Psychology and neuroscience and my aspirations for the future

KATIE NEWMAN | University of Bristol | Arts, Activism and Social Justice Summer School | Bristol, United Kingdom | Bristol

Psychology and neuroscience and my aspirations for the future

When reflecting on these past three weeks I identified four key topics that relate to my study of psychology and neuroscience and my aspirations for the future: Personal growth, understanding and helping others, systems and campaigning, and the use of art to convey a message.

Personal growth can be applied to all areas of life, the two main areas for growth that I have identified in myself are to embrace being uncomfortable and self-reflection. In Jasmine and Kabbo’s workshops they asked us to use physical movements and our imaginations to form deeper connections between our minds and bodies. These sessions really pushed me to break from comfort zone and realise I need to be more comfortable with self-expression and moving my body. I’m looking to attend some of Jasmine’s sessions to develop these aspects of myself, but also to better understand the use of somatic exercises in addressing trauma. This links to my studies as the links between the mind and body apply to all areas of psychology from development to mental health to biology.

It goes without saying that understanding and helping others plays an integral role in the field of psychology. In his session Leigh discussed the different types of trauma and how to speak productively with individuals suffering from it. Understanding how my use of language, movement, the environment, and boundaries can influence the outcome of an interaction will be of huge benefit in my career. Using mentalisation to interpret the thoughts and behaviours of another ensures their needs are met and avoids assumptions being made. This in turn makes it easier for them to communicate and to be supported. Techniques such as active and attentive listening facilitate people in navigate their emotions and circumstances, generating a better self-understanding and awareness, and then growth and development.

One goal of mine is to address the male bias in diagnosing, understanding, and supporting neurodiverse individuals and to challenge patriarchal institutions and systems to change their current practices (that perpetuate the marginalisation of these individuals). In our session with Katie, I learned many essential skills that will allow me to make an impact and makes these goals attainable. She broke down the process of campaigning into small, clear steps from identifying the key issue, to gathering evidence, to organising a meeting with the campaign VIP. Communication skills, such as networking through social media and open meetings, are essential to meet others with the same goals or interests. To gather qualitative information crowd sourcing, surveys and focus groups are essential. Networking and data collection are skills that are I am going to develop during my studies at university, continuing throughout my career as they will be of great benefit to me.

I have always had a passion for art, in particular music, and how it is used to express emotions and stories, in many cases serving as a platform for social change. Throughout the summer school I have learned so much more about the use of art to convey a message. Aliya’s expressive writing workshop has helped me learn how to ‘burn through the fog of my mind’ and to use expressive writing and my personal story to enhance the message of a text. This will assist me greatly in my course work and to communicate my thoughts and perspectives to others, especially those who need their eyes to be opened.

Every session has provided me with a new perspective or skill, many interlinking and working to enhance the messages of one another. I cannot thank Jonna and George enough for this opportunity and it has been absolutely lush getting to know everyone.

Bridging Histories butterfly