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One on one… with Alma Au

We dip into the Society member database and pick out… Alma Au, Associate Professor, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

04 February 2019

One thing psychologists should be proud of
It is so inclusive. We can talk about psychology across lifespan and cultures. There is a broad range of therapeutic models stemming from traditions: individual and systems, evidence-based and hermeneutic approaches as well as psychoeducation and psychotherapy.
Life is never dull.

One way the Society is important to me
The Society bridges the experience I had studying and working in UK and my life in Hong Kong.

One thing I like working in London
I worked as a clinical psychologist in London in the 1990s. It was the time when the NHS was moving into community care. Apart from working in hospitals, there were a lot of opportunities to go to home visits with other disciplines including nurses, social workers, physical and occupational therapists. We really got to understand the hopes and fears of our clients… how they live and are getting along with their neighbourhood.

One piece of music I like
Schubert’s Nacht und Träume. It is the about ephemeral nature of dreams and maybe life in general. I especially like the cello version played by Maisky. It is sentimental, reflective but not depressing.

One thing I like about working in Hong Kong
Life is quick in Hong Kong. All sorts of systems are in place to streamline procedures. As a clinician, the structure will facilitate you to see more cases for each session. After changing to working at an academic setting, there were more opportunities to initiate both practice and research projects. The experience working in London has facilitated my work in the community. Apart from more clinically-orientated projects, I’m also working on projects on age-friendly cites and intergenerational learning.

One book I like
I like reading history books in general and easily spend hours in the large book stores with these sections in UK. In particular, books like The Heritage of World Civilizations by Albert Craig gives a global perspective on the events and processes that have shaped our increasingly connected world. It is amazing to find the concept of ‘dualism’, for instance, may have its roots in the Persian civilisation.

One piece in The Psychologist I like
Claire Hughes on The Transition to School (September 2015). It succinctly summarised all the core concepts like school readiness and executive function. I particularly like the metaphor explaining ‘like gardeners, parents need to tend their infants with patience, attention and care, but should not expect success at every turn’.

One inspiration
While I was studying in the UK for my undergraduate degree, there were all kinds of volunteer activities going on, with various agencies and religious communities. I had the wonderful chance to go visiting people with various challenging conditions, alongside some senior citizen volunteers. While not having any formal training, these senior volunteers were using their life experience to relate to the people to the people they were visiting. I can still remember how perceptive and communicative these volunteers were.

One thing I would like to change
Reference to the ageing population is often characterised by negative undertone suggesting inevitable burden. I wish more attention could be given to the potential of older adults. Apart from attention, more tangible opportunities should be made available for older adults to contribute to society with their life-long experience.