About Us

For Life and Wellbeing

Bright FACES was established to offer a multidisciplinary intervention that strives for excellence in service delivery. Our motto is for life and wellbeing. We endeavour to provide professional therapies that support families and individuals throughout their lifespan, while promoting a greater quality of life.

 

All programmes and techniques are based on latest research and empirical evidence that support ‘Best Practice’ interventions. Our programmes are distinct, as a multi-theoretical basis (i.e. educational, developmental and behavioural constructs) is implemented to target the core features of Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD. The programmes are delivered on an individual or small group basis (maximum of three children to one trained adult) depending on client needs.

 

Bright FACES is dedicated to work in partnership with families and their supportive networks by sharing their skills and expertise. The driving principle behind Bright FACES is to assist those on the Autism Spectrum to have access to individual and group programmes that will teach them to become independent, live confidently, be active members of their local community, and society in general. At Bright FACES, we believe that all people have a right to feel proud and confident in whom they are and live a dignified life.

Meet the Team

Michelle Jimeno

Director/Principal Psychologist

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Qualification(s): BSci(Psych), PGDip (Psych), MPsych (Ed & Dev)

Membership(s): AHPRA (endorsed supervisor; Ed & Dev Psych) MAPS, MCEDP

Number of years in the industry (or similar): Practicing Psychologist since 2004, Behavioural Therapist/Teacher’s Aide 1998-2003, Youth worker 1993-1997 (Studied Psychology from 1998-2008)

How would you describe what you do: As an Educational & Developmental Psychologist, I help people understand their intellectual and social-emotional abilities to get the most out of their learning across all aspects of their lifespan.  Our centre mainly works with paediatrics and their families but on most occasions, we continue to see our clients even into their adult years, should they ever need to call upon us.  The role of an Ed & Dev Psychologist is very systemic in their approach, as we don’t just deal with the individual in question; we also see how to support other contributing influences (e.g. parents, siblings, educational setting, workplace, etc.).  Over the last few years, we have taken on psychology students on placement while they complete their Master’s level degree.  I also supervise qualified psychologists wanting endorsement specialisation as an Ed & Dev Psychologist.

What do you like about what you do (include what you find rewarding): Seriously, apart from paperwork, what’s not to like? I adore being an Ed & Dev Psychologist and the whole gamut this role brings; from assessments to messy play.  I love the process of investigating why a child behaves a certain way or is having difficulty with their learning and being able to explain that to parents and teachers.  Using research knowledge to turn the difficult into practical solutions.  Seeing the little steps of progress and celebrating milestones with parents and teachers.  I’m in awe of how members of my team immediately come together to help a distressed child (especially behind the scenes), to see how best that child can be supported from their disciplinary perspectives.  It’s pretty amazing how they analyse as they witness, a true strength of our clinic.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): In all honesty, I loathed high school and started my career with the Public Service after finishing Year 12.  Soon after, I successfully applied for a Youth Worker position, which I did while we were raising our two young sons at the time.  Our youngest son was a handful and an opportunity came where I could take a year off work to look after our boys.  Staying at home dealing with a screaming child all day long was hard work.  As we went from one doctor’s appointment to another, the question of Autism arose. It was very unknown back then (1997), especially within the public forum, myself included.

I am a proactive person so I wanted to find out more how to help my son and manage his behaviours.  I applied for Uni, where at every opportunity my essays, research and theses were about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  I was intrigued by this condition as a mother and as an early professional.  Still while studying, I held positions with Department of Education as a teacher’s aide and as a Departmental Psychologist.  I’ve also held a position at a private catholic all girls’ school where I was the sole psychologist for over 800 students.

I started my multidisciplinary practice, Bright FACES, in the western suburbs because there was a lack of services that specialised in ASD.  I remember having to travel 45mins+ to therapy and doctor’s appointments and there were no Medicare rebates or funding support like DSS.  It is good to see how the field of Autism and the government are evolving, by providing more support to the individual across the lifespan and not just targeting early intervention.

