I am currently under contract with NHS Lanarkshire working and learning as a trainee clinical psychologist. This will draw on my existing psychological expertise together with that developed from the trainee course at Glasgow University to tend to the mental health of patients from all walks of life and across the lifespan.This follows a period working at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals (NUTH) NHS Trust where I updated and strengthened my clinical experience, as described here.
At NUTH I worked as an Assistant Psychologist across departments supporting people living with persistent pain, HIV, and following a burn injury.
As well as circumscribed 1:1 clinical duties and ongoing service improvements, I was fortunate to receive some livelier opportunities within the HIV Psychology team. I gathered a psychologically-focused multi-disciplinary response to an All-Party Parliamentary Group call for evidence on HIV and Mental Health in England. This led to an invitation to my team to give oral evidence to the APPG at Westminster and finally to a visit by representatives of the group to our area to meet service users and providers. The second opportunity was to become involved with a range of services for people living with HIV taking place at the third-sector organisation The Blue Sky Trust. For these activities I was nominated for the Division of Clinical Psychology pre-qualification award. I felt treated incredibly well by the Clinical Health Psychology department, and was very sad to leave it.
Blue Sky Trust
The Blue Sky Trust are a charity that support people living with HIV in the North East and Cumbria. Their activities are wide-ranging and include training and supporting peer mentors, 1:1 support, information and guidance on adjustment to diagnosis, and hosting a number of social groups, as well as educating the wider public. What characterises the organisation for me is something less measurable but evident as soon as you walk into the premises: an ethos of compassion, respect and love for those they exist to support.
I visited BST to co-run sessions on "Finding Your Feet" with a diagnosis, as well as running mindfulness sessions, but was most closely involved with them through supporting an initiative developed by my supervisor for people living with HIV and an experience of trauma.
Start Making Sense takes the form of a psychoeducation group bringing people together whose (often very different) past experiences have left in their wake some shared obstacles to living well. Running the groups was a powerful experience, and drawing on the insights of group graduates to improve the process further was immensely rewarding. You can find out more about the group in the abstract for the poster that was presented in 2019 at the AIDSImpact conference.
Before my clinical work I applied psychology to the workplace. This could be through supporting workplace wellbeing or enhancing fit between the demands of a job and the person doing it, either by guiding recruitment/appointments, or by helping people in an organisation develop themselves to meet the needs of the role, either a future one or the current one.
Organisational Psychology Firms
I worked full-time at the consultancy firm SHL, which was focused on assessment - basically, getting the right person into the right job - and developing people so they could perform better in their current role or move to a future one.
Sometimes this meant actually assessing people - interviewing them, being an actor in a simulated work scenario, putting together a report based on personality measurements and these face-to-face assessments. Sometimes it meant feeding back information to people and helping them get insight into their strengths and weaknesses, and maybe building some plans for how to make changes.
Other times it would involve some of the behind the scenes work. This might be designing a new version of an assessment, like a case study or role play situation, or creating a new way of feeding back assessment information that would make more sense to the people involved. I also did a lot of competency design and job profiling. These just refer to making clear how the organisation would prefer people to act and tackle things (categorised as competencies, often put into a model or framework), and what is needed to perform well in a particular job (a job profile, which normally would include some competencies).
On the back of this I worked with a number of firms, including Questback, Propel, Burnham Business Psychology, and SHL offices in the US, South East Asia and the Middle East.
One of my major interests was in how the individual gets what they need from their work. This was through things like inputting into an internal SHL project on measuring employee engagement, a project with the government body then called the Skills Funding Agency on helping people get back to work via a bespoke job recommendations portal, and work with Questback laying the groundwork for a model of teamwork.
Since from 2013-2017 I worked with Mindapples, a social business focused on helping everyone take better care of their minds, through training, consultancy and scientific review.
The thing I like about this business is how much focus its programs place on the evidence base, drawing on both the psychological and neuroscientific literature. The playful side of me got a kick out of their bouncy, pragmatic approach to science communication, as well as their empowering tactic to ask people - in GP waiting rooms and trendy music festivals - how they look after their mental health, using this to understand our diverse responses to good times and bad.
British Psychological Society - Research Digest
In 2011 I began writing for the British Psychology Society or BPS. This was initially through running a blog on work psychology, before transitioning over to their massively popular main site the Research Digest from 2014-2019. This kept a focus on psychology in the workplace but with a remit to cover any aspect of psychology that I thought would engage.