Dreams of becoming a psychologist

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
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joyisabella88
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:58 pm

Dreams of becoming a psychologist

Post by joyisabella88 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:34 pm

Hello,

I'm currently 26 years old. Unfortunately I have poor A-levels in Sociology (C), English Literature (C) and German (E) due to having mental health issues at the time of completing them. I have since completed a degree in Creative Writing (2:1) and Level 3 qualifications in Counselling and Abnormal Psychology, which I have completed via distance learning in my spare time.

I have four years of experience volunteering as a Befriender for an eating disorders charity and am soon to begin volunteering for another mental health charity, helping to run peer support groups with a recovery focus.

As I've said, I do have personal experience of mental health issues, including more recent hospital admissions. However throughout that time, my frequent contact with mental health professionals and predominantly with clinical psychologists has ignited a passion for wanting to follow this path for myself. I've always loved reading about psychology and helping people, but never realiised that I would be able to combine the two.

I guess my main questions at the moment are: 1) Would my poor A-levels count against me at this stage if I've since demonstrated my ability? 2) Will my experience of mental health issues be looked down on? Obviously I'm aware that I need to be well to pursue this path, but I feel that my experiences have now enlightened me rather than hindered me in seeing the career I wish to follow. 3) I'm afraid that my employment history is a bit patchy and mostly voluntary due to ill health. Would I still be considered if I now gain as much experience as I can and show how committed I am to a career in psychology?

I hope to complete a Psychology conversion course next year, whilst gaining significantly more work experience. Are there any avenues you would suggest going down to find the right sort of experience? Would I then be best doing another, more specific Masters, to gain more psychology and research experience to enhance a future doctorate application?

Many thanks for your help,

Joy

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blue86
Posts: 362
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 11:58 pm

Re: Dreams of becoming a psychologist

Post by blue86 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:56 pm

joyisabella88 wrote: I guess my main questions at the moment are: 1) Would my poor A-levels count against me at this stage if I've since demonstrated my ability? 2) Will my experience of mental health issues be looked down on? Obviously I'm aware that I need to be well to pursue this path, but I feel that my experiences have now enlightened me rather than hindered me in seeing the career I wish to follow. 3) I'm afraid that my employment history is a bit patchy and mostly voluntary due to ill health. Would I still be considered if I now gain as much experience as I can and show how committed I am to a career in psychology?

I hope to complete a Psychology conversion course next year, whilst gaining significantly more work experience. Are there any avenues you would suggest going down to find the right sort of experience? Would I then be best doing another, more specific Masters, to gain more psychology and research experience to enhance a future doctorate application?

Many thanks for your help,

Joy
Hi Joy,

Welcome to the forum!
I noticed nobody has replied yet to you, so I'll give it a shot. I'm a former applicant myself (and maybe future one?) so I don't think I have all the answers, but I'll do my best.
1) As far as I've seen, you do need to add your A levels to the application; however, how these are looked upon really depends on the course centre. Some have public guidelines, such as Bath, that clearly state how they count A-levels
(http://www.bath.ac.uk/psychology/clinic ... y_2014.pdf
Some courses might count them similarly, some may not take them into consideration at all. If you are worried about it, you can always contact the courses you are interested in and ask.

2) I've heard of many cases of trainees with previous histories of mental health difficulties. Some of them have talked about it during interviews or on their form. As far as I know, as long as you are well now, it should be ok. It might even help you reflect more or explain how it has affected your studies/life/etc. I think you also have the option of not disclosing it if you don't want to.

3) Applicants have quite varied experience, as you can see on here. I think that you can show your commitment to this career path by doing the conversion course and getting more experience. I think that your priority should be getting the GBR, because courses ask for it at the time of application.
Also, if you manage to get good supervision in your next posts, your supervisor might be able to help you tackle possible interview questions.

I may have missed this - but when are you planning to apply? If you still have a year or two left, I think that should be sufficient to gain some relevant experience that would give you the opportunity to reflect more and develop further.
Best of luck!

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hanb3
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:25 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Dreams of becoming a psychologist

Post by hanb3 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:13 pm

Hello Joy,

Blue86 seemed to answer your questions but I thought you might like another perspective too.

1) The a-levels question. If you give the forums here a search, you'll see that you're not alone in worrying your grades might count against you. I guess my feelings are that they might well count against you... but all you can do is keep showing that's not your true potential. Like you say, you've moved past that stage and have a 2:1 now. The BPS conversion course should be your main priority at this point imho.

2) I think this will depend very much on how you view yourself and your experiences. Be prepared for some cautiousness (is that a word?!). As for any aspiring psych, work on your reflective skills and know yourself well... really well.

3) Employment issues... most (but not all) follow a route of studying + voluntary work, relevant paid work (eg support worker in a hospital), specific paid work (eg assistant psych), doctorate. If you look at it like this, you're at no disadvantage because you're starting at exactly the same point as your peers on the conversion course. In fact you're probably ahead of some of your peers because you've already got some relevant volunteer experience!

Han :)

drsue2014
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:10 pm

Re: Dreams of becoming a psychologist

Post by drsue2014 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:16 pm

If it's your dream - go for it. Nothing is insurmountable.

I had very poor A levels and initially failed my first degree in Engineering many years ago. A very patchy career followed in engineering then teaching. I struggled with mental health issues for much of my life before getting the help I needed whilst doing my Psychology conversion course. Last month I heard those immortal words - "Congratulations Dr ......" at my viva for my Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.

From my perspective, having had mental health difficulties gives a unique insight into our clients lives. My strength is my empathic understanding and ability to develop excellent therapeutic relationships, underpinned by strong theoretical knowledge and clinical skills. A key component of a Counselling Psychology Doctorate is a commitment to personal development in a therapeutic relationship.

My advice - do the conversion, gain as much relevant experience as you can (voluntary is absolutely fine) and research the postgraduate options available to you. There is much overlap between Clinical, Counselling and Health psychology. Explore the training, the career paths and talk to as many Practitoner Psychologists as you can before deciding which path is best for you.

Best wishes for the future!

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