My background (in brief)
I completed my post graduate Clinical Degree at the University of Birmingham in July 2000. Initially I worked at Derby Royal Infirmary and Kingsway Hospital in a split post covering adults with severe and enduring mental health problems and people with end of life struggles, loss and psychosexual difficulties.
When I moved back to Bristol I worked initially in another split post both with a Community Mental Health Team and The Pain Service at UH Bristol NHS Trust. I then specialised further in Pain Management, developing the post to a full time provision and leading the psychological service to Pain Management for 14 years. Our patient outcomes were excellent.
During my time with the Pain Service I won the Grunenthal National Award for Innovation in Pain Management with my team and became co-editor/author for the Oxford University Press Handbook of Pain Management.
Since leaving the NHS, I have worked in a private capacity with young adults with social difficulties and abuse related trauma, and a variety of other clients with chronic pain difficulties and other mental health challenges.
What is a Clinical Psychologist and what do they do?
As a Clinical Psychologist, we work to reduce distress and improve the psychological wellbeing of their clients using evidence based psychological methods and research. We aim to make positive changes to our clients’ lives and offer various forms of treatment.
We work with clients of all ages who have a variety of different mental or physical health issues, such as:
- depression and anxiety;
- mental illness;
- adjustment to physical illness including chronic pain;
- neurological disorders;
- addictive behaviours;
- challenging behaviours;
- eating disorders;
- personal and family relationship problems;
- learning disabilities.
We work in partnership with our clients over a series of sessions in order to identify, assess and manage their condition. We may work alongside other professionals in multidisciplinary teams in order to deal with complex problems.
We do not prescribe medication although in some circumstances we may encourage clients to see their GP to consider whether this may be helpful.
Our work will include:
- assessing a client’s needs, abilities or behaviour using a variety of methods, including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour;
- working as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside doctors, nurses, social workers, education professionals, health visitors, psychiatrists and occupational therapists;
- devising and monitoring appropriate treatment programmes, including therapy, counselling or advice, in collaboration with colleagues;
- offering therapy and treatments for difficulties relating to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, social and interpersonal problems and challenging behaviour;
- developing and evaluating service provision for clients;
- providing consultation to other professions, encouraging a psychological approach in their work;
- counselling and supporting carers;
- carrying out applied research, adding to the evidence base of practice in a variety of healthcare settings.
Experienced clinical psychologists may be asked to write legal reports and act as expert witnesses.
In order to use the title Clinical Psychologist, we must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which involves completing three years of postgraduate training leading to a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, or equivalent, approved by the HCPC. (Competition for entry onto a training course is very tough)
From that point onwards, all Clinical Psychologists are required to give rigorous evidence of annual Continuing Professional Development to maintain their HCPC registration. We are also required to undergo regular professional supervision.
Skills we need as Clinical Psychologists
- empathy and a person-centred approach to clients;
- tolerance of stress;
- the ability to recognise one’s own limitations and respond to difficult situations;
- the ability to apply one’s broad knowledge of academic psychology and research to clinical problems;
- the capacity to be critical and analytical and to work in a self-motivated, independent way;
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to deal with people in distress;
- the ability to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines;
Many of us are employed by NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales or Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland (HSC), or on a self-employed basis and in private practice.