Lead a valuable life, even with fear or pain
Lisette van Baars works as a student psychologist at WUR since 2019.
“Why I do like coaching students? They have an impressive ability to analyse and reflect, and are eager to learn about psychological theories and models. The downside is that, because of the constant demands on their ratio, some students lose the connection with their body and the signals it is giving them about their mental state.”
“A (relatively) simple, but hugely effective way to get back in touch with your body and emotions, is mindfulness. Contrary to what many people think, it is not vague or woolly at all. Noticing what is going on in your inner world right now is as concrete as it gets. Unlike (over)thinking, which brings you either back to the past – should have, could have, would have – or takes you to the future.
Older adults have deep psychological cart tracks; fixed patterns and habits that very are hard to break down. Students are just starting their adult life and are still psychologically flexible. The coping strategies they learn now, will benefit them for the rest of their life. I find that very rewarding.”
Stepped Care; check out the WUR support system
WUR offers an extensive support system with workshops, training, (study) advisers, life coaches and psychologists. First thing to do when you think you need support is talk to your study adviser. Secondly I would advise you to have a look at the web pages of Student Guidance and Student Training & Support.
Before you contact the Student Psychologist for an intake, there is already a lot you can do yourself. That’s what we call stepped care: start light, and offer more help if necessary.
If – for instance - you feel your life is unsatisfactory, you can check out the gezondeboel e-health modules on Resilience, ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) or Mindfulness first. Make a start with self-analysis and get acquainted with the theory. If the method speaks to you, consider following our training ‘Expand your mental flexibility’. Aside from counselling students, I give this training in Dutch and my colleague Kevin de Bruin takes care of the English training.”
Suffering = Pain x Resistance
"I also give the training ‘Beter in je Vel’ (dealing with chronic complaints) together with Mensendieck therapist Karin Vaessen. Working at the re-integration facility taught me that physical complaints often have a psychological factor and the other way round. I have seen patients that couldn’t walk whereas medically there was nothing with them. The mind had literally stopped them in their action. A perfectionist may be very tense working on their laptop, resulting in CANS complaints. Students tend to go to your GP or a physiotherapist first, but realise that psychologists make a meaningful contribution to the treatment too.
In both courses we use the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). We work on increasing your mental resilience instead of focussing on your complaints. Pain is inextricably linked with life and happiness exists only in relation to unhappiness.
A psychologist can’t take away your ‘clean’ pain; the actual hurtful events. However, we can help you to deal with your resistance that increases the pain you experience. We call that ‘dirty’ pain in ACT.
For students the biggest take-out of both trainings is that, even with fear, insecurity, physical pain or sorrow, you can lead a valuable life. You don’t have to fight it, just let it be there and don’t let it hold you back. It takes a lot of practice in mindfulness, but believe me, it really works.”
Related trainings & workshops
- ACT - Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
- and more