From a young age, Fiona had an interest in what makes people tick. She grew up dancing, a passion that relied on a strong connection between the mind and body. These days, she practices Yoga, which also requires an understanding of an individual’s whole consciousness. And in her role as Psychologist at Vida, she spends her days assessing these connections in her clients, helping them gain a deeper understanding of their wellbeing.
“When people experience trauma, the whole body is involved, not just the mind,” Fiona explains. “Mental health can impact the nervous system and result in a myriad of physical effects. It’s very important to unpack that with clients because it’s not a concept that is necessarily easily recognised. But knowledge enables them to take action.”
The driving force of Fiona’s work as a Psychologist is to empower people to take control of their well-being. It might seem counterintuitive, but she feels a sense of pride when her clients reduce their need for therapy. When Fiona hears how they’ve put the techniques into practice, she knows they’re setting themselves up for success.
“I love the experience of revisiting a client a month after their last session, and hearing what they’ve experienced in the meantime. They’ll explain how they’ve self-reflected, identified their triggers, and set boundaries. I don’t think what I do is magic. I’m passing on knowledge, but at the end of the day, it’s the individual who makes the difference in their own life.”
While Fiona is now settled into her career as a Psychologist, it’s not the career journey she thought she would take. She was interested in beauty as a teenager and left school early to become a hairdresser before undertaking beauty therapy training.
“I thought beauty therapy would be my dream career, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I was interested in the aspect of caring for clients – spending time helping people feel confident and beautiful. But I didn’t find fulfilment in my role.”
Journeying to Europe for an adventure, Fiona was working an administration job in London when she first began to consider a different career path. A friend was studying psychology, and Fiona found herself fascinated with the subject. When she returned to Australia, she decided it was something she wanted to pursue. She enrolled at RMIT, but true to her globetrotting streak, she made another trip to Paris for a semester exchange program during her degree.
After graduating with her Honours and Master of Psychology from the Australian Catholic University, Fiona spent the first few years of her career working within the NDIS industry. She was looking for a new challenge when the opportunity to join Vida arose. Throughout her job hunt, she had a clear vision of what she wanted in a workplace – and what she wanted to avoid.
“My interview at Vida was very conversational, and I instantly felt comfortable. Carmen and Ishma emphasised their interest in taking care of therapists, embedding them in the team, and ensuring no one burns out. When I’d previously worked in private practice, I’d found it isolating, and I didn’t want to go back. But at Vida, I’ve found a community that truly wants to connect.”
While her work experience was largely focused on children and parents, Fiona expressed an interest in branching out into a new area. At Vida, she’s been supported to follow her passion for working with patients who have trauma backgrounds. It’s something she wouldn’t have imagined doing a few years ago, but we’ve seen her excel in this space. And although Fiona has learned a lot about a different clinical presentation, these aren’t the only insights she’s gained.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself. As you’re doing this work, you kind of have to. It takes you on a journey to do your own work as well. While I’m helping clients, they teach me so much, too.”