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An Interview with David Kalmanovitch on Psychology and Empathy

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David Kalmanovitch

Studies have frequently suggested that by the age of three, children have fully formed their self-concept and Identity. They have already determined if they are “good” or “bad.” Throughout their childhood and adolescence, however, they go through stages of cognitive development that impact their behaviour as they progress. It is therefore very important to be aware of your children’s behaviour as it will likely be similar to their behaviour later in life. It is this exact concept that influenced David Kalmanovitch to become a child psychologist.

Born and raised in London, England, David Kalmanovitch is a child psychologist with more than 15 years of experience. Mr. Kalmanovitch has always been interested in studying human behaviour, with the hope of being able to identify root causes and influence future behaviour for the better. While he was originally inclined to work with adults, he quickly realized that he would have better hope at making an effect by working exclusively with children, as they are influenced more primarily by environmental and societal factors.

In addition to working with his patients, David Kalmanovitch is a professor and acts as a mentor for many of his students. He makes an effort to study current affairs and factors that may alter behaviour.

When he isn’t working or teaching, David Kalmanovitch spends time with his wife, works to stay active, and reads in order to further his professional development.

 

Why did you decide to go into psychology?

 I think human behaviour is very interesting and diving into that is very important work. As a psychologist, you act as an impartial professional that patients tell everything to. You see patients at their highs and their lows and working to help them master their emotions that drive actions to improve their lives is powerful.

 What trends in your industry excite you?

At the moment, I am interested in seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect human behaviour in the long-term. We are seeing now how aspects like physical distancing and wearing masks are becoming current norms, but how will our behaviour change when the pandemic is actually over? I believe that eventually the virus will be eliminated, either through vaccinations or virus mutation, so the question is what happens when it is gone? Will we revert back to our old behaviours or will we maintain some of our current precautions? In addition, will more children and adults become afraid of germs to the point where they will refrain from going out or doing anything that could put them in direct contact with germs?

 

What would you tell others looking to get into your industry?

I would tell them to seek out a mentor. Mentors can give you practical advice and depending how close you are to them, they may understand your motivations and professional habits better than you do.

 

What is one thing you would change in your industry today if you could?

 This is more of a societal aspect, but I wish there was a way to make others more willing to seek out help. Many people that need help don’t seek it because they are afraid of judgment from others or they just don’t think they need help. Some even do believe that they need help, but still won’t look for it because they don’t think anyone can help them. I also wish that all mental health professionals offered free initial consults and sessions so that more people might be willing to seek help without worrying about paying for an hour session that gets them nowhere if they don’t connect with a professional.

 

How has psychology changed over the last decade?

 Like all other industries, technology has changed psychology in many ways. It has changed human and cognitive behaviour forever. Many children learn to type and look for information online before they learn to write and read. Beyond that, technology has changed the client and patient acquisition process overall. While one might think it is easier for potential patients to access your information because it’s all online, there is also a lot of competition, so you have to do your best to stand out.

 If you could change one thing you did in the beginning of your career what would it be?

 I would have focused on the psychology aspect of children more quickly. I spent about five years working with adults before realizing that I could have a bigger impact on children. In retrospect; however, it did make me better prepared to work with children because I could see how traumas and factors from childhood carry over into adulthood.

 

Who has been a role model to you and why?

 My mother. She always taught me to do my best to understand others as well as I know myself.

 

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

 I really try to focus on my overall priorities. While work is a priority, so is my wife and so is my health. By managing my priorities, I am able to shift my attention.

 

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

 I’d have to say it’s when I first established my own private practice. While it was frightening to go out on my own at first, it was also very rewarding.

 

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

 It was definitely overcoming the initial fear of meeting patients that all encounter different issues. I think in any career path, you get what’s called “imposter syndrome,” through which you don’t think you’re the right person for your job. In psychology, every patient is different. It takes time to get a level of comfort that makes you feel more confident to be able to help anyone that walks in the door.

  

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Always be empathetic. You don’t know another person’s story or what they’ve overcome. Being empathetic connects you to others and in the process, you understand them more. Understanding others and what drives them will inevitably help you in your professional career, no matter which career path you choose.

 

What does success look like for you (personal or professional)?

For me, success means being able to positively impact as many people as possible.

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