Professor Laura Goldstein
Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When did you first become interested in your academic discipline?
I first became interested in psychology, and then clinical psychology, when I was at school and was a member of a local youth voluntary service. I remember meeting an inspiring female member of the Samaritans and that, along with a psychologically-minded family background, led me to explore studying for a psychology degree, then a PhD and finally a training in clinical psychology - and I never looked back! While studying for my undergraduate degree I rapidly became interested in the biological basis of behaviour and this then channeled me into neuropsychology both as a general area for a PhD and then as a clinical specialty.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
My research interests over the years have been shaped by my interest in brain-behaviour relationships, my clinical neuropsychology practice, my desire to influence patient care, the research interests of my immediate colleagues and the clinical service in which we work. My interests have always been broadly related to the neuropsychological and more general psychological aspects of neurological disorders and their psychological and psychiatric comorbidities. In particular my research has been focused around the psychological and neuropsychological aspects of a devastating neurological disorder, motor neuron disease and also the psychological and neuropsychiatric aspects of epilepsy and its comorbidities, including dissociative non-epileptic seizures
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
In terms of research, I have found developing a body of evidence that clearly demonstrates the existence of cognitive and behavioural change in patients with motor neuron disease, and its now broad acceptance as a potential characteristic of this disorder, particularly rewarding. When I started working with Prof Nigel Leigh, a highly respected neurologist, in around 1990 there was very little acceptance that motor neuron disease affected cognition. More recently it has been particularly rewarding to see my clinical service’s work on the use of cognitive behavioural therapy for patients with dissociative seizures develop and form the basis of a more substantial research programme. It is heartening to see the recognition of the need for an increased treatment evidence base for this particular clinical population
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
Although it also constitutes a great challenge, the combination of clinical and academic work creates a rich tapestry of activity with each stimulating the other. It is also particularly rewarding to contribute to the training of future clinical psychologists through teaching and placement work as well as of the next generation of researchers through Ph.D. supervision.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
One just becomes skilled at having lots of balls in the air and at prioritising at any given time
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
I ringfence and keep sacrosanct certain times on the week and year for leisure activities and family
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
The great challenges to being a female academic and also great rewards, but it probably isn't for everyone