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Choosing a master’s: speaking with Niels

Niels Kempkens

University of Fribourg

Master of Science in Clinical and Health Psychology

What made you choose this particular option?

During the exchange year in my bachelor’s, I discovered the bilingual study offers of the University of Fribourg. To me, the possibility to study in several languages (French, German and sometimes English) at the same time was perfect both on a personal level as well as well as an academic one. What brought me to clinical psychology was the opportunity of working in a one-to-one setting, where you can feel that your work has a real positive impact. Knowing that what I’m doing has a purpose is really important to me. Finally, the approaches taught in Fribourg are mostly client-centered and cognitive behavioral. I think that anyone considering a master’s in clinical psychology should take this into account when choosing where to pursue their degree. Ideally, you identify with the approaches taught—which is my case in Fribourg. (As a side note, the same holds in psychotherapy: therapists who are convinced by their approach also tend to be more successful!)

How do you feel about your choice today?

I’m very happy with my training in research methods. We even had an optional class dedicated to meta-analysis. I had very engaging and interesting classes in neighboring fields such as epidemiology and Applied Behavior Analysis. Last but not least, the psychology department in Fribourg being quite small, this meant I enjoyed close follow-up from my thesis supervisor. I never felt like just a number on a list. However, it also means that the selection of classes is not as big as what you could maybe find in larger universities. Sometimes I found my options a bit limited when filling in the last credits of my program. All in all, I’m very pleased with what I’ve learned, and the skills I’ve acquired during my studies here, doing hands on work, such as practicing structured clinical interviews.

What are some future career options that you consider?

I’m currently I’m aiming to do a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and enroll in a post-graduate program to become a psychotherapist. I could also picture myself working with in a public institution in the field of health promotion. I believe the methodological and clinical skills I’ve picked up in Fribourg will help me follow that path.  

Thank you for your time Niels! That’s all for this season! Good luck to all future master’s students out there!


Choosing a master’s: speaking with Daniel

What made you choose this particular option?

I was always interested in life sciences, and I even did a year of medicine before starting psychology. During my bachelor’s in psychology, at the University of Geneva, I tried to have a very interdisciplinary approach. When I started thinking about what master’s degree I wanted to pursue, I knew I was interested in research, and so I hesitated between a degree in neurosciences, and one oriented towards basic research in psychology.

The neuroscience degree is very hands on, with a majority of the credits coming from research work and internships. However, I find it a bit lacking in the theoretical department. The psychology degree on the other hand had lot’s of interesting classes, but there was less room for research. I couldn’t choose, so I ended up signing up for both programs.

How do you feel about your choice today?

The master’s in neuroscience is an interdisciplinary program, open to people with a background in biology, psychology, medicine, and other related fields. That being said, having a bachelor’s in psychology, I find that a lot of the theory classes are a bit redundant.

The research side is very engaging. Laboratory internships is a central part of the program. If the team you join doesn’t have a good structure ready to welcome you, you’re in for a rough start. A lot of knowledge is learned informally, so how it plays out varies a lot from person to person, and from lab to lab.

As said before, there isn’t that many opportunities to choose classes based on your own areas of interest. Personally, I’m very happy I chose to enrol in a psychology master’s degree as well. Without the classes from this program, there is a lot of knowledge that I wouldn’t have had going before starting my career. That could have turned into a weakness later on. At the end of the line, I think my neuroscience program is a very flexible. However, with this comes the personal responsibility to fill any potential gaps.

What are some future career options that you consider?

I definitely want to go into the world of research and pursue an academic career. I know some people use their neuroscience background to find jobs in applied research, working in the industry.

Personally, I’m interested in sexual neuroscience, with a fundamental research approach on humans. But this is a very little-known field, and consequently with very little funding. Maybe I’ll start by making some compromises and work in the field of affective sciences at the beginning of my career. It’s just as exciting and is a highly developed field here in Geneva.

Thank you for your time Daniel! If you want to learn more about what possibilities are out there, check out are interviews with Sandro, who’s studying personality and social psychology at the University of Bern, and Vanessa, who’s pursuing a degree in Business psychology at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland.

Next time, we’ll be back at in the Mittelland, or plateau suisse if you prefer, to speak with Niels Kempkens, who’s about to wrap up a degree in clinical and health psychology at the University of Fribourg.


Choosing a master’s: speaking with Sandro

The spring semester is upon us , and that means a new year of Bachelor’s students are preparing to choose their Master’s program. It’s a hard choice indeed, and in many ways it’s the first serious step towards choosing a specific career, closing some doors, and opening others.

In earlier posts we’ve given some general tips about how to approach this decision.

In this series we will take a closer look at some of the options, by speaking with students doing a master’s in one of the many disciplines of psychology. In this first installment, we’ll be speaking with Sandro Jenni, head of psyCH!


Sandro Jenni

University of Bern

Master of psychology with two main areas

  1. Personality, Differential Psychology and Diagnostics
  2. Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience

What made you choose this particular option? 

I picked my two specializations because they offered me the opportunity to follow a really broad Master’s program. I’m interested in so many areas of psychology, so when I was approaching the end of my Bachelor’s  I found it difficult to choose just one area to focus on. I ended up reasoning that the two fields I chose in many ways provide the basis for a lot of other areas in psychology that I’m also interested in, that might be closer to applied psychology.
Before I made my choice, I read through the  descriptions of the classes in all the specializations that were offered. I highly recommend doing that. It provides you with a pretty clear picture of what you will learn in each program instead of just asking yourself on a superficial level whether a field is a good match for you. As I researched the different options, I realized that most of the questions I was interested in during my Bachelor’s were closely related to the two specializations I ended up choosing, and so I knew what to pick.

How do you feel about your choice today? 

Today, I’m a bit more than halfway through my Master’s, and I feel like I made the right decision . I enjoyed the classes so far and learned so many things that I always wanted to know.

What are some future career options that you consider? 

Haha, that’s a hard one! Thinking about potential career options, I have to admit that one challenge of a broad Master’s program is that there is no  obvious next step after graduation. Of course, this is also an opportunity, I have so many options!
Today, I feel pulled in many directions. To give you an idea, I am considering doing a PhD in one of the fields related to my Master’s.
I could also imagine pursuing a job in the fields of organizational, environmental or political psychology, working as a consultant, doing field research or holding workshops. In the same vein I can picture myself doing stuff like test construction and validation, or even working for the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. 

Finally, I think about working as a mediator, focusing on conflict resolution in NGO’s or for the government. It’s good that I still have some time left to decide! 

Thank you for your time Sandro!
We’ll keep exploring the different master’s programs out there! In our next blog post, we’ll be speaking to Vannessa Schär. She is pursuing a master’s degree in business psychology at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland!
Stay tuned


Binge-watching, a new pathological concern

Illustration by Shaumya Sankar

Binge-watching can be defined as a bulimic or “burst” viewing of several episodes of a TV series simultaneously. In the literature, it is often defined as watching more than two episodes of a tv series in one setting (Steins-Loeber et al., 2020). What characterizes binge-watching from other types of TV series viewing is specifically the word binge, which refers to something excessive, in this case, the excessive consumption of TV series.

Binge-watching is a new phenomenon whose appearance is closely related to the increasingly easy access to various online streaming services such as Netflix. Because of its various negative consequences observed through the years, such as; loss of control, neglect of essential tasks and duties, sleep problems, reduced social contacts, and unhealthy eating, binge-watching has been considered to share some problematic characteristics with substance-related or behavioral addictions, earning itself a place as  a new addictive behavior (Steins-Loeber et al., 2020).

However, even though it seems to have an uncanny amount of things in common with the more familiar types of addiction, it is important to acknowledge the differences between addictive behaviors and binge-watching. While there are certainly pathological aspects, or behaviors that can have important negative aspects, a more nuanced appreciation is necessary to avoid overly pathologizing view of a rather common activity.  (Steins-Loeber et al., 2020).  Researchers have named some characteristics that can help differentiate between pathological and non-pathological binge-watching. One of them is the fact that many cases of over-involvement in TV series are transitory. In other words, the behavior is closely linked to the context or the events that occur in a person’s life. Many people go through periods of binge-watching, but then return to a more normal state of affairs. 

Secondly, most cases of binge-watching have a relatively low impact on daily life, largely due to the transitory nature of the phenomenon, as we just discussed. Finally, when asked, people also report a positive opinion of binge-watching as it allows them to escape the present and to relax for some time. This last point might bring our thoughts to classic models of substance abuse, but the important difference is that going on a week long alcohol binge holds countless potential dangers for both you and the people around you, a week of watching too much TV in response to a difficult period (say right before exams!) holds little consequences beyond that immediate period of time. While maybe not the ideal, it’s far from the traditional problematic coping-strategies. 

In sum, that’s why we can’t label all episodes of binge-watching as a behavioral cousin of  classical pathological addictive disorders, despite them having quite a few things in common. 


Steins-Loeber, S., Reiter, T., Averbeck, H., Harbarth, L., & Brand, M. (2020). Binge-Watching Behaviour : The Role of Impulsivity and Depressive Symptoms. European Addiction Research, 26(3), 141‑150.

Flayelle M, Maurage P, Billieux J. Toward a qualitative understanding of binge-watching behaviors: A focus group approach. J Behav Addict. 2017 Dec; 6(4): 457–71

Post, T. J. (s. d.). One more episode, please? : Why we can’t stop binge-watching on Netflix. The Jakarta Post. Consulté 4 février 2022, à l’adresse 

The pros and cons of binge-watching. (2017, février 27). Den of Geek.


SBAP – Support and services for students and young professionals

Who or what is SBAP?
The Swiss Professional Association for Applied Psychology

What does the SBAP offer?
SBAP fights for the concerns of psychologists and psychotherapists on a political level and offers a variety of services such as further education (emergency psychology, coaching in ADHD and autism spectrum disorder, etc.).

What is the benefit for me as a student or young professional to be part of the SBAP?
At the moment, three areas are being developed and expanded from which you can benefit as a member.

The first area is personal support. A pool of SBAP members – mentors – from various areas of the psychological world provide answers to individual questions from students and young professionals.

  • The second area includes workshops, trainings and company visits that are tailored to students and young professionals. As a member, you receive discounts, and all interested parties can take part.