Common misconception about what you do: Without a doubt, when you tell people you’re a psychologist many reply, “So you can read my mind”.  Unfortunately, we didn’t learn psychic abilities at Uni.

Any other information you would like us to know: Our two boys have grown up to be fine young men now both in their 20’s.  Our eldest son is a teacher at a specialist school, which he loves, so I guess working with special needs has rubbed off.  Our youngest son is no longer the handful he once was.  He has developed to be quite an independent and happy young man, who constantly surprises us, and others who know him.  He has always been my will to learn and share what I learn with others.

Finally, I’d like to say that working with families effected by ASD is indeed challenging but knowing that you’re contributing to the progress and are improving someone’s quality of life is far more rewarding.

Rolando Jimeno

Business Manager/Sport and Recreation Officer

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Qualification(s): Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Management, Personal Trainer Cert 3 & 4, CrossFit Level 1 Coach, Certificate 4 Retail Management

Membership(s): Hawthorn Football Club

Number of years in the industry 9 years in the sport, recreation and fitness industry. 23 years in a management role.

How would you describe what you do: Business Manager. As the company’s Business Manager, I look after all business matters, such as the processing of DSS Funding, controlling and adhering to company budgets, assist in developing new business, managing accounts receivables, liaising with the Melton Shire and other relevant small businesses, assist medical receptionist with client service.

Sport, Recreation and Fitness Officer: In this role I’m responsible for programming exercise sessions for our primary aged children, adolescents and parents/groups which is run on a weekly basis.

What do you like about what you do? I really enjoy the variety of my role at Bright FACES, firstly because I’m not doing the same thing all the time. For instance I maybe processing DSS accounts or other administration task in the morning and then after lunch I’ll be focusing on a sports session plan and then delivering it to the groups later on in the afternoon. But what is really satisfying about my job is seeing our clients progress, not only in better quality of movement and an increase in fitness, but also the improvements in their social skills. I also like having the term breaks which gives me the chance to travel.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field: I pretty much got into the sport, recreation and fitness industry 8 years ago because I wanted a lifestyle change. Previous to that I had a middle management role for an oil company which was very stressful and quite bluntly hated and wanted to find a better work life balance. So in 2008 I quit my job cold turkey, without even telling my wife and pursued a career in Sports Recreation and Fitness. In 2008 I obtained my Cert 3 and 4 in Personal Training, and also enrolled to complete a Sport and Recreation Management Degree, which I completed in 2011. Whilst completing my degree I worked part time for Melton Waves and Genesis as a Personal Trainer. By the time I had finished my degree I was heavily entrenched in a career in Personal Training, to the point that I started a business partnership in which we had our own establishment, Melton Personal Training. After 18 months my passion for CrossFit lead me to run my own gym (CrossFit Melton). In 2104 I joined Bright FACES to assist with managing business matters once a week, and now I’m there pretty much full time.

Common misconception about what you do: I guess one of the many misconceptions about Personal Trainers is that they only cater for athletes. In my opinion a good Personal Trainer should be able to adapt to individuals fitness and healthy living goals and not a ‘one size fits all’ attitude. As we are individuals the advice given should be personalised too.

Any other information you would like us to know: I like riding my bike especially around Mt Macedon and Hepburn region. I worship the Mighty Hawks and the players (just visit my office). I love travelling. I love my Chockie Lab Busta Brown

Rebeca Lou

Speech Pathologist

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Qualification(s): Master of Speech Pathology, the University of Melbourne; Postgraduate certificate in teaching; Bachelor of Arts in English Studies, the University of Macau

Membership(s): Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, member of Speech Pathology Australia

Number of years in the industry (or similar): 1 year as a speech pathologist, 7 years as a language teacher and tutor

How would you describe what you do: I diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, and stuttering. I work with children who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, learning disability, psychological and physical disability.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): I was teaching in a secondary school when I first knew about speech pathology. It was such a unique mix of the arts and science of communication that immediately sparked my interest. A few years down the track, I had the opportunity to do some further studies, so I decided to get into speech pathology.

