Suellen Peak | Alumni | Master of Applied Positive Psychology

Master of Applied Positive Psychology graduate, Suellen, felt the course opened doors in ways that she could not have imagined. Since graduating she has founded The ART Space Group - an organisation established to support those with infertility issues and fertility treatment.

Q: What did you enjoy about studying at the Faculty of Education?

The Faculty of Education and the MAPP course has been the best university experience I have ever had. The course was structured in a way as to build connections between staff and students and has helped to create a professional network that I continue to participate in to this day.

With the course embedded in the Faculty, it was also refreshing to be outside of behavioural sciences and the notion that this is the only place for psychological knowledge and thinking. The Faculty of Education really allowed all the students to think broadly about the application of Positive Psychology and our shared capacity to teach and education others from any discipline or field.

Q: Why did you choose to study Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP)?

As a therapist and practitioner I felt I needed more in my tool kit than simply focusing on deficits and helping people to address weakness. The course offered a way to explore what is right with people, organisations and systems and to use this to create opportunities for growth, development and innovation. I also needed to elevate my qualifications to remain relevant in a changing professional market, but also wanted a strong point of difference, and this course has helped me to achieve that.

Q: What was the most valuable/rewarding aspect of MAPP?

Many things! The depth and breadth of the material and its application to people, organisations, and systems is one thing. It also helped me to think about my skill set outside of a the lens of a counsellor/therapist. In addition, there's the professional community element – students and teaching staff are always supportive and there's an ongoing accessibility of the tribe!

Q: What interested you most about the area you studied? How do you apply it in your current role?

The course helped to shift my thinking about mental illness and mental health. In particular it highlighted that these concepts are not opposite ends of the same continuum. As a practitioner I had been trained or lead to believe that if you treated mental illness, mental health and wellbeing would follow. The course also highlighted that wellbeing and mental health are different entities and that as such, we need different ways to measure, cultivate and grow mental health.

In addition, the course allowed me to start to consider how I could help clients navigating the challenges of infertility and fertility treatment, while maintaining their wellbeing. Since completing the course I have opened the doors to a small business,  that imbeds positive psychology as a core element in helping individuals and couples to sustain their journey and maintain their wellbeing while managing the highs and lows of fertility treatment.

Q: Since graduating, what types of projects have you been working on?

I am become the Director and Founder of – The ART Space Group (stands for the Assisted Reproductive Treatment space group. I established it in 2017 and left full time employment with a major fertility clinic to provide a stand alone service for people navigating infertility and fertility treatment.

I have also developed a psychoeducation program, delivered in a group setting to increase accessibility for clients waiting for counselling to commence treatment. The program meets the requirements of the ART Act and NHMRC guidelines. The program uses the principles and practices of positive psychology to help people to think about and plan for their treatment by providing tips and strategies to cultivate wellbeing and to maintain optimal mental health. The project was picked up by a major IVF provider in Melbourne and is now part of their standard mode of delivery for patients entering ART.

Q: Can you describe how your degree has contributed to your career development?

It has opened doors in ways that I could not have imagined, as well as having provided a renewed love and passion for my field of practice. It's an endless supply of opportunities to be of service to those navigating infertility.

Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?

I hope to build our brand and profile as a organisation that delivers innovation and wellbeing services to fertility patients. I am also looking at online programs including webinars and resources for anyone grappling with infertility.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing a career in fertility counselling and wellbeing?

It's a highly rewarding career and field of expertise, with endless opportunities to provide help to people as the journey can be long and challenging.

Q: What would you say to students who are thinking about studying your program at The University of Melbourne?

Sign up now – it will change your life!!

Read more about the MAPP experience from our other students Andrea Downie and Lela McGregor.

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