Hi, I'm Dr Cathryn Marrington.
I joined HPFT as a newly qualified Clinical Psychologist in 2019. I had completed a number of placements within HPFT whilst conducting my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and had good experiences here. I have been working in a community service for adults with Intellectual Disabilities since I joined the Trust full-time.
A typical working day as a Clinical Psychologist can vary greatly. The role includes undertaking cognitive, Autism or Dementia assessments, 1:1 or family therapy, running groups, team meetings, supervising junior Psychologist’s, writing reports, liaising with Social Care, Support Workers/Carers and other networks, conducting service evaluations/audits and supervising student’s research projects, attending or providing training, and leading or supporting projects and pathways, as some examples.
I enjoy many aspects of my role, but the biggest thing is working with people who use our service users, especially when you feel like you’ve developed a good rapport and have been able to help them in some way. I like the variety of the role as well as it keeps things interesting and I like the times I can sit and interpret cognitive assessments and then advocate for service users to get the best care for their needs going forward, including with other providers.
You have to be able to regularly switch your attention and knowledge quickly from research to clinical work to supporting colleagues. It can also be quite busy and you have to be very organised to juggle each aspect of the role to ensure they’re each completed well.
I have regular supervision with a more senior Clinical Psychologist who always brings a non-judgmental and kind approach. We have monthly Psychology meetings to help work with the wider team in other geographic localities, and during the Covid-19 pandemic we had informal meetings to support each other’s well-being. Further, we have bi-monthly supervision sessions run by a Psychologist in the team which is a great space to learn, advance therapeutic skills and meet people from other teams.
I think it’s important to be self-motivated and passionate about the work you do. Further, it’s helpful to be open to different perspectives, non-judgmental to both service users and colleagues. It is also important to develop leadership skills to be able to carry out the non-therapy aspects of being a Clinical Psychologist, and to support others in their work.
I have been very lucky to have additional training in advanced therapeutic models and Autism assessments since joining the team. This helps you develop as a clinician. There may also be scope to specialise in your particular area of interest, whether that be assessments or family therapy as just two examples. Additionally, the role could lead to becoming a more senior Psychologist over time.
I would advise people interested in becoming a Clinical Psychologist to gain as much experience as possible. This could be as a Support Worker, Assistant Psychologist or Research Assistant for example. Being able to meet with people with care or mental health needs in some way will give you the opportunity to start to develop your clinical thinking and rapport building to help you in the career path to becoming a Clinical Psychologist. It can also help to attend talks or short training courses to advance your knowledge and help you obtain jobs that are quite competitive to obtain at the start of this type of career.