student life

Learning by dreaming

Every good student knows that he should learn complex theories for his exams by repeating them constantly over several months, even though a glimpse in the overcrowded libraries one night before the exams proves that most of us don’t actually do that. But who am I to judge right? Learning, as we students know it, is often boring and exhausting. First, you have to fight to get a spot in the library, then you have to successfully ignore all the coffee-break requests from your buddies and by the time you start getting productive, it is already time for your lunch. One could now argue that you can start working after your lunch break, but as we all know you’ll get sleepy after eating so you take a nap. And after a nap you need a coffee. And after your coffee-break at 4 o’clock there is barely any reason to open your laptop for two more lousy hours. This scene describes a typical problem faced by students all around the world. But what if I told you that there are other ways to learn?

You don’t have to sit at a table for hours to learn. Most athletes learn while doing the exact opposite. Through repeated execution of movements they gain knowledge and control over their bodies. This is the so-called physical practice (PP). Although it is the most common way for athletes to learn and improve their skills it is not the only way. Mental Practice (MP) is also a well-established part of the training of athletes. They visualize a certain situation and the related movement before they actually move (Suinn, 1997). Or how Jack Niklaus, one of the most successful golfers, would put it: «I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head» (Niklaus, 1974, p. 79). Since this kind of practice works without any physical movement you can do it anywhere and anytime, even in your dreams! Well, provided that you have control over them which is exactly the definition of lucid dreams. In this rare condition which occurs mostly in the REM-Phase of sleep, you know that you are dreaming. Not only does this allow you to move freely through the landscape of your subconscious, but you can also influence it. This basically means that you can go to bed and when you’re getting lucid, create your individual learning environment and start practicing. In 2016 Stumbrys, Erlacher and Schredl compared the outcome of this lucid dream practice (LDP) with PP, MP and a control group in a field experiment. 68 individuals were asked to memorize a sequence of five numbers by pressing four keys on a computer keyboard as quickly and accurately as possible. After that, they went to bed and all participants, except for the control group, trained this task in different ways during the night. The MP group by visualizing, the PP group by performing and the LDP group by dreaming. The morning after, they repeated this task and the results were compared to the data from last evening. And indeed, they all made significant progress compared to the control group. 

Learning by dreaming? This is literally a dream come true, right? Well there are a few points to consider before you hop in your bed to learn for the next exams. First of all, even though it seems possible to learn lucid dreaming, only 5% of the population has at least one lucid dream per week (Schredl & Erlacher, 2011). Secondly, there were no significant differences between the groups which indicates that LDP is not superior to the other forms of practice. And thirdly, you can only recreate something in your dreams if you have a memory of it. So, there is really no way around it, at some point you have to sit down and learn these psychological theories before you can recall them in your dreams. 

So, what is the conclusion on LDP? It is a unique technique to learn and improve skills while sleeping. Particularly people who want to practice under special circumstances have the possibility to create a perfect learning environment without putting others or yourself at risk (e.g. surgeons, athletes etc.). Nevertheless, I doubt that you’ll pass next semester without some old-fashioned learning session in your local library. But now you have at least a good excuse for your next visit at the sleep room in the university. When your colleagues give you a judging look because you leave the table to take a nap, just tell them you will continue learning in your dreams.

Bibliography :
  • Niklaus, J. (1974). Golf my way. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  • Schredl, M., & Erlacher, D. (2011). Frequency of lucid dreaming in a representative German sample. Perceptual and motor skills112(1), 104-108.
  • Stumbrys, T., Erlacher, D., & Schredl, M. (2016). Effectiveness of motor practice in lucid dreams: A comparison with physical and mental practice. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(1), 27-34.
  • Suinn, R. M. (1997). Mental practice in sport psychology: where have we been, where do we go?. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice4(3), 189-207.
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  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, (2004, December 12). Fat man and little boy. Giphy.

Author : Max Frutiger

psyCH aktuell student life

An experience at the Trainers’ School

Roxane is a student who is currently doing her Master degree in health Psychology in Lausanne. She took part in the Trainers’ School of this summer and here is her story.

“I confess that even though I had enthusiastically enrolled in PsyCh trainers’ school on the advice of a friend, I remember arriving in Därstetten, far from home and a bit stressed. Indeed, I was a bit afraid of not having the knowledge and skills to achieve this week of training.

