Meet Professor Matt Bambling, Chair of Discipline for Psychological Sciences
Meet Professor Matt Bambling, the Clinical Psychologist who joined the ACAP family last August as Chair of Discipline for Psychological Sciences. Known around ACAP simply as Matt, he brought with him a breadth of experience that spans academic, research and clinical practice. Matt has held multiple fellowships, received several prestigious awards, secured large research grants, and counts well over a 100 publications to his name. A man of many talents, he even has his pilot’s licence. We caught up with Matt to talk inspiration, expectations and the future for aspiring psychologists.
Matt, what was it that first inspired you to step in to the world of psychology?
I’m not sure if I chose psychology or if psychology chose me. I was the first in my family to consider university and I didn’t really know what I’d be good at. I did, however, know I was interested in working with people and understanding behaviour so that’s what led me to psychology. Having not enjoyed school much, I was surprised at how much I loved the undergraduate learning experience. That cemented it for me, that psychology was the field I wanted to stay in, helping people with mental health issues. I went on to do post-grad training part-time, in tandem working to gain experience across a range of areas, from hospitals to forensics. Then in 1999, I started my PhD and I’ve stayed in academia since, but I still maintain a very active practice part-time.
What was your key driving force to open a private practice?
Private practice for me has always been important as it fits with my interests and values. Having worked in industry, I would never underestimate the value of that experience and I believe it also plays an important role in preparing psychologists who wish to go in to private practice in the future. For me, though, the independence and variety that private practice affords is what’s appealing. I work with a range of presentations and, in many cases, have the opportunity to provide longer term treatments in more of a psychotherapy model. It’s also flexible time-wise and I can decide how I work and who I work with.
Have you experienced failures? What advice would you give new psychologists around overcoming failure?
I think it’s important to recognise that there are some people who can’t be helped by psychological treatment, and we must accept this as a normal part of practice. These are often clients who seek private services when they are better suited to inpatient treatment, but sometimes it’s simply down to a mismatch in personalities between psychologist and client. It’s important as a psychologist to be vigilant so we can recognise and respond early on when someone isn’t going to benefit from the treatment. While these situations are normal in practice, and generally these cases are a minority, we do of course need to reflect on what went wrong and discuss these situations in supervision.
How would you define success?
My definition is a little individualistic. To me, success is living up to our own expectations of self. It is likely that this will also reflect social expectations and those of others, which is nice, but not essential. When we are being truly authentic to who we are and what we are meant to be doing in this life, we get a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment of purpose. To succeed, we need to know our goals for life (however large or small), find our purpose and pursue it until we’ve achieved what we should, however long it takes.
What do you feel aspiring psychologists need to know as they embark on their study journey?
There’s never been a better time to be a psychologist as the recognition and scope of practice has enjoyed such strong growth, so definitely go for it. But, psychology is very competitive which puts the focus on grades and performance during study. Be prepared to work hard all the way through undergraduate and honors. You will be rewarded once you’re registered though. Psychologists enjoy an interesting and varied work life – and the satisfaction of achieving positive outcomes on people’s lives is truly immense.
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