What experience did you have when you got on training?

Discuss applications to the clearing house (and to courses that are not in the clearing house system), screening assessments, interviews, reserve lists, places, etc. here
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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by psych_lad » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:17 am

I really can't believe I can add to this now! Feel over the moon!

I am 26 and will be starting this year (2011)

Before BSc
Good A-levels (ABB)

Undergraduate Years- 2003-2006
-Student Mentor (1st year only-term time only)
-Sessional Worker (young people with various disabilities/mental health problems- vacation work only)
- Volunteer at Rehab UK (London Brain Injury Centre- part time support work for vocational rehabilitation- 6 months)
-BSc (Hons) - low 2.1(although research project was 1st class)

Post-graduation -2006 - 2011
-Support, Time and Recovery Worker (NHS 10 months CAMHS)
-Assistant Psychologist (NHS 7 months LD)
-Assistant Psychologist (NHS 12 months OA)
-MSc Psychological Research Methods (Pass- completed part-time long distance study between 2007-2010)
-Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (NHS 12 months PCMH- IAPT)
-PGCert Low Intensity Psychological Therapy (Pass)
-Research Assistant (NHS 10 months -current position, Dementia research)

Applied in 2005 six whilst final year undergraduate- 4 no interview rejections (obviously!)

Didn't bother applying in 2006

Applied in 2007 during first assistant post - 4 no interview rejections

Applied in 2008- 4 no interview rejections

Applied in 2009 - 3 no interview rejections, 1 interview where I wasn't successful

Applied in 2010 - 2 no interview rejections, 1 unsuccessul interview, 1 reserve interview which lead to reserve place then finally an actual place!

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by prideandprejudice » Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:40 pm

I got offered a place this year, and hope that my experiences will help to encourage those who have not been successful this time round; so here's what I did on the road to the holy grail of clinical training! I'll be 32 when I start training.

1999: Graduated BA Psychology - 2:2 (My 2:2 was a hard blow as it meant I didn't get straight onto the masters I wanted)
2000-2002: Careworker for a charity-run respite centre for people with neurological conditions (I loved this job and had such fun there)
2002-2003: MSc Psychology & Health (My 2:2 and some experience helped me to bring up my academic skills on this masters- I met some phenomenal people when I was studying at this uni)
2003-2008: Spent 5 years working with an ABI charity doing community support work (This was a fascinating job and was well-paid which meant I got to enjoy life and have many creature comforts - but it was also a bit of a honey trap!!)
2005-2007: Part-time MA psychology-related area (As part of this, I did research with people with neurological conditions [not ABI]; it was tough going doing it part-time and working full-time so I was very proud when I completed it, and I really felt it was worth missing out on the odd night out / weekend away with friends)
2008-2010: research assistant on a study looking at mental health in a neurological condition
2010-Present: Registered for a PhD in 2010, but have now converted to an MPhil (due to finish in September) as I got on clinical training :)

Along the way, I applied for training about 4/5 times, and never got an interview before this year. Having a 2:2 certainly didn't help but it is possible to get beyond it.
I got 2 interviews this year, both at places where there were screening tests. Given that I've been working in research for 3 years now, this suited me and definitely helped / was the reason I got interviews.
My 1st interview was awful - on the day I thought it was ok but the more I replayed it in my mind the more I cringed. My 2nd interview I had a better idea of what to expect, I thought carefully before opening my mouth & I kept saying to myself "be clear and be concise". It worked!!! :D I was nervous pre-interview about not having worked as an AP, and felt that I was missing inside knowledge. I spoke to CPs & trainees I know before interview and asked them to describe a day in the life which I felt helped.

The moral of my story is: 1) never give up on your dreams - if it's right for you, it will happen & as the saying goes it's all about the journey 2) you don't need those must-have AP roles and NHS experience ~ though it may take longer and be a more scenic route without them! 3) don't forget to live your life during the preparations to gain a place on training.

I have worked with some amazing clients and staff over the years, and I've certainly enjoyed the ride!!! I'm looking forward to the next wave of adventure in October. To all those who are gearing up for the next round of applications - Bon chance!

