Trinity College grounds on a beautiful sunny day

Q&A with Sabina Read

1.  How did your time at Trinity inform what you are currently doing now?

Attending Trinity provided me with an important and long-lasting sense of belonging and community. As a psychologist, I understand that we are hard-wired to belong, and that secure and enriching peer and community relationships can create a solid foundation from which to challenge, grow and stretch oneself. I consider my college friends as some of my closest mates, and I am forever grateful for the friendships and networks that Trinity provided me. Perhaps most importantly, I met my husband on Behan balcony in 1989 as a wide-eyed fresher! Together we have supported each other over changing careers, international and interstate moves, personal and professional challenges, and we continue to remain both delighted and bemused as we parent our two wonderful teenage daughters. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Trinity has played a significant role in who I am today.
2. How can living in a community such as Trinity enrich the lives of people and those around them?

Living in close quarters with others can heighten our sense of empathy and connection. Research suggests that friendships tend to flourish when we live in close proximity to one another, exchange daily interactions, and share common interests; all of which I experienced first-hand during my college years. My Trinity friends were generally curious, bright, driven humans, and their inspirational behaviour was and remains contagious. When your peers are reaching for the stars, it’s hard not to be motivated to do the same! Together, we have enjoyed the opportunity to influence, nurture, and support each other, and learn from each other’s mistakes and wisdom.
3. How have you stayed involved with Trinity since leaving the College and what do you think makes the College special?

I have mentored past and present Trinity students over the years which I reckon has been more rewarding for me than them! More recently, I was invited to attend an alumni/student forum where current students had the opportunity to ask us anything in an up close and personal setting. When I listen to their stories, questions, hopes, fears and dreams, I feel like I’m 19 again! Our journeys are universal in many ways, except for the fact I had to make all outgoing calls from the very public phone booth that used to sit in front of the JCR. Even Superman would have liked more privacy than that booth offered!!
4. You counsel individuals and families on how to deal with relationship challenges, grief, stress and job loss among other things. Can you offer any advice on ways to best cope with a crisis that may occur in your life?

That’s a big question for a little article but two things come to mind! Firstly, I think it’s important to share your vulnerability and struggles with others. When we do that, we invite others to follow suit, and it also helps normalise our experience. One of the patterns I observe in my clinical work is that people often feel alone in their pain. There’s a sense they are the only one to walk the planet that has experienced this hurdle, loss, or emotion, however in reality, our struggles and our responses tend to be more universal. At the end of the day, we all bleed the same. Secondly, I’m a big believer in highlighting the importance of choice. While we don’t choose events in our life, we can choose our responses. In that choice is where we can grow and develop and find hope. And finally, I think it helps to expect hardship and pain. There’s no reason that these emotions and experiences are less important or commonplace that those of joy and pleasure. To be human is to sign up for both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.

5. Since 2014, you have worked as the Resident Psychologist on The Morning Show, and have regular segments as a social commentator on radio and television. How did you first get involved with being a media and social commentator, and what attracted you to working in these roles?

My experience has taught me that career paths are not necessarily linear and that every experience, no matter how varied, contributes in some way to the next job or role. I consider myself a lifelong learner, both formally (I’ve studied at 5 universities!) and informally. My first degree was in communications and I worked in public relations in Melbourne, San Francisco and London. After becoming a little disillusioned with the PR industry, I retrained as a psychologist, but never lost my interest in the power of the media. I now spread my load between clinical work in private practice, regular TV, radio and media commentary, keynotes and facilitation, not for profit board and ambassador roles with The Family Peace Foundation, and some corporate coaching too. I view my media work as a natural extension of my PR expertise and I like the variety and flexibility that a portfolio career brings. I tend to think about my work in a 3 x 3 grid. Clinical work is deep work that only reaches one or two people at a time, facilitation and speaking gigs have a greater reach but sometimes slightly less depth, and media has a great reach with less of an interpersonal exchange. That, said over the last 4 years as the Resident Psychologist on Radio 3AW, I’ve heard some very moving and personal accounts from callers who were brave enough to share their narratives on air.
6. What steps can individuals put in place to ensure they are maintaining positive and healthy relationships with friends and family?

Listen to others with a goal of understanding, rather than problem-solving, fixing, advising or sharing. Truly hearing someone, without judgement or searching for a solution is a gift we can all give, yet many of us forget to listen deeply. Conflict is present in all relationships, however the way we manage conflict is paramount to our individual and collective well-being. Simple strategies like asking for our needs to be met rather than blaming others is a useful approach to develop healthy relationships. To do this we need to drop phrases like “you always” or “you never” and replace them with “I feel” and “I need.” This allows the other party to hear what we are saying without feeling the need to defend themselves. And keep laughing. Humour is the best tonic I know to develop and maintain positive relationships!