We’re celebrating Psychological Professions Week and this year, the PPN national conference has a focus on career pathways, training and new psychological roles.
At GHC we host many trainees undertaking a variety of programmes to become psychological professionals. All of these learners contribute to the work of psychological services during their training and many will move into qualified posts in the Trust once their course is completed.
In recent years, of number of new roles have been created nationally within the psychological workforce which are designed to support the transformation of services and increase access to psychological interventions. These roles include Educational Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs) and Clinical Associate Psychologists (CAPs) and we have successfully developed posts for these two new psychological professionals in GHC services. We are also exploring the development of posts for Mental Health Wellbeing Practitioners (MHWPs) in our adult mental health services.
As well as helping to support service developments, these new roles are providing different career routes and opportunities for aspiring psychological professionals which is very exciting. In GHC we also have colleagues working in more well-established early career roles such as Assistant Psychologists, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and Behaviour Support Workers, and we are just recruiting to eight fixed term Assistant Psychologist posts funded by an innovative HEE scheme to support aspiring Clinical Psychologists from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the range of roles that make up the family of psychological professions can take a look at the PPN website which has lots of useful information – and here are some of our amazing trainees and early career psychological professionals to tell you about their work in GHC:
Clinical Associate Psychologist Apprentice
Dean Ward, Wotton Lawn Hospital
I am an apprentice clinical associate psychologist [CAP]. I have worked for the Trust since 2018 in various assistant psychologist posts across different services. I started the CAP apprenticeship in 2021. It is essentially a Level 7 MSc qualification, completed through the University of Plymouth in conjunction with the Trust. I am based clinically on Dean Ward at Wotton Lawn Hospital, which is a 15-bed female acute ward.
As part of the apprenticeship, I received training in psychological models including CBT, psychodynamic and systemic models, as well as working with staff teams. The training was top-heavy so was more intensive at start of the course, although I still have regular study days. I found that training opportunities were sparse an assistant psychologist, so I have really valued the learning the CAP course has provided me.
My role is very ward-based and I enjoy the regular contact I have with clients, as well as the ability to work creatively with clients outside of the hospital setting. A typical day involves 1:1 work with clients as well as facilitating psychoeducational groups on the ward (e.g. relaxation, grounding techniques). I also support the staff team, for example, by facilitating team formulation sessions where we use psychosocial frameworks to help think about our clients.
I am well supported by the existing psychological therapies team and I have been warmly welcomed by ward team as well as clients. I think this is partly why the apprenticeship has worked so well. Ultimately, I would like to become a clinical psychologist; however, being a CAP could be a great career in itself.
(Clinical Psychologist) talks about the impact of this new CAP role
I am the clinical supervisor for Katie Slender, apprentice clinical associate psychologist (aCAP), who is based on Dean Ward in Wotton Lawn Hospital.
The CAP role emphasises an applied psychology approach, in contrast to a more narrow focus on 1:1 psychological therapy. This has meant Katie can work in a flexible way on Dean Ward, adjusting her weekly work activity according to the need of the patients and the staff. This applied approach allows the full application of psychological models, both directly through individual and group work, and indirectly through use of consultation, formulation and reflective practice.
Having a clearly defined ward-based role for the CAP has been key to the success of the role in this setting. This has meant that Katie is able to work effectively and with the support of the Dean Ward team who really appreciate the additional resource and the work that Katie does on the ward. As a clinical supervisor it has been very important that the CAP role is embedded within an experienced team of psychological practitioners who are also based in the hospital.
The CAP role has widened access for patients and staff to psychological ways of working and we have been delighted with the impact the Katie in the CAP role has had on our service. A paper evaluating the CAP role written by Katie and myself has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Psychiatric Intensive Care and we will be disseminating the results in the coming months.
Trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner
Young Minds Matter (Mental Health Support Team) Gloucester
I am a Trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner based in Gloucester. I have recently completed the 12-month training programme through the University of Exeter, which initially involved full-time university, gradually moving into working full-time in the service after about 5-6 months. Once I was working within the team I acquired a small caseload and focussed on applying skills taught at university by undertaking assessments and interventions.
At its core, our service offers low-intensity cognitive behaviour therapy to support children and young people struggling with anxiety, low mood or behavioural difficulties within school (and occasionally community) settings. I also deliver interventions directly to parents who can use those strategies to support their child directly, particularly for younger children. I liaise with other services within our region and am able to signpost CYP and parents to these other services if it is felt these would be more beneficial for the CYP than our own service, or they can be offered in addition to our intervention.
A typical day may include completing assessments to determine the suitability of the CYP for our interventions, completing 1:1 interventions with CYP, facilitating psychoeducational groupwork or sessions, supervision, liaising with colleagues in other services, planning, completing admin and speaking with parents and school staff.
I have been well supported by other EMHPs, managers and leads within the team which has really helped me to manage the steep learning curve and complete the university requirements. I feel this role provides a vital resource for CYP by providing early intervention for low-intensity psychological distress before these difficulties become more acute, and I am proud to be part of this team.
Jess Gillespie and Emma Wilson
Trainee Clinical Psychologists
University of Bath
We are trainee clinical psychologists, studying our professional doctorate through the University of Bath. We are in our second year of a three-year training course, and are currently
on placement within the Gloucestershire Healthcare trust. We are on placement three days per week, and go to university for lectures and seminars for the remaining two days.