(ps. Sorry for my long-winded post - I'm making up for my weeks/months of lurking!! ;-) )

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Toria » Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:48 pm

I got onto the Trent course this year woo :D

At Uni
2005-2008 BSc Philosophy & Psychology (with GBR): low 2.i
Carer in a private nursing home for older adults 8 hrs a week for 6 months
Personal Assistant for a student with physical and memory difficulties - approx 5 hrs a week for 2 years - mostly involved making breakfast and going to the pub!
In the uni holidays for 2 years I worked as admin/witness care officer in a Witness Care Unit for the police
In the uni holidays for my last year at uni and on and off before getting my first full-time job I worked as a Nursing Assistant on the bank in NHS older adult and adult mental health inpatient wards
Nightline volunteer for 2 years

2008-2009 MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology: distinction (including a thesis based on an ongoing NHS research project - although this wasn't as interesting or in-depth as I had originally hoped!)
During my MSc i worked as a support work in a neuro rehab unit for 6 months on the bank
Samaritans listener for 18 months

After Uni
AP (band 4) in NHS adult/older adult mental health - mostly service evaluation, a small amount of 1:1 client work and observation for 14 months (10 months full-time, 4 months part-time)
Lead RA (band 4/5) for an NHS dementia research trial for 4 months (part-time post whilst working part-time on the above post)
AP (band 5) in NHS pain management - running groups, carrying out assessments and 1:1 client work, a small amount of audit work. I will have been in this post for 9 months when I start training - I hadn't started it when applications were due so it wasn't on my form, but I did talk about it in my interview.

To be honest I thought I would've needed at least another year's experience before I got on, but I think I've been lucky to work with some great supervisors who have enabled me to get some great experiences fairly quickly. :D
You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf - Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Eupheme » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:02 am

I was offered a place on a doctorate this year, second time applying. I applied to 3 Universities and I was offered 2 interviews that resulted in one offer and one reserve place.

During University:
I graduated in 2008, Psychology BSc (First).
Whilst at University I worked part-time for 6 months as a Research Assistant for another University. I also worked as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities (part-time) for 1.5 years.

Post Uni:
When I graduated I struggled to get an Assistant Psychologist post within the NHS, I did get quite a lot of interviews but was repeatedly received feedback that the post had been 'offered to someone that already has previous experience as an Assistant Psychologist within the NHS'. I found this very demoralising at the time but never stopped believing that one day I would be offered a place!

During this time I worked as a support worker in Mental Health for 9 months. I decided to start applying to Research Assistant posts and was offered one straight away.

Research Assistant (7 months, University): epidemiological study into risk factors and cancer.
Research Assistant (12 months, University): on a study into Mental Health and a new treatment.

a) Don’t give up if Clinical psychology is what you really want to do.
b) You don’t necessarily have to have worked for NHS or have had a post as an Assistant Psychologist.
c) Don’t believe some rumours out there that the interview at x University is ‘like being hit by a train’ my experience was that the University that has received such comments was the complete opposite. I was interviewed by an organised, friendly and encouraging interview panel.

Good luck!! :D

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by sv650biker » Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:11 pm

I never thought I would be able to post in this section...! So I am happy to offer my contribution :D

2004 - 2007 ~ Psychology BSc and graduated with a first class
- During the summer months at university I did some volunteer work at a horse riding activity centre for children and adults with physical and learning disabilities

August 2007 I was very lucky to secure a volunteer Research Assistant post which was 1 day at week for about 2-3 months

October 2007 - August 2009 ~ worked for the Mental Health Research Network

September 2009 - present Band 5 Assistant Psychologist post with Adults in a Primary Care Service
- During my time here I applied first time round for the Doctorate, got one interview but didnt make it on
- Second time applying, I got only one interview and got onto the reserve then got offered a place!

