Welcome to read the short of biography of me, Heidi Toivonen, a Finnish Doctor of Psychology and Assistant Professor in Narrative Research at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. I was born in Helsinki and am currently living in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Since the beginning of November, I’ve been at UTwente involved in e.g. teaching psychology students mindfulness skills, self-reflective autobiographical writing, and how to make a preliminary diagnosis and a treatment plan. I am very interested in everything related to narrative, especially environmentally oriented stories -how people read them, understand them, experience them, write them- and am proud to be part of the Story Lab of UTwente.
Since January 2021, I have also been a part of the amazing NARMESH research project based at the University of Ghent, Belgium. In this project, I have been investigating the connection between fiction reading experiences and ways of conceptualizing the relationship between humans and their nonhuman environment (animals and nature). More specifically, I am interested in understanding how reading can influence our sense of (non)agency in relation to the environment in general and to climate change in particular. Thus, I am bridging psychology and literary studies in the hopes of understanding how to harness the potential of narrative in making sense and staying agentic in the times of climate crisis.
Prior to my academic career, I worked for 10 years as a clinical psychologist in Finland in a variety of settings from psychiatric hospital wards to vocational coaching. This clinical experience is an important part of my biography and I’m very happy to have been able to work with such varied clients -families and couples, job seekers, people with a variety of severe psychiatric problems, people with somatic issues, to name but a few.
I have a keen interest on social, cultural, linguistic, and discursive phenomena, and I like to investigate the power of narratives in an interdisciplinary manner with literary scholars, anthropologists, environmental engineers, etc. I’m very interested in people’s sense of agency (and the lack of it) in different contexts -currently in terms of our relationships to the nonhuman environment.
Previous work experience:
- Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Literary Studies, University of Ghent, Belgium, Jan 2021-Jan 2022
- Vocational guidance psychologist and job coach at Valmennuskeskus Public, 2019-2020
- Development coordinator at Developing psychosocial services for One-stop Guidance Centers (Onni-project); Public Employment and Business Services, Helsinki, Finland 2018 – 2019
- PhD grant researcher at University of Jyväskylä, Finland 2018
- Psychologist at Family Counselling Office, City of Riihimäki, Finland 2017
- Psychologist at Polyclinic of General Hospital Psychiatry, Central Hospital of Tavastia Proper, Hämeenlinna, Finland 2015-2017
- PhD grant researcher at University of Jyväskylä, Finland 2015
- Psychologist at Early Rehabilitation Polyclinic, Päijät-Häme Central Hospital Lahti, Finland 2013-2015
- Psychologist at Psychiatric Acute Wards and General Hospital Psychiatry, Päijät-Häme Central Hospital, Lahti, Finland 2012-2013
- Psychologist at Maternity and Child Health Clinic, City of Helsinki, Finland 2011-2012
- Psychologist at Mental Health Center, City of Joensuu, Finland 2010-2011
- Psychologist trainee at Mental Health Center, City of Joensuu, Finland 2010
University of Jyväskylä, Finland: Doctor of Psychology (2020) Dissertation: “Constructions of agency and nonagency in psychotherapy: The 10 Discursive Tools Model”. Supervisors: Prof. Jarl Wahlström and Dr. Katja Kurri
University of Eastern Finland: Master of Arts (Psychology) (2010) Minor in Comparative Literature and Scandinavian languages Dissertation: “Ihminen ihmiselle” vai asiantunteva vallankäyttäjä? Kognitiivisen käyttäytymisterapian opiskelijoiden reflektiopäiväkirjoissaan rakentamat käsitykset psykoterapeuttiudesta [”Person to Person” or an Expert Using Power? The Conceptions Regarding Psychotherapists Constructed in the Reflection Diaries Written by Students of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy]. Supervisor: Professor Katri Komulainen
University of Joensuu, Finland: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) (2009)
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