Psychology is my Calling
Justin Chow · Ray Chang · Selina Yang · Sabrina Teng · Harry Sio
Feb 19, 2021 · 4 min read
Dr. Paul Wong is a Canadian clinical psychologist. He graduated with a Psychology PhD from the University of Toronto, and teaches at numerous universities across the United States, such as York University and Trent University. In his decades of career experience, Dr. Wong created Meaning-Centered Counseling and Therapy (MCCT), a new approach to psychotherapy, and he is also the founder of the International Network of Personal Meaning and International Society for Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy. He has made an international impact on society through teaching, research, speaking, clinical and consulting practices.
Q: What do you do in your current occupation?
A: As a psychologist, I do a number of things, ranging from teaching and research, to counseling and consulting.
Q: What led you to your current occupation? Why did you decide to pursue a psychology degree?
A:It took trial and error before I discovered that psychology was my calling. As a teenager, I dreamed of either becoming a writer like my older brother, or an artist like Van Gogh whose paintings I loved greatly. But, I didn’t feel like I had the necessary talents. Once I studied psychology, right away I discovered it was my calling. In psychology, my talents and passion meet.
Q: What motivated you to work as a clinical psychologist?
A: I first worked as a full-time faculty member, doing teaching and research. But I was also interested in helping people. In the early 80s, when the HIV/AIDS crisis occurred in Canada, I volunteered to provide free counselling for the LGBTQ+ community. In the early 90s, I took up the position of Founding Director of the Graduate Program in Counselling Psychology at the Trinity Western University. This marked the beginning of my switch from experimental research to clinical psychology, where I developed my meaning-centered approach to therapy. (Wong, 1998)
Q: What is the purpose behind your consulting?
A: I was motivated by my desire to bring meaning and happiness to suffering people. Especially during the pandemic, so many people are struggling with life. (Wong, 2020)
Q: Can you explain the academic journey you have taken?
A:I took the usual route of completing an Honors Degree in Psychology first, then a PhD in Psychology. What made my academic journey unusual was that, for various personal reasons, I didn’t start my first year until I was 29. My autobiography has more details. That is why I worked extra hard to complete my entire academic journey in 4 years, half the time of an average student.
Q: How did the University of Toronto prepare you for your career?
A: U of T is also known as Harvard North, rated as the top university for graduate training in Canada. It prepared me well for the vigor of scientific research, with Dr. Abram Amsel as my dissertation supervisor.
Tips for College Students
I am not the best person to advise young people on how to make the most out of college, because as a mature student, I was much older than other students. Furthermore, I had to take more courses per semester in order to complete my degree program fast. Therefore, I missed the opportunity of taking part in various campus activities. However, I do advise college students to take part in both volunteer work and various university clubs. Such activities not only enrich their lives but also give them a better chance to be accepted by top universities.
Tips for High School Students
Tips for People Interested in STEM
To get a successful career in STEM, one needs to have good graduate training and be published in quality journals. I was able to be invited to teach without applying, because I already had many good publications when I got my PhD. Another piece of advice is to stay in one area and excel in it. Again, I did not follow this advice, because I got into so many different areas during my career. I may not be in the top 3 in one area, but I am happy to have made significant contributions in many areas. This is also not a typical career path, but my calling as a pioneer in integrative psychology requires me to have expertise in all the subdisciplines of psychology. (Wong, 2021)