CPSA Member: Martin Olson
Graduate Program: UVIC Counselling Psychology MA
What drew you to studying counselling psychology?
For a long time, I’ve wanted to have work where it feels like I’m contributing to humanity and helping people. While there are many ways to do this, what drew me to counselling psychology specifically is a belief in mental health being the fundamental factor in wellness.
On top of this, I have a strong interest in flourishing, positive psychology, human potential, mindfulness, existential philosophy and spiritual fulfillment. Compared to other health and psychological disciplines (i.e. psychiatry, clinical psychology, medicine), counselling seemed to offer the most freedom for doing work related to these areas.
Finally, it seems like there is the possibility to be enterprising and creative as a therapist in both our therapeutic approach and the environment we deliver our practice in. I see a lot of freedom to innovate in counselling and I would love to be a leader in the movement to help more and more people live flourishing lives.
So yeah, quite a few things brought me here 🙂
Who are your therapist heroes? Who inspires you?
The first book I ever read on psychology was Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. While Kahneman isn’t a therapist, this book really sparked my interest in psychology and I find the dual-process theory to be really useful for conceptualization.
Carl Rogers’ On Becoming a Person was the second book on psychology I read and this was just as influential. I feel that Rogers’ humanistic, person-centered approach beautifully bridges the scientific and rational end of psychology with the more intuitive and spiritual side of it. I find that science and spirituality can often be represented as a binary that can polarize people. As someone who wants to harmonize the two in my practice, Rogers’ work is both foundational and inspiring.
Speaking of Carl’s, Jung is another significant influence on me. In particular, his ideas on individuation and wholeness have been really helpful in building my understanding of growth and wellbeing. I find his mystical and esoteric perspectives to be fascinating and find that becoming more familiar with this approach is helpful for having a well-rounded perspective.
Finally, I really appreciate the work of Dan Siegel. His book Mindsight really helped me ground some intuitive ideas I had about wholeness and integration on a more neurological and grounded level. Siegel relates an integrated and connected neurological state to wellness and connection/attunement in relationships and this has been really helpful in evolving my understanding of counselling and mental health.
What else interests you?
I’m someone who is interested in a lot. I come from a musical family, and while this wasn’t as much of a passion when I was growing up, it’s become one of my favorite things about being alive in recent years. Pre-covid I loved going to concerts and music festivals and I’m eager for those days to come back (hopefully this coming summer). I also like to sing and play guitar and piano, and also have dabbled with some DJing. Getting into electronic music production is the next frontier I want to explore, and I’m planning to do a deep dive once the semester is over.
I also love sports, being active, and being outside. Getting into the woods and hiking with people I connect with is probably my ultimate form of self-care. In the summer, Spikeball, volleyball, and water skiing are hard to beat. In the winter, going skiing is a savior. While I’m missing the easy access Vancouver (where I’m originally from) had to ski hills, I’m excited to go up the island and have a Mt. Washington trip sometime this winter. I also love being a couch potato from time to time and indulging in pro sports. Hockey and American football are my favorites, and obviously, I have a deep love for the Canucks. Will I be their sports psychologist one day and help lead them to Lord Stanley’s chalice? Time will tell 😛
Outside of music and sports, I really love learning, exploring, and having an adventure. I’m a pretty extroverted person and love meeting new people. I also really like exploring different disciplines and really enjoy taking MOOCs (massive open online courses). Finally, traveling is something I really enjoy and I would love to do some working abroad as a counsellor once I’m graduated. Costa Rica, Australia and the U.K. are a few of the spots I’m thinking about 😀