The moral of the story from my side is that you do not need a wealth of experience before training and persistence is key. I truly thought I would need a lot more experience as it is such a competitive field. But as long as you can reflect on your experiences and say what you have gained, it is possible to make it onto the course. Also, I guess I can tentatively say that it is also possible to make it on the course with no further qualifications in terms of a Masters / PHD.

I hope that my very short post is somewhat helpful, especially to those who do not have as much experience or qualifications as others.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by llove » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:34 pm

Not a whole load of experience...think it's important to learn as much as you can from your posts...and control the nerves at interview (easier said than done, I know)!

I graduated in 2009, BA 1.1
At uni:
Sessional worker in children's charity, facilitating fun workshops...was heavily arts based, music drama, art etc.
Taught privately (classical singing) :)
Scholarship funded Research Assistant (not clinical, but learned a bit of research skills & did a bit of presenting).

After uni:
Voluntary Assistant Psychologist (Forensic) - no client contact, basically just doing lit searches, maybe 16hrs a week while still doing sessional work.
Clinical Support worker, CAMHS (tier 4) - Oct 2009 - April 2010 (would screen groupwork and family therapy sessions)
Assistant Psychologist (over a year now, getting kept on til I start the course :D), was 6months at time of applying.

First time applying. I applied to two courses and was accepted by both (initially a reserve for my preferred course) :)

Scary stuff looking at the impressive CVs on here! But think that being able to reflect on what you've done and give a good interview might play a big role.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Soph84 » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:19 pm

This year was my first year applying and I got on to Hertfordshire. I got 3 rejections and one reserve list interview (Herts) then I got an interview followed by an offer of a place.

I have a bit of a mixed bag of experience and kind of went round the houses a bit:

2002 - 2005: BSc Hons Psychology & Neuroscience - low 2.1
Worked as an auxiliary nurse around a variety of hospital settings and also in learning disability respite services.

2005: Worked for the General Medical Council investigating complaints against doctors but requested mental health cases where possible.
Then worked for the Healthcare Commission doing much the same job, except the cases were complaints against a person's care under the NHS in general, rather than just doctors, and I was allocated all the mental health cases (no one else wanted them!).
Volunteered for a couple of years for the youth offending service, as a panel member for young people who have been given referral orders.

2006 - 2008: MSc Mental Health Practice - Merit.
I did this MSc part time whilst also working for a Mental Health charity as a 'Senior Quality Assurance Advisor' for the 30 mental health services around the country.
I did irregular bank support worker shifts for a neuro rehabilitation service.
I took a 6 week sabbatical to work at the World Health Organization in the Mental Health Evidence and Research Team in Geneva (this was an awesome experience and I recommend anyone who is currently studying a post-grad degree to look into it...I did a post on this a while ago. Search WHO Internship)

2009 - 2011: Research Assistant post in a forensic service for men with diagnoses of severe personality disorder. This job has a lot of clinical and research involvement as it functions as an adapted therapeutic community and I also did groups with patients.

So that's me. I waited 6 years after I graduated to apply. I've certainly not gone the traditional route but I couldn't afford a long string of low-paid support worker jobs. I have learned a lot from all of the other jobs I have done though, especially about audit, research, commissioning, and strategic planning of services.

Good luck to everyone else who is applying!! :D

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Brightsunshine » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:37 pm

I thought I'd post a bit about me in the interest of giving another perspective from a non traditional route

No A levels but EU Baccalaureate .
1st : Socio & literature : 2.2 (just at uni for the booze really...)
Conversion diploma psychology : Mid 2.1(64%)
Master mental health : With merit (69 %)

I come from a non traditional route and I am from a BME background.
Never had a AP posts ( had to pay the bills ,my studies and feed the kids)
experience :Voluntary work with refugees (1 year-part time) , mental health worker in voluntary sector (1 year part time) then Management (NHS) 1 year, Group Facilitation (NHS) 1 year , Learning and Development /training (NHS , voluntary and HMPS about 2,5 years a mixture of full and part time) a bit of action research as part of the above posts (2 publications).

This is my second time applying got two interviews and place offer first round @ 31 I feel like an oldie !

