Here is a link to an article, “We Need to Be Disoriented, Says Psychiatrist,” by Chris Kelly from my recent talk at Western Sydney University, Australia. The article appears in Hunter and Bligh.
Thank you Chris Kelly and Hunter and Bligh for this article that captures the essence of transformational learning – that we need to be disoriented and lose our bearings in order to really have the opportunity for transformational learning – learning that changes who we are beyond just learning new information. Transformational learning is a concept that Jack Mezirow developed. He listed ten different steps that I have condensed down to three steps in the circle below, corresponding to the circle of initiation: separation, initiation, return. This model also fits with Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey model in which transformation comes through transitioning between worlds, cultures, or states of consciousness.
This was part of a 2 hour talk I did for staff and students called “Caring for Self & Others,” based on the Caring for Self & Others workbook that Laura Merritt and I have adapted from my first book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Guide for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine. We had a great discussion about creating a counter-curriculum of self-care and contributing to the compassion revolution!
Thank you to Sneh Prasad for connecting me with Dr. Asha Chand at Western Sydney University who coordinated this event while I was in Australia for the Australasian Doctors Health Conference. Thank you everyone involved in the talk! I will be posting about the other talks I did on my trip as well as some of the photos soon…
Dr David Kopacz speaking at Western Sydney University about anxiety and stress. Image: Christopher Kelly
Crocodile on Daintree River
On my recent trip to Australia, I spent a few days in Cairns and took a couple daytrips.
First I went up to the Daintree Rainforest and took a walk at Mossman Gorge. It was a little disappointing after 3 nights out at the Great Barrier Reef with so much wildlife every time I got in the water. I ran into a guy from the boat at a coffee shop our first day back in Cairns and we both had the idea of driving the hour and half or so up North. Daintree Village was a little tourist stop without any real access to trails, but we took a little cruise on the Daintree River and saw one basking crocodile on the shore. We drove back down to Mossman Gorge and took a walk there. It had been very dry, it was an ok walk, but not much wildlife, a few birds: an Australian Brush Turkey digging away next to the trail (photos didn’t turn out well), some nesting Metallic Starlings, and I did see a couple of Cockatoos in flight (sorry, no photo again).
The next day I drove up the hills to Kuranda, a nice little tourist town that had a nice butterfly sanctuary.
I decided to take a week off and head North into tropical Queensland to the town of Cairns. Cairns is one of the major jumping off points for the Great Barrier Reef as well as for excursions further North into the Daintree Rainforest. Cairns waterfront is very touristy and the beach is not very swimmable, as it is muddy. But it is a great place to head out to the Reef from. I also love anywhere that you can see wild parrots zipping about. In fact, there were quite a few interesting birds around town and on the waterfront.
I liked the botanical gardens better than the Brisbane gardens. There is a boardwalk through the wetlands (although it was quite dry during the whole trip and the stream beds were dry).
I took a couple of day trips out of Cairns and will blog about those later. There are a lot of shops and restaurants in Cairns, but for me, it worked best as a base for other activities in the area. Wifi was a little tough to come by and not many of the cafés had it available.
The weather was great while I was here, 30 degrees Celsius and sunny. A nice breeze today near the ocean as I sit drinking coffee and watching the various birds cavort about in the flowering trees.
I’ve been over in Australia the past couple weeks. First it was for the HOHP conference. This is the second one I’ve attended and I’ve enjoyed both of them. They happen every 2 years and rotate throughout the Australian states and New Zealand.
I presented on “Re-humanizing Medicine: Supporting Whole Health in the Professional to Deliver Whole-Person Care.” My main point in this presentation was that the way we treat ourselves is linked to the way we treat patients, therefore to deliver whole-person care, the professional must develop themself as a whole person. This is a theme from my book (which will hopefully be out early 2014).
The conference draws an idealistic and committed group of health professionals who care equally for good clinical care as well as for creating sustainable and humane work environments for professionals. I spent some time in a couple of workshops with Hilton Koppe, an Australian GP, who uses creative writing and experiential learning in his teaching. His workshop, “Beyond the Clinical Record: Using Creative Writing as Burnout Prevention,” was a great buffet of different writing techniques and exercises that health professionals can use to process the stress of clinical work.
Overall, this is a really worthwhile conference for anyone interested in supporting health professionals own health so as to provide better patient care. The conference draws people from worldwide and is a nice size so that you can interact with presenters and get to know attendees of the conference, as well.
This was the first time I was in Brisbane in the state of Queensland, Australia. The city is on a river and has many nice gardens and restaurants and a very walkable Central Business District. The gardens even have plenty of lizards running about!
Bruny Island was an interesting place, but I think we both felt a little disappointed after the rest of Tasmania. It is very, very quiet on Bruny. It is a beautiful place, but by the time we got there, we had seen so much beauty. Personally, I think we would have both spent a little more time around Freycinet and at Kabuki by the Sea. We also were both getting sick with a cold in Bruny, so that probably colored our views, too. I had wanted to take the wildlife cruise, but one day it was raining and the next day I just didn’t feel up for it. Above is a sculpture that some locals made after a whale was beached at Adventure Bay. If you look closely, you can see two whales inside the globe.
