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Navigating psychology with complex pain and a wheelchair - with Gavin Clarke

This article has been adapted from episode 119 of The Aspiring psychologist Podcast. If you prefer you can listen here or watch here. 


Living with complex pain can shape one's worldview and experiences in profound ways. In a recent episode of the Aspiring Psychologist podcast, Dr. Marianne Trent delved into this topic, exploring the challenges faced by wheelchair users and individuals navigating the field of psychology with additional health considerations. In this blog post, we'll unpack the insights shared in the episode and reflect on the importance of understanding and supporting those living with disabilities.

Embracing Acceptance and Freedom

Gavin Clarke, an MSC psychology student and podcast host, shared his journey of living with congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), formerly known as club feet. Gavin's experiences of surgeries, pain, and ultimately, becoming a wheelchair user, shed light on the complexities of living with disability. Despite the challenges he faced, Gavin highlighted the importance of acceptance and freedom.

Acceptance, Gavin emphasized, is the key to liberation. By accepting the need for mobility aids like wheelchairs, individuals can reclaim their autonomy and pursue their goals without the burden of self-imposed limitations. Gavin's personal journey exemplifies the transformative power of acceptance, enabling him to embrace his identity and advocate for disability rights.

Challenging Ableism and Stereotypes

Throughout the conversation, Gavin addressed the pervasive issue of ableism – the discrimination and prejudice against individuals with disabilities. From derogatory language to societal misconceptions, ableism perpetuates harmful stereotypes and undermines the autonomy and dignity of disabled individuals.

Gavin's advocacy efforts, including his podcast "Safe Place" and the upcoming "Disabling Me Podcast," aim to dismantle ableist narratives and foster inclusive dialogue. By amplifying diverse voices and sharing personal experiences, Gavin advocates for systemic change and greater awareness of disability rights.

Accessing Support and Resources

Navigating life with a disability often entails navigating complex systems of support and resources. Gavin discussed the challenges of accessing benefits like Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the importance of reasonable adjustments in academic and professional settings.

From mobility aids to financial assistance, Gavin underscored the critical role of accessible support systems in enhancing the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. While barriers persist, Gavin's advocacy work seeks to empower others to navigate these systems and demand equitable treatment.

Cultivating Empathy and Understanding

As aspiring psychologists and mental health professionals, it's essential to cultivate empathy and understanding for individuals living with disabilities. By listening to diverse experiences and challenging societal norms, we can create more inclusive and compassionate spaces for all.

Gavin's story serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength inherent in those living with disabilities. By channelling their voices and advocating for their rights, we can foster a more equitable and inclusive society for generations to come.


In conclusion, Dr. Marianne Trent's conversation with Gavin Clarke offers valuable insights into the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities. Through acceptance, advocacy, and access to support, we can work towards a more inclusive world where everyone can thrive regardless of their abilities.

To connect with Gavin on Instagram:
To never miss an episode of the aspiring psychologist podcast or a free compassionate Q&A sign up to Dr Marianne Trent's free mailing list here.


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