Monica Schweickle is a Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Teacher who is based in Byron Bay. She divides her time between her private psychotherapy practice, Drishti Psychology, teaching meditation and yoga, and lecturing with the NSW Institute of Psychiatry. She is interested in personality, unconscious processes, and the emotional body. She specializes working with people experiencing addictions, trauma, difficulty managing emotions, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Monica is passionate about integrative approaches to emotional and physical wellness.
Tell us how you came to be in the role you are today…
During my high school studies, I was torn between becoming a psychologist or becoming an artist – I’m glad I picked psychology! After I finished my undergraduate studies, I started as an intern in a drug and alcohol service within the public health system, and after five years I left to set up an addictions program at a private hospital. I began integrating yoga and meditation into my private psychology practice, including teaching yoga nidra (a form of meditation) in hospitals and in my private practice. After another three years I moved from Sydney to Byron Bay, where I have been for almost two years now, and enjoy practicing a blend of psychological science and yoga practices.
What would be your best advice to someone starting out on the same career path as you?
Studying psychology is immensely rewarding, as well as very challenging. I recommend developing a self-care ritual – like a yoga or meditation practice. Also, it is so important to have your own psychotherapy, to understand yourself and your own “stuff” (we all have “stuff”!) One needs determination and commitment as well as empathy, creativity and a scientific mind too. My main piece of advice is to recognize that it is a long training journey, and even once you graduate, you will always be learning!
How do you relax when you’re not busy answering questions at I Quit Sugar?
I love surfing and yoga. If the surf is no good, then bushwalking and swimming in waterfalls. I also love cooking delicious vegan meals.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Definitely anything administrative! The main down side of running your own business is doing your own tax, book keeping, paying bills, paperwork and so on… so boring! I would much rather be talking with clients!
In five words, tell us the most important qualities for someone in your particular role…
Curiosity, resilience, patience, humour and empathy.
What do you enjoy most about working in your field?
The interesting and inspiring people I meet. It is such an honour to share people’s journeys, challenges, and secret selves. Humans have told stories to one another as a way of making sense of themselves and their experiences since the dawn of language. In a way I feel as if I have lived through so many different versions of what it is to be human, through listening to people’s stories. And, the depth of understanding that arises out of seeing other people through their best and worst. Bearing witness to discoveries as they are gradually unearthed, as people make the changes they need to live richly experienced, meaningful lives.
What’s next on your horizon?
Continuing to run my iRest yoga nidra courses, combining meditation with traditional psychology approaches, and perhaps getting some research published.
If you weren’t a Psychologist and Yoga Teacher, you would have been a…
Professional artist! I still might be! Or a vet, or zookeeper.
Why are you such a firm believer in the I Quit Sugar philosophy?
I’m an ethical vegan and do my grocery shopping at my local farmer’s markets, and I like how I Quit Sugar encourages us to develop a deeper awareness about where our food comes from. I Quit Sugar offers simple and tasty recipes that help people become more mindful eaters, and reduce processed foods, which is always a good thing!
The IQS Team are coming for dinner. What are you cooking for us?
It would depend on what’s in season, perhaps some bruschetta for starters: local sourdough with my home made coconut vegan butter, Cooper’s Shoot tomatoes, Bangalow garlic, olive oil, lemon and fresh basil. And maybe some warmed olives, marinated in lemon, thyme and garlic. Then for mains, a couple of salads… a big quinoa, kale and tofu salad and a zucchini pasta with homemade pesto. And to finish off, a raw cacao cashew cheesecake with some fresh local blueberries and coconut yoghurt. Yum now I’m hungry!
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