For all those who like me do not fit the traditional "mould" , please persevere and do not internalise the subtle , covert and overt messages that you're not good enough !!!

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by snigglybear » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:51 pm

I got on this year (woop) and this was/is my story...

Uni - BSc in Psychology Mental and Physical Health
Whilst there I did volunteering as/on: a mentor at a local school; an acute mental health ward for a few months; a child anxiety unit one day a week for a year as an RA; coding for a PhD project over a period of 2 yrs in my own time; a 6 week placement conducting a research project with infants.

Support Worker on a women's MSU
I did this for just over a year, and whilst there started to facilitate some psychological therapy groups (but this was fairly late on and quite limited)

Research Assistant
I did this for just under a year, and was again within forensics. I had a lot of responsibility in the job, and it had both quantitative and qualitative aspects so there was some clinical contact for conducting interviews with service users.

And that's it! So take heart if you haven't got a string of AP posts behind you, it's not necessarily all about that!

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by michael2806 » Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:12 pm

Hi everyone! I've been speaking to a few interns on my first placement who were asking me about this the other day, so thought I may as well put it up here. I just got on this year, first time round:

-B.Sc 2:1 (69%)
-PG Cert Pass (Pass/Fail) IAPT training

-Honourary RA at Uni, assisting in transcription and preliminary qualitative analysis on a research study looking into gender talk throughout the gender change process in transgender patients.

-Volunteer at a suicide prevention charity based at the Uni; no real face to face clinical contact with patients.
-Volunteered the following year for the same charity, acting as chair for the charity.
-Anger management group facilitator in a charity based within Manchester.
-IAPT low intensity worker, providing low intensity interventions in primary care.
-AP in community and inpatient substance misuse and alcohol misuse services.

Hopefully this should show that you don't need a list of Assistant post's as long as your arm to get on! I found the whole interview process was largely about how you reflected upon your previous experience, both professionally and personally, as opposed to just showing that you ticked the boxes to get an interview in the first place. Plus on interview day, it was clearly the case that, irregardless of prior experience, everyone on the day was on the same level playing field, and it was more about who you were and what you could bring to the course! Hope this helps everyone, best of luck for this years applicants! :D

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by ldnpsych » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:29 pm

I’m really happy to get this thread going again this year…shocked but happy! I’m 26 and this is my first year applying. I was ecstatic to receive four interviews - have so far sat my Oxford one and been offered a place. I felt like I could perhaps have applied last year but didn’t want to do so until I felt fully ready. I’m really glad I waited as I feel much more confident in myself and my abilities this year.

In terms of my application form, I feel that I didn’t dwell too much on what I’d done exactly, but how my experiences shaped me and what I’d learned from them. I also wanted to show a bit of personality and cracked a joke or two in there (obviously not knock-knock jokes!) but in a way that showed I had a sense of humour!

In all honesty, at the time I thought my interview went pretty badly. But if I were to give any advice it would be, firstly, stop and think for a few seconds before answering the question, and secondly, talk about examples from your experiences that have influenced your opinion, rather than in abstract ideas and professional lingo.

Wishing everyone luck with their interviews!! Here’s a bit about my background:

BSc Psychology (first)
MSc Cognitive Neuropsychology (distinction)

1.5 years Assistant Psychologist in a specialist CAMHS learning disability service
1 year Assistant Psychologist in an NHS Stop Smoking Service
8 months Support Worker in an Older Adult CMHT and Memory Clinic Service

Voluntary work:
During my BSc and MSc I worked as a volunteer support worker for a charity supporting teenagers with Asperger Syndrome, and as a day centre volunteer at my local MIND day centre.
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed." Albert Einstein

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by noodle » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:31 pm

Writing on here is a bit strange...

BSc Applied Psychology - Mid 2.1 from a Redbrick
MSc Health Psychology - Merit (published my dissertation)

Main Experience:
Undergrad placement year in Adult LD services
1.5 years part time Research Associate in Health Psychology (+ a couple of publications)
1.5 years part time Assistant Psychologist in an Adult LT condition management
6 months Assistant Psychologist in a surgical specialty working across the lifespan

Other bits and bobs:
During my BSc and MSc I worked as an ABA tutor to a young boy with autism and a support worker to a gentleman with Down's Syndrome. I also did 6 months, half a day a week as a voluntary AP in LT condition management whilst doing my MSc.