Upcoming courses:

  • Company Visit: SRK, Ambulatorium für Folter- und Kriegsopfer
  • Company Visit: JVA Pöschwies
  • Continuing education: Begleitung von Gewaltopfern
  • Workshop: Unbewusste Voreingenommenheit im Gesundheitswesen
  • Workshop: Achtsamkeit

You’ll find all our whole range of courses by following this link!

  • The third area is online support, with an online platform for students and young professionals. It is a platform with FAQs on studies and career entry, portraits of psychologists from various fields as well as further information on further education and employers.

Who can become a SBAP member?
Psychologists from the start of their studies until retirement.

Would you like to get to know the SBAP? Then sign up now for a trial membership. For the first year you pay only 50% of the student rate (CHF 50.- instead of CHF 100.-) and still benefit from all advantages. Send us an e-mail with the subject “Schnuppern 22” and your details (surname, first name, address). For further information, please contact the office (

BTW. You’ll find us at the Mad Pride in Bern this year, come and join us!

We look forward to hearing from you and are happy to answer any questions you may have. The SBAP team (

Facts news

Losing yourself: Dissociative Identity Disorder

Illustration by Shaumya Sankar

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t recognize yourself? For some people this goes so far that it turns into a pathological state, usually referred to as a dissociative identity disorder. 

In the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association 2013), dissociative identity disorder (DID) is described as a disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states or an experience of possession. This definition might seem a bit intimidating, so let me try explaining it in a less medical manner. 

Firstly, what is a dissociative condition? It is a state that most people have experienced at least a dozen times in their lives: when we read a book we love, play a video game, watch a movie or even when you can not find something you just held in your hand. It’s the moments we get so lost in our own minds that for a second we forget what we were doing. 

What separates this state that we have all experienced from a full on disorder is above all the quantitative aspect. Where we usually remember where we left that thing a few minutes later, they spend entire hours in this dissociative state, and later they don’t remember it at all. 

There are different types of dissociative disorders, with different particularities to the dissociative states. What makes DID stand out, is the fact that when people suffering from DID dissociate, they usually tend to act like a completely different person, having completely different habits, gestures and even referring to themselves with different names. Patients harbor two or more personalities, with cases up to a 100 (DSM-IV, 1994) different alters being on record, and in some cases, these personalities can communicate with one another (Howell 2011; Keys 1981). However, it is a very rare disorder affecting between 0.01% and 1% of the population.

Now that we have a general idea of what DID is, the next question is of course, what leads people to dissociate? How do you end up like this? The most cited cause of dissociative identity disorder is trauma. It is believed that in the case of a deep traumatic event, people develop different personalities as a coping mechanism, in order for the person not to experience the full impact of the occurrence. The most common events behind DID are sexual assault and childhood abuse. (Wiginton 2021, Edelstein 2015)

How is DID detected? What are the diagnostic criteria? The most known symptom, and perhaps the most obvious one, is memory loss (also known as amnesia). In the majority of cases, people who dissociate do not remember long passages of time, in the DSM-5 this is described as “recurrent gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information, and/or traumatic events that are inconsistent with ordinary forgetting”. Due to this amnesia, they will also have a blurred sense of their personality and a sense of being detached from themselves and their emotions. Moreover, the DSM-5 states that the disturbance should not be a normal part of a broadly accepted religious practice or attributable to any physiological effects of a substance (American Psychiatric Association 2013). Usually, DID is also accompanied by other mental health problems like depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

One of the most frequent questions when it comes to dissociative identity disorder is treatment related: is there a cure? There does not exist a specific pharmacological treatment for DID. Even though there is medication that treats some of the symptoms that are likely to occur, such as depression or anxiety, the most effective treatment is psychotherapy(Brand, B., & Loewenstein, R. J. 2010). In this case, the therapy should be focused on identifying and working on the past trauma, managing the behavioral changes and merging the separate identities into a single one. In some cases, hypnotherapy is also recommended. This is a form of guided meditation that helps recover repressed memories. However, a definitive cure does not exist, the above-mentioned treatments are mainly able to reduce the symptoms. Nonetheless, people do learn to have more control over their behavior and live with their difficulties. Therefore, having a secure support system is very important for people suffering from DID.


Brand, B., & Loewenstein, R. J. (2010). Dissociative disorders: An overview of assessment, phenomenology, and treatment. Psychiatric Times, 27(10), 62-69.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Dissociative Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Keys, Daniel. 1981. The Minds of Billy Milligan. Random House.

Howell, F. Elizabeth. n.d. Understanding and Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Relational Approach. Routledge. n.d. “Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD) and DDNOS.”

Cleveland Clinic medical professional. 2021. “Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder).” Cleveland Clinic (blog). May 25, 2021.

Dorahy, Martin J, Bethany L Brand, and Vedat Şar. 2014. “Dissociative Identity Disorder: An Empirical Overview” 48 (5): 402–17.

Mayo Clinic Staff. 2017. “Dissociative Disorders.” Mayo Clinic (blog). November 17, 2017., Keri. 2021. “What Is Dissociation?” WebMD (blog). June 28, 2021.


Choosing a master’s : a few tips

Illustration by Shaumy Sankar

As a student in the sixth semester of my bachelors the decision for a master’s major is getting more and more important. And I know from many of my fellow students that most uf us have not yet made a decision about our future master’s degree program. In the following blog post I would like to share some inspirations on how to choose the right master’s degree program. 

Make some general considerations first

Take time for reflection and thoughts about the future. For example: Was there a course during the bachelor’s program that gained your interest in particular, and that you want to deepen? Or maybe you’re looking to try something new? Career considerations are also part of the picture: are you more interested in theory and research or in practice? Where do you want to work later? 

To get an overview, it might be helpful for you to think about what you definitely don’t want to do. If you feel overwhelmed, starting with what you definitely don’t want to do is sometimes easier. Important is: try not to limit yourself to something. If for some reason you’re unsatisfied with your choice, it will be easier for you to reorient yourself if you at least have a Plan B.

The key is to get an idea about what your future job might look like.

Your university’s master’s information day is a good place to start to learn about the different programs available.
Browse through the different departments on the university’s website and gather information based on their study programs. Which study program arouses your interest the most?

Gaining insight into a certain field or profession requires some personal initiative. Different universities offer opportunities for career insights on a regular basis. How these are done differs from university to university. Every year, the University of Bern invites psychologists to talk about their jobs and career paths, offering students a unique inside view of their field of choice. Both the University of Geneva and the University of Fribourg offer courses essentially providing the same service. Chances are, your university offers something similar. Even if you’re not in the related programs, you’re almost certain to be welcomed by the course instructor if you ask to audit the sessions that you’re interested in! 

Once you have an idea about what field you want to know more about, I would suggest trying to organize a trial day. A good place to start is to ask one of your lecturers if they know of any institutions or companies working in the area you want to learn more about. Another possibility is to directly contact a place you would be interested in working, for example a private practice, a clinic or a rehabilitation center. When contacting them, spend some time finding the right person. Don’t email the head of the hospital, but maybe the head of the department you want to visit, preferably a psychologist, or someone with an academic background similar to yours. Send them an email, and don’t forget to call them if you don’t have an answer within a week or two! Emails are easily ignored or forgotten, but if you get to talk to them, they will have to give you some thought. The worst thing that happens is that they tell you no. Don’t take it personally, and try again somewhere else. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing!   

Ask for a mini-internship, for example one day of observing their daily work, and attach your CV. Speaking from personal experience, I was able to visit various neuropsychological institutions for a few days and observe the daily work of interns as well as trained psychologists. Not only did I get a clearer idea about the field, but I was also able to make some contacts that might come in handy later. If you are interested in research, your best bet is to contact the head of the lab directly. Depending on the size of the research team, they might have someone designated as intern responsable. You will be able to tell from their website. Lab’s work closely with the rest of the university, and can certainly be expected to accommodate you for a day or two.  

Finally, psyCH offers several opportunities to get in touch with people from all areas of psychology. Our official internship platform, psyPra is a good place to look for internship opportunities. Click here to have a look!

That being said, personal contact is always the best way to go! Show up to the next psyKo, and speak to professionals in the field! Countless internships started out as casual conversations between conference attendees.  Click here to read more about this year’s conference!

Don’t be afraid to take your time! 

If you are unsure between two fields then use your time to gain some experience! You can do internships in both fields during a gap year and make your decision based on your experiences.  

Inform yourself through people in the field 

Read job ads in psychology, for example on FSP’s website, and see what appeals to you the most. You could also view career biographies of role models, for example via Linkedin. Psychoscope is published by the FSP every month, and gives insight into the workday of psychologist’s from all over Switzerland!  

Finally and most important, talk to the right people. Exchange ideas with fellow students and with master’s students. And especially talk to people in the field for example during trial days or internships.

Last but not least: Don’t worry. You can always change location, reallocate your credits, or completely change your master’s degree program. Sometimes, despite careful research, a study program just isn’t what you thought it would be. The worst thing that could happen is that you end up trying something else, and that not really so bad is it?

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A coffee break with Emma Broggini, co-founder of the ZETA Movement

« No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness“ 

 -Aristotle, 384-322 BCE 

The representation of mental illness and the way society treats it has changed significantly throughout the years.  Findings of 7000 year-old skulls, with holes in them, assumed to have been drilled with the goal of releasing evil spirits, believed to be the cause of mental illness (Stanwell-Smith, 2019). People with mental illnesses were considered as possessed, or even worse, as otherworldly. The treatment they were given was even more inhumane like cold baths and lobotomy (Stanwell-Smith, 2019).

But, with time and progress, research and diagnosis – pioneers in psychiatry such as Philipe Pinel fought to abolish the negative stigma of mental illness, and for a more humane treatment (Corrigan & Bink, 2016).

Slowly but surely, people with mental illness started to be considered as real individuals, capable of both contributing to, and to be a part of society.

It goes without saying that the negative stigma has still not been entirely erased from the public consciousness. History still casts long shadows into the present,  and psychopathology is still associated with violence and dangerous behavior. This has consequences for the social and professional integration of those suffering from mental disorders. As a result, people do not seek help or even seek to avoid hospitalization, (Overton & Medina, 2008). « We can say that mental illness is like a two-edged sword. On one side, there are the symptoms, the distress and the disability that withhold people from pursuing their personal goals. On the other, there is stigma: the social injustice many people labeled mentally ill experience »  (Corrigan & Bink, 2016).

