Clinical Psychology

Laura Fuller

Graduated 2020

 

Before joining the MSc programme I primarily worked with young people who had special educational needs as both an at home support worker and a teaching assistant. This allowed me to build upon my passion for educational psychology  and specify my interests in trauma and ACEs.

This course particularly interested me as you could tailor your assessments towards a clinical, educational or other perspective. This meant I could research school-based interventions and how challenges with mental health can impact schooling experience. My dissertation project also involved qualitative interviews with teaching staff, which allowed me to explore their perceptions of trauma-informed practice. This was all invaluable as it meant I was able to develop my theoretical understanding, but also how it is applied in practice.

Since graduating, I have obtained a position within the NHS as a trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner. This role was established in response to the Transforming Children's Mental Health green paper, published in 2017. The role involves visiting schools and providing CBT and self-help to young people experiencing mild/moderate anxiety and depression. This, in turn, should increase access to mental health support whilst reducing the pressure on CAMHS waiting lists. I greatly believe my ability to obtain such a highly competitive position was due to the knowledge and experienced gained on the MSc course.

I am keen to pursue the Educational Psychology Doctorate after a few more years of working in the field. The MSc programme has benefited me greatly as I’m now able to move forward in my career, confident in my knowledge as a practitioner.

I was particularly attracted to the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice MSc because of its emphasis on the importance of considering multiple individual and environmental factors in relation to child development and mental health, both in a clinical and typical setting. This was a theoretical focus I personally felt passionate about, and found lacking in other programmes I considered. On starting the course, it was inspiring to learn about topics with members of staff who were genuinely passionate about what they were teaching and who encouraged debate and discussion. The relatively small number of students on the programme made it easier to get  to know other students and feel comfortable asking questions and making comments. However, there were enough students to provide a diverse learning experience, with students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. While some courses within the programme were mandatory, such as Child Development in Practice and Research Methods in Applied Psychology, the coursework often allowed you to tailor the question to your own area of interest. This in turn made pieces of work which initially seemed quite difficult, far less intimidating because I was researching topics that I had either had previous exposure to myself or had a genuine interest in thinking about. In addition to these, a series of optional modules in areas such as Parenting: Theory and Practice and Trauma and Resilience allowed me to focus my studies on what I was particularly interested in and wanted to pursue in the future. Because all the course finished in March, this gave me ample time to really focus on the Research Project, and this subsequently enabled the production of a piece of work that I really cared about.

I am currently working as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the CAMHS Autism Assessment Team in Reading, England. In this role, a typical day involves observing clinicians conduct autism assessments and giving my thoughts where appropriate. I also review, score and upload various parent and/or child questionnaires and other information from parents/schools to the NHS server. For this, I have to use my knowledge and initiative to pick up on any issues or safeguarding concerns. I feel my successful application for this role was heavily influenced by what I had learnt in this MSc. Mental health services are beginning to increasingly utilise a multidisciplinary approach to mental health and diagnosis. Because of what I had learnt in this MSc regarding parenting, trauma, individual differences in child development and developmental disabilities, I felt comfortable and confident in talking about these factors in my interview. I have found this knowledge to be particularly useful in my day to day work. I feel able to appropriately explore whether factors such as the family life, traumatic incidents during development, or indications of attachment difficulties may have had an influence in the presentation of behaviours, as opposed to looking solely at an individual, observing a series of behaviours and classifying these as having one particular cause.