In spite of this, I was still looking forward to learning how to give training and to getting more familiar with original training techniques, which could go beyond the rigid and formal framework of academic presentations. I wanted to stimulate my creativity and develop my skills in managing group dynamics and oral presentation.  It was with this slight apprehension and these expectations that I walked through the door of this large chalet in Därstetten. 

It’s been already a few weeks since I attended this training, and I can truly confirm that it was sensational, so enriching, so dense but so interactive and constructive. Very quickly I forgot my fears and I felt really comfortable and integrated.

During this week I had the opportunity to attend, day after day, lessons about adult learning and oral presentation skills. I also learned progressively how to structure a training, how to define the different stages of reflection that participants should go through, how to set goals, to identify the participant’s needs and to adjust the content of a training according to each person’s experience and expectations. I learned how to give constructive feedback, enriching debriefings, how to facilitate and moderate group discussions.

I learned how to give training, but not from the point of view of a teacher who would know everything and students who would know nothing. One of the things I liked the most during the PsyCH trainer’s School 2020 was the philosophy behind the trainings. The fact that knowledge is built together, and that we are not there as experts. Everyone is an expert and everyone brings something to the training.  It is this idea of participation that I really appreciated. It was lively, it was rich.

I also got familiar with a multitude of equally creative methods to transmit content, to make this transmission dynamic and interactive. To link it with our life experiences so that it is imprinted in our memory for much more longer.

The trainers did an amazing job throughout the week to pass on what they knew and so that we could apply it as much as possible. One thing I also loved was the benevolence that reigned throughout all the week, this solidarity, this complicity. Everyone contributed to create a safe space, where everything was possible and every attempt was constructive and allowed us to learn. I learned in one week so much more, so much better! I will be able to apply all this knowledge, both in my academic cursus and in my everyday life.

For all these reasons, I recommend the experience of participating in the PsyCh trainer’s school. It will allow you to develop original and creative presentation techniques and skills. To transmit knowledge and content in a dynamic and participative way. This experience will also allow you to become part of a team, a family, and create very strong connections. I definitely recommend it.”

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  • Pauli, E., (2020). Trainers’ School 2020.

Author : Ardiana Dacaj

student life

How do I get an internship in psychology?

Internships offer the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into a sector or a company, to make contacts, to learn about other aspects of one’s own field of study, or to put learned theory into practice.

In order to choose the right internship position, clear ideas should first be developed about which position will help you advance professionally. Interested students need to know which practical experience is desired in a particular sector.

  • If there is a clear desire for a specific job, first experiences in this area can already be gained with a concrete internship. This is an advantage for later applications. Example: Practicing the handling of interviews and questionnaires during an internship at the career guidance office.
  • If your job wish is still unclear, you can use an internship to get a taste of areas that are of interest to you. For example: During a research internship you can try out whether you enjoy your scientific work.
When should I do an internship? 

It is never too early to gain professional experience. It is ideal if you have already completed an internship or several internships during your bachelor’s degree. At this stage, you probably have not really made up your mind and can get a taste of different areas. This makes it easier to find your professional focus later on. In the Master’s program, you should be able to decide on a specific field. 

It is still possible to change even then, but the more intensively you concentrate on one area, the quicker you can get used to it. For example, companies appreciate it very much if you know your way around a field well and have some experience.

Possible practice areas: 
  • Psychiatric and psychosomatic clinics (e.g. UPD, UPK, PUKZ, etc.)
  • Child and youth psychiatric services
  • Universities (research internship, assistant)
  • Research institutions
  • Organizational area (personnel selection and development)
  • Educational guidance centers
  • Career and occupational guidance
  • School Psychology Service
  • Psychotherapeutic Practices
  • Outpatient psychological and psychiatric services
  • Addiction clinics
  • Rehabilitation Clinic
  • (…)
How or where can I find an internship? 

The search for an internship is of course very different for everyone due to individual interests, which is why the search and the approach is always different. Therefore, I will try to mention some points that might help in general.

Network: By network, we mean a pool of friends, relatives, colleagues, seminar instructors, or even lecturers. Through these networks it is possible to collect information from various internship offers from different institutions. Depending on this, you can even learn from the network that an internship will soon be announced and that you can send an unsolicited application before. The bigger the network is, the more information one has available for the potential search for an internship. Exciting information can be obtained from every contact. If one person is not able to help you with your intern search, you can ask the person for another person who can help you. In this way, you might be able to find a person who has a vacant internship place through a recommendation. By the way, this principle also applies to all jobs in general.