This matter also influences the young generations. It is still taboo to talk about mental health problems. The ZETA Movement was created precisely in order to fight against the stigmatization and silence facing the young generations regarding the topic of mental health in Switzerland.

Read on for a short interview with one of the founders of the ZETA Movement, Emma Broggini!

Emma Broggini, co-founder of the ZETA Movement

As the co-founder of this project, how would you describe the ZETA Movement ?

I would say that the ZETA Movement is a group of young people who have decided to actively do something for mental health awareness. We recognize that mental health is a very important and relevant topic in our society that is too often stigmatized. We decided to engage with the issue and break the cycle of stigma.

What are the goals you want to reach with your project ?

I think the first goal we have is to start the conversation on mental health issues, because we are convinced that to talk about it is the first step towards a society that is more tolerant and understanding regarding mental health. We do this by creating safe spaces in which this type of conversation can take place. The more we talk about it, the less taboos and prejudices we will have about the topic. 

Are you satisfied with the results of the ZETA Movement so far ?

Absolutely! I would even say that I’m way more than satisfied. I am surprised, and definitely proud of all our achievements and the milestones we’ve reached. Not only in terms of the number of people that are joining our movement, but also because of the recognition that we receive. That being said, I think that the most important success and achievement we have had, is that people and young people in particular are benefitting from the ZETA Movement, meaning that they can find a safe space to talk about mental health.

What is the ZETA Movement doing to fight the two-sided problem of stigmatization faced by people with mental health issues ?  

The ZETA Movement is trying to act on both sides of the problem. On one hand we are telling people that they are not alone in whatever they’re going through, and that they can find help. And on the other hand we are providing safe spaces where the stigmatization you find in society is absent, and you can just talk, listen and be yourself with whatever bagage you have regarding mental health issues. 

Thank you so much for your time, is there anything which you would like to add ?

 Yes, one of our biggest projects is training young Ambassadors. They are young people who have experienced mental health issues in their lives, and go to various locations where there are young people, like schools, associations and youth centers, to talk about their experiences. We just started opening for new applications. We would be very happy if anyone reading this post would like to apply and contribute.  
Click here to apply!

References :

Corrigan, P. W., & Bink, A. B. (2016). The Stigma of Mental Illness. In Encyclopedia of Mental Health (p. 230234). Elsevier.

Overton, S. L., & Medina, S. L. (2008). The Stigma of Mental Illness. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86(2), 143151.

Stanwell-Smith, R. (2019). Mad, bad and dangerous to know? History and mental health. Perspectives in Public Health, 139(3), 110.

news psyCH aktuell

A few words with Raphael Carl, Head of psyKo22

Raphael Carl, Head of psyKo22

Hey Ralph! We’re all excited to hear about the next psyKo, but first, tell us a bit about yourself! 

Hey! I’m currently finishing the last year of my bachelor’s, at the university of  Bern, where I’m doing a major in psychology, and minoring in computer science. I have experience working in a wide range of organisations and events, from the Samaritans association in Bern, to organising the high school christmas ball. 

So how did you end up as the Head of psyKo21? 

I’m tempted to say, purely by chance! All the way back in 2019 I was working in the library of UniBern, and found myself standing in front of a wall plastered with leaflets and invitations to various associations. An announcement calling for people to join the psyKo team stood out, and I ended up contacting Yara Delegado, landing the position of co-head of psyKo19. 

As you all know, the conference got canceled, for reasons that are all too familiar to us by now. And so, I ended up moving to the head of communications mandate, in the psyCH mother organisation. After a year in psyCH I felt pulled towards psyKo again. Seeing that the Head of psyKo position was open, I decided to go for it! 

I really have the feeling that with my experience working in different organisations, I’ll be able to build a solid and well-documented foundation for future organisers to build upon. It’s way easier to get started when you have a little guidance, and don’t have to do everything from scratch. 

So I’ve heard this year’s theme is the future of Psychology. What does this mean to you? 

The future of psychology is obviously a rather large theme, and that is partially why we chose it! We’re still booking speakers, workshops and infotables, but our current focus is on technology. Among the confirmed speakers are Thomas Berger, winner of the Marcel Benoist prize, who will talk about the possibilities offered by online therapy. We’re working to include speakers from fields such as sentiment analysis, and other areas putting modern technology at the service of psychology. We also hope to have representatives from the newly founded ALPS foundation present the new frontiers discovered in psychedelic studies! 

Awesome! So when and where is psyKo22 going to happen ? 

So the location is the Lucerne Youth Hostel, meaning we’re going to be close to the city, and right in the middle of Switzerland! 

The current date is in the beginning of April, but as you all know, the COVID situation is rather unpredictable, and constantly subject to change. It’s hard to plan with new variants and measures popping out here and there at an unpredictable pace. That being said, the current dates are 01.04 till 03.04, and registration will open soon! PsyKo22 will happen, and it will be an in-person event!   

PsyKo is so much more than a weekend for participants to learn about new areas of psychology. It’s also a possibility to meet and connect with students from all over Switzerland, making new friends and sharing knowledge. That means that we would rather postpone the event than have it be an online happening. 

Sounds great! Anything else you want to tell our readers?

Yes! If you want to get involved, do not hesitate to contact me on

And to everyone else: see you at psyKo22!


What does a neuropsychologist do? – Interview with Martina Studer

How would you explain your job to someone who has no clue about neuropsychology?

I see patients who have just suffered a brain injury, for example strokes, traumatic brain injuries or after brain tumor operations. Most of them show various cognitive deficits, e.g. problems with attention, memory or executive functions. We apply neuropsychological tests and compare the performance of the patient to a matched healthy control group (same age, gender and education level) to diagnose possible acquired cognitive impairments. With this information and with our clinical impression determine the focus of the therapy. 

Regarding therapy, we have two approaches: First, restoration which means to exercise a function, and second, compensation which means helping yourself with compensating strategies. For certain functions like attentional impairments or executive dysfunctions, we do exercises to train and to improve them. For example, if a patient has a reduced alertness (basic reaction time), we do exercises where the patient has to react as quickly as possible. Research results imply to train at the custom-fitted performance level of the patient, to challenge the patient at his level. For certain areas, however, restoration approaches are less suitable and compensation strategies must be learned instead. Memory impairments are treated by compenstaion strategies like mnemonic bridges, diaries, smartphone reminders or lists. 

Could you tell me a bit about your educational background? How did you end up studying psychology?

I had finished teacher trainings college in Lucerne to become a primary school teacher, and I started teaching. The school where I worked motivated me to go further, and I decided to become a school psychologist. This brought me to study psychology in Bern. At the beginning of university, I hardly ever thought that I will become a neuropsychologist or to do a PhD.

During my master’s, I attended a lecture on neuropsychology. That was definitely a key moment. Besides, developmental psychology was also one of my favorite subjects. I specialized in Neuro- and Developmental Psychology which aroused my interest in pediatric neuropsychology. So I did an internship as pediatric neuropsychologist at the Children’s University Hospital of the Inselspital. 

After completing my master degree, I got a fabulous job offer from the Children’s Hospital as pediatric neuropsychologist. Because I also got a lot of interest in doing science, I decided to start a PhD at the same time. That was really a dream and very busy time! After my PhD, I did a Post-doc at the University of Berkeley in California and returned to Bern to complete my clinical education as clinical neuropsychologist in the University Hospital of Neurology. Today, I still combine clinical work and research – I think that’s a great privilege – although, this sometimes involves night shifts (laughs).

So you didn’t set out with the goal of getting a PhD in neuropsychology? 

No, not at all. My parents are not academics and a lot of things were foreign to me – if you have family members who work in a certain field, you probably have earlier opportunities for insights or more precise ideas of how a job would look like. Internships have proven to be particularly helpful to me. They allowed me to make new contacts and to gain insights into various fields. 

Do you remember a particularly interesting or impressive experience during your studies, an internship or at work?

Yes, certainly! Especially people who fully stand up for what they do and really have a lot of expertise in it. 

What do you like the most about your work? Is there anything you wish you knew before you got into the field?

I really enjoy working with patients. Some of them are people I would never meet in my private life. Furthermore, I see patients directly after a brain injury. Many of them stay with us for several weeks why I get to know them and see their progress. I find it very nice to accompany these people. There are many different patients – sometimes also very severely impaired people and it is amazing to observe how they improve, from a severely disoriented status at the beginning to average cognitive profiles.  

And it’s an interesting field especially because many questions are still unanswered, there is a lot of therapy options that could still be tried. 

What rather…not negative… but what you should know is that there are fewer positions and that you are quite specialized. You can’t change jobs that easily. I like to compare that with medical doctors who have better possibilities to change their workplace. 

But it is for example possible to change from children to adults neuropsychology. I started in the children’s area and then changed to adults. The clinical images are different. For instance I have never seen pediatric patients with a visual hemispatial neglect or a severe amnesia – impairments I see now quite regularly in my everyday life as adult neuropsychologist.

It would also be possible to do an additional title in psychotherapy. In our ward we do diagnostics and therapy. However, if you want to do outpatient neuropsychological therapy, you need this specialisation as well. And of course, this increases the range of patients you can work with. 

What opportunities are there for someone with a fresh master’s in neuropsychology?

Unfortunately, the possibilities are quite limited. But more and more clinical neuropsychological residency positions are being created for students with a fresh Masters’ Degree. Besides that, there is to possibility to start in a normal neuropsychology position. Furthermore, you can start a  PhD which is often very theoretical and different from what you do as a clinical neuropsychologist.  There are also very few clinical PhD Positions. In general, I recommend to think it through whether you will start doing a PhD – you have to enjoy scientific work and be able to accept setbacks.

 Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in becoming a neuropsychologist?

Do an internship as early as possible! Internships are usually offered at larger institutions. Don’t get discouraged if you get a no at first. Keep going! Just trust that you will eventually make it. 

Other possibilities would be to write a bachelor’s thesis or master’s thesis on neuropsychology, and to attend neuropsychology seminars. Also build up a network with people in the field. Once you have your foot in the door – you are more or less inside. 

