Now that they are back with us in Coventry, some of our MSc health psychology students have reported on their recent visit to Sri Lanka. As their pictures and personal reflections demonstrate, this was a unique opportunity to do some serious work, supported by our academic partners at the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology, experience the distinctive culture of Sri Lanka, and enjoy some encounters with wildlife.
“Visiting Sri Lanka as part of the MSc Health Psychology course was an amazing experience. Six of us travelled to Colombo to take part in a 10 day experience consisting of academic visits as well as cultural trips. We were welcomed by the staff at Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology, who ensured we were looked after during our visit. We were involved in a number of academic sessions, discussing mental health issues with a panel of professionals, which provided insight into the Sri Lankan culture and its relevance to mental health in the country. We also partnered up and took undergraduate classes where we were each able to deliver a lecture.
The lecture I delivered was on Pain and Pain Management; I outlined the history of our understanding of pain, introduced some key theories and then went on to discuss pain management programmes. I also asked the students to get involved in a seminar activity whereby they got into groups and developed an intervention. I feel this was a key experience for me as I really enjoyed it and felt my confidence in presenting and delivering a lecture has increased significantly. The students were very welcoming.
An eye opening experience for me was a visit to the Colombo mental health hospital and also the private day care facility for individuals with psycho-social problems. Services are still developing and I gained an insight into the need for psychology to become more of a focus in Sri Lanka. Taking part in therapeutic sessions such as expression therapy was also very engaging as this is something I had not been involved in before. From an academic perspective, it was really positive to see that Sri Lanka’s focus on psychology is progressively increasing and to hear that concepts such as mindfulness are also developing is fantastic.
Tourist visits included a trip to a beautiful Elephant Orphanage where we got to ride and bathe the elephants. We also visited a Buddhist Temple, Gangaramaya, which allowed us to experience an important aspect of Sri Lankan culture. The country as a whole was amazing – the contrast between the traffic and run down areas and the well developed areas was really interesting to see. I would highly recommend this trip, as it was well worth it and one I will always look back on.” [Anjulie]
“Our trip to Sri Lanka was one I will never forget, not only was the trip educational and revealing but it was fun and inspiring. Giving my first lecture on addictions and rehabilitation was an exciting experience if slightly nerve racking. The students attending the lecture were engaging and questioning. The difference between the institution and our university were few, students were passionate about psychology and about promoting psychology within Sri Lanka. As well as these elements of the trip we enjoyed trips to the beautiful hill country of Kandy where we spent the day with elephants and visiting the famous Temple of the Tooth. A day by the beach, at the old Governor’s house rounded off the trip of a life time.” [Holly]
“My lecture was about stress management; both from an internal perspective (e.g. mindfulness) and an external perspective (e.g. outside agencies delivering stress inoculation training or CBT). I think for me this really pushed me out of my comfort zone and was something I was terrified of doing. But when I got up to talk, I really enjoyed it and I think the students liked and responded positively to my lecturing style. It was a really good opportunity to enhance my public speaking and it also taught me a lot about myself. The place that impacted me the most was the Mental Hospital. I saw big cultural differences in diagnosis and treatment, and saw just how cultural taboos can impact these factors. These cultural inequalities tie in with my specific research interests so this trip provided me with an invaluable insight into this area. I found that speaking to professionals at the University and the psychiatrist at the private day care centre to also be very interesting. Overall, the trip was fascinating and I’d highly recommend going. It was a great opportunity to see how life differs, and also a great international experience to put on my CV!” [Prabneet]
Our course director Liz Sparkes is a passionate teacher of mindfulness. Together with Suryacitta Malcolm Smith and Gaynor Quilter she established The Midlands Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion. This is a collaboration between Coventry University and Be Mindful Now – a Community Interest Company.
Health psychologists are particularly interested in mindfulness because of its effects on
- Emotional and psychological well-being
- Reduction of anxiety
- Ability to manage difficult situations
- Lowering blood pressure
- Quality of life
Students on the MSc Health Psychology at Coventry will have the opportunity to learn more about the theory of mindfulness, acquire some basic practical skills and consider the evidence base for mindfulness and related interventions.
In the meantime, for interested people (non-health psychologists included) there are a last few places left on the upcoming Mindfulness course at Coventry this August. Find out more at http://www.mindfulnesscic.co.uk/mindfulness-courses