Program launches, prof publishes

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By Danielle Wong

The realization came mid-hot dog.

For professor John Turtle, Ryerson’s new psychology program had long been a dream. It wasn’t until this year when it became a reality.

Turtle, psychology program co-ordinator, was eating a hot dog during frosh week activities when a screaming first year came to the mic and was asked what program she’ s in. “Psychology!” came the reply.

So began the first year of one of Ryerson’s newest programs.

Nearly 3,000 people applied for the 150 spots available in its first year. With the program in such high demand, Chair Jean-Paul Boudreau said it seemed just odd not to have a psychology program in a university.

“Its a dream come true,” Boudreau said.

Faculty have been hoping for a program for years, but it wasn’t until new research labs were opened on 111 Gerrard. St. E. two years ago that the initiative became a reality.

The program’s launch drew the attention of current Ryerson students.

Of this year’s psychology majors, 25 transferred in from other Ryerson programs.

This is the case for Charity Bedwell, 21, who studied geographical analysis at Ryerson for two and a half years before dropping out.

This year, she’s back pursuing her passion to study psychology.

“I loved the psychology electives I took in first and second year,” Bedwell said, “and the transfer from geographical analysis to psychology was easy and convenient.”

“We really want to anticipate that lots of 17 or 18-year-olds don’t know what they want to do with their lives specifically yet,” Turtle said, adding that the “common social science platform” helps student’s smooth transition.

Boudreau said the program has an identity distinct from those at York University and the University of Toronto because Ryerson lets students get minors and learn practical skills.

“Our program is built around the idea that we must draw attention to real world issues,” he said.

The program got off to a great start. Professor Martin Antony’s new self-help book, Mastering Your Fears and Phobias, is hitting bookstores this month. Antony wrote the book with Boston University professor David Barlow and University of California professor Michelle Craske. It takes a practical approach to addressing irrational fears.

Common phobias like the fear of “creepy crawlies,” heights and claustraphobia can be treated by slowly confronting fears, Antony says. However, many people can go through life avoiding their phobias.

“The more specific they are, the easier it is to re-arrange your life around the phobias,” Antony said.

A person afraid of spiders, he said, will avoid the gardens or watching the Discovery Channel and movies such as Arachnophobia or Eight Legged Freaks.

The book was published by Oxford University Press in August. It is available online at

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