Facts news psyCH aktuell

On the shoulders of giants: speaking with the founder of psyCH

How did you end up founding psyCH?
All the way back in 2002 the Fachschaftsvorstand in Bern sent an e-mail to all students inviting them to some Psychology Student Congress in Turkey. Like everyone else I first ignored the e-mail. The acronym EFPSA (European Federation of Psychology Students) sounded too scary.

Then there was another e-mail saying something like “so far nobody wants to go, but it’s a unique chance”. I remember telling my friend Sven Gross during a break “why is nobody going there, it sounds great”. He asked me “Why aren’t we going?”. And so we ended up going.

That decision changed our lives completely.  I met the girl who is now my wife at the congress. We’re expecting our third child! 
Needless to say it was a crazy experience, so eye opening! We soon realized that Switzerland was not yet a member of EFPSA, in part because there was no Swiss national organisation for psychology students.
We immediately decided to found psyCH to solve that problem.
On the way home from Turkey, Sven and I had the first brainstorming session for the new organization.

What were your initial goals?
The goal was EFPSA membership, everything else came later.

How many members were there in the beginning?
Sven and I found Miriam Lörtscher in Bern, with whom we set out the general plan. Then we went recruiting in Fribourg, Zürich and Basel and found highly motivated people there. If I remember correctly, those were the people that were present when we officially founded the organization in the dome room of the Uni Bern main building.

When did you start to understand the scope of your achievement?
I felt really proud when psyCH joined EFPSA in 2004 and I felt very proud when we were personally invited to the 10 year psyCH anniversary in 2013. We tried to create something that would stand the test of time, but we also knew that keeping such organizations alive wasn’t easy. I’m very happy to see that psyCH is alive and well  today, almost 20 years later.

What are your thoughts on the current state of psyCH?
I follow as much as I can, it’s cool to see that many things like the psyPra and the always highly successful psyKo still exist! I guess some things changed, and I’m sure some things were improved over the years. I’m no longer familiar with the organisational structure of psyCH, but the mere fact that it’s still around certainly means something. Overall I’m very happy to see that psyCH still exists.

Any words of advice for the current psyCH team?
No, I’m sure I’d have a lot to say if somebody asked me something specific. But the fact that psyCH is still around shows that capable people are in charge, and no advice is needed!

How has your role in psyCH shaped your life ?
It has completely changed my life on many levels. Founding psyCH gave me a great deal of self-confidence and self-efficacy and in the process I got the chance to hone my leadership skills. I don’t think I would be an entrepreneur today if it wasn’t for this journey. And of course, I live in Estonia now and I am married to the Secretary Treasurer of EFPSA in 2001-2002.

What is your favourite memory from when you were a part of psyCH?
There are just too many to list them all here, but surely it’s something to do with an EFPSA Congress. Maybe something like this picture of our delegation at the cultural evening at the EFPSA Congress 2004 in Kopaonik, Serbia.

current directions news psyCH aktuell

Less than 24 hours until PsyKo21 !

Yara Delgado, Head of Psyko

So Yara, tell us a little about yourself! How did you end up here?

I grew up on the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. We moved to Switzerland when I was about 11 years old. In 2019 I obtained my bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Zurich, and I am currently working towards a master’s in social and clinical psychology.

How long have you been in PsyCH/ the PsyKo team? 

I first joined PsyCH in 2019 after attending that year’s PsyKo on a whim! During the conference I visited the PsyCH infotables and only then did I realize that they were the people that had put together the entire conference. I got so excited that I ended up signing up as head of PsyKo 2020. As you know PsyKo2020 got canceled, but by then I had put so much energy into the project, so I decided to stay for another year to see it to the end. In fact, this year’s conference will be the first PsyKo under my leadership. 

What made you apply for this position? Most people might prefer to dip their toes before jumping head-on into such a large responsibility! 

I love to create stuff, to see my ideas materialize, so I knew I had to do something to be a part of this great organization. Looking at the list of available mandates, I realized I’m not cut out for some of the other important jobs, such as contacting sponsors, or creating online content, but the leader mandate seemed like a natural choice, fitting both my level of ambition and personal disposition. 

I think I might have been a bit hesitant if I knew how much work I have had to put into this, but I have learned so much, and gotten to know so many great people through PsyCH. Of course, there have been times where I wondered if I was up for the task, but the motivation to see the event take place has always outweighed any doubts that I’ve harbored. 

What do you feel has been the hardest part about this year’s conference?

In one word: COVID: After last year’s conference got canceled, a majority of the team ended up moving on towards new projects. I decided to stay on for a new mandate, and I was left building up everything from scratch again, without even knowing if this year’s conference would take place. It was a rough start for sure.

We had to keep on postponing this year’s event, with each change of date causing us to lose steam. Luckily we’ve been able to rally the team, and push on all the way up the conference. Also having to run the organisation almost entirely online has definitely made team cohesion harder. It’s tough to build up that feeling of being in the same boat when you’ve never met in real life. 

What are you the most happy with regarding this year’s conference?

Above all, I’m just so happy to know that PsyKo21 is actually going to take place. To see the fruit of my labors, and know for certain that my work has not been futile. I’ve put countless hours of work into this, and it’s incredibly satisfying to know that I’ve contributed to make this unique and exciting event come to life. Seeing that many psychology students together, and knowing that I’m offering them the same great experience I had when I attended my first PsyKo is just indescribable. 

Sounds great! I’m attending my first PsyKo this weekend, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Any words of advice to those among us attending our first PsyKo?  

Come with an open mind, and remember to enjoy yourself! We offer a lot of academic content, but don’t forget that this is also a unique opportunity to meet other students from all over Switzerland! These are people you wouldn’t meet otherwise, and there is so much to learn from them! Seize the occasion to gather some new perspectives. You’ll be sure to learn something you’d never hear in class!  


Only 2 days left until PsyKo21!

Let’s first take a step back to appreciate the work that has been put into making this year’s conference come to life. 

The PsyKo21 is organized by the PsyKo team, a subgroup of PsyCH consisting of about 10 students from all over Switzerland. We’ve been working hard towards PsyKo21 ever since last year’s conference was canceled for reasons you can probably guess yourself.
PsyKo21 was originally scheduled for the beginning of 2021, but due to covid-measures we’ve kept on postponing, hoping to hit a date that would allow our event to take place.
Turns out that ended up being October! It’s been a long wait, but we’re so happy to see that our patience paid off, and that we’re finally able to share the fruit of our labors with you!

That being said, the event has also profited from this delay to grow and mature, and we are very proud to offer the participants such a variety of perspectives as we gather in Les Diablerets to explore this year’s topic :  Healthy Mind, Healthy Body – What Health means to Psychology. 


Early registration starts at 14h00. During this afternoon, visitor’s can choose between several workshops on topics such as healthy communications in the aftermath of a conflict, how to get help for mental health issues and exploration of the connection between mind and body. 

A welcome apéro will precede the opening lecture. Afterward we’ll all have dinner together before some social activities mark the end of the first day.


By far the most important day of the conference, Saturday will start with some exciting lectures held by student’s like you and me!
A lot of different areas related to health and psychology will be presented. Personally I’m looking forward to hear Johanna Blanc’s talk on Psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, but I’m sure that all students will find a lecture on something that interests them. Topics range from Alice de Marco’s lecture on Transgender people’s mental health, till Giorgia Mano’s discussion of the effect Instagram influencers have on teenagers health habits. 

Before lunch, a new set of workshops take place, this time systemic therapy and integration of body, mind and soul will be on the schedule! 

The serious part of the day will be rounded off by my area of responsibility : the infotables. After a short introduction of each organisations, participants will get the chance to mingle with representatives from some of the most important organisations for psychologists in Switzerland, such as the all important FSP. Other major names present are the Swiss Association for Applied Psychology (SBAP/APSPA) and the Swiss Society for Health Psychology (SSGPsy/SSPsys). Student projects and startups such as PALA and BeWell will also be there, so make sure you are there too! 

PsyKo is also very much a social event!

With all this academic content, it’s important to remember that PsyKo is also very much a social event! Workshops and lectures are separated by plenty of breaks to give you the chance to meet other students and grow your network!

In tune with this, the last happening of the day will be a party hosted by PsyCH, with the aptly named music group Express Therapy providing the entertainment! If you haven’t made any friends by Saturday evening, now is the time to hit the dance floor and meet people!


The finaly day of the conference is less packed. Workshops on Mind-Body therapy and Psychological flexibility take place in the morning, and the closing lecture at 13h00 marks the end of the congress. 

We’re looking forward to meeting you there!

Tomorrow we’ll talk to Yara Delgado, the mastermind behind PsyKo21, to hear her thoughts on this year’s congress. Stay tuned!

For a detailed overview of the conference program, please consult the conference booklet.


Dorsch Psychologie-Lexikon

Oft auf der Suche nach Begriffen aus der Psychologie? Dann haben wir genau das Richtige: Unser Dorsch Psychologie-Lexikon! Das Referenzwerk stellt seit 100 Jahren eine kontinuierlich aktualisierte und fundierte Quelle psychologischen Wissens dar.

Den DORSCH gibt es übrigens auch als Online-Portal:

Author : Hogrefe


Lucid Dreaming and Motor Learning

A lucid dream is a phenomenon of sleep where the dreamer is aware of the current state and thus can influence the dream events. One can consciously wake up or influence the actions, or passively observe the events with this awareness. What makes lucid dreaming special is that what is experienced in the dream feels very real. However, not all people can enjoy this by any means. According to Schredl and Erlacher (2011), about 20 percent of the population experiences such dreams more frequently and only one to two percent have lucid dreams regularly. It is possible to learn lucid dreaming, but it is often not easy. 

Prof. Dr. Erlacher is investigating motor learning in lucid dreams at the University of Bern. Existing studies show that motor learning is possible in lucid dreams (Erlacher, 2005). In other words, athletes can train and optimize their movements while sleeping, but only in lucid dreams, where they can control the dream events. Athletes can train especially technique-related aspects well, while muscle mass and endurance cannot be influenced. This makes it possible to train physically demanding sports such as skateboarding or snowboarding in dreams and thus to prepare them anticipatorily for the waking state or to perfect movements through repetition in dreams. 

