A Trainee Owl: When I get in the booth who am I?

By Harriet Mills

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A woman told me she can’t get to sleep. She’d tried everything. Did I have any tips for her? I got stuck in a dilemma - can I only help as a psychologist, or can I also help as a human being?
I was in my first Problem Solving Booth - a concept that brings together complete strangers, breaking down barriers to talking and sharing everyday problems. I’m training to be a clinical psychologist and I’m on placement at Owls trying to influence policy. We don’t have lectures on that!
I wasn’t here to learn brief therapy. I was here to learn about giving psychology away to communities. But what does my role look like? How would I talk to a stranger. What would I say to my friend?
It shook me straight into a different position. One where we’re all human and we all have problems we could do with getting some help with. I wasn’t just a trainee psychologist. I had something to offer as another person.
It was uncomfortable at first, but I told her about the white noise I used to try and switch off. Although my partner in the “helped” seat had tried some of my suggestions before, she hadn’t tried all of them. Would it have mattered? Was it enough simply to share? Was it more about human contact? About having permission to talk?
In training there is more focus on using evidence rather than experience. Had this unintendedly meant I’d lost touch with the everyday helping around me? Have psychologists over-professionalised help? 

I'm at Owls to find out!