Feilding student to present research at international psychology conference
A Manawatu psychology student will present her research in front of experts from around the world.
Feilding's Olivia Williams will attend the International School Psychology Association conference in Manchester, England, in July, where she will put forward her findings on the state of educational psychology in New Zealand.
Her research about teachers' perceptions of the services available to children to support their mental health is the first of its kind in New Zealand. It also fits well with the conference's theme for this year – supporting vulnerable children.
The 27-year-old found teachers were under-equipped to support the increasing needs of young people and that too many young people were not receiving psychological help. A lack of funding also prevented educational psychologists from studying the topic, she said.
Although her findings were not ground-breaking or surprising, Williams said it was the first empirically-based study exploring the nature of support New Zealand teachers and students were receiving.
The opportunity to create a dialogue opened the door for ongoing possibilities to invoke change, she said.
"This is a personal and academic honour. The exposure afforded by such an opportunity, especially this early in my career, is invaluable.
"[It's important] to ensure we continue to strive to provide the best possible care and education for our children."
In her spare time, Williams works as a volunteer counsellor for Youthline, an organisation that helps young people if they want to talk. She takes calls, responds to texts and mentors other trainee volunteers.
Williams is completing her postgraduate diploma in educational psychology at Massey University. The diploma involves a full-time unpaid internship with the Ministry of Education as an intern psychologist.
She previously completed her honours in psychology and masters in educational psychology. She then travelled the world for three years and worked abroad.
Her inspiration is to help children with varying challenges, whether they be learning, behavioural, social or developmental.
Williams obtained funding to attend the conference in England through the Manawatu District Council, Rotary Feilding and Careers and Education Transition New Zealand.