Ecole Students Explore the Mysteries of the Mind

Sunday, 13. October 2013

Last week, five students taking Advanced Psychology at the Ecole organized a class excursion to the Webster University Counseling and Psychology Conference in Geneva. The excursion gave them a chance to listen to presentations from professional psychologists and engage with cutting-edge psychological research. Accompanied by their teacher, Marnie, these students took responsibility for arranging transportation and meals for their entire group as well as planning a program of talks and workshops to attend. Below, two students discuss what they learned at the conference and show how the excursion deepened their understanding of what they are currently studying.

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Hannah Snoeren-Place: Ready to leave bright and early, we caught the morning bus to Geneva. We arrived in time to catch the first research panel, ‘Healing the Fractured Self,’ and a keynote presentation about the psychological recovery of victims of physical conflict. We spent a night in Geneva in the company of two admissions officers from Webster University, who showed us some of the sights of the city. The following morning, we returned to the conference for a presentation on using clinical therapy to make neurobiological changes in the thought patterns of trauma victims.

Leo Wöhrle: At the conference, trauma was the main topic. One presenter on this topic explained how to treat the trauma of people who have experienced war. She recommended treating trauma sufferers by encouraging them to sew pictures onto pieces of cloth. Some patients sew pictures of the things that their trauma will not let them forget, and others sew pictures of the way they would like to be in future. This process of sewing helps people who have suffered great psychological damage but are too scared to say out loud what has happened to them.

Hannah Snoeren-Place: We finished off the conference with an interesting workshop about early intervention in cases of autism. The presenter, Hilary Wood de Wilde, is a psychologist with her own practice in Geneva, where she treats children who have been diagnosed with autism at a very young age and works with them to improve their social skills. At her practice, she has a three-year program that involves using games to teach these children how to acknowledge other people and become more active within a group. At the conference, she showed videos of these children from when they first arrived at her practice and another video taken when they graduated three years later. The improvement in these children was unbelievable, and their social interaction abilities were said to be now at a level that is appropriate for their age. If early intervention occurs more often, children with autism will be better able to communicate and become socially integrated with others.

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Our Advanced Psychology students are now back in regular classes where they are discussing and writing about the research findings presented to them at the conference – and, of course, some of them will also use this material to prepare for the AP Psychology exam in May 2014.

Below: Leo, Yannick, Hassib, Hannah, and Andrew sit in attendance at the conference.

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