I’m Mark Donovan, a man in his 50s doing the work I love, living with the people I love, and playing hard so that I enjoy being alive.
My godfather in Great Glemham, England shared a simple philosophy on life with me when I was just 18 that has gently informed my own approach: Leave the World a Better Place.
After 20 years of teaching and supervising on clinical and professional psychology programs at the University of Wollongong and University of East Anglia, I recently decided to bite the bullet and complete a PhD while continuing with some part-time training, supervision and child-focused clinical practice. When I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my partner and children (well, they’re all adults now), down the beach swimming or running, or catching up with mates. Sometimes I read a book.
Some of the Back Story…
I started life in Ireland and moved to Sydney when I was 8 years old. I loved the blue skies of Australia however it was tough being ‘an outsider’ – I pronounced things ‘wrongly’ and felt embarrassed due to ‘being different’. These differences have since become a liberating licence to remain creative and invigorated throughout my years of psychology training and practice.
My approach started out with cognitive behavioural therapy from my undergrad days at University of NSW. Post-grad clinical training at Macquarie University, and inspiration from Daf Hewson in particular, sparked a revolution towards narrative and systemic therapy from the early 1990s. A stint in the UK working with infants and their parents established the central role of attachment. The return to Australia in 2005, and working at the University of Wollongong from 2006 then signalled the integration of acceptance and commitment therapy and compassion-focussed therapy into the therapeutic melting pot. These days I like to think I can draw from each of these therapeutic approaches based on the needs of the person or people I’m working with.
Over the past 15 years I’ve enjoyed putting together a parenting program with a good mate and colleague Greg Konza – the Confident Carers Cooperative Kids program (CCCK). Greg and I set out to find a way to meet the needs of parents who were struggling with their children’s behaviour, and who weren’t able to engage with the existing programs. We’re pretty happy with the feedback we get from families as well as other practitioners. I’m currently writing some publications on mindful parenting and CCCK for my PhD. Meanwhile my real education continues through being an active parent and grandparent.
It’s a rare privilege to help guide practitioners at the beginning of their clinical careers, as well as to share ideas with more experienced practitioners. I also get to run workshops for The Reflective Supervision Team the Australian Psychological Society to equip supervisors with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to train up the next generation of practitioners.
Play and activity are a big part of my life. I’ve always loved throwing or kicking a ball around, or diving into the water, or getting lost in conversation while walking or running along. I’ve recently rekindled the joy of long-distance running, inspired by two of my children.