What do you like about what you do (include what you find rewarding): I like being able to provide targeted and individualised help to clients or students. It’s rewarding to see children build relationship with others in their environment through effective communication.

Common misconception about what you do: Speech Pathologists only work with speech sounds like lisps.

Another information you would like us to know: I spell my name with one ‘c’ as in Portuguese.

Amy Rawson

Provisional Psychologist

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Qualification(s): B.A. (Psych – Hons), Grad. Dip. Primary Teaching, M. Ed. Psych (currently undertaking)

Membership(s): AHPRA (Provisional Psychologist), Victorian Institute of Teaching (Registered Teacher)

Number of years in the industry (or similar): 10 years, including years of study

How would you describe what you do: I get to know children and their families so that I can understand the challenges they are facing, and work with them to find strategies which enable the child and their family to flourish. I use a range of tools to help me understand more about how children think, feel, and behave, and use this to guide me in making recommendations, suggesting strategies for them to try, or delivering interventions.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): While working as a primary school teacher, I realised that my passion was really working with the children who find school challenging or having difficulty learning at the same pace as their peers. I wanted to learn more about how to help these students to reach their goals and develop to their full potential.

What do you like about what you do (include what you find rewarding): I am very fortunate to be placed at Bright FACES and have the opportunity to meet so many unique and special children and their families. It is a privilege to get to know them and to hear their challenges and successes, joys and frustrations, highs and lows, and to join with them in working to achieve their goals.

Common misconception about what you do: That I am a mind reader or analysing everyone that I meet.

Any other information you would like us to know: I love sewing, colouring in, and doing craft activities. I also enjoy baking cakes and bread.

Sharik D’Arcy

Psychologist

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Qualification(s): Masters in Psychology (Educational & Developmental)

Membership(s): Australian Psychological Society

Number of years in the industry (or similar): Starting working with children and families in early 1990, working with children with Autism and in Early Intervention services since late 1990s.

How would you describe what you do: I’m a developmental psychologist helping children and parents with lifelong development.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): I was interested in working as a psychologist from having worked in childcare looking after children. I worked with staff in children services providing training and then worked with parents.

What do you like about what you do (include what you find rewarding): I like supporting and helping people with personal issues they face in their lives and find it rewarding working with people and children

Common misconception about what you do: A common misconception about Psychologists is they can ‘read’ minds. But just like parents can understand their children we can interpret thoughts and feelings from observing behaviours.

Any other information you would like us to know: Enjoy looking after my daughter and our dog ‘Jack’ who is a Jack Russell.

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Naomi Raniolo

Occupational Therapist

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Qualification(s): Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master of Occupational Therapy (La Trobe)

Membership(s): AHPRA, OT Australia

Number of years in the industry (or similar): Recently graduated. I completed my studies in 2018, with multiple student Occupational Therapy placements in various settings and locations such as Bendigo and Shepparton. I was also provided with the opportunity to work at an allied health clinic in Melbourne, which provided me with the privilege to work with people of all ages and abilities to optimise their independence and wellbeing.

How would you describe what you do: As an Occupational Therapist, I help people of all abilities complete the activities (or occupations) that they want to and need to do on a daily basis and provide strategies or recommendations on how to complete these tasks independently. These tasks may vary from handwriting and maintaining concentration, to self-care activities and meal preparation. I came across a quote that I thought summed up OT perfectly, which said “Doctors add days to your life, Occupational Therapists add life to your days”.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): I have always been interested in pursuing a career in the health field but wasn’t sure of which profession in particular. I came across Occupational Therapy through relatives that had children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and through other family members who have a degree in Occupational Therapy. I was fascinated with how many different areas of practice I could explore and work in within the scope of Occupational Therapy. It was always a passion and a dream of mine to work with children, therefore a paediatric occupational therapist seemed to be the perfect fit!