I went out two nights trying to spot the Fairy Penguins, the smallest penguins. These have holes that they dig in the ground. The first night, I didn’t see anything, but I didn’t know how long to stay out in the night. The second night I was better prepared and had red cellophane to put over a flashlight. Right off the bat I saw a wallaby and could hear it munching away as I watched the surf. Eventually, I could see some penguins! They clustered around by the water’s edge (the left side of the photo below was where the blind for watching them was located). Then a small group of them decided it was time to make the trip and the shuffled along, right alongside of the blind I was behind, so I could see them quite close up. I had experimented trying to take red light photos of the wallaby, without much luck, so I knew there was no point in trying to photograph the penguins, so I just enjoyed watching them shuffle along and listened to all their calls from their burrows.
Of course, there were more birds to photograph, here are some that were flying around where we were staying at Alonnah. I think the bird bottom left is a Sea Eagle and of course the ubiquitous Green Rosella, foraging in the backyard and a flock in flight.
There were a lot of great birds, I never got tired of trying to photograph different varieties of wild parrots. Also, the kookaburra were very common and made a lot of funny noises, their “laughing.”
We spent some time at the Cataract Gorge, a beautiful park with walking tracks right in Launceston, the second largest city in Tasmania.
The quality of the light was very yellow in a lot of places, maybe it is partly because there are more autumn colours in Tasmania than New Zealand and we aren’t used to seeing the browns, tans, and yellow pallete of colours. We spent a lot of time driving through the countryside and were surprised to see large flocks of cockatoos fosicking in the fields!
We spent part of a day at Freycinet National Park on the East coast and saw some beautiful scenery and watched birds on the beach for a while. We walked around Sleepy Bay and could have just stayed there for a really long time, but we also wanted to drive up to Launceston that day and the recommendation is to stay off the roads as much as possible after dark because the wildlife is so plentiful.
We stayed at Kabuki by the Sea, near Swansea – a beautiful set of cottages looking out over the cliffs and surf. There was also a Japanese restaurant there. The food, company, and views were so fabulous that we came back and spent another night there on the way back South.
We spent a week touring before the conference and one of the highlights was East Coast Nature World in Bicheno. They had many different animals, many of which they rescued as orphans or injured animals. They would try to return some of these animals back out into the wild, like the baby wombat we met.
There were kangaroos hopping around everywhere and we could feed them pellet food, which they were really keen on. We were surprised to see something strange sticking out of a mama kanagaroo’s pouch, a foot, and later a head and a foot!
There was a walk through aviary where we saw many interesting birds. I also went to the Platypus House at Beauty Point, but the pictures there didn’t turn out so well.
We were at Nature World at feeding time for the Tasmanian Devils. They were a mixture of cute, ugly, and hungry! They eat bones and all of their food. There is a serious facial cancer, though, that these guys are susceptible to. There are different attempts to treat it or stop its spread. No treatment has been effective. Nature World does some breeding programs to increase genetic diversity. I also saw a news piece on a project to block off a pennisula and monitor a healthy population of Devils there.
About two weeks ago, I went to Australia for the first time. The trip was for the World Congress for Psychotherapy. I was in Sydney the whole time and I really enjoyed seeing another major city in this region. It was a 3.5 hour flight from Auckland and is the closest city larger than Auckland. Sydney has a population of about 4.5 million (which is around the population for the whole country of New Zealand) and it is in the Australian state of New South Wales. The whole population of Australia is around 22.5 million (roughly equal to the populations of the four US states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska).
It is hard to draw too many conclusions from one week in the largest city of a country. Sydney was very ethnically diverse. It definitely had a larger city feel than Auckland as well as having a different culture. Again, these are just first impressions, but Sydney felt more relaxed (in the sense of not seeming to have as many social rules about colour and loudness of voice), people were louder and more open, but not as friendly. Businesses were more business-like, but with the down-side of being less friendly, more rushed. The food was good, but the quality of the food didn’t seem as spectacular as in New Zealand.
I went to the Chinese Friendship Garden and walked around Darling Harbour, where the convention centre was located. Mary Pat and I took a water taxi (which was a great idea) from Darling Harbour to the Opera House and walked around in the Botanical Gardens, which had a huge number of Flying Foxes in the trees. It was definitely a great trip and we’ll go back for a little longer look at some point.
The conference was wonderful and had daily themes on indigenous culture, spirituality, and also ethics & philosophy. I met some great people and learned and experienced a lot. The overall theme of the conference was World Dreaming, based on the Australian Aboriginal practice of studying dreams and Dream Time. I did have a lot of dreams at the conference and made it to two of the morning dream sharing sessions that were really interesting group processes stemming from the dreams that people brought in. One of my favourite lectures was by Helen Milroy who presented on Aboriginal experience from pre-colonial era, through colonization and genocide, and then a kind of trauma and healing model. What was really amazing is that she had paintings she had made that illustrated each step along the presentation and the paintings seemed to embody the complexity of the step in a non-verbal way, plus they were amazing paintings! Here is a link to a newsletter I found that has an image of one of her paintings: