Who am I? Getting lost in the media

By Harriet Mills

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I spoke to a journalist for 20 minutes. I picked up a copy of the article the next day. The headline referred to me as an “agony aunt”. They hadn’t got the point at all! I went to call the editor. Then I paused. Does it matter?

I’d had some quick coaching from a supervisor about talking to Journalists just before the call. I did my best to explain how Problem Solving Booths help communities come together. They’re a tool that gives people permission to talk and help each other. I’m there to create the space. Not to give any advice.

I’m training to be a clinical psychologist. Not an agony aunt. Not a psychiatrist. I’m on placement at Owls learning how to influence policy. We can’t do that without being willing to speak to Journalists. Yet we don’t have lectures on that!

I wondered if my first experience of getting lost in the media was symbolic of how lost psychology is in the eyes of the general public. As a profession we lack presence, and are often misportrayed.

My interview about Problem Solving Booths probably reached more people who are stressed out than I’ll see in my training. I’ve been left with the question of whether it mattered that that they got my name and profession wrong.  Is it our responsibility to be clearer about what psychologists can offer? Or is raising the profile of talking to each other more enough?

I stopped worrying about correcting that article. I decided to write this instead!