What do you like about what you do: I particularly enjoy collaborating with other health professionals and working in a multidisciplinary team environment, as this allows us to support each other in achieving the best possible outcomes for the child and their caregivers. I also really enjoy intervention planning and creating ways to make therapy sessions enjoyable and engaging for the participant.

Common misconception about what you do: I have learnt that Occupational Therapy is commonly mistaken for other health professions, and that occupational therapists can sometimes be referred to as “the people that recommended rails to be put in the bathroom”. Although this is a service that occupational therapists can provide, there are many different interventions and strategies that Occupational Therapists can implement to increase an individual’s independence and safety in different environments. Is it ‘install’ or recommend?

Any other information that you would like us to know? I completed my degree at the Bendigo La Trobe University campus which I particularly enjoyed as this allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and experience living in a rural area. I was also given the opportunity to live in Shepparton for a two-month placement in Shepparton’s major hospital.  Judging by the fact that I love to explore new places, you could probably guess that I am someone that loves to travel and take on new adventures!

Ashlea Galea

Receptionist

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Number of years in the industry (or similar): 5

How would you describe what you do: I look after all incoming referrals and appointments. I organise any relevant paperwork in order for you to get the best service that you deserve as seamlessly as possible and make sure you feel comfortable at all times- whether it be from a one-off appointment with any of our therapists, to ongoing regular appointments. The role is busy but very interesting and rewarding, no 2 bookings are the same.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): I have previously worked with Osteopaths prior to having children of my own.  When returning to work I started in a GP clinic but soon realised I wanted to stay within the allied health sector.  An opportunity came up at a paediatric clinic- this caught my attention so applied and got the job.  After that, I wanted to move onto a different clinic that would work in with my personal life better and after a bit of waiting and searching I came across a vacancy I was keen on with Bright FACES.

What do you like about what you do (include what you find rewarding): I love being able to help families and brighten someone’s day. As a parent, I can understand how tough some situations can be and just having someone to understand and not judge or help you and your child is such a relief.  Working with children is always rewarding when you see how far they have come through therapy whether that be learning how to simply acknowledge someone else, handwriting, physical movements, handling emotions and reading other people’s emotions. Each child’s journey is so different and has lots of rewards along the way.

Common misconception about what you do: ‘Oh ok, so you just sit there all day and answer the phone, how hard can that be?’

Fenia Raju

Occupational Therapist

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Qualification(s): Bachelor of Occupational Therapy

Membership(s): AHPRA, Occupational Therapy Australia

Number of years in the industry (or similar): 4 years

How would you describe what you do: I help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and children with handwriting and learning difficulties, along with many other areas. I also work with toddlers with social and behavioural difficulties including Autism, ADHD, Global Developmental Delay and motor coordination disorders. I use a functional play based approach, sensory motor approach and cognitive motor approach to involve children and motivate them to achieve their goals. I also find time to work closely with parents to ensure that children are able to transfer skills learnt within the sessions into home and school environment.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): I came to know about Occupational Therapy when I attended an information session regarding higher studies. I found Occupational Therapy to be a very rewarding profession as I would be able to help adults and children to become independent and self sufficient in everyday activities.

What do you like about what you do: I enjoy helping children to achieve their functional goals and improve their everyday living. I find it rewarding to see my clients become independent in performing their day to day activities improving the overall quality of life.

Common misconception about what you do: I have been asked by many people if I provide career guidance in choosing the right degree courses in universities and whether I teach various occupations at university.

“Occupational therapy is a client centred profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of Occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement “(WFOT 2012).

Any other information you would like us to know: I enjoy watching movies, dining out, travelling and taking selfies with my baby daughter.

Prishini Ratnayake

Psychologist

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Qualifications: Master of Educational Psychology.

Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology)

Bachelor of Science (Psychology) (Honours)

Memberships: Australian Psychological Society
APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists (Student)

Number of years in the industry: I have been working in the disability sector as a support worker for 6 years with children and adults with disabilities.