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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by fledgling » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:15 pm

Having just received an offer for 2012 entry, I am delighted to be able to contribute to this thread :) .

BSc Psychology (1st)- graduated in 2006.
PGCert Low Intensity Psychological Interventions (PWP training)


During Uni:
Part-time paid RA post during my 2nd and 3rd years. Not clinically relevant, but some transferable skills (e.g. transcribing and coding data) and I was thanked in a publication.
Part-time voluntary work as a support worker at a CMHT day centre for one summer holiday. This wasn't advertised, I just found the address for the centre during my Easter holiday, walked in and asked the manager if I could volunteer - they did the CRB check and I was ready to go in the summer! This was quite balls-y for me (!), but it definitely paid off as I couldn't have got my first paid job without this experience.

After Uni:
I took time out and went travelling for a year. When I got back, I started applying for AP jobs and got nowhere apart from the odd interview for about 6months (I now cringe at how badly some of those interviews went :oops: ). I spent this time mainly working in a shop and doing occasional work with a cancer charity. I realised how competitive AP posts were and started applying for other things...

:arrow: Support Worker for 18m in an NHS Recovery Service, working with adults with severe and enduring mental health problems (schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, personality disorders...)

:arrow: PWP for 2 years in a new IAPT service.

:arrow: Clinical Studies Officer with the Mental Health Research Network (for 8m to date), co-ordinating the set up and recruitment for various mental health research studies in NHS services.

Although I graduated some time ago, this is only my second year of applying as I waited until I felt ready. I got one interview last year, worked on the feedback I was given and got three interviews this year.

I have not got any publications in my name, have never been an AP or been supervised by (or even worked closely with) a Clinical Psychologist. So, as others have said above, none of these things are essential by any means! I think the most important thing for me has been doing a lot of self-reflection; not trying to 'tick boxes', but to really think about what I have learned from the experiences I have had (about the profession and about myself), to be honest with myself about what my strengths and weaknesses are, and to think about how I can work with these.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by louise17 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:04 pm

Exciting to be posting on this thread :lol:

In summary:
Third year of applying, first year: 1 interview- no offer, 2nd year: 1 interview, reserve list place, third year: 4 interviews and 1 place (declined other interviews)

:arrow: Undergraduate
-Mid 2:1 from Sheffield- Psychology (BSc)
-Some voluntary positions whilst at University (Nightline, Support Worker EMI unit, Support Worker Learning Disability day centre).

:arrow: Postgraduate
-Postgraduate Certificate Low Intensity Interventions (York University)
-Low Intensity Worker (PWP) IAPT- 15 months
-Assistant Psychologist (NHS) in an Early Intervention in Psychosis Service- 6 months
-Spilt Post between Assistant Psychologist (in same post as above) and Research Assistant for the North East Mental Health Development Unit- 6 months
-Higher Assistant Psychologist (NHS) in Learning Disabilities (crisis community and inpatient)- 12 months
-Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Research (Newcastle University) Distinction
-Continued involvement in a number of research projects with an interest in psychosis and high service use
-1 publication in peer reviewed journal
-a couple of regional publications whilst working for the mental health development unit

I've spent some time thinking what made a difference for me this year. I think (personally) that my increased life experience helped me develop personally and reflect in a different way on things. For me (my personal opinion) this has come with age. I'm still only 25, so at 21 I was a different person that I am now and I think for me I wasn't ready on a personal level. Saying that, I guess if I turned back time the interviews beforehand gave me some experience of the process and an experience of having difficulties in reaching your goal/ things feeling like they are not always going smoothly/ your way! I think it also helped having worked somewhere a bit different (mental health development unit) which was more a strategic level organisation and gave me a good working knowledge of the current NHS issues, commissioning etc.