Find open internship positions: This link list is a little help. It contains the most important links from my point of view and should give you some ideas on how and where you can search for internships in psychology. It is worth clicking through the pages to find out more.

  • psyPra: There you will find internships in various fields (organizations, clinics, institutions, universities, etc.)
  • Aerzte-Jobs: It helps to find a job for clinical psychologists. From time to time you can find internships in various clinics.
  • Research internships at the UZH: There is a wide range of internships available at the University of Zurich. Of course, all other university institutions also offer research internships. You only have to consult their sites regularly and look out for vacancies in the corridors from time to time.
  • SKJP: Internships in the field of child and youth psychology (school psychology).

I hope I was able to help you with this link list and this article. Of course, there are many more search options on the internet, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that you can exchange information with others so that you know much more and expand your network. As I said before, the bigger your network is, the bigger your success for a cool internship.

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Author: Alexander Ariu

student life

PhD – A guide on how to find your PhD position

Be clear about your priorities

The most important thing you need to know if you are looking for a PhD position is what you want to be working on in the future. Try to figure out what fascinates you and what skills you want to learn in the next couple of years. This can be rather broad – I knew that I wanted to work with brain imaging data, genetic data and psychiatric disorders. Search for positions accordingly.

Activate all resources

There are many ways to look for a PhD position. The most helpful one in my opinion is to ask people from your current lab and especially your current supervisor. They will know all important groups in the field and write your reference letters. Also talk to the career service centre at your University. They will assist you in writing a good CV and motivation letter. 

Don’t settle for the easiest option

If you like your current lab and think that you will achieve your goals within this group – great! However, doing your PhD in a different lab will give you new perspectives, foster new collaborations, introduce you to new methods, it will look great on your CV and you might get the chance to spend some time abroad. This usually comes with more organisational problems but I think it’s worth it. 

Find a great supervisor

One of the most important people in the life of a PhD student is his/her supervisor. They decide on which projects you will be working on, introduce you to other scientists in the field, help you progress, evaluate your findings and finally recommend you for post-doc positions. If you can, visit the group and talk to lab members in person. This gives you an idea of how you might fit in and a broad approximation of how happy other PhDs are with their supervisor. 

Don’t give up and keep looking

Searching the perfect PhD position can be very frustrating. You will spend a lot of time looking for positions, applying and probably receive several rejections. Don’t get too fussed about it. Some Universities will turn you down and others won’t. This usually does not tell much about your qualifications. 

Reach for the stars

Always be courageous! Everyone questions their competence and qualifications. Try to focus on your potential and highlight your strengths. If you find an interesting PhD position at a prestigious University, which seems out of reach, try anyway. You might be lucky and end up in Cambridge.

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Author: Eva-Maria Stauffer

psyCH aktuell student life

4 Reasons to volunteer in an association

The semester is past the halfway point and the next one around the corner. If you are looking for a new challenge, joining an association might be right for you. The following article lists a few of the reasons some of our members and I joined psyCH and what we have been able to gain from it.

Connecting with others

For me and many others connecting with others was and still is one of the main reasons for joining and being a part of psyCH. Apart from making new friends, it has been a great opportunity to get insight into life at other universities and surpassing the language barriers within Switzerland. 

Insight in different fields of psychology

PsyCH has created ways for me to deepen my knowledge about different areas of psychology. At the psyKo for example, different workshops and lectures let me learn about fields I had never heard of. The same goes for other students I have met through psyCH. Furthermore, as a part of the blog-team writing articles about different topics has the perk of getting to know more about various topics through research. Joining an association is certainly a way to deepen your knowledge on topics that interest you and meeting others who share your passion.

New experiences

Becoming active in an association is a great way to gain new skills and insights. Obviously, these experiences depend on which tasks you are involved in, so the following are about my personal experiences. Being part of the psyKo organization team was challenging but at the same time very rewarding. It was interesting to see how much work goes into a congress behind the scenes and trained my coordination and improvisation skills when faced with challenges. I especially enjoyed having the freedom to turn my ideas into reality. In comparison being part of the blog-team has been an opportunity to work on other skills. There I have been given the chance to work on my writing as well as researching topics that interest me. In conclusion, there are many tasks to be done in associations, so if you are interested, ask around and you are likely to find a task that suits you. 

