Category Archives: Psychology

Every placement has an end, but in life every ending is a new beginning

Hello all!

Hope you are all well and good! In all honesty, I don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news.. but my placement has unfortunately come to an end. I never imagined my time would come to an end so suddenly, but it seems if you keep yourself occupied long enough, you won’t even realise where time has disappeared to! It’s truly sad to see the placement coming to an end and especially saying the final farewells (the part I find the hardest!). The way I see it, it’s all part of the learning process and I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I was always on the fence about choosing a career in clinical psychology, but I feel I have a much clearer idea now.

As this is my final blog post, I will give the most credible and honest (believe me when I say this) feedback about my time as an honorary at BSMHFT. I will give you a breakdown of the service, what I did on a day to day basis, the psychological interventions that you will encounter and important tips to remember if you are one of the lucky ones working in a CMHT setting as part of your placement year!

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT):

The core function of CMHTs are to provide assessments and interventions for people experiencing moderate to severe and enduring mental health problems. The diagnosis criteria includes psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression,  bi-polar disorder and OCD. People can only be referred to this secondary care service by their GP or a primary care service such as IAPTs (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) or BHM (Birmingham Healthy Minds). To accomplish and complete shared objectives, a CMHT is made up of professionals from different disciplines including Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Support Workers, Occupational Therapists and Nurses.

Responsibilities:

➔ Shadowing assessments and other members of staff: I was given many opportunities to sit into assessments which measure a persons suitability for psychological therapy. During this, the clinician usually requested me to make notes from which I could make a formulation (see below). As you’ll be working in a multi-disciplinary team, you will be able to shadow other team professionals such as psychiatrists, occupation therapists and support workers.

Writing formulations and case histories: Throughout the year, I was involved in planning service user care programmes. Following an assessment, I would use the 5P formulation (Predisposing, Precipitating, Presenting, Protective and Perpetuating factors) to organise the notes and present them to the clinician. Also I was given the task of completing detailed case histories which required reading through their past history and summarising the information into one easy to read document. Both helped in making a decision whether the client should be taken up for therapy.

➔ Facilitating group programmes: At my CMHT, I was fortunate enough to participate in a depression group programme. Here the service users were provided with therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness) in a group setting. My role as an honorary assistant was to write up progress notes, scoring measures and facilitating mindfulness exercises.

➔ Attending meetings: On a weekly basis, I attended multi-disciplinary team meetings which involved discussing about team caseloads. Here different professionals would offer their own insight into how best resolve managing a service user. Also on a monthly basis I attended business and depression group programme meetings.

➔ Conducting audits: As an Honorary Assistant, you will be required to complete an audit during your placement time.  This will involve you collecting and analysing data from the database and trying to identify anomalies that shouldn’t otherwise be there. Once complete you will have to report back in the meeting.

➔ Maintaining databases:  At the CMHT, the psychology team will have their own spreadsheet database which allows clinicians to track referrals to Psychology. As an Honorary Assistant, it will be your role to keep this spreadsheet up to date by entering referral dates, appointments attended and assessment forms received.

➔ Aston CPD programme: On a weekly basis you will be given training on topics relevant to your placement. These will be facilitated by clinical psychologists based on their speciality. Topics will cover basic formulations, psychosis, and research methods.

➔ CORE/Scoring measures: During assessments, service users are required to complete questionnaires. These are used to assess the severity of the individuals problems. You will come across measures such as Becks Depression Inventory, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire.

Psychological Interventions offered in a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) setting:

Out of all psychological therapies provided, you will see that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will be administered quite frequently and is the first choice of therapy by Psychotherapists. There are interventions which focus on relapse prevention and early warning signs. Here therapists focus on making coping strategies which can help clients handle their symptoms and identify signs of relapse. This reduces the number of clients from becoming admitted to hospitals. A powerful and newly emerging therapy known as Mindfulness Based Cognitive therapy (MCBT) which aids in preventing relapse of depression, especially in individuals with major depressive disorder.

Therapy specially designed for treating patients with trauma related symptoms such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. Individuals who may suffer from chronically suicidal thoughts and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be offered Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Behavioural Activation therapy is often used to encourage individuals to develop positive behaviour that they would usually avoid doing.

Things you need to remember:  

➔ You will most likely feel overwhelmed  when encountered with word terminologies and areas of psychology which you might not be familiar with. Don’t worry you will pick it up without realising but don’t be scared to ask others if you are unsure! They know you are a placement student and would be happy to answer all your questions.

➔ This placement year will be a steep learning curve, expect to make mistakes, but make sure to learn from them!  Through my own experience I would highly recommend carrying a diary and making good use of it. Placement staff will begin to trust you when you can prove you can work by yourself and show self-initiative. As the placement progresses you will be given more and more to do!

➔ Before sitting in on an assessment to see a client, it is useful to read up on their background history. This will help you know what to expect!

➔ You will only gain shadowing experience if staff are aware of who you are! Try and get yourself known within the team by attending meetings and any other social events.

➔ You will have been assigned a placement tutor who will give you useful advice throughout the year and will be happy to talk to you about any thoughts, issues and most importantly your systematic review.

