I want to do too many things!

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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friday
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I want to do too many things!

Post by friday » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:30 pm

I joined the forum in 2010 when I was doing a psychology degree. I didn't end up getting a psychology degree and instead decided to do an Open degree with the Open University. This suited me perfectly and I studied modules in psychology, social policy, health promotion and even creative writing (my final project was a collection of poems that formed a social commentary on approaches to mental health through the ages).

I worked and volunteered part time in mental health day centres and on wards and then did one of the fast track programmes. I am now a mental health social worker in a local authority and love so many things about it, especially how it's quite an eclectic mix of different disciplines but...I seem to always want more!

Whatever job advert I look at I feel something is missing. I love the strong social justice ethos of social work within a pure social work team but that means less therapeutic work compared to integrated mental health teams. I don't want to be a care coordinator if that means becoming a generic mental health professional and I've seen social workers lose their social work identity and a lot of their specialist knowledge/never acquire it in CMHTs. As if I wasn't picky enough, I'd also like somewhere that has the opportunity to undertake research.

I often consider doing the psychology conversion course and going down the clinical/forensic route (leaning much more towards forensic but funding could be an issue) because of the mix of research and therapeutic work but I think I'm too much of an activist to let go of social work and I'd miss the law side of things (though I could be an AMHP and forensics would keep me involved in law). I'm also planning on studying law when I have a midlife crisis or possibly before just for fun :alien:

Am I being totally unrealistic to expect one job to meet all my wishes? Is it possible to have two part time jobs or are the logistics too difficult? Would forensic psychology makes sense for me? Where can I find Bernard's watch?!

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lakeland
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by lakeland » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:15 pm

What is appealing to you about each of the career paths? I think there's definitely potential for activism within Psychology and I wonder if you'd find social work quite constraining in reality - based on my experience of working with social workers, they always seem overwhelmed and overworked. I suppose there are specialist roles within social work (not just mental health, but forensics, LAC, NSPCC).

I feel like any post in the public sector at the moment is focused on the client facing part of the job, so opportunities to do research in a clinical role can be hard to find.

What about something like mental health advocacy? Would that scratch the itch?

friday
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by friday » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:43 pm

lakeland wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:15 pm
What is appealing to you about each of the career paths? I think there's definitely potential for activism within Psychology and I wonder if you'd find social work quite constraining in reality - based on my experience of working with social workers, they always seem overwhelmed and overworked. I suppose there are specialist roles within social work (not just mental health, but forensics, LAC, NSPCC).

I feel like any post in the public sector at the moment is focused on the client facing part of the job, so opportunities to do research in a clinical role can be hard to find.

What about something like mental health advocacy? Would that scratch the itch?
Thanks for replying. I found your response helped me think through things in a less jumbled manner than usual.

I can attest to social workers being overwhelmed and overworked! I think the difficult thing with social work is the up and down nature of the workload. You are never on top of things and just when you think you are getting there a crisis happens and all your time is taken up with that so you get even more behind. I can't imagine any mental health professional not being seriously overworked. Does such a profession exist?!

I love the advocacy aspect of my social work job but I think being an advocate would get a bit repetitive and I wouldn't get a chance to use a lot of my skills and knowledge. It's also not a well paid job and as much as people say they aren't in it for the money, I do want to be comfortable...

I'm really interested in what you said about activism within psychology. Do you mean on a professional or individual level? I'm aware of psychologists for social change but don't really know about activism in psychology beyond that. Obviously things like challenging diagnosis can be activism (e.g. because gendered, culturally biased, does not recognise social factors) but is activism thriving in psychology or is it a fringe thing?

This is more me thinking on paper. The two main careers I consider are social work and forensic psychology. These are the things I consider most appealing:

Social work: The bread and butter of my job is advocacy, law, and promoting human rights and that's why I chose social work. Challenging the medical model, relationship based practice, working with people within and with their systems, social approaches to recovery, some therapeutic interventions are sometimes possible, making use of theory and research to understand a person's difficulties and collaboratively finding ways to make meaningful changes, tribunal reports

Forensic psychology: Therapeutic interventions, law and human rights (balancing rights of victims and perpetrators, risks etc), research/audits, evidence based approaches, relationship based practice, working collaboratively with individuals and their systems, challenging the medical model.

I could push the research to one side but it's the lack of/very minimal therapeutic interventions in mental health social work that draws me back to forensic psychology. I've wanted to be a forensic psychologist on and off since I was about 7 😂

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miriam
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by miriam » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:10 pm

I'd check out whether you ever do get to do meaningful therapeutic work in forensic settings. My concern would be about pseudo engagement, given the overt consequences of appearing to engage or not engage in what is on offer, and also about the system itself - do the interventions really work? does the whole prison system really work? do you really get a voice to challenge anything? I don't know as I haven't worked in those settings.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

AnsweringBell
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by AnsweringBell » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:12 pm

