Joanna’s journey as a psychologist reflects a deep-seated desire to impact lives on a personal level. With a former career in the public service, Joanna transitioned from serving the community at a broader level, to delving into individual narratives. Drawing on her background in anthropology and languages, she felt a natural pull towards psychology.

Despite the demands of her full-time public service role, she started on a gradual exploration, completing introductory psychology subjects and then a Graduate Diploma. Life’s responsibilities temporarily diverted her focus, but a chance encounter with a fellow psychology enthusiast rekindled her passion.

Enrolling at the University of Canberra, Joanna resumed her studies, successfully finishing her Honours studies in 2018. Undeterred by the challenges of balancing family life and work, she progressed to a Master of Clinical Psychology part time, finishing at the end of 2022. 

Joanna’s South-East Asian and European Australian heritage is enriched by her identity as a First Nations person (Kadazan) from Borneo. She’s on a continuous journey to comprehend the significance of her own Bornean First Nations identity, as she lives, works and raises her family on Ngunnawal Country. For her, this has been a foundational element of her personal and conscious practice of ‘everyday reconciliation’ in Australia. 

In Joanna’s career, the most unforgettable moments happen when she becomes completely attuned to people she is working with. These instances, etched deeply in her professional journey, create a profound connection. As she listens, Joanna not only comprehends the spoken words but senses the essence of their experiences. This intuitive understanding allows her to reflect on people’s narratives in a way that assures them they are genuinely heard. It’s a unique and special dynamic, surpassing ordinary conversations.  

When asked about what drives her passion for the field of mental health, she reflects on her profound curiosity for unlocking people’s stories and understanding the essence of their journeys. Particularly drawn to the clinical path, she appreciates the opportunity to explore the complexity of human experiences with individuals. Her motivation lies in her desire to assist people on a personal level, acknowledging the privilege of connecting with them at their most vulnerable moments. Joanna values the space she holds for others, providing an avenue to discuss topics often deemed ‘unspeakable’ in everyday life. By breaking the barriers of silence, she aims to create healing and connection in those she meets with. Moments of making tangible impact at Think Mental Health have affirmed her commitment to this field.  

Joanna, offering advice to aspiring mental health professionals, emphasises there are many paths to this career. She advocates that passion and drive can lead individuals into the field through various routes, dispelling the notion of a linear progression from school to university, then practice. She encourages diversions, believing they enrich one’s practice, and enhance a person’s ability to connect with a broader range of people.   

Joanna is just one of the people you may encounter at Think Mental Health. To make an appointment with one of our psychologists, give us a call. 


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