On October 14, 2012, as millions collectively held their breath, Felix Baumgartner set a world record for stepping out of an ascent capsule over 39,000 meters above the earth and skydiving downward at speeds at times faster than that of sound. He was estimated to have reached a top speed of Mach 1.25 or 1,357.64 km/h, as the first individual to break the sound barrier without vehicular power. As this month marked the tenth anniversary of Baumgartner’s jump, I admit that I recalled the psychologically interesting story behind this achievement more than the jump itself.
The extreme risk taker’s development of claustrophobia within the confines of the suit he had to wear to withstand the atmospheric pressures of the jump became the pivotal barrier to his success. So, Baumgartner’s story shifted to focus on Dr. Michael Gervais, the Psychologist who worked with him in the days leading up to the jump. When interviewed, Dr. Gervais discussed ways he assisted Baumgartner in identifying a clear vision, while training him to be specifically aware of his thinking and using effective breathing skills, so that he could be present in the moment. Baumgartner applied what he learned, donned the suit, and met his goal. And, Dr. Gervais’s contribution was newsworthy and appreciated.
Psychologists and Psychological Associates don’t often receive this level of appreciative feedback for the services they provide to the public. Yet, it is good for our mental health to learn that we are appreciated by others for things we do, or who we are, while we do them.
In my role as President of Council, I want to express my appreciation to the members of the College of Psychologists of Ontario and the public who give of their skills and time to fulfill the regulatory work of the College. I am also requesting broader participation from College members and other stakeholders in the form of consultative feedback at this time. I ask that each of you take time to review the consultation materials you received from the College earlier this month. These documents focus on the College’s future regulation of the profession of Applied Behaviour Analysis in Ontario. This is a pivotal moment for the College as we draft our welcome to Behaviour Analysts and transition to become the College of Psychologists and Behaviour Analysts of Ontario. Your participation in this consultative process is appreciated.
As Psychologists and Psychological Associates in Ontario, the helpful work that you do may not always make headlines, yet I hope that you learn it is valued in meaningful ways.
Wanda Towers, Ph.D., C.Psych.