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MSc Health Psychology students travelled to Sri Lanka in August, on a trip organised by Coventry University and the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology. The Sri Lanka visit enables our students to gain insight into the cultural differences in psychology and healthcare across the UK and Sri Lanka.
During their ten day tour Coventry students worked at CIRP delivering lectures, visiting psychological sites, hospitals and counselling rooms. They also explored the local area, including some beautiful temples, and took part in an international conference.
Dr Elizabeth Sparkes, Course Director said
This is the second year that the trip has run and it was a huge success again. It’s lovely to hear the students have gained so much personally and professionally from the experience.
Find out more about students’ experiences below.
Healthcare in Sri Lanka
The most valuable experience I had during my time in Sri Lanka was visiting the hospital in Kandy. After the long drive to the highlands, we spent the morning at the main hospital there. We were given the opportunity to sit in on patient consultations, directed by the hospital’s head Psychiatrist, amongst clinical psychologists and other health care practitioners. Although the majority of consultations were in Sinhalese, conversations were translated and paraphrased so we could broadly understand patients’ situations in each appointment. What was really interesting to learn was that even though facilities in Sri Lankan hospitals are nowhere near as advanced as those in Britain, the way in which mental health is treated is very similar- mental health is still considered a taboo subject and is most commonly treated in a similar way to physical health. Despite practitioners trying to facilitate a shift in treatment and trying to encourage CBT and other behaviour change techniques, patients would rather be prescribed a long list of expensive medications than engage in therapy. After two additional hospital visits, we met with the Psychology staff and two government health representatives at the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology. We had a discussion where we compared cross-cultural health care. It was really interesting to learn about different aspects of both Sri Lankan health care and that of China and Singapore as well, where my friends were from.
We went to three different hospitals. It was interesting to see that for mental health patients, the hospital set a large timetable, including meditation, art workshops, music therapy and sport activities. We also joint a consulting time in outpatient clinic and met different patients with different psychological syndromes. It was a very practical experience, which is very rare to have in the UK.
Out and about in Colombo and beyond
Looking back at our time in Sri Lanka, the main thing that comes to mind is how busy Colombo was. We were straight into activities almost as soon as we arrived in the city and every day we spent was packed full of visits to hospitals, lectures and conference days. As valuable as these visits were, my favourite parts of the trip were definitely the calmer moments we spent in museums, temples and landmarks (especially the beautiful sights in Kandy) where we could learn more about the history of Sri Lanka and the role Buddhism plays in their culture. Overall, my trip to Sri Lanka was an amazing experience. My visit to the country was the first trip I had ever made outside Europe so experiencing and learning to respect Sri Lankan culture was eye-opening and has made me want to visit the country again and spend more time visiting cultural sights and landmarks.
The Colombo trip was good. People from CIRP were all very nice and caring. Before we went there, the weather forecast warned that Colombo would rain all the time when we were there. However, luckily, we had all beautiful sunshine when we were out. Colombo is a very busy city with bad traffic, luckily, the little tuk tuk taxi could take us running through the traffic to escape. Once, we went to a wrong place and we thought we couldn’t catch our schedule on time, but tuk tuk just magically took us to the right place in a limited time. We were not late at all. The first day after we arrived, we were excited to try local street food as our first meal and with CIRP people’s recommendation. I think after our first meal, we were kind of thinking maybe we could have some ‘normal’ meal next time, like western food maybe? My favourite part is, I could get avocado juice anywhere!
The ICAP conference days we had were really interesting. It gave us the opportunity to find out about up to date international research in applied Psychology. We were able to meet with psychologists and researchers from across the world to discuss our interests in Health Psychology. During the first day, we were able to have a conversation about issues and debates in Psychology and compare cross-cultural views of these. I found the workshops on the final day extremely engaging and related well to my own specific interests in Health Psychology. As well as learning about the more practical and academic applications of these topics, they also benefitted me on a more personal level.
The three days conference was a wonderful chance to understand the development of psychology in Asia.
The tour was a great way to mark the end of my masters in Health Psychology, driving my passion to continue research and has opened my eyes to clinical opportunities relating to my interests.
Thank you so much to Coventry University and the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology for granting me with this amazing opportunity and organising the trip of a lifetime!
We’re pleased to share the news that The Midlands Health Psychology Network will be holding its annual conference at Coventry University on March 2nd 2017. The theme will be Approaches to Wellbeing: Working Across Professional Boundaries.
