This week meet Katie O’Donoghue, a UCL PhD candidate from Ireland who has a background in Art Psychotherapy. Here, Katie chats to us about her new book, The Little Squirrel Who Worried, which she created last year while working as a therapist.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I am undertaking a PhD in heritage and psychological well-being for individuals undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. I was drawn to this subject by my own professional experience and work with clients as an Art Psychotherapist and also my love of creativity and meaning-making through the exploration of my own familial heritage. Once my PhD is completed I plan on taking an MSc conversion course in psychology.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
I have been incredibly privileged to have been awarded a Marie Sklodowska-Curie scholarship to fund my PhD at UCL.
This award enabled a European commission funded project, CHEurope. Through my participation in the project, I met and collaborated with 14 other students in academic and non-academic institutions across Europe. During the first three years of my PhD I met wonderful, talented scholars and saw amazing cultural cities such as Bologna, Florence, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Santiago de Compostela and Gotenberg.
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
Ambrose cafe, which is above Habitat on Tottenham Court Road is always great for a cup of coffee or a tasty lunch.
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?
A reduction in the fear and anxiety that has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and more funding to support the mental and emotional wellbeing for all.
Who inspires you and why?
There have been many strong, intelligent and talented women that have supported me through pivotal moments of my education and career. From my mother - a talented clinical practice nurse who has persevered in her practice despite suffering from progressive MS - to wonderful teachers who helped me achieve my potential; from my first art teacher, to my incredibly dynamic and supportive PhD supervisor (Dr Anne Lanceley, the head of the Women’s Cancer department in the EGA Institute for Women’s Health at UCL).
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I am the author and illustrator of a new children’s book, The Little Squirrel Who Worried, published by Gill Books. I created the book last year while working as a therapist for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The tale of Little Squirrel supports children with their worries as through Little Squirrel’s adventures in the forest, the reader learns about anxiety, coping skills and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to empower them when worries arise.