How would you describe what you do?: I’m still learning different aspects of being a Psychologist. I help kids learn new skills and help parents implement effective strategies at home to improve behaviour and learning. At Bright FACES, I’ve also had the opportunity to conduct assessments which I enjoy as they allow me to identify strengths and weaknesses which can help in tailoring interventions to address individual needs. 

What do you like about what you do?: I like engaging with kids and learning about their unique personalities and needs which helps me

Tell us a story about how you got into the field: I had a keen interest in Law and planned to pursue it at University. However, I had to complete an assignment related to psychology for one of my law units, which got me interested in the subject. I researched about it further and decided that this is what I wanted to do for a career.

What is a common misperception about what you do: That I can read minds!

Any other information that you would like us to know: I like reading and going for walks. I’m also obsessed with my 2 year old cat, Sid.

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Jocelyn Ong

Speech Pathologist

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Qualification(s): Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Speech Pathology

Membership(s): Speech Pathology Australia

Number of years in the industry: I am a new graduate so this is my first year outside of university, however I have had experience in a number of different settings including primary schools, hospitals and rehabilitation settings.

How would you describe what you do: I assess and provide therapy in all the various areas of speech. These areas include articulation (the way you pronounce words), understanding language, speaking, writing, social skills, reading and stuttering.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): During my Biomedical Science degree, we had a lecture on various careers that our degree could branch off to. Out of all of the options we had, I had my eye on Speech Pathology. Speech Pathology not only lets me use the knowledge I’ve learnt over the years, but I also get to use the creative side of me too.
What do you like about what you do (include what you find rewarding): I love being able to create new and fun ways to apply therapy. Also watching children grow throughout their time at Bright FACES is one of the most rewarding things our team loves to see!

Common misconception about you do: A lot of people think that speech pathologists only help people with speaking but we do so much more! We not only cover speech but we also cover language, swallowing, fluency and argumentative communication devices.

Additional information: I love reading and taking my greyhound out on long walks.

Priscilla Raniolo

Occupational Therapist

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Name: Priscilla Raniolo

Job title: Occupational Therapist

Qualification(s): Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master of Occupational Therapy (La Trobe)

Membership(s): AHPRA, OT Australia

Number of years in the industry (or similar): 3 years

 

How would you describe what you do: As an Occupational Therapist, I assist children in increasing their independence and skills required to complete everyday tasks, including preparing for school. A family-centred approach is used to determine relevant OT goals with the child and caregiver(s), followed by provision of strategies to achieve these goals. This is done through the child’s main occupation; play.


Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): When I was younger, a number of relatives had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Growing up, I had watched them develop and learn in different ways, which was always of interest to me. It was clear that the diagnosis and behaviours presented by my relatives had presented as challenging for their caregivers, therefore I chose to pursue this career in order to determine ways to assist them and similar families to achieve their goals. Since then, I have worked in a number of settings and enhanced my understanding of Occupational Therapy in different environments.

 

What do you like about what you do: Occupational Therapy allows a great variety of goals to be worked on in an enormous amount of ways. Observing progress in people, and the joy it brings to them and their loved ones is greatly rewarding. One of the greatest things about OT is that each therapy plan is individualised, and therefore goals can be achieved through participation of activities of interest.

 

Common misconception about what you do: Occupational Therapy is often unfamiliar to many people, therefore it is thought to be ‘Occupational Health and Safety’ or similar to Physiotherapy. Although OT encompasses a range of activities which may be similar to other professions, it is provided to individuals to assist with activities of daily living. Occupational Therapy with children is completed through play, as many skills are developed within this occupation.

 Additional Information: Professionally, I enjoy learning about the sensory needs of many children through sensory assessments, along with the preparation of partaking in school learning. This may be through assistance of handwriting, fine/gross motor skills and many other areas which require further development. I also enjoy being able to partake in activities with the children in order to increase their social skills and learning through modelling.

