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Teaching sensitive topics in psychology

Teaching sensitive topics in psychology. Discipline Lead for Psychology. Dr Julie Hulme. What are ‘sensitive topics’?. What do students say?.

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Teaching sensitive topics in psychology

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  1. Teaching sensitive topics in psychology • Discipline Lead for Psychology • Dr Julie Hulme

  2. What are ‘sensitive topics’?

  3. What do students say? “Some subjects, like study of repressed memories and social psychology, have made me feel more depressed and made me focus on my own problems and made me feel more hopeless and helpless”.

  4. What do students say? “There are some aspects of the course that I find irritating; in a module on personality for example the suggestion that cancer (such a generalisation) can, in some cases, be attributed to personality traits seems very simplistic. (This was the cause of my disability).”

  5. What do students say? “They are scientists, but don’t appreciate the knowledge they have that explains my behaviour, and how they can help. A lecturer that specialises in reading, and in dyslexia and reading, doesn’t apply what she teaches when she knows she has students that match the case studies that she presents. It’s very frustrating”.

  6. Be aware… Almost anything can be ‘sensitive’! Students expect us to have understanding because we are psychologists. The proportion of students with mental ill health and disability is higher in psychology than almost any other subject.

  7. How can we deal with sensitive topics? “Health warnings” – acknowledge the sensitivities and recommend actions to be taken by students who find the content difficult; Don’t teach? – what are the issues with this? Important to be: Confident – Approachable – Professional - Sensitive

  8. What are your experiences? Have you taught sensitive topics? Been surprised at what was found sensitive? How have you dealt with sensitive topics? What would you still like to know more about?

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