I also felt like I was genuinely answering the questions using my own knowledge rather than that I had tried to learn and remember in previous years. I felt more confident in my own experience, so maybe I felt I had enough to have a go without feeling I had to say the perfect textbook answer/use the buzzwords instead of my own. This made the process more relaxing. When revising I finally resisted the urge to read lots of text books (this was my way of reducing my worries) and although it helped a bit I found it much better cementing what I already knew, realistically this will be what you draw upon when in a stressful experience and will be accessible and thinking alot about what I have learned, what I found difficult etc. More thinking and less scribbling down! I had multiple folders for previous years for interviews and this years was much slimmer, which took alot of self restraint (I love paperchase alot too)!

Hope any of this is useful to someone :P

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Laura86 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:14 pm

Can’t believe I can actually post on this thread! :D I’m 25 now, will just turn 26 the month I start, and it was my second time applying.


Psychology BSc – 2:1
I only got a low 2:1 as at the time I was of the mind-set ‘as long as it’s a 2:1 it doesn’t matter’ :roll: – which, since graduating, I have seen that it has been taken into consideration at some Uni’s. However, don’t let this dishearten you as it hasn’t stopped me and many others from getting a place anyway! :wink:

Clinical Applications of Psychology MSc – Merit
I would really recommend an MSc to others, it’s obviously a drain on time and finances but I feel that I learned so much from doing this, and that my academic ability has massively improved. I completed mine via distance learning so that I could gain clinical experience at the same time.

Work Experience

6 month work placement (voluntary/unpaid) at Headway (Aquired Brain Injury Charity)
This mainly consisted of co-facilitating therapeutic and psycho-educational groups with other paid staff. This helped me to develop my verbal and non-verbal communication skills, as language had often been affected by the brain injury. At a very low level I also got involved with formulating problems with clients and identifying goals, taking into account the barriers they faced.

5 months Smoking Cessation Advisor (NHS)
This was mainly motivational interviewing (both group and 1:1) with people ceasing smoking, including cannabis use; and record keeping – although I did get involved with some aspects of service development and promotion. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this job but it was a foot in the door!

18 months Community Wellbeing Practitioner with Mind (Not IAPT even though it’s a similar title!)
I loved this job, and I really feel that I learned a massive amount whilst working here, such as building engagement and rapport, working with 1:1 and group dynamics, working within and across agencies, working in the community and associated policies and procedures etc., which were all transferrable to an AP job (and I believe enabled me to gain an AP position). A charity obviously doesn’t have the same resources as agencies such as the NHS so I had to learn how to be creative and to source information, keep well within budgets, and find appropriate locations to run groups etc. My job role was mainly conducting initial assessments with new service-users; and I’d plan/ facilitate/ evaluate group work and some 1:1 work such as CBT for anxiety/ depression/ OCD, and groups centred around wellbeing (creative ways of building meaning, getting connected etc).

2 years Assistant Psychologist Post (NHS) In-patient, and Day Services until they were recently closed.
I’ve been really fortunate to have supportive and encouraging supervisors in this post. I’ve been able to conduct various assessments and outcome measures; be involved in developing formulations and sharing them with the staff team; planning and facilitating group and 1:1 work (mainly with people experiencing psychosis); taking a role within the MDT; and conducting some research (not yet published but in submission). I’ve worked mainly with adults of working age, a little bit with older adults, and with some individuals with a learning disability/difficulty.

In terms of factors contributing to me being offered a place, I’m a firm believer in what a lot of other people on here have said – that it’s not the amount of experience you have but the quality of it, what you can get out of each post and how you’re able to reflect and develop from that. I'd also echo what others have said about interviews - answering with my own experience and knowledge as opposed to trying to learn responses or 'buzzwords'. I also think a big thing that helped me through interviews was practicing mindfulness so as not to let the anxiety get to me and turn me into a bumbling mess! :lol:

This - is now my way - where is yours? Thus did I answer those who asked me 'the way'. For the way - it doth not exist. Friedrich Nietzsche

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