 2015. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.