Working in a medium secure service myself, engagement is a huge difficulty with meaningful therapeutic work; but it's certainly possible. The work definitely doesn't look how you expect it to, and you're often playing a much longer game than you would in other services. There can be quite a lot of meaningful therapeutic group work as well as 1:1. I don't know that there's huge, huge scope to challenge the medical model, but that probably differs from place to place. I think as well, forensic psychologists who work in prisons have quite a different remit to those who work in secure hospitals, but your qualification enables you to do either (if you went down a forensic training route). I wonder if community forensic work would also enable you to do more in terms of working with individuals and their systems; I don't know how well funded those teams tend to be though.

friday
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by friday » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:00 pm

miriam wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:10 pm
I'd check out whether you ever do get to do meaningful therapeutic work in forensic settings. My concern would be about pseudo engagement, given the overt consequences of appearing to engage or not engage in what is on offer, and also about the system itself - do the interventions really work? does the whole prison system really work? do you really get a voice to challenge anything? I don't know as I haven't worked in those settings.
There are definitely barriers to engagement and how "engaging" is perceived is a huge factor but one thing that I think helps is the long term nature of (most) admissions. I haven't worked in forensics before (only a low secure rehab ward that was a step down for a lot of people who had been in medium secure units). I've got a few friends who work in forensics (clinical psychologists, a psychiatrist and people who run groups in prisons) and they seem to manage therapeutic work, it just takes time to build the relationships (which is something you tend to have).

Whether interventions work is a whole different issue! Remember the sexual offending programme where people who completed it offended more than people who didn't (SOTP)? My personal view is doing nothing rarely helps (though doing the wrong thing definitely doesn't). I work with a fair few people with significant forensic histories at the moment and I think the work we do together does makes a difference (in one case, he's basically done a U turn after 10 years). These particular people probably aren't ready for any sort of structured therapy but if I (or someone else willing to work on building a relationship) worked with them for another year or two I think they might be.
AnsweringBell wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:12 pm
Working in a medium secure service myself, engagement is a huge difficulty with meaningful therapeutic work; but it's certainly possible. The work definitely doesn't look how you expect it to, and you're often playing a much longer game than you would in other services. There can be quite a lot of meaningful therapeutic group work as well as 1:1. I don't know that there's huge, huge scope to challenge the medical model, but that probably differs from place to place. I think as well, forensic psychologists who work in prisons have quite a different remit to those who work in secure hospitals, but your qualification enables you to do either (if you went down a forensic training route). I wonder if community forensic work would also enable you to do more in terms of working with individuals and their systems; I don't know how well funded those teams tend to be though.
Thanks for sharing your experience . It's given me some food for thought. I definitely think I'm basing my view on hospitals rather than prisons and I could do to learn a lot more about that. I got a forensic social work job recently but didn't end up taking it for reasons that will take too long to explain. That role worked across inpatient and community and there was a big focus on families both in and out of hospital.

If you have time, could you say a bit more about what your week looks like in terms of 1-1, group work, court/tribunal reports, psychometrics etc? How much involvement do you have with victims?



Writing all this out I think my best bet would be to research more about the role within prisons and to get a job as a forensic social worker to find out if my heart is in forensics before I start shelling out cash on postgraduate degrees and probably taking a pay cut. I won't be entitled to the masters loan which complicates things quite a bit!

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miriam
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by miriam » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:19 pm

friday wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:00 pm
Writing all this out I think my best bet would be to research more about the role within prisons and to get a job as a forensic social worker to find out if my heart is in forensics before I start shelling out cash on postgraduate degrees and probably taking a pay cut. I won't be entitled to the masters loan which complicates things quite a bit!
Sounds like a good plan.

And helpful to hear from AnsweringBell about the realities of forensic work. I'm on my way to a secure unit for young people, but even though I am familiar with complex young people living outside of their family of origin, it still feels like a sector that is quite new to me.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

AnsweringBell
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by AnsweringBell » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:08 am

Hiya Friday, I've sent you a DM - I started writing it but realised it was getting incredibly detailed! Happy to chat about my role/the general role of psychology within secure services in the NHS though. Like Miriam, it was quite a new idea to me until I started working in it - perception and reality can be very different with working in this sort of setting I think. (I also imagine there's a LOT of variety in how different services run)

friday
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Re: I want to do too many things!

Post by friday » Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:04 pm

miriam wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:19 pm
Sounds like a good plan.

I'm on my way to a secure unit for young people, but even though I am familiar with complex young people living outside of their family of origin, it still feels like a sector that is quite new to me.
I think one of the best things about health and social care is that there are always new things to learn :)
AnsweringBell wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:08 am
Hiya Friday, I've sent you a DM - I started writing it but realised it was getting incredibly detailed! Happy to chat about my role/the general role of psychology within secure services in the NHS though. Like Miriam, it was quite a new idea to me until I started working in it - perception and reality can be very different with working in this sort of setting I think. (I also imagine there's a LOT of variety in how different services run)
Thanks for the DM. It is super helpful so thanks so much for taking the time to give me a greater insight. It's made me more keen not less.


I've been doing more research on stage 2 and the weird part is it explicitly says it could be done while employed in a job such as a probation officer or social worker. While that would be great financially it confuses me because I don't see how you could evidence all the competencies while employed as a social worker. I wonder if it's possible to do it over two jobs, such as a social worker and AP/trainee forensic psychologist (either paid or honorary). More things for me to look into.

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