New opportunities

Associations are a way to immerse yourself in new worlds and find new opportunities that can support you on your way. Before joining I did not know much about psyCH or EFPSA but since I have become a member lots of new doors have been opened. Obviously, many things can also be found on the internet these days but nothing beats a good personal recommendation (which you are sure to get in associations). Two examples of things I have discovered through psyCH are EFPSA and the trainer school. EFPSA is the European Federation of Psychology Students’ Organisations, which organizes a one-week long conference with tons of workshops about psychology every year. Furthermore, it is a gathering of psychology students from across Europe. So far I have not been able to attend the congress but it has been highly recommended by people who have visited it in the past. Apart from EFPSA I was introduced to the trainer school (organized by psyCH), where you learn how to lead trainings on team building, learn more about yourself and much more. 

The above-mentioned points are only a few of the reasons to become involved. If you think psyCH might be right for you, check out our website! We are recruiting new members right now, so maybe you will find a task that is right for you.

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Author: Sabrina Sovilla

student life

6 Useful tools to prepare you for your exams

Exams are around the corner and it’s time to hit the books. As a psychology student, you have probably learned lots of theories on how to maximize your study success and are aware of the importance of distributed studying and taking breaks. While theories are nice, the following article will introduce some useful tried and proven study tools, to help you get through the coming weeks as smoothly as possible.

1. Quizlet

Quizlet is one of my favorite study tools. It is an App, that lets you create personalized flashcards. The free version gives you access to all of the basic functions, while the premium version lets you take your cards to the next level and add images and diagrams. One of my favorite features is that you can share and co-edit your sets with others. Depending on privacy settings you even have access to cards others have created in the past, which can save you lots of work. The software can be used on laptops or smartphones, making it easy to study on the go or even creating your cards during lectures.


2. Mindjet

Maybe you are not into flashcards and prefer mind maps in order to get a good overview of your classes. Mindjet offers the option to create mind maps digitally. Some create the basic structure before class so that they can add their notes during the lecture. I personally use OneNote for mind maps, because I like drawing them by hand. That, however, requires a laptop with a touch screen. So Mindjet is a good alternative. Mindjet isn’t free but in order to get it inexpensively, you can buy it from your university’s software store. (The same place where you can buy SPSS etc.)


3. Uniboard/Summaries

This section is probably most important for new students. One of the greatest tools to use during your studies are summaries of literature and lectures. These can either be created in study groups or found on different student platforms (different at every Uni, if you do not know the platform used at your university, that’s a great reason to talk to fellow students and possibly make a new friend 😉). Uniboard is a general platform, that has some material on it. While that is one, the most commonly used platform differs between universities, so it is best to find out which one is used at your university.


4. Grammarly

After constantly seeing Grammarly adds on YouTube, I gave in and gave it a try. I was surprised by how useful it was. It is a program you can install and use as an add-on in tools like Word. It corrects grammar and spelling surprisingly accurately. So far, I have only used the free version, which has been enough. The premium version goes even further and gives you advice on your word choice and sentence structure. It is worth giving it a try if you ever need to write something in English.


5. KKarten

Unfortunately, they are not available for all classes and all universities. Nonetheless, when available, the pre-made flashcards are a very useful tool to prepare for exams. They can be a lifesaver when you are low on time or have lots of exams in a short amount of time. The main drawback is the price (37.-) but by buying ones from older students or buying a set with a fellow student they can be made more affordable. Along with the physical cards you receive a code, that lets you use the digital version. The content is created by students and is based on the slides and literature. I usually complete them with my personal notes.

Link: (They can also be bought at the universities book shop

6. Motiviert Studiert

This last tip is not as much a tool, as a platform with many useful tips. The founder creates useful YouTube videos where he focusses on studying effectively rather than constantly (Spoiler: LOTS of repetition and lots of breaks). I found one of his videos during my third year of studies and still learned new things on how to make my studying more efficient. On his website he also has various templates and resources to create study plans etc. If you are in a study crisis I would highly recommend checking out some of his content. (Unfortunately, his content is in German but under downloads there are templates you can adapt to your own language)


Link to website:

Hopefully, you discovered some new useful tools; have a calm exam season (as calm as they get) and good luck on your exams!

