I considered the MSc Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice course unique for various reasons. My initial interest in the course was its particular developmental focus on child and adolescent mental health. Graduating from an undergraduate course that explored a broad range of disciplines in psychology, I felt it was important to start to narrow my focus, on a specific area of psychology that I was interested in, and passionate about. One aspect of this course that stood out against the rest was the opportunity to explore trauma and resilience in a developmental context. This had always been an area of interest for me. Through previously working in residential settings with children and young people who often had backgrounds of chaotic and traumatic experiences, I knew the importance of applying a developmental approach to practice. This programme supported me in further developing and enhancing this knowledge.
Day 1: Imposter Syndrome. The faculty and their approach to our induction was one that was reassuring and comforting. One of the most valuable aspects of the course, that I did not consider when applying, was the high level of support, reassurance and empowerment I received from both the tutors and the other students on the course. My Personal Tutor and fellow students were a key support system throughout my time at the university, and truly added to the value of my experience. Tutors had a diverse range of interests and passions so there was ample opportunity to explore new areas that I was less familiar with. My fellow students came from diverse career and personal backgrounds, which added experience and value to the discussions in classes. The content of the course swas extensive, expanding knowledge on typical/atypical child development, the child/YP and their system, interventions and the knowledge, skills and confidence to effectively conduct research. One positive of the course was the opportunity it gave to students to be critical and find your own voice in assignments, building my confidence in taking initiative and being independent in practice and research- this has helped me massively today!
I believe that the knowledge and skills this course developed contributed significantly to gaining a post as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist with a CAMHS team in Edinburgh that provides therapeutic support to children, young people and their families who are experiencing emotional, behavioural and mental difficulties following various forms of trauma. My role involved observing clinicians in consultations, assessment and intervention. I was also been given the opportunity to engage in these therapeutic conversations. The theoretical content of the MSc course was relevant, and translating this knowledge into practice built my confidence when contributing to consultations, team discussions and formulations within multiagency teams. Considering the client group I was working with, I needed a level of understanding and recognition of attachment issues, atypical child development, and individual, systemic, and environmental risk as well as protective factors that can often follow trauma, especially in an interpersonal context. Also, an understanding of how important it is to recognise current maladaptive behaviours that may have been adaptive in earlier, chaotic environments, rather than a simplistic diagnostic approach. The knowledge and skills I have developed throughout my MSc experience underpins and informed my practice on a daily basis, and has made me confident in my role as an Assistant Psychologist.
Update: Hannah gained a place on the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People and graduated as a Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP) in 2019. She has been employed in the NHS since graduating.