Volume 30 Issue 33 05 Nov 2021 1 Kislev 5782


Claire Pech – Careers Advisor

A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist

As we said farewell to our dearly cherished school psychologist, Kim Slender, last month, I decided it would be a great opportunity to interview her and find out about her career highs and lows. Psychology is one of the careers I get asked about a lot and I hope some of the answers can help future students and future psychologists.

What made you decide to become a Psychologist?
I was a professional dancer, and my father always said, “You must have a Plan B”. I studied Psychology as part of my studies through Open University while I was dancing from ages 18-21. I worked in Media for over ten years, then had my children. My brain was fried, and I was considering family life and working hours. I thought about my fathers advice, and reverted to my Plan B. I did my Honours in Psychology and I then a Masters in Family Therapy. I worked in private practice and when I saw a job at the School, with my daughter already there, I applied. I knew I didn’t want to be a Super-Mum. I wanted to be part of my children’s lives and this job allowed me to work with flexible hours within the school day and be with my children in the holidays.

What did you want to study when you were leaving school in Year 12?
I just wanted to dance.

Kim Slender

In another alternate life – would you have spent the last 18 years dancing?
No – this would not have worked in with my value system of being around for the children, as the hours and schedules weren’t compatible.

What is the best part of your job as a Psychologist?
I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping students. But the best part is the continual development. Lifelong learning is a constant and huge part of the role. There is new Professional Development constantly, and this has resulted in the expansion of my skill set and ever-expanding the toolbox. I still find it very interesting and fascinating to understand the human mind. This is the best part. Problem solving is a big part of the day that I love.

And the worst part of your day?
Frustration with systems that are resistant to change. These systems could be working within NESA guidelines, a school, the family or administration within the system that makes this difficult.

What are the three crucial skills needed, to be a good Psychologist?
1.You have to be able to listen. 90% of the job is listening.
2.Soft skills – inferential thinking and high empathy skills.
3.Knowing your boundaries. You can’t use the profession to solve your own issues. You need to have clearly set boundaries. You have to know when to seek supervision. You have to have insight into yourself. You need high Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ).

Why have you enjoyed working in a school rather than in a private clinic?
I chose a school as it was aligned with my value system. Being a parent first and foremost was very important to me. Also there is great collegiality and lots of extra curricular experiences and projects to get involved in. (Kim has been involved with a lot of trips including Chavayah, the March of the Living and Jilkminggan). The job is very multidimensional. There are lots of people around which keeps it varied and interesting. Private practice pays much more but it is a lonelier working experience.

Are you able to go home and just switch off or do you find you are thinking of student issues at 4.00 am?
Waking up at 4.00 am is very rare. Our aim is to leave the office knowing we have done all we can professionally to help the student and referred on to an external team when we cannot.

Was this skill learnt?
As often students are worried, they will take their emotional issues home with them. It is a learned skill. You also need support and it takes time to learn the skill. I always go to supervision to debrief any student issue. This really helps create those boundaries.

I see many students who tell me they want to become a Psychologist, because they feel they like giving advice to their friends. What career advice would you give these students?
That is the one thing a Psychologist doesn’t do – they don’t give advice. They provide collaborative solutions. They help students identify the solutions that they can then work on, but they never tell clients what to do. 

What do you feel is the most valuable experience you learnt ‘on the job’ at Emanuel?
Learning about resilience from the March of the Living trip with Holocaust survivors. It was a life lesson and a personally transformative experience. I learnt about resilience, in its truest sense.

What do you feel is the most valuable skill your students learnt under your counsel?
Students feeling that they have been believed in. This, in turn, allows the students to believe in themselves. This one act can truly transform the experience of what they are going through.

What will you miss about counselling students all day?
Colleagues, friends, students.

What will you not miss?
The school bell! The rigidity of the school day. All the paperwork and the administration.

What new career venture or studies are you now embarking on?
I now have three roles:
~ Working in private practice for one day a week;
~ Continuing on with my PhD in Intergenerational Trauma of Holocaust Survivors and
~ Adult Education Workshops with the Sydney Jewish Museum looking at the Neuroscience of Resilience. These workshops showcase the survivors’ story to educate others. I feel that this is my ‘happy place’.

What are you most proud of in your legacy at Emanuel School? 
The role I played in the lives of the students that I helped.

What is the mental health tool you use that you feel has helped you the most? (I think I may know your answer to this!). Mindfulness. And learning about the neuroscience of anxiety and depression. This has been a game changer.

Thank you Kim for your fabulous insights!


Love horses? A to Z of Careers with Horses

The thoroughbred industry offers a huge range of roles and career paths. Thoroughbred Careers A-Z can help make sense of it all. 

Sydney University 

Click on each link to find out more information about their webinars. Even if you have no interest in Sydney University but like the sound of the topic area, it is well worth you ‘attending’ via zoom.

Geography: Climate change and vulnerability
Monday 8 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
The next generation of university students are aware of the threat of climate change and are vocal in demanding action. Learn about measuring vulnerability to climate change with Professor Bill Pritchard.  

Economics: Economics and Online Dating: The Market for Love
Tuesday 9 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Interested in studying economics? In this lecture, find out how economists have been influential in shaping online dating platforms with Dr. Becca Taylor.  

Physics: Physics with your smartphone/smartphone experiments
Tuesday 9 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Join Professor Michael Wheatland in this first-year introduction to mechanics, thermal physics and oscillations and waves, and learn how to use your smartphone to measure acceleration and rotation.  

Media and Communications: What influences the media
Wednesday 10 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Curious about media and communications? Learn about the media industry and what influences media in Australia today with Dr. Margaret Van Heekeren.

Sociology: Why do we do the things we do?
Wednesday 10 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Learn how sociology works to understand the structural influences that shape your behaviour with Dr. Susan Banki and explore the influence of media, pop culture, religion, politics and immigration on the actions and decisions of individuals. 

Business: Future Business Challenges
Thursday 11 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Have you ever wondered what studying Business at University might be like? Join Dr. Sanri Le Roux to introduce yourself to critical business challenges such as climate change and sustainability, the future of work and workforce diversity. 

Archaeology: How do humans adapt to climate change?
Thursday 11 November 2021 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Over the course of a thousand years, people have developed incredible ways to adapt to major shifts in the climate. Discover how the past informs us about our challenges today with Dr. Joseph Lehner and learn about modern scientific techniques used around the world.

www.jobjump.com.au November 2021)