A Student’s Account of Sri Lankan Experience

MSc Health Psychology student Charys Orr reflects on her visit to one of Coventry’s international partners,  the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology…

I had the pleasure of travelling to Sri Lanka on the trip organised by Coventry University and the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology (CIRP) at the end of this summer. The tour was a great way to mark the end of my masters in Health Psychology, driving my passion to continue research and has opened my eyes to clinical opportunities relating to my interests.

The most valuable experience I had during my time in Sri Lanka was visiting the hospital in Kandy. After the long drive to the highlands, we spent the morning at the main hospital there. We were given the opportunity to sit in on patient consultations, directed by the hospital’s head Psychiatrist, amongst clinical psychologists and other health care practitioners.


Although the majority of consultations were in Sinhalese, conversations were translated and paraphrased so we could broadly understand patients’ situations in each appointment. What was really interesting to learn was that even though facilities in Sri Lankan hospitals are nowhere near as advanced as those in Britain, the way in which mental health is treated is very similar- mental health is still considered a taboo subject and is most commonly treated in a similar way to physical health.

Despite practitioners trying to facilitate a shift in treatment and trying to encourage cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other behaviour change techniques, patients would rather be prescribed a long list of expensive medications than engage in therapy.

After two additional hospital visits, we met with the Psychology staff and two government health representatives at the CIRP. We had a discussion where we compared cross-cultural health care. It was really interesting to learn about different aspects of both Sri Lankan health care and that of China and Singapore as well, where my friends were from.

1 The ICAP conference days we had were really interesting. It gave us the opportunity to find out about up to date international research in applied psychology. We were able to meet with psychologists and researchers from across the world to discuss our interests in Health Psychology.

During the first day, we were able to have a conversation with Dr Darshan about issues and debates in Psychology and compare cross-cultural views of these. I found the workshops on the final day extremely engaging and related well to my own specific interests in Health Psychology. As well as learning about the more practical and academic applications of these topics, they also benefitted me on a more personal level.

Looking back at our time in Sri Lanka, the main thing that comes to mind is how busy Colombo was. We were straight into activities almost as soon as we arrived in the city and every day we spent was packed full of visits to hospitals, lectures and conference days.

But we also had time to visit museums, temples and landmarks (especially the beautiful sights in Kandy) where we could learn more about the history of Sri Lanka and the role Buddhism plays in their culture.

Overall, my trip to Sri Lanka was an amazing experience. My visit to the country was the first trip I had ever made outside Europe so experiencing and learning to respect Sri Lankan culture was eye-opening and has made me want to visit the country again and spend more time visiting cultural sights and landmarks.

Thank you so much to Coventry University and the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology for granting me with this amazing opportunity and organising the trip of a lifetime.


Charys Orr

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