Connection and Collaboration: Dr. Saxton’s Perspective on Psychology

February 8, 2024 – February is Psychology Month. To celebrate, we spoke with some of Kinark’s psychologists as they shared insights into their career journeys and the motivations that fuel their commitment to serving others as compassionate leaders. Psychologists play a crucial role in supporting individuals’ mental health and well-being, and understanding their perspectives can offer valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of the profession.  

We had a conversation with Dr. Saxton, a Staff Psychologist at Kinark Child and Family Services, where he discussed the importance of collaborative teamwork, mutual learning amongst colleagues, and trusting the process.  

Psychology staff from Kinark’s Eastern Programs (Durham, Peterborough, and Northumberland), from upper left to right Ms. Dunlop, Dr. Durisko, and Dr. Trull. Lower left to right, Dr. Saxton, Dr. Burek, and Dr. Hancock.  

What made you decide to pursue a career in psychology?  

You know, looking back I was always interested in working with people within a helping profession as well as fascinated by the brain and human mind. I also come from a family of amazing women who are in healthcare, which likely had some significant influence growing up. Then in a turn of events, during my undergraduate degree I fell in love with conducting research and being part of research teams. So, pursuing the dream of becoming a psychologist became a perfect match for me as a way to combine working with people as well as continuing to do research that I believe is meaningful.    

What is the biggest challenge that you face in your line of work?  

I think there are many challenges that exist at various levels and at different times. I would say one of the biggest challenges is trusting in the process of the therapeutic work that we do. Putting this into practice is quite difficult especially within the context of community mental health. The work is tremendously complex since we are working with real people and families. Life is messy at the best of times, so having some faith in the process is important. That being said, it can be overwhelming when we are overly attached to outcomes and feeling ineffective. That is why working as part of a team is fundamental – because there is no better way to catch self-doubt than being open and supported by your team of great colleagues.   

What is the most rewarding aspect of the current work that you do?  

Oh, there are many. Simply put, I love working with all different types of people, families, and professionals. I always feel a sense of humility working with clients and witnessing them work toward change. Being a small part of that change process is very rewarding.   

What has been your most memorable day in your career as a psychologist?  

That is a good question – I have been privileged to have many memorable moments, from presenting internationally to governments about our Canadian research on domestic violence, to seeing clients thriving as they transition into young adulthood. And honestly, one that stands out the most is finally getting through the whole process of becoming a psychologist. It is such a long and arduous journey to get there and once you finish the last College exam it feels like a massive victory/relief – and one very memorable moment as a young psychologist.   

Why is Psychology Month important to you?  

Psychology Month is a reminder of all the fantastic work that psychologists do within the organization. Though it is equally an important reminder that we do not do this work alone, and fundamentally the success of any psychologist at Kinark (and beyond) is through the work we do together with our colleagues.  

What advice would you give to the next generation of psychologists?  

Relationships are the most significant aspect of our role and holding space for those is critical. I have, and continue to, learn from all the people I work with no matter their background or credentials. We may hold one piece of the puzzle as a psychologist but putting all the pieces together needs to happen through collaboration – don’t take that for granted.