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Author: Sabrina Sovilla

student life

Is Psychology the right choice for you? Find out!

Are you interested in psychology and want to find out if it is the right choice for you? Or are you unsure whether your expectations and skills fit with reality? Maybe you’re already studying psychology are second guessing  your choice and would you like further information.  Then you should check out the Online Self-Assessment Test written by the University of Applied Sciences and Art Northwestern Switzerland and the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich.

Online-Selbsttest Psychologie

The test is structured in three main modules which can be done separately.  At the end of  each      assessment you’ll receive an extensive feedback on your results, including further information and personalised diagrams. Each test takes around 10-40 minutes. You are not obligated to complete the whole module, just fill out the tasks you are interested in.

The module “My interests and expectations” consists of three tests. The test “Expectations” tests, whether your expectations correspond with the reality of the courses you will be taking at the university. At the end of the questionnaire you will receive information on how strongly your expectations correspond with reality. If your expectations are unrealistic, you will be given information for clarification. The next test asks about your interests in different fields of psychology. As a result, you will get a personalised diagram about the psychological fields you are the most interested in. They also provide further information about the different fields like clinical psychology, work psychology, sports psychology etc. The same test is offered, concerning different fields of psychology.

The module “My skills and competences” tests your ability to understand English and German texts, your capability to read statistical diagrams and your skills in “mathematical and language thinking”. This module is useful to help you  gage how prepared you are or whether you should work on certain skills before you start your studies.

The module “Frequently asked questions” is an overview of the study programmes and where you can get help to find more facts. There is also information about employment rates, salaries and the areas psychologists work in.

This assessment should provide basic information about studying psychology and the different fields you can work in later. Furthermore it’s a tool  to prevent future students from starting a degree in a field they are not interested in or one they have unrealistic expectations of. Even I, a real psychology enthusiast, learned new things about the different directions psychology has to offer. Moreover I found out which fields interest me the most (with the surprising outcome that I am more into work psychology than I thought). I think it is worth going through certain tests if you are unsure about your interests or psychology in general. It can help you learn more about yourself, no matter how far along you are in your studies.   

Author: Carla Wüthrich 

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student life

Finally, I am a psychotherapist. But how does it feel at the very beginning?

Two years ago, I earned my master’s degree in psychology and I am finally allowed to pursue the profession of a psychotherapist. But what does it mean to work as an assistant psychologist? What do you learn in the psychotherapy training? How does all of this feel?

These questions have often occupied me and I am sure others have the same difficulties.

At the university you are thought a lot about people. Clinical lectures and seminars in particular deal with a wide variety of disorders, diagnostic instruments and different approaches of psychotherapy. And yet it is something completely different when you’re sitting in front of a client for the first time, conducting an initial consultation, a diagnosis or a psychotherapeutic intervention. “What am I doing here?”, “Am I doing this the right way?” and “Does my client notice that I am still completely inexperienced?”. Such questions came to my mind during my first therapy sessions in my time as an assistant psychologist. Yes, I felt thrown in at the deep end. But isn’t that the case with every career start after graduation? Maybe as a psychotherapist it’s different again because you work so closely with people and their wellbeing is at stake.

After a few months and a higher number of cases there was a certain “routine”. Through structures, more precise considerations on case conception and a larger repertoire of interventions, I was able to gain confidence day by day. Among other things, the psychotherapy training made a proper contribution to this. Exciting seminars ranging from depression to ego-state-therapy gave me inputs that I was often able to try out and implement directly in coming therapy sessions.

Almost every day you are confronted with difficult situations from the clients’ lives. I had to learn to distance myself from them and not take the stories home. It was just as important for me to learn that I could not “save” every client and take responsibility for their lives. These are processes that took time, where the therapeutic self-awareness and supervision were an important support and part of it. My best friend always had an open ear for me in the initial phase. I also managed – mainly through sports – to get a certain distance from work.

In addition to the fact that day-to-day work is not always easy, the profession as a psychotherapist also has some incredibly beautiful facets: situations in which you become aware that a good bond between the client and you as a therapist has developed, when clients regain more self-confidence and show a more functional approach to situations that were previously impossible, when personal goals of the clients are achieved or when a therapy can be completed in which the client reports a fulfilled life with an improved state of mind.

Even though the path is long and there are always difficult moments, I am very happy to be able to carry out the profession of psychotherapist.

Author: Silvio Deplazes