Cheryl Yi Shyan Goh, Malaysia
Cheryl Yi Shyan Goh, from Malaysia, graduated in 2014 with an MSc in Abnormal & Clinical Psychology. We caught up with her to find out about her studies and experiences at Swansea University...
Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?
It took five years of debating (clinical vs corporate/sports/education psychology), work experience, and a lot of talking to people before I made up my mind. By 2011, I knew I wanted to specialise in Clinical Psychology. Coincidently, when exploring courses, a colleague informed me that she was going to undertake the MSc in Abnormal & Clinical Psychology course at Swansea University. The rest is history!
What did you enjoy most about your course at Swansea?
I enjoyed the face-to-face classroom interaction, discussions on mental health topics and case studies. I was also interested in the series of lectures organised around the university from which I learnt a lot. I also liked having the option to work, read and relax by the beach on a lovely day.
Being a student also gave me the liberty to be socially engaged within the Swansea community. It was certainly an eye-opener as to how many opportunities there are for us to contribute in the community. During my first year at Swansea, in between assignments and exams, I managed to secure an Honorary Assistant Psychologist position at Tonna Hospital in Neath; volunteered two hours a week at Cefn Coed Psychiatric Hospital with the Patient’s Café Project, where Tanya & I came up with “Art-terrific Thursdays” to encourage patients to express themselves through poetry, card designing and various artwork; as well as volunteering some weekends with Discovery to help with children activities. It wasn’t until the last six months of my time in Swansea that I was introduced to ‘Zac’s Place’ where I enjoyed spending my Tuesday evenings attending bible study and Thursday evenings helping out with the soup kitchen. These two special evenings allowed me to chat with and, if I was lucky, listen to stories by the homeless and some ex-offenders. My part-time work at Willow Court & Campion Gardens Retirement Village also allowed me to mingle with the elderly who always brightened my days in their unique ways. These opportunities I had made my time in Swansea so worthwhile and enjoyable - I will always treasure the memories.
What are you doing now career-wise?
Currently, I work with a Canadian-based Pain & Wellness centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a Mental Health Director and Clinical Psychologist. I conduct interviews with patients for mental health assessments, provide appropriate diagnosis, supervise and write legal mental health reports.
Prior to this, upon returning to KL after graduation, I worked as a Clinical Psychologist with refugees. As we know, refugees are not recognized in Malaysia and so my work with the team involved dealing closely with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other refugee-related communities. My work involved conducting assessments, psychiatric referrals, developing care plans and interventions, as well as follow-up therapeutic sessions. The work was very gratifying and learned a lot from understanding their sufferings, their needs, as well as appreciating our cultural differences.
How has Swansea University and your course helped you with your chosen career path?
My chosen course at Swansea University was the best choice I’ve made for my career path. In this field of work, theoretical skills and knowledge are crucial fundamentals which open career pathways for me to learn and grow through work experiences.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
I would say that the most challenging part of my job is the inability to help everyone all at once. I have to prioritize my patients, as I just do not have the time to assist all. That is frustrating.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
The turning point of seeing my patients on the road to recovery and being independent again. Basically, seeing them achieve realisation and develop resilience would be the mark of success in my career.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
“Follow your dreams and make them a reality. Dreams will always be just dreams unless you do something about it. “ I’m pretty sure I read this somewhere and it stuck with me.
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
“Live and let live.” This translates as having the right attitude, a compassionate heart, and the wisdom of life; to enjoy every moment, despite the choices you make, make it worth your while.
What are your plans for the future?
As much as I would love to make the world a better place, like everyone else, I hope to be able to have opportunities around the world. I do fancy the idea of being able to expand my experience just as I did in Swansea. That was amazing.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Well, apart from making the right choice to come to Swansea, I would say my proudest moments are completing the 6.5km ‘Island to Mainland’ swimathon and obtaining a top five position after a little over two hours in the South China Sea, in April 2012; and recently completing the 18km Round Island Challenge of Swimming & Kayaking in May 2015, with four other teammates, being the first two teams to arrive after 7hours in the South China Sea!
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Swansea?
Needless to say, all the time spent getting to know the hidden charms of Swansea would be the most precious memories I’ll always carry with me. Spending time with the elderly at the Retirement Village; doing art work and chatting with psychiatric patients at Cefn Coed Hospital; taking vulnerable children out for activities with the Discovery Programme, befriending and listening to rough-edged life stories from the visitors at Zac’s; working with the clergy team and psychologist at Tonna hospital to published the NHS World Faith Directory 2014/2015. Together with the amazing people I met in university, church, house parties, to name a few, all who I now call friends. Also not forgetting the beach at Swansea Bay, Verdi’s in Mumbles, Pennard Cliffs where I can just stay for hours… and the list goes on!