Motor learning in lucid dreaming is reminiscent of mental training, where sequences of movements can be trained in the imagination while awake. However, the difference is that mental training is an imaginational experience and lucid dreaming is a phenomenal experience (LaBerge et al., 2018). Moreover, lucid dreams are clearer and more vivid than mental training.  

One advantage of training in lucid dreams is, that there is no risk of injury. Especially for martial artists training in sleep is a worthwhile method to try new things without the risk of getting hurt. On the other hand, lucid dreaming is difficult to learn and needs a lot of practice. Erlacher (2011) has conducted studies on a wide range of athletes and asked them whether they train using lucid dreaming. 5% of athletes say that they use this method to train and 77% of them think lucid dream training has improved their sports performance. Studies show that the effects of lucid dream training tend to be greater than mental training as well as similar improvement to physical training (Schädlich et al., 2017).  To make better use of lucid dreams, Erlacher is also researching methods by which lucid dreams can be induced from the outside, for example by a researcher in the sleep lab. But this must be trained and also requires patience, endurance and motivation. And so training in dreams, like almost everything in sports, is often hard work.

Bibliography :
  • Erlacher, Daniel. Motorisches Lernen im luziden Traum: Phänomenologische und experimentelle Betrachtungen. Universität Heidelberg, 2005, doi:10.11588/heidok.00005896.
  • Erlacher, D. (2019). Sport und Schlaf: Angewandte Schlafforschung für die Sportwissenschaft. Springer-Verlag.
  • Schredl, M., & Erlacher, D. (2011). Frequency of lucid dreaming in a representative German sample. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 112, 104–108.
  • Erlacher, D. (2010). Anleitung zum Klarträumen – Die nächtliche Traumwelt selbst gestalten. Norderstedt: Books on Demand. 
  • LaBerge, S., Baird, B., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2018). Smooth tracking of visual targets distinguishes lucid REM sleep dreaming and waking perception from imagination. Nature Communications, 9, 3298. 
    Schädlich, M., & Erlacher, D. (2018). Practicing sports in lucid dreams – characteristics, effects, and practical implications. Current Issues in Sport Science, 3(7).
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  • Wiedmer, J. (2021). Lucid Dreams and Motor Learning, made with

The epitome of genius and madness?

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc5 3. Bc4 Bc5. What for some people seems to be a random combination of letters and numbers is the logical development of six pieces on 64 squares for others. Some of you might even see the pictorial representations of this scenery and recognize the many advantages and disadvantages that it has to offer. And perhaps one is already planning further. 4. c3 Nf6? 4. b4 Bxb4? 4. Nc3 Nf6? I’m talking of course about chess. A game with origins that date back over 700 years. A game that played a crucial role in the cold war and perhaps stands for something similar like Albert Einstein in our society, the epitome of genius. But Einstein was more than just the genius par excellence who revolutionized the laws of physics. Einstein was also this wacky short guy with messed up white hair who married his cousin. He was also some kind of crazy. The connection of genius and madness is deeply rooted in our minds and at least in chess this doesn’t seem to be entirely wrong either. There is a long list of chess grandmasters who struggled with some kind of mental illness. The first world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, was convinced that he could move chess pieces using electromagnetic currents. He died on August 12, 1900 in a psychiatric ward. Paul Morphy felt persecuted and insinuated that his brother-in-law wanted to poison him. And the legend of the chess miracle Bobby Fischer also ends in the seclusion of society. So, it is no coincidence that the protagonist of the successful Netflix series “The queen’s gambit” is portrayed as a genius on the chessboard but with far-reaching psychological problems. But can chess really lead to insanity?

One can easily see from where this assumption comes from, chess is a nerve-wracking thing! You sit across from each other for hours, trying to comprehend your opponent’s plans and find the right moment for the decisive attack. But you have to be careful, every move can lead to victory or misery. And since computers are able to calculate in every situation the best possible move, the awareness of this has risen. The goal is clear; every player wants to find the perfect next move. The cognitive theory of perfectionism sees this claim as a possible cause for excessive mistake rumination, for example over a lost game, rumination in general and social comparison. This can lead to stress that has a negative impact on our health (Flett, Nepon & Hewitt, 2016). But not only thinking about chess can cause stress. The physiological reaction while playing a game suggests a stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Troubat, Fargeas-Gluck, Tulppo and Dugué (2009) studied the heart and respiratory rate of 20 male chess players and found a significant change during the game. Now all these facts tell us how chess could possibly influence our health and well-being, but this isn’t a necessity. The personality of elite man chess players doesn’t even differ from the population norm. Only the skill correlates with introversion. Stronger male players are more introverted, while there was found the opposite pattern in female players. In contrast to their male counterpart, female elite players are more satisfied with life, have fewer physical complaints and higher achievement motivation in comparison with the female population norm (Vollstädt-Klein, Grimm, Kirsch & Bilalić, 2010). And the connection between genius and madness is untenable in chess too. There is indeed some kind of connection between chess and intelligence. Burgoyne et al. (2016) found significant correlations between chess skills and fluid reasoning, comprehension-knowledge, short-term memory and processing speed. But this doesn’t mean a skilled chess player with high scores in these areas has to develop a mental disorder. In fact, a low IQ is associated with mental disorders, not a high one (Mortensen, Sørensen, Jensen, Reinisch & Mednick, 2005).

So, don’t let a Netflix series spoil your enjoyment of chess with the fear of going crazy. In the end, the important part for your mental wellbeing is with which attitude you play, not if you do it. Perhaps settle down in a park where all the old folks play, take your time for a little chat between the moves and don’t take your mistakes too seriously. Or in other words, after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc5 3. Bc4 Bc5., the “Italian Game”, go for d3, the “Giuoco Pianissimo”.

  • Burgoyne, A. P., Sala, G., Gobet, F., Macnamara, B. N., Campitelli, G., & Hambrick, D. Z. (2016). The relationship between cognitive ability and chess skill: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Intelligence, 59, 72-83.
  • Mortensen, E. L., Sørensen, H. J., Jensen, H. H., Reinisch, J. M., & Mednick, S. A. (2005). IQ and mental disorder in young men. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 187(5), 407-415.
  • Flett, G. L., Nepon, T., & Hewitt, P. L. (2016). Perfectionism, worry, and rumination in health and mental health: A review and a conceptual framework for a cognitive theory of perfectionism. Perfectionism, health, and well-being (pp. 121-155). Springer, Cham. 
  • Troubat, N., Fargeas-Gluck, M. A., Tulppo, M., & Dugué, B. (2009). The stress of chess players as a model to study the effects of psychological stimuli on physiological responses: an example of substrate oxidation and heart rate variability in man. European journal of applied physiology, 105(3), 343-349. 
  • Vollstädt-Klein, S., Grimm, O., Kirsch, P., & Bilalić, M. (2010). Personality of elite male and female chess players and its relation to chess skill. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(5), 517-521. 
  • Psychology Random Researches (2021, January 24). Can chess lead to insanity? [Video]. YouTube. 
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  • Cortez, V., (2006). Schach. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger


Mindfulness-based therapy for chronic pain

Mindfulness-based therapy for chronic pain

Chronic pain is a common, disabling complaint affecting approximately 20-30% of the adult population in Western countries and is often associated with high rates of comorbid depressive symptoms. While current therapeutic approaches, including analgesics and opioids, can provide significant improvements, the most effective medications only reduce pain by 30-40% in less than 50% of the patients. In addition, surgical techniques such as implantation of artificial spinal discs offer limited pain reduction in only a subset of patients. This has led to the proposal of various psychological treatments for chronic pain (Chiesa & Serretti, 2011).

Over the last three decades, mindfulness-based interventions have become increasingly important in the treatment of chronic pain (Reiner, Tibi, & Lipsitz, 2013). Mindfulness focuses on detached observation of a constantly changing field of objects, which means observing perceptions, emotions and cognitions, without judgement and attempts to change or control them (Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, & Burney, 1985). A substantial body of research supports the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain patients. However, much of this research primarily addresses global distress, functional capacity and quality of life (Reiner et al., 2013).

Although mindfulness-based interventions are far from being uniform, they are characterized by three core features. The first is to observe the reality of the present moment by focusing attention on objective features of the momentary situation or experience. The second is to focus attention on a single aspect of consciousness and accept it as it is, without judgement, action or preoccupation with its implications. The third is to remain open to whatever is in focus at the moment, without holding on to any particular point of view or outcome. These three characteristics have also been described in terms of a two-component model, where one component involves attention to the present moment and the second component involves an attitude of acceptance and openness (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985).

There are currently several mindfulness-based interventions that have been shown to be beneficial for pain disorders. The most researched among them are Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; Reiner et al., 2013). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was originally developed to improve the self-management of chronic pain patients (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985). MBSR is based on the rationale that mindfulness practice leads to a spontaneous decoupling of the sensory component of pain from the emotional and cognitive components, thus reducing the level of distress caused by pain. In MBSR, individuals learn the principles of mindfulness through various techniques, for example, practicing yoga and various meditations such as body scan meditation or breathing meditation (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1985). A meta-analysis that examined the effects of MBSR in adults with chronic conditions (including chronic pain) concludes that there is evidence of the effectiveness of MBSR in reducing stress and impairment in this population (Bohlmeijer, Prenger, Taal, & Cuijpers, 2010). ACT is also offered for chronic pain as well as a variety for other psychological problems (Reiner et al., 2013). The acceptance method combines mindfulness practice with work on personal values, behaviour commitment and behaviour change strategies to help patients live more fulfilling lives (McCracken, Carson, Eccleston, & Keefe, 2004).

Bibliography :
  • Bohlmeijer, E., Prenger, R., Taal, E., & Cuijpers, P. (2010). The effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy on mental health of adults with a chronic medical disease: a meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68(6), 539–544. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.10.005
  • Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2011). Mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain: a systematic review of the evidence. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 17(1), 83–93. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0546
  • Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., & Burney, R. (1985). The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 8(2), 163–190. doi: 10.1007/BF00845519
  • McCracken, L. M., Carson, J. W., Eccleston, C., & Keefe, F. J. (2004). Acceptance and change in the context of chronic pain. Pain, 109(1–2), 4–7. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2004.02.006Reiner, K., Tibi, L., & Lipsitz, J. D. (2013). Do mindfulness-based interventions reduce pain intensity? A critical review of the literature. Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), 14(2), 230–242. doi: 10.1111/pme.12006
Featured image :

Author : Alexander Ariu


Folie a deux

“Folie a deux” or “Shared Psychotic Disorder” is a rare type of mental illness in which a person who does not have a primary mental health disorder comes to believe the delusion of a close person with a psychotic or delusional disorder. For example, a wife might come to believe her husband’s delusions even though she is otherwise mentally healthy. 

Shared Psychotic Disorder develops in the context of a relationship in which one person influences the other. The psychotic symptoms develop in the course of a close long-term relationship with a person who already had a psychotic disorder. These relationships can for example be between family members, couples, sisters and in rare cases can even include more than two individuals. The person with a preexisting disorder is called the primary case (Inducer) and the other person is called the secondary case (Inductee or Recipient).

The symptoms of shared psychotic disorder depend on the diagnosis of the primary person with the disorder. The secondary person develops hallucinations or delusions gradually over time and is usually not aware of these changes. Neither the person with the primary mental illness nor the person who develops the same delusions has insight into the problem. Therefore, the first person does not realize that they are making the other person sick. They assume that they are simply showing the truth to the second person.

In general, both individuals behave paranoid, fearful, and distrustful of others. They react very defensive and angry if their shared delusions are questioned. The delusions themselves are usually persecutory. With the separation of the primary and the secondary person, the developed delusions from the secondary person seem to disappear.

 But what causes this extraordinary disorder? There are several possible risk factors for “Shared Psychotic Disorder”:

  • Social isolation of the primary and secondary person from the outside world
  • High levels of chronic stress or the occurrence of stressful life events
  • A dominant primary person and submissive secondary person 
  • A close connection between the primary and secondary person; usually a long-term relationship with attachment (e.g., family members, couples, sisters, etc.)
  • A secondary person with a neurotic, dependent, or passive personality style or someone who struggles with judgment/critical thinking
  • A secondary person with another mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, or dementia
  • An untreated disorder (e.g., delusional disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) in the primary individual
  • An age difference between the primary and secondary person
  • A secondary person who is dependent on the primary due to being disabled (e.g., physically or mentally)

To get a better impression of the Shared Psychotic disorder I show you a case described by Mohamed in which an 8-year-old girl was admitted to a psychiatric center. The girl had acute psychosis with agitation, confusion, paranoid delusions, and hallucinations. The girl reported that her neighbors broke into her house, raped her, and injected her with drugs and rat poison. She also stated hearing the neighbors’ voices and additionally suffered from insomnia, and has trouble falling asleep. The girl had no history of psychiatric or medical illness according to her family and her primary care physician. Examinations showed that the 8-year-old had no physical signs of needlesticks or rape, and her mental status was normal except for the paranoid content of her thoughts. When attempts were made to contact the mother, it was discovered that the mother had checked herself into the same psychiatric clinic. The mother reported to her psychiatrist about the same atrocities committed by the neighbors as her daughter. In her records, it was found that the mother had been to the emergency department several times before and reported similar symptoms. The mother always refused psychiatric assessment or treatment. 

After a full assessment, it was revealed that there were no signs of genital trauma and any kind of drugs. The daughter was diagnosed with Shared Psychotic Disorder and the mother was diagnosed with Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. 

After the diagnosis, the daughter was separated from her mother and was able to recover quickly. The daughter was left in the care of a family friend. The mother went for treatment and was able to see her daughter under supervision.

Bibliography :
  • Abu-Salha, M. (1998). Folie á Deux: Two Case Reports. Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, 14(1).
Featured image :
  • Canva. (n.d.).

The many faces of hallucination

Are you wondering about this strange picture I chose for this week’s blog? Well, you should because this picture isn’t less than a magical artifact, capable to let whole camels disappear. Just close your left eye, focus on the target with your right and move towards your screen. And Hocuspocus and Abrakadabra the camel is nada! Did you see it disappear? I hope so because this means your optic nerve leaving your eyeball creates an area where photoreceptors are absent. This results in a blind spot which is perfectly normal. But the interesting part is not that this exists, it’s the psychological reaction to this anatomical problem. It’s the filling in of this blind spot with visuals of the surrounding so we don’t even notice it in our daily life (Durgin, Tripathy & Levi, 1995). So, the reason we don’t see a void stain when we close an eye is that our brain creates an unreal image without the presence of an external stimulus. It’s hallucinating.

When talking about hallucinations most people think about psychedelics like LSD or Psilocybin. But these drug-induced states are just a small part of a much bigger picture. Hallucinations can occur without any external substances involved. In mental illnesses like schizophrenia, patients report hallucinations in various sensory systems. They can be olfactory, visual, tactile, auditory, or gustatory and the patients often experience them in more than just one sensory system (Goodwin & Rosenthal, 1971). On one hand, this makes sense because all our sensory areas in the cortex are neuronal strongly connected but on the other hand, it also seems that patients have individual connectivity patterns which would explain predominant hallucinations in one sense, most of the time visual or auditorial (Amad et al., 2014). But also, an imbalance in neurotransmitters, mostly dopamine and serotonin, seem to play a major role in schizophrenia. An imbalance that is known to cause hallucinations in other diseases like Parkinson’s syndrome (Stahl, 2016). All of these just mentioned hallucinations have a clinical background even though healthy people are just as capable of producing these illusions. All you have to do is to skip sleep for some nights (Waters, Chiu, Atkinson & Blom, 2018). Sleep and hallucinations seem to be related anyway in some kind of way and I’m not talking about your ordinary dreams. Those affected by sleep paralysis, which by the way would deserve an article on his own, report about vivid hallucinations of mostly frightening creatures like ghosts and shadow creatures. They are often seen by the sleeping person in the same room as they are, sometimes even touching them or sitting on top of their victim (Cheyne, Rueffer & Newby-Clark, 1999). Interestingly, a possible cause in the serotonin system is also discussed here, as is the case with hallucinations in schizophrenia (Jalal, 2018). But one does not need an unusual amount of a neurotransmitter to perceive things that aren’t really there. Sometimes the lack of a sensory information also causes hallucinations, as seen in the Charles Bonnet syndrome. Mostly elderly, visually impaired people see colorful pictures of people, faces and animals while being completely aware that these images are not real. And even if these scenes are mostly perceived as very entertaining and not threatening at all, there is often a fear of the associated stereotype. Those affected are afraid of being labeled as mentally unfit even though their cognitive function is faultless (Menon, Rahman, Menon & Dutton, 2003).

The list goes on and on. Sensual deprivation and sensual overload, prescription and unprescribed drugs, mentally ill and sane, young and old, hallucinations are omnipresent! And while there are still many unanswered questions about how they arise, we can already learn a lot from them about perception in general. Why we see our world the way we do. And most importantly, how individual this view is.

Bibliography :
  • Amad, A., Cachia, A., Gorwood, P., Pins, D., Delmaire, C., Rolland, B., & Jardri, R. (2014). The multimodal connectivity of the hippocampal complex in auditory and visual hallucinations. Molecular psychiatry, 19(2), 184-191.
  • Cheyne, J. A., Rueffer, S. D., & Newby-Clark, I. R. (1999). Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations during sleep paralysis: neurological and cultural construction of the night-mare. Consciousness and cognition, 8(3), 319-337.
  • Durgin, F. H., Tripathy, S. P., & Levi, D. M. (1995). On the Filling in of the Visual Blind Spot: Some Rules of Thumb. Perception, 24(7), 827–840.
  • Goodwin, D. W., & Rosenthal, R. (1971). Clinical significance of hallucinations in psychiatric disorders: a study of 116 hallucinatory patients. Archives of General Psychiatry, 24(1), 76-80.
  • Jalal, B. (2018). The neuropharmacology of sleep paralysis hallucinations: serotonin 2A activation and a novel therapeutic drug. Psychopharmacology, 235(11), 3083-3091.
  • Menon, G. J., Rahman, I., Menon, S. J., & Dutton, G. N. (2003). Complex visual hallucinations in the visually impaired: the Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Survey of ophthalmology, 48(1), 58-72.
  • Stahl, S. (2016). Parkinson’s disease psychosis as a serotonin-dopamine imbalance syndrome. CNS Spectrums, 21(5), 355-359. doi:10.1017/S1092852916000602
  • Waters, F., Chiu, V., Atkinson, A., & Blom, J. D. (2018). Severe sleep deprivation causes hallucinations and a gradual progression toward psychosis with increasing time awake. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 303.
Featured image :
  • Joachim Herz Stiftung. (2021). Experiment zum Blinden Fleck. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger


The gender gap in Psychology

There is a stricken fact that people notice when they enter a room full of psychology students: most of them are female. As a student yourself, if you’re a heterosexual female, you may have doubts about whether you’re going to find the love of your life in that room or not. On the opposite side, if you’re one of the three to ten men in the class, you’ll most likely be excited about this gender gap. All jokes and love interests aside, psychology is a field in which about 70% of master’s and doctoral students are female (National Science Foundation, 2016). Despite this over-representation of females in the classes, only a third of the professors are females and when women do decide to make a career in experimental psychology, they’re less published and cited than their male counterparts (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). 

A study analyzing records from 125 high-impact, peer-reviewed psychology journals, with the goal of determining how men and women contribute to research in psychology, showed that females are less cited and published than their male colleagues (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). The authors were also interested in testing whether these gaps persist across factors such as authorship position and subdiscipline as well as in studying the evolution of these patterns between 2003 and 2019. Firstly, they found that this publication gap is pervasive but not identical across subfields. For example, Developmental and Health psychology show a smaller publication gap than Neurosciences. Furthermore, if this publication gap is more or less important across different fields in psychology, it is not the case for the citation gap. Indeed, publications by male researchers receive more citations than those made by females independently of the field (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). The authors do not have an explanation for this but there is a hypothesis that the gap may be explained by the fact that men could tend to self-cite more than women (Larivière et al., 2013). Lastly, this publication gap seems to be evolving towards a more equal situation where women are better represented in some subdisciplines. This is not by any means perfect but it shows that psychology is not a stagnated science dominated by men and that on the contrary, women are now strongly represented in psychology faculties and early career positions (Odic & Wojcik, 2020). Even though these findings are interested, the authors accentuate the importance of conducting further research to explain why this gap exists and which are the factors contributing to its perpetration. They consider that the gaps may, for example, be explained by the hiring rates for men and women and journal policies.  In conclusion, there is a gender publication and citation gap that favors men and future research should be done in order to investigate which social, cultural and contextual factors contribute to these gaps.

Bibliography :
  • Larivière, V., Ni, C., Gingras, Y., Cronin, B., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science. Nature, 504, 211– 213.
  • National Science Foundation. (2016). Survey of earned doctorates (NSF No. 18–304). Retrieved from 18304/ 
  • Odic, D., & Wojcik, E. H. (2020). The publication gender gap in psychology. American Psychologist, 75(1), 92–103.
Featuring image :
  • Stancikatie, A. (2020). We Need to Close the Gender Data Gap By Including Women in Our Algorithms [Illustration]. TIME. Retrived from :

Author : Paula Morales



When a friend showed me his new song a couple of years ago, I couldn’t stop wondering about the strange title; “Hikikomori”. If I had listened to the first verse instead, I might had guessed the meaning behind it. “Screaming but you can’t hear ‘em. No TV shows will be appealing. Four walls, no doors, one ceiling. The hikikomori feeling.” (Naj, 2018). He was telling his listeners about the mysterious circumstances under which an increasing number of the population in Japan live their daily life. 

The Japanese term “hikikomori”, which describes a person, originates from the verb hikikomoru. It contains the term “to pull back” (hiku) and “to seclude oneself” (komoru) as a description of the behavior shown by the hikikomoris. These mostly young men withdraw themselves physically and psychologically from society by locking themselves into their room for at least six months, avoiding as much direct human contact as possible. Even if this behavior intersects with other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or social phobia, in this case at least a part of the trigger seems to be rooted in our modern way of life. Often hikikomoris feel under pressure by a society where performance means everything. They drop out of school or quit work to spend their time alone at home reducing all activities outside to the absolute minimum. This ranges from 2-3 interactions with others outside per week to less than one per week. Here comes another key-factor of our modern world into play, the internet. In these times where nearly all our needs can be satisfied online, what is the reason to go out? We interact with others in chats or games, find sexual satisfaction in pornography and order food online. Financially, they are often supported through their parents who are worried and ashamed of their children. Especially in a country with a collectivist culture like japan, being or supporting a hikikomori comes along with a strong stigma. So, it is not surprising that hikikomori and their families need support to deliver them from their suffering. In Japan there are various forms like “meeting spaces” for hikikomoris, telephone consultation and job-placement support, mainly organized through community support centers and mental health welfare centers. (Kato, Kanba & Teo, 2019)

Now, hikokomoru was most of the time seen as a Japanese phenomenon bound to the mentality and culture of the country but in the last decade, more and more similar cases all over the world were reported (Kato et al., 2012). And just recently an employee of a psychiatric youth institution told me about hikikomori like behavior of some patients. I personally think we as a society should be aware of this problem our modern way of life can cause. Because out there in the anonymous world of delivery services and apartment blocks, there may be living someone who has withdrawn himself into seclusion and could use help.

Bibliography :
  • Naj, (2018). Hikikomori. Retrived Ferbuary 10, 2021, from
  • Kato, T. A., Kanba, S., & Teo, A. R. (2019). Hikikomori: Multidimensional understanding, assessment, and future international perspectives. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences73(8), 427-440.
  • Kato, T. A., Tateno, M., Shinfuku, N., Fujisawa, D., Teo, A. R., Sartorius, N., & Kanba, S. (2012). Does the ‘hikikomori’syndrome of social withdrawal exist outside Japan? A preliminary international investigation. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology47(7), 1061-1075.
Featured image :
  • G., Genaro. (2019). Hikikomori, un disagio da contrastare. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger


Hypnagogia – The strange place between two worlds

Have you ever wondered how the molecular structure of benzene was discovered? Or what was the source of Salvador Dali’s creativity? Since you are visiting the website of the umbrella association of swiss psychology students I assume you’re more interested in psychology than chemistry or art, so probably not. But I’m going to tell you this ordinary story anyways because it is more connected to the depths of human consciousness than you might think. 

Since the mid 19th century, the German chemist August Kekulé has been concerned with molecular structures, particularly in organic chemistry. Today he is considered the father of the structural formula that enables every chemist to quickly recognize how the molecule of a substance is built up. But one particular molecule gave him a headache. The structure of benzene remained a mystery to him, until one day he fell asleep on top of a Londoner bus. In a dozing state he saw dancing atoms spinning in a circle. But when the conductor’s call tore him out of his dreams, he couldn’t do anything with this vision. It was not until the winter of 1861 when he fell asleep again in front of the fireplace that he realized that benzene had to be arranged in the form of a ring. Half awake, half asleep, he saw again these dancing atoms but this time also a Ouroboros, a snake biting his own tail (Anders, 2003).

Around a hundred years later, an eccentric enchants the art world. Salvador Dali’s drawings show grotesque faces and people, geometric figures like waves and circles and all of this in strange landscapes. Surrealism is celebrated around the world for its sheer inexhaustible creativity. And to make sure that his creativity doesn’t suddenly wane, the Spaniard has developed a technique that guarantees him new inspiration. During “slumber with a key”, as he called the technology, you sit down on an armchair with a heavy key between the index finger and thumb of your left hand. An inverted plate is placed under the armrest beforehand so that the key is directly above it when the arm is placed on the armrest. Now comes a phase of relaxation. The user makes himself comfortable in his armchair and surrenders to sleep. Coupled with it is muscle paralysis, which makes it impossible to hold on to the key. It falls directly on the plate and makes a loud noise. The person who has just fallen asleep returns to the waking world. Thoughts and images that were experienced in this state of consciousness must now be recorded immediately before they fade. It is not known how many and which works of art Dalis were created using this technique. The urgent recommendation on his part to colleagues to use this intellectual resource suggests that it was part of a routine of the Spaniard (Nielsen, 1992).

You may have already experienced the phenomenon that these two stories connect with each other. Hypnagogia, as it is known, is an altered state of consciousness that occurs during the transition from the waking state of consciousness to sleep and differs from dreams, which are often associated with the REM phases, in the short duration and the fact that the person does not perceive himself as acting or asleep. Acoustic, kinesthetic and optical hallucinations often occur during the hypnagogic state. They express themselves by hearing senseless sentences or melodies, seeing colors and flashes of light or feeling floating (Dittrich, 1996). A topic that receives little attention in comparison to dreams or waking consciousness, even though it would deserve it if one considered the prominent followers of this state. So next time when you start dozing off, you may want to draw your attention to the breathtaking scenery that opens up to you. Who knows, it might even make you a famous chemist or artist.

Bibliography :
  • Anders, R. (2003). Wolkenlesen. Über hypnagoge Halluzinationen, automatisches Schreiben und andere Inspirationsquellen. Greifswald: Wiecker Bote.
  • Dittrich, A. (1996). Ätiologie – Unabhängige Strukturen veränderter Wachbewusstseinszustände. Ergebnisse empirischer Untersuchungen über Halluzinogene I. und II. Ordnung, sensorische Deprivation, hypnagoge Zustände, hypnotische Verfahren sowie Reizüberflutung. Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung. 
  • Nielsen, T. A. (1992). A self-observational study of spontaneous hypnagogic imagery using the upright napping procedure. Imagination, Cognition and Personality11(4), 353-366.
Featured image :
  • Salvador Dali. (1937). Le Sommeil. Retrieved from:

Author : Max Frutiger


What does Christmas have to do with psychology ?

Most people are probably already in the preparations, some are taking their time just before closing time on the 24th, but everyone is aware of it: Christmas! Mulled wine, fairy lights, advent candles, the same films every year, and maybe let’s hope for snow. Just those wonderful, heart-warming holidays that you can (or have to) spend comfortably with your family. But what is actually behind it? What really happens to us at Christmas?

For a little introduction to the psychology of Christmas, here are some psychological proofs about Christmas.

The annual recurring December question is: What should I get as a gift? Psychology’s answer is not money! Giving and receiving gifts is very important for our relationships, and a gift can have a lot of influence. The perfect gift should be respectful and loving, and at the same time, it should adequately reflect the intimacy and closeness of the relationship between the two people. All of this is not represented by money. So, give it some thought – What do you want for your gift to say to the person you are giving it to (Burgoyne & Routh, 1990)?

Now we come to the wrapping of the gifts. In fact, how the gift is wrapped has an effect on our attitude towards the gift. This effect comes from the fact that the wrapping induces a positive mood, which is then transferred to the contents of the wrapping (Howard, 1992). So put a lot of effort into the wrapping.

Decorating your house for Christmas makes a nice impression. According to a US study, people whose houses are decorated are considered friendlier than owners of undecorated houses. Moreover, these people were also assumed to be more sociable, even though this was not the case (Werner, Peterson-Lewis, & Brown, 1989). So, a tip to all homeowners: If things are not going well in the neighborhood, just decorate a little and things will work out.

Imagine the smell of biscuits and Christmas music. What does that do with us? At least in shops, it makes us think everything is better. And what’s most important: the combination of both! Nice music but a bad smell does not convince us much. We want the total package of nice things (Spangenberg, Grohmann, & Sprott, 2005).

For those of you who like to put on a little weight over Christmas, don’t panic. On average, people only gain half a kilo (Andersson & Rössner, 1992). Those who are now thinking, “But if I gain half a kilo every year, then it will always be more!” can immediately be reassured. In spring we automatically consume more energy, so that the fat deposits are reduced (to a certain extent; Zahorska-Markiewicz, 1980). So, dig in and enjoy.

Yes, Christmas is a great thing (at least most of the time). And with these facts, there were certainly a few tips to help you get through the holidays happy and relaxed. Finally, we from psyCH would like to wish you a Merry Christmas !