Over the three years we have 5-6 placements which involve working with a variety of populations, such as working age adults, older adults, children and adolescents, individuals
with a learning disability, and other specialist services. Alongside our placements, our university-based teaching covers a range of topics that we can then apply to clinical practice.
As part of our training, we complete a Level 2 Accreditation in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and a Foundation in Systemic Family Therapy. We also receive teaching on other therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, in addition to teaching on neuropsychological assessment. As part of our first year of training we got the opportunity to complete an 8-week Mindfulness Course, which benefitted us both personally and professionally.
Throughout the doctorate we are also required to complete three research projects: a service-evaluation, a systematic review, and a larger-scale piece of empirical clinical research. We receive teaching on research methodology and we aim to publish our work in relevant academic journals. It is a skill in itself to learn how to manage your time, so we can both work in the NHS and continue to engage in research!
We are currently based at Acorn House in Gloucester and Evergreen House in Cheltenham, working across community CAMHS, paediatrics and the family therapy services. This is the first time that we have worked in Gloucester and both the wider trust and local teams have been so welcoming, friendly and supportive. We often reflect on how much we are learning in terms of how children’s services operate and what psychological practices are most utilised. Our days are spent between engaging with young people on a 1:1 basis, using CBT and other integrated models, being a part of the family therapy clinics, and working systemically with individuals and networks supporting the young person.
We are supervised by clinical psychologists and CBT therapists within the trust, therefore, we learn a huge amount about what it is like to be a psychological professional across the teams we have contact with. Through supervision and our clinical work, we are continuously learning and developing our therapeutic skills; expanding our knowledge on theoretical models and the wider evidence base, as well as building our professional identity through reflective practice. We are really enjoying applying our learning to working with children, their families and the wider systems.
We will become qualified clinical psychologists in 2024… maybe we will come back to Gloucester at this point!
Samuel James Fall
Assistant Psychologist – Post-Covid Syndrome Service
I have worked as an Assistant Psychologist for the GHC Trust since 2018 developing my interests and clinical competencies across various Learning Disability and Older Adult Community Mental Health Teams, Older and Working Age adult inpatient settings and most recently in clinical health psychology as part of the newly developed Post-Covid Syndrome Service. Throughout my journey I have completed an MSc in Counselling Psychology and various other external training opportunities.
Within my current post in the Long Covid service, our service model is built on a rehabilitation approach – our aims are to provide the necessary education, skills, tools and strategies to support our clients to better manage their symptoms to enable them to return to their normal lives, employment and caring responsibilities. Our service aims are achieved with the support of the MDT which includes – Psychology, OT, Physiotherapy and a GP. We provide tailored 1:1 and group-based intervention and assessment to manage the pervasive and often debilitating symptoms of Long Covid such a chronic physical fatigue, Brain Fog, Breathing Pattern Disorder, Anxiety, Depression and PTSD.
My day-to-day responsibilities typically include conducting comprehensive psychological assessments and formulations, delivering 1:1 CBT, ACT and CFT based psychological intervention, cognitive rehabilitation approaches, community outreach and education, conducting neuropsychological assessments and leading our services 12 week Long-Covid Rehabilitation Group programme. I have particularly valued the opportunity to connect with my clients to better understand and formulate the psychosocial barriers to implementing effective self-management strategies and to empower them to independently manage their Long Covid Symptoms. This often means working with the wider system of family, employers and other health care providers to support my client’s overall recovery and to improve their quality of life.
My personal and professional development have been well supported and nurtured by each of my clinical supervisors, service managers and the wider MDT. Each has encouraged me to develop my personal interests and clinical competencies by providing me with new and exciting opportunities for growth. I have particularly valued their support to develop my therapeutic skills, critical reflection, research and service evaluation and development skills. Each of which I hope to take with me onto training to become a Clinical Psychologist.
Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner – Let’s Talk
I am a psychological wellbeing practitioner [PWP] within the Cheltenham Let’s Talk service. I started working in this service in March 2021 as a trainee PWP. As part of this role, you are required to complete a 9-month postgraduate degree with the University of Exeter, alongside working in service. As they run simultaneously, it allows you to put your theoretical knowledge into practice, applying and developing the skills you have learned on the course.
Within this role, we offer low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT] to adults struggling with depression or anxiety disorders – including generalised anxiety disorder, panic, agoraphobia and specific phobias. We firstly assess each patient’s eligibility for Let’s Talk by carrying out a full assessment. Let’s Talk offers a range of talking therapies, including CBT, Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Couple Therapy for Depression, Counselling and Mindfulness-Based interventions. Where Let’s Talk is not found to be the best service to meet the individual’s treatment needs, we work with them to identify and signpost them to services which are better suited to their needs.
PWPs offer CBT in a range of formats – guided self-help which is 1:1 support with a therapist either over the telephone or face to face, an online webinar (focussing on either generalised anxiety disorder or depression) and an online CBT program.
The role is very varied, each day consists of both assessments and treatment sessions, including a mixture of the different formats that we offer. Being a PWP has increased my knowledge and provision of CBT, as well as confidence in delivering CBT interventions in a range of formats to patients. As part of my role, I engage in regular case-load management and clinical skills supervision. As such, I feel very well supported and valued within my team. Being a PWP can be a challenging, yet very rewarding role. I feel privileged to be a part of people’s journey in better managing their anxiety and/or depression symptoms.