Annelise Kuczma

Allied Health Assistant (OT)

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Qualifications: Currently completing my final year in ACU’s Bachelor of Occupational Therapy.

Number of years in the industry: I have completed multiple student Occupational Therapy placements over the past 3 and a half years ranging from hospital settings to private practices with Adults and Children. My most recent placement was at Bright FACES where my passion for Paediatrics was solidified. Additionally, I also work in the disability sector as a support worker promoting independence for children and adults with disabilities.

How would you describe what you do? As an Allied Health Assistant for Occupational Therapy, I develop intervention plans with other members of the Bright FACES team to implement individualised support plans for a child to assist in their reaching their unique OT goals and reaching their full potential. These plans are created using a play based approach incorporating strategies to promote skills required to partake in everyday tasks, promoting independence and confidence.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field: When I was younger, I was torn between seeking a career in Health Science or Design as I had an equal love for creativity and a passion for helping people. I decided Occupational Therapy was the perfect career for me as it incorporated a “thinking outside of the box” concept. I became particularly interested in the field of Paediatrics during my placement with Bright FACES as I loved having the ability to share creative ideas and incorporate them into intervention where the activities supported the child’s goals of improving fine motor skills, sensory processing or handwriting.

What do you like about what you do? Working with children brings me joy as observing their individual progress is so rewarding. By tailoring therapy to the individuals particular needs and interests in a creative and practical way demonstrates the flexibility of Occupational Therapy and confirms my passion for it.

Common misconception about what you do: Some people may think that some of the activities and tasks conducted in therapy is seen as “just play”, however it is so much more than this. A child’s main occupation is play as it provides the foundations of skills required throughout their development, whether it be social skills, emotional regulation, fine and gross motor development or even discovering their likes and dislikes.

Any other information that you would like us to know? I am a very family orientated person. As much as I love working with children, I strive to develop a meaningful relationship with the child’s parents and caregivers also.
Personally, I love to chat, as you already might be able to tell. When I am not spending my time chatting with friends and family, I am caring for my dogs and studying.

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Misha Cowling

Provisional Psychologist

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Qualification(s): Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), Masters of Educational & Developmental Psychology (currently undertaking)

Membership(s): Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

Number of years in the industry (or similar): I have volunteered within the disability sector for several years now but have been practicing as a Provisional psychologist for 1.5 years.

 How would you describe what you do: I am passionate about working with children and young people with the goal of helping them develop the social, emotional and behavioural skills that are needed to foster resilience, confidence, independence and an increased sense of wellbeing. I am committed to using evidence-based practices to tailor interventions, strategies and recommendations to meet the individual needs of each client. Furthermore, I strongly believe in working collaboratively with parents, teachers and other health professionals, empowering them to support children in achieving their full potential.

Tell us a story about how you got into the field (+ other relevant work experiences): I grew up in a family that placed a heavy importance in volunteering and giving back to the community. This led me to eventually end up volunteering across several orphanages in Malaysia, where many children were abandoned just because they had special needs. My time in these orphanages made me realise that I wanted to learn more about how I could support children (particularly those who may experience various challenges) in flourishing and achieving their full potential. This led me to seek out opportunities that would allow me to do that- including working as a teacher’s aide in a special school, volunteering in centres that aimed to support the needs of refugee children, as well as in homes that aimed to equip young adults who had been diagnosed with various special needs with independent living skills.

 What do you like about what you do: I thoroughly enjoy working with children and their families, and am grateful that this is something I get to do professionally. It is interesting getting to know the unique personalities of all the children I meet, as well as getting to know all about their individual strengths and needs. There is nothing more rewarding than getting to work together with children and their families, and to see them progress and achieve their goals.

Common misconception about what you do: Every time I tell someone that I am pursuing a career in psychology, the most common response I get is “Can you read my mind?”. Other than that, people tend to assume that I am ‘psychoanalysing’ them the moment I meet them.

For Life and Wellbeing