Students from the MSc Health Psychology are encouraged to attend. This will be a chance to see recent graduates and other friends of the course in action, and make useful network contacts. Find out what our students have said about the experience of attending in years past.
Congratulations to Anjulie Dhillon, who took her MSc Health Psychology at Coventry in 2014/15 and has gone on to do stage two training in health psychology, via a professional doctorate.
“Since graduating with an MSc in Health Psychology at Coventry University, I have recently joined Staffordshire University on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. I am working as a Trainee Health Psychologist, based primarily on a Paediatric Burns Unit. I support young burn victims and their families through recovery and I will also be undertaking clinical work with adults with diabetes and chronic pain. This opportunity has provided me with the chance to apply my knowledge of Health Psychology models and theories in a clinical area, allowing me to grow and develop as a Trainee Health Psychologist. During the next two years I will be working on a number of projects including psychological interventions, research and teaching. I have also been very fortunate to have continued my work with Coventry University and I look forward to carrying out some research with Liz Sparkes in the new year, as well as delivering some teaching sessions to current MSc students later this academic year.”
We wish Anjulie enjoyment and success in her stage two training and we’re looking forward to her visiting us on the programme at Coventry.
‘Mindfulness’ seems to be everywhere at the moment, though ironically this doesn’t necessarily mean it is widely practised, even by those of us who’d like to embrace it.
Students on our MSc Health Psychology course have the opportunity to learn about the theory behind mindfulness-based interventions in healthcare, as well as practical techniques. They also have a chance to critically evaluate mindfulness-based interventions and explore the evidence for their efficacy.
Induction for new students on the Health Psychology masters will take place on Tuesday 22nd September 2015 in the Charles Ward Building.
|Time||Description||Content to be covered||Room|
|09:45 – 10:00||Generic Course Info||Arrival and Registration||CW217|
|10:00 – 10:15||Generic Course Info||Formal welcome by Jane Coad||CW217|
|10:15 – 10:30||Generic Course Info||An Introduction to the Student Rep System||CW217|
|10.30 – 11:15||Generic Course Info||Studying at Coventry University (Emma Sleath, MSc Forensic Psychology Course Director)||CW217|
|11:30 – 12:15||Generic Course Info||Studying at Postgraduate Level (Liz Sparkes, MSc Health Psychology Course Director)||CW217|
|12.15 – 12:45||Generic Course Info||Moodle Briefing (Valentina Mosconi, Learning Technician)||CW217|
NB: This extended time can also be used to collect student cards from the Student Centre
|2.00 – 2.30||Generic Course Info||Library Induction Session (Sally Patalong, Subject Librarian)||CW217|
|2.30 – 4:00||Course Specific Info||Introduction to the Health Psychology Masters
Liz Sparkes, MSc Health Psychology Course Director and Carol Percy, Senior lecturer in psychology
|4:00 – 4:30||Course Specific Info||Queries/Students to Collect Student Cards||CW215|
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]
Inspired by David Sedaris’ tale in The New Yorker (he cheerfully combines healthy exercise with compulsive litter picking) I decided to invest in a Fitbit. This neat little wrist band has the facility to record the number of steps you take in any given day, as well as monitoring some aspects of sleep duration and quality.
Many people now use Fitbits to monitor their health, and use the companion website (and various apps and add-ons) to record dietary, drinking and other health behaviours. An Apple device that promises to record the same data and more is due out in spring 2015.
Health psychology trainees starting this autumn are well placed to design studies exploring the impact of Fitbit and other personal health monitoring devices. US users can already sign up to earn material rewards for their physical activity. If the same incentives were introduced in the UK, how effective might they be in motivating behaviour change?
The Fitbit can only record a limited range of data at present, and users have to enter honestly any deviations from their planned dietary schedule. If the Fitbit doesn’t know, do the calories still count 😉 ?
Congratulations to our (very recent) graduate Chloe Patel who (as well as being due to graduate next week) has had her work published in the journal Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. Chloe’s research was done in collaboration with Lou Atkinson and Ellinor Olander while she was on work experience with them at the Applied Research Centre in Health and Lifestyle Interventions. The study was an exploration of obese pregnant women’s views of being referred by their midwife to a weight management service. Chloe will be back to visit us soon as a guest speaker on our Professional Practice module.