Having made such a big impact on the British audience with her insightful psychological advice, on some of the UK’s best known television broadcasters such as the BBC, as well as on programmes like Channel 4’s Big Brother, and ITV’s This Morning, it is no surprise that Dr Funke Baffour is one of the UK’s leading media psychologists.
Dr Funke, a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, focuses her knowledge on Psychology and Nutrition.
“Positivity starts from within!” she says, encouraging her clients and audience to strive for total wellbeing, by concentrating on nutrition, the mind and the body.
Tell us about your West African background and how it influenced your upbringing.
I was raised in a Nigerian family. My parents came to the UK in the 60’s. We grew up in a family home where respect was the focal point of our discipline. I didn’t appreciate the boundaries that my parents had put in place and would often try and resist the rules in the family home. My peers had an ‘easy life’, I led myself to believe, but I soon discovered that the strict discipline would prepare me to be the person I am today. So I am truly thankful.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your field over the years?
The main challenge that I believe I faced was when I was studying for my doctorate. It is very hard to put it succinctly into words, but if you read a paper that I wrote with two of my peers at the time (Click here to read. Pages 11-15) it will give you a sense what I found to be one of the most difficult experiences on embarking on a career as a psychologist. During this time of my training I wanted to give up, keep my head down. Fortunately I had a very inspiring tutor Dr Nimisha Patel who helped me put things in perspective and gain some of the power that I believed had been take away from me.
What advice would you offer those who are considering a career in Psychology?
Don’t think about it just do it! But do speak to other people in the field that you are considering, whether it is clinical, educational, forensic or counselling psychology; take time to think about why you want to be in this profession. If you are embarking on an undergraduate psychology degree make sure it is GBR registered. This is vital as, if it is not, you will have great difficulty in furthering your career in psychology without it.
You are currently resident Psychologist on Big Brother’s Bit on the Psych. How did you get into the media, and do you have any tips for those who are trying to do the same?
I have always enjoyed communicating the work that I did. I often run training sessions when the opportunity arises at work. In 2003 when I qualified as a Clinical Psychologist I decided that I was not only going to work with people but I was also going to translate what psychologists do in the media. Initially my peers would laugh at me, but the person that I am when someone laughs at what I desire to do, gives me more ammunition to succeed. I went for the BPS media training day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will never forget when one of the facilitators went round the room and asked us why we wanted to do the course. Every one stated that they wanted to have experience in working in the media. However I said I wanted to do it because I wanted to have my own Talk Show. To which he reacted with a big laugh and said it was very ambitious. That, funnily enough, gave me more ammunition to get on and succeed in the media. My first live experience was on the Chris Evans Radio 2 Show and a few months later in 2007, I did Big Brother’s Little Brother with Dermot O’Leary. He is the person that created the tag Dr Funke which has stuck ever since.
My advice to any one wishing to work as a psychologist in the media is to have a clear idea of how you would like to be represented in the Media. I always knew how I wanted to come across in the media and that was to make psychological concepts easy to digest for the viewers, so I hope I am doing a good job at doing this.
Can you remember your first ever television appearance? What was it like?
Yes it was with Dermot O’Leary and it was live. I loved every minute of it. However I am not a big fan of doing pre-recorded shows. I much prefer the live experience as the process feels natural and real to me.
Your programme DF Take Control aims to help people take control of different aspects of their lives. In your view, what are the key components of leading a balanced lifestyle?
Leading a balanced life is individualistic to the person wishing to pursue this. Balance comes from understanding what is going on within and using the things that you have externally to create harmony with this. Many people are like walking time bombs. This is when you are completely stressed but you are not sure why; it’s a sign that you are out of balance. The little things that we take for granted in life can show us the signs that we are out of balance, such as you not sleeping enough, eating too much or too little, feeling irritable or if your are finding it difficult to concentrate. In my recent free e-book, Improving your Thinking, I highlight the impact our thoughts can have on our mental and physical well being. Thus if we don’t create a balance in our thinking we indeed become out of balance.
Author of Take Control of Your Tomorrow, the book that birthed her wellbeing programme, DF Take Control, which focuses on helping people take control of their lifestyle through the use of psychological and nutritional strategies, Dr Funke continues to pursue her dream of hosting her own TV show.