With a committed practice of questioning the individualist and separatist assumptions that our current healthcare system is based on Dr Alexandra Lagaisse wants to change the narratives around “mental health”; seeing the epidemic of chronic depression and anxiety, not as a problem for each individual, but a reality check for the collective.
A Chartered and Registered Clinical Psychologist, Alexandra has worked in some of the most extreme services for mental health; from high secure forensic units to Freedom from Torture; a human rights organisation working with survivors and a range of NHS services. After meeting the raw realities and extremes of human experience, she embarked on a journey to understand more about the nature of our relationship to each other and to life. She went on to study an MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College – an international educational institute bringing together the leading thinkers, activists and practitioners from around the world to ask questions about how we face the ecological, economic and social challenges of the 21st Century, and is currently working to bring innovation to the healthcare service.
She teaches on doctoral programmes and writes articles, offers individual client work in private practice and co-facilitates groups for people looking to be with their experience of life differently, and for professionals wanting to expand their life and work. You can read more about her approach in Jason Fox’s bestselling book Battle Scars; detailing his recovery from PTSD.
We sat down with Dr Alexandra and asked her a few questions about herself and her career.
Hello Dr Alexandra, thanks for sitting down with us, we wanted to ask, has your role changed since you started in the industry?
My role has changed significantly with the narratives in psychology keeping up with changing perspectives in the world. The profession is more inclusive and more acknowledging that we live within a world of context. When I started working with people, the outdoors would have been unheard of and now it is much more integrated into practice.
What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?
Maybe not the best joke but the only one I can ever remember…
Why did the scarecrow get a prize?…. For being outstanding in his field!
What drove you to train for your role?
I am really passionate about the role of understanding human experience. My sense is that what it means to be a psychologist in these difficult times is to really understand what affects how we treat ourselves, each other and the world around us. Doing this work, I hope it contributes to a world in which we can live more openly and with less suffering.
What is your favorite thing about your career?
Through my work I have the incredible privilege of listening to people’s stories. I am continuously struck by the resilience of people to overcome adversity and how given the right environment people return to a willingness to be open and vulnerable. It always reminds me to be humble and to be grateful and to appreciate those around me
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would probably say to enjoy life and have lots of fun. I wouldn’t worry too much about achieving and striving but make sure that you take time off and go out and do all the things that later in life you won’t have the same freedom to. Follow your heart and don’t listen to others too much.
And finally, can you tell us why you wanted to get involved with MENTOR360?
In my professional experience as a Clinical Psychologist, I speak to people all the time who have various needs, some who have experienced mental health difficulties, or emotional problems, and theres such a sense that there is something wrong with them. One of the things we are trying to do at MENTOR360 is put across the message that the symptomology that people have are ways that prove that we are not living in a way that is suiting our needs. Once you see your symptoms like that, it’s a much more empowered way of viewing ourselves.
So instead of seeing ourselves as a problem to be fixed, it’s more about getting to know ourselves, understanding what our needs are that will help us. The whole approach at MENTOR360 is to try and normalise our feelings and give solid, sound advice for a variety of different life issues when you need it most.