Is there any non-essential experience you would recomend to me?

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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Is there any non-essential experience you would recomend to me?

Post by ScruffyLicious »

Hello everyone!

My name is Scruffy - or Stuart if you want to be professional - and I'm very new around here. Like many of you, I'm an aspiring clinical psychologist who is looking to get as wide a variety of experience as possible. I know there are many, many threads asking for and advising recommended experience regarding AP posts, doctorate etc. but I'm more interested in experience which isn't necesserally essential, but that many of you found both enjoyable and benefitial to your career anyway. To that end, here's a bit about me, my experiences to date, my interests, and my goals:

Thoughout my adult life (I'm 28, btw), I've always had a passion for mental health and wellbeing. As a teenager, I went through my own experiences of depression, and have lived with social anxiety as a result. Intervention opened me up to a potential career interest - counselling - which in turn led me to completing an HNC in Counselling in 2011/2012. From this, I ended up studying a BA Honours degree in Psychology in 2012 - 2017, from which I graduated with first-class honours. Sadly, I did not do any clinically-relevant work throughout this time, but after graduating, I became a learning disabilities support worker supporting adults with profound learning disabilities, autism and mental health challenges like schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. I did this full-time for a year, and weekends-only throughout my MSc. My MSc was in Foundations of Clinical Psychology, which was very intense. Through this course, I completed written case formulations, essays on practitioner models and evdience-based practice, and on confidentiality and safeguarding, a mock NHS ethics application, reflective journals, and a systematic review, amongst others. My thesis was a systematic review looking as trans gender differences in common mental health challenges. I will be graduating with distinction in November.

I'm also about to start working as a mental health support worker, and as an honorary assistant psychologist. My HAP post will involve me working in a primary mental health care setting observing psychological therapists and running audits. I do not yet know what my support worker role will involve exactly, but it will include direct contact with adults with profound mental health challenges.

I'm very interested in mental health as related to trauma, and to gender identity (thanks to my research on trans mental health), and am currently preparing my thesis for publication. I'd love to gain experience working in these ares, but that opportunity has not came up yet.

So, yeah, that's me basically. I apolose if I waffled, and if anything is unclear, just ask! Is there any experiences which you have that aren't essential to AP posts/doctorate etc. that benefitted you and you would recommend to me?

Thank you very much!
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Re: Is there any non-essential experience you would recomend to me?

Post by Punkgirluk »

The thing that really got me “hooked” on working in MH was being a listening volunteer with Samaritans. You will get a chance to properly listen to people’s stories (which will nearly always include trauma in one shape or another) and also get a very good idea of where the gaps are in current services. My branch also did outreach emotional support at the local food bank and homelessness drop in centre which was a great opportunity to talk to those people who aren’t necessarily in mainstream mh services but nonetheless need support.
I also volunteered with time to change via my local Mind which was a useful introduction to some policy work and I wrote a blog for them on various subjects in mh which again was a good introduction to different approaches to dissemination and fit in well around work commitments.
Given your interest in gender issues- it may also be worth investigating your local Mindline. Ours has a specific LGBT service and also Mindline trans which specifically covers people with questions or difficulties around gender identity. They also (at least my local one) largely cover evening hours which may be useful if you’re working full time. Alternatively if you’re anywhere near an NHS gender identity service may be worth asking if they need volunteers (our local services uses volunteers to run some of the initial psycho educational groups)
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Re: Is there any non-essential experience you would recomend to me?

Post by Spatch »

I think this is a really good question.

When people are starting out, the majority of their experience tends to centre around the "clinical" rather than the broader "psychologist" part of the role, but the reality is that once you are qualified the higher up you go (especially beyond Band 7) the less time you spend with individual clients and more doing the broader psychologist role -like training, supervision, consultation, trouble-shooting, management and developing clinical approaches for teams. I heavily favour things like forming mentor/mentee relationships, forming networks and spending time looking for gaps and better ways to do things, and any experience that helps develop these capacities. If you can get some formal managment training somehow, that will complement your clinical skills as well.

That's not to say you should neglect doing individual patient work in clinical settings, but to keep an eye on the broader picture. To use Miriam's excellent analogy, as a clinical psychologist you will be the structural engineer -not a construction worker.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon ... 00EQFE5JW/
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Re: Is there any non-essential experience you would recomend to me?

Post by miriam »

It sounds like you could get a paid AP post and onto training from where you are now, so from my point of view any volunteering needs to be something you love rather than being something that will add to your CV at this point. So follow your own interests and volunteer at a gender identity service or charity locally. But career-development-wise I'd use the time to ensure you publish your research, and to apply for the more prestigious posts, rather than volunteering.

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