Bibliography :
  • Andersson, I., & Rössner, S. (1992). The Christmas factor in obesity therapy. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 16(12), 1013–1015.
  • Burgoyne, C. B., & Routh, D. A. (1991). Constraints on the use of money as a gift at Christmas: the role of status and intimacy∗. Journal of Economic Psychology, 12(1), 47–69. doi: 10.1016/0167-4870(91)90043-S
  • Howard, D. J. (1992). Gift-Wrapping Effects on Product Attitudes: A Mood-Biasing Explanation. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1(3), 197–223. doi:
  • Spangenberg, E. R., Grohmann, B., & Sprott, D. E. (2005). It’s beginning to smell (and sound) a lot like Christmas: the interactive effects of ambient scent and music in a retail setting. Journal of Business Research, 58(11), 1583–1589. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2004.09.005
  • Werner, C. M., Peterson-Lewis, S., & Brown, B. B. (1989). Inferences about homeowners’ sociability: Impact of christmas decorations and other cues. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 9(4), 279–296. doi: 10.1016/S0272-4944(89)80010-6
  • Zahorska-Markiewicz, B. (1980). Thermic effect of food and exercise in obesity. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 44(3), 231–235. doi: 10.1007/BF00421622
Featured image :

Author : Alexander Ariu

current directions news

An interview with an applied psychology graduate

In this week’s blog post we decided to take a break from COVID and from the more formal articles to offer you an insight into a relatively less known field in psychology. So, I sat with my friend Alexia Gaillard, who recently finished her master in applied psychology at Geneva’s University, to discuss about what she does and what led her to choose this master. I hope this can give you some clues that would help you out in the difficult task of choosing a master amongst all the interesting options out there. 

P: Hi Alex, first I would like to thank you for accepting this socially distant safe interview to talk a bit about your field and your motivations for following this path. Maybe I would like to start by asking you to tell us a little bit about your educational background… 

A: Sure, I started in post-obligatory business school, at the time I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I thought that maybe with that I could end up somewhere. Then during the last year, I had to do an internship that helped me realize that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful and interesting so I decided to change. I went to an event at UNIGE where they presented me a profile of a psychology student and almost everything in that profile resonated with me. 

P: Do you remember what the profile sounded like? 

A: I just remember two words, which were organized and curious. And that is something with which I identify. 

P: So, it was kind of a natural choice for you. 

A: Yeah, I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking and the courses seemed so interesting that I didn’t even consider the other faculties. 

P: It’s so interesting that the two words that you remember are organized and curious… it’s something that is so linked to the master you chose three years after. 

A: Yeah that’s right… I don’t know, if I had to describe myself I would say organized and curious, maybe that’s why I remember it the most. I guess I also wanted to do psychology out of a desire to understand why people do certain things. I also had trouble being in social groups and the choice came from a motivation to further understand the dynamics and maybe feel more comfortable around others.  

P: It’s funny because it’s quite narcissistic but I feel like it is the case for many psychologists to choose psychology in order to understand themselves first. So, at that point what was the representation you had of a psychologist? 

A: Well, I think I had the stereotyped idea of a person with paper notes sited in front of a patient/client who’s sitting on a couch hoping for some advice (which was such a reductionist and wrong idea). But of course, this representation changed towards an image of a scientist too. At first I didn’t think that psychology was that scientific. 

P: Yeah, I had the same feeling. Then you go to uni and realize that you have to take statistics classes, learn all about the scientific methodology and even conduct research. 

A: Yeah, I liked that kind of stability that the scientific method offers to psychologists. 

P: So, when you finished your bachelor did you have a clear idea of what master you wanted to choose? 

A: I knew that I wanted to choose the social orientation because those were the courses I enjoyed the most and the ones where I felt that I was the most engaged with. You know, the interesting thing about those classes was the fact that when you go around your life, interacting as any human being and watching others interact, you can experience the dynamics and everything you learnt in class. I also knew I wanted to do research. 

P: Definitely. So let’s get into the difficult task of defining applied psychology… what would you say it is? 

A: Well, the world applied says it all. You take the knowledge that comes from research, from fundamental psychology and you apply those findings to the problem you want to solve. Let’s say, you start by defining a problem, for example, smoking behavior. You do your literature research on this behavior from A to Z and then you search for alternative solutions based on the behavior changing techniques that come precisely from research. 

P: I see. So, what are some of the fields you can work on being an applied psychologist? 

A: We can work on environmental, health, education and societal issues. The idea is to create intervention programs that are aimed at changing behavior. For example, recently we talk a lot about fast fashion and how consumerism behavior contributes to environmental issues and how we can create interventions to make people change that in order to adopt a more environmentally friendly behavior. To do this, it is important to know how conscious the population your intervention is aimed is about the problem. Because of course, the intervention will be much different for a person who doesn’t acknowledge the problem at all compared to someone who knows that their behavior is bad but doesn’t know how to change it. Our task is to investigate all these factors and create an intervention according to the issue, to the population and to the means you have to create this intervention. After this, the most important part in this process is to evaluate the impact of our intervention, what worked, what didn’t work and what can be done to make it better. The strength of applied psychology interventions compared to others is that it is evidenced-based, we don’t start with an intervention that “seems like a good idea” because the likelihood of it not working is much higher. 

P: Thank you Alex for your time and for sharing your experience with us. 

Featured image :
  • 27 Social Psychology Dissertation Topics for Academic Resea, A., No Comment. Retrieved from :

Author : Paula Morales

current directions news

Why the arranging model is more important than ever in times of Covid-19

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its measures, maintaining mental health is becoming increasingly difficult for many people (FSP, 2020). We know from various studies that quarantine has a negative effect on a person’s mental state. In a review, Brooks et al. (2020) have reported the negative psychological effects of quarantine, including anxiety, sadness, nervousness, anger, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. During a quarantine, people can manifest a variety of stressors such as fear of infection, boredom, frustration, insufficient care, stigmatization, and financial loss. These stressors can cause long-term effects such as mental disorders (Brooks et al., 2020). According to the WHO, quarantine and its effect on humans could lead to higher levels of loneliness, harmful alcohol and drug consumption, depression, and it is expected that self-harm or suicidal behavior will also increase (WHO, 2020).

According to a press release of the FSP, 1300 psychologists report in a survey about an increased demand from patients since summer 2020 (FSP, 2020). More than 70% of the patients were rejected due to a lack of therapeutic capacity. Due to the corona pandemic, 31% of the participants suffered from new mental illnesses, with some of the participants already carrying a pre-existing mental burden before the corona pandemic. Furthermore, psychologists reported that 47% of their existing clients reported that corona and the nation wide lockdown worsened their symptoms (FSP, 2020). In the field of mental health, there have been barriers to care in Switzerland for quite some time (Stettler, Stocker, Gardiol, Bischof, & Künzli, 2013; Stocker et al., 2016). According to the FSP, patients often have to wait up to six months for ambulatory treatment, which is a considerable amount of waiting time while being in a position of need (FSP, 2020). 

For this reason, the barriers to ambulatory psychotherapy must be reduced as quickly as possible. Until now, ambulatory psychotherapy by psychological psychotherapists has only been reimbursed by the basic insurance as soon as they are employed under a psychiatric doctor. This is the so-called delegation model, which greatly limits the number of psychotherapy places available and leads to long waiting periods (FSP, 2020). Therefore, the critical delegation model should be replaced by the arranging model. The purpose of this model is to enable psychotherapy to be carried out by self-employed psychotherapists in the future, where the costs are also covered by the basic insurance. However, the assignment of patients to a therapist should be made on the instructions of a medical doctor. The regulation change, which is necessary for the introduction of the arranging model, has been available since summer 2019. The consultation process has been completed since October 2019, and the Health Commissions of the Council of States and National Council also support the change. It is now up to the Federal Council to ensure that, in the near future, all people have rapid access to psychotherapeutic services financed by the basic insurance (FSP, 2020).  

Bibliography :
  • Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 395(10227), 912–920. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8
  • Föderation der Schweizer Psychologinnen und Psychologen [FSP] (2020). Covid und die Psyche – Mehr Anfragen bei Psychologen seit dem Sommer. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from 
  • World Health Organization [WHO] (2020). Mental health and COVID-19. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from 
Featured image :
  • Standing Jake (n.d). How to address business growth barriers. Retrieved November 12, 2020, from

Author : Alexander Ariu

news psyCH aktuell

What is the “Kick-off Event” of psyCH and what happens there?

You may have heard of psyCH before or at least you have seen some posters or flyers in the corridors of your school. psyCH is a student organization consisting of future psychologists from different disciplines. The goal of psyCH is to promote the interests of psychology students and to unite different psychology circles to create a large national and international network of students. This is mainly intended to serve the networking of different students and professional associations. Besides the annual psyKO and the operation of psyPra, we have other events, such as the kick-off event.

The kick-off event took place in mid-August in Basel, where most of the psyCH members from the 2020/21 mandate met for the first time. This event was about getting to know all new and old members first, but also about some organization. From the schedule of the Kick-off Event, we started with a short overview of “What is psyCH?’”. For example, we got some interesting information about the vision and mission of psyCH which you can find on our website under the “About us” section. We also set some goals for 2021, for example, we want to join forces with other (local or national) student associations for common projects and we want to increase our online and offline visibility, so that we can refer to different events like the psyKo and the psyCH Trainers School.

After the organizational part, we participated in a short but amusing team building program where we shared some stories about ourselves. The activity was very relaxing and it allowed everyone to come together and laugh warmly. It certainly made the day nicer. The lunch was also quite nice because as we all know, food connects people in conversation.

After that, we worked a little bit in our so-called, “Buddy-working session”. During this time, we met with various buddies (our Heads of different disciplines), where we had to clarify some organizational points for the mandate 2020/2021. The Buddy-working session resulted in a nice and large output of information, which each member presented briefly. Finally, the kick-off event concluded in a picture, which can be seen above. In this picture, you can find the course and the goals for psyCH in this and next year.  

We hope this article gave you an understanding of our Kick-off event. Anyway, the experience was very cool, and everybody had the change to participate in the organization and vote anonymously for certain decisions. All in all, The communication was very open, and it was well organized.

Featured image:
  • Weber, A-S., (2020). Kick-off event 2020.

Author : Alexander Ariu

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psyKo 2020

We regret to inform you that psyKo 2020 must be cancelled due to the latest developments concerning the corona virus and the regulations of the Federal Office of Public Health – your health has priority! Those who have already transferred the money will be refunded the amount as soon as possible. It is expected that next year’s congress will take place under the same motto at the same location.

We regret that this year’s congress will not take place and we hope to welcome you all next year.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time. Until then we wish you a good time, take care of yourselves and stay healthy!


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