To start off the new year, our first newsletter will introduce you to one of our newest staff members, psychologist Adrienn Kroó .
First off Ms Kroó how did you arrive in the field of psychology?
I have always enjoyed dealing with people. I am especially interested in behavior, the causes of, and the motives of individuals’ actions. Much of this interest comes from the diverse environment in which I was raised. I was just two months old when my parents moved us to America for the first time. From there we went back and forth between America and Hungary many times until I was 14 years old. Not only did we travel back and forth between two countries, but we also moved between states as my father worked as a visiting professor at various universities.
Fitting in and adaptation during the period was essential. I quickly learned how to size up the terrain in each situation and behave accordingly; luckily as a child it came to me naturally. Not all my family members could deal with this situation as easily. My younger sister, for example, did not utter a word in nursery school for six months. Eventually she found visual art as a better way to express herself and grew up to be a painter.
Although I always knew that I enjoyed being among other people and I wanted a profession where I could deal with them, I wasn’t sure where to begin. After leaving secondary school I studied International Communications at the College of Foreign Trade in Budapest where I was able to get acquainted with many different subjects in which I could specialize such as psychology, sociology, communications, and law. I quickly realized there that I didn’t want to choose a profession where I could do little bits of lots of things, but wanted to concentrate my energies on one area. It was during my psychology studies where I decided that this was the direction I wanted to go, and applied to the department of psychology in ELTE (Science University Eötvös Lóránd). Sitting the entry exam in psychology was a challenge, but I made it and then went on to finish my training in six years, during which time I won two scholarships which took me to study in Germany.
I understand that it is not easy getting accepted into the psychology department of ELTE, but finding work as a psychologist after graduating is also very difficult. How did you manage it?
I established my path during university. During my first visit to Germany I participated in a psychotrauma course where we treated refugees and victims of torture. After returning home I searched for the local representatives of such rehabilitation, finding the Cordelia Foundation, who’s director, Dr. Lilla Hárdi, also works for FirstMed.
The first time I met her was in 2006. Back then there were no internship opportunities, but the second time around they offered me a volunteer job and thus my career started. I wrote my final thesis in this environment as well: among Somali refugees, and how they can rebuild their personalities after great trauma. Upon receiving my diploma I received a job offer from the foundation, so I had a job straight after graduation unlike many of my classmates, but I worked hard for this as well.
What have you been doing since?
In addition to part time work with Cordelia, I also act as the school psychologist at the German School in Budapest where I also have a multicultural environment among children, teenagers, parents and entire classes. I have not finished my studies either; I am currently doing clinical studies at SOTE (Semmelweis Medical University) and working on my PhD dissertation, in which I investigate identities of torture survivors. I do not have enough time to work on it lately, unfortunately, but I am patient with myself. It will be done in due time.
How did you come to work with us?
Dr. Hárdi mentioned FirstMed to me first. I got very interested at the possibility of working here, as it fit with my interest: helping people with problems of integration. I work with bilingual families at the German School too, where, similarly to the people I meet at the Foundation, the major problems may be rootlessness the question of home and integration. A major difference is though, that while the so-called expat suffer from stress caused by occupying high positions with abundant workloads, the problem of refugees tend to be the feeling of uselessness for not having anything to do.
You surely meet a lot of interesting people and hear many stories. Is there one that for some reason especially stands out?
In a refugee camp, I met a Syrian family of six wearing worn out, dirty, torn clothes and shoes, who had been walking for months on end to reach the safety of the camp. They arrived hungry and tired, waiting for whatever fate will bring them in Hungary. The father is an English teacher so we had no problem with communication. Once he asked me: “Do you know what I hate most in this country?” I had a few guesses but what he answered truly astonished me.
“I heard that here [in Hungary] it is forbidden to fish.” Fishing being my father’s favorite pastime, I had some information about it, so I could tell him that it was not at all forbidden you only needed to have a permit to do so at designated areas. He stood up, walked to their wardrobe, which was almost empty, and took out a small box of fishing equipment, carefully selected a few hooks and other useful-looking tools, and handed them to me wrapped in a napkin. “Give this to your father.” He said.
What do you like most in your profession and what are your principles?
For me the most wonderful aspect of my job is to meet new people and discover new circumstances. You learn a lot from them about the world, human nature, and most of all about yourself. The lifelong learning requires training too. At the latest training I attended I acquired the skill of new trauma therapy. Moreover I honor the trust people bestow on me and I do my best to make sure that it remains this way or deepens. I handle every case as individual and I have an open-minded attitude to every person and every situation.
Your profession is a beautiful one. Do you have a personal message to the reader?
Do not be ashamed of your emotional imbalances, problems, or to seek help. Just as we treat our somatic problems, we need to take good care of those of our soul. Since we do not typically fill in the cavities in our teeth at home by ourselves, similarly we might need the help of an expert to fix our emotional and mental problems too. Sometimes it is enough to have a long chat with a friend or family member, but there are occasions when a specialist could be of a greater help. If we accept that we have weaknesses and weak moments and do not try to suppress our pain, we will have the opportunity to grow and experience a positive change. Just like a headache or stomach ache this is a sign as well, which is advisable not to ignore.
Please contact FirstMed if you would like to make an appointment with Adrienn Kroó.