➔ You will have regular contact with other Aston placement students and will be attending weekly training sessions provided by the NHS. Make good use of this time to address any worries you may have with your peers.

➔ If you have any issues that you wish to raise don’t be afraid to speak up. Both the placement and Aston university want you to make the most of this year but also at the same time want you to enjoy it thoroughly.

Disclaimer: You will be expected to complete the minimum 150 days which will require you to work full-time unpaid 4 days a week. Remember don’t count the days, make the days count! Once you have finished for the day you have actually finished; you will not be required to take any work with you home. This leaves your evenings and weekends completely free!

It’s been a pleasure blogging my placement experience to you all! I wish you all the very best in life and hope I have been of help! Whenever in doubt remember:

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs!”

Ali

The End of One Chapter is a New Beginning

Well my time in Rio is almost up…eight days until I make my way to Galeão International Airport for my 14 hour flight back to Gatwick! Of course I will be crying for at least 10 hours on that flight and perhaps the other 4 I will try and sleep, who knows, wish me luck.

When We First Arrived!

When We First Arrived!

But coming to the end of this experience has made me reflect on everything I went through, from getting accepted on to the placement, planning on to coming to Rio and most importantly being here and I am so glad that I decided to do a placement even though I was so scared of going abroad, to learn a new language and culture and to actually be put in a professional working environment that’s related to my degree but the outcome of this placement year I can happily say has been so beneficial, I am very thankful to have this opportunity given to me.
Your placement year will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life whether you are going abroad or even staying in the UK, you will grow professionally and personally as a person, I made life-long friends that I never knew existed, my eyes had opened up to different cultures from across the world as well as learning more about Neuropsychology and how to carry out my own research, safe to safe it has been a busy year no wonder it flew by so quick!

But now it’s time for me to say goodbye to Rio De Janeiro (for now of course) and make my way back to the good old West Midlands to complete the final year of my degree and eventually graduate! Even though it’s sad to bye to this home its comfort to know that I have made friends all over the world (which means more couch surfing and travelling for me) who will always be a part of my heart as well as my memories (I mean I can’t really forget about them, there are too many drunken pictures of us together on Facebook) but now I feel as if it’s time for me to move on and see what the next chapter of my life is!
For all you second year students who are now getting ready for their placements, honestly it will be one of the best years of your life, you’re going to love it! Remember even though you’re going to work or even study, make sure to have fun, go out and meet new people, don’t be afraid and enjoy yourself! And good luck guys, I know you will do great.

This is Brazil

This is Brazil

Okay so I’m going abroad…now what? Well Poppet, this is the start of YOUR adventure!

Right well my year abroad is slowly but surely coming to an end! Okay I know I have about two months left (well 8 weeks and 4 days but whose counting?) and to some of you who are reading this now you are probably thinking “come on Amrita that’s ages” well guys in 8 weeks and 4 days I am meant to be back for the “British Heatwave”, not sure if that will match up to the Rio weather but we’ll see, I have some faith. Anyway with this little time left I am doing what everyone does best, reminisce about the time I got accepted on to this placement and realised that I will be living in a different part of the hemisphere for a year, with a bunch of people who I never knew existed.  I still remember the excitement, the happiness and feeling of euphoria BUT I also remember the little mini-breakdowns and panic attacks I had…they weren’t that pretty and involved a lot of wasted mascara.

Anyway what I am trying to say is that I know exactly what you’re feeling right now, even if you’re not going far or even if you’re doing a placement in England that’s only 30 minutes away on the tram, either way most you will be having mixed emotions because it’s so different to university, no waking up to lectures or late nights at the library, instead you now will be waking up to make it to your desk at 9am without dying from that dry-mouth after having those regrettable 3 tequlia shots the night before (it happens to the best of us), it’s a big step to adulthood which is super scary but even today, doing a placement is one of the best life decisions I have ever made.

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Let you friends go on holiday! Welcome Girls

Lets have a mini-story time…so going back many months ago when I found out that I got accepted to come to Rio for one year, I will be honest when I applied for the placement I didn’t think I would get it but I thought “hey why not, the worst thing they can do is say no?” clearly I am very positive person.  Anyway once I found out I got accepted I literally thought “oh my god, how am I going to tell my parents” you see my mother and father are very supportive yet they are very protective of their beloved child.  So I told my mother a few weeks (let’s try 3 months) after I got the yes and her instant reaction was no, I was not allowed to go, Rio is too dangerous and known for the wrong reasons but after a month of begging and learning more about the country (finding websites that said mainly positive things about Rio) and also learning that Sophia is coming with me, she give me the yes to go, well now are you thinking did I tell my father? The answer is no ladies and gentleman, I decided to leave that to mum whilst I went bikini hunting. Anyway at the beginning of when I learnt that I would be coming to Rio I was full of excitement to start this new adventure, to see a new part of the world and to be somewhat independent.  But then around three months before I left for Brazil the fear in me kicked in, I would say to my friends how I am too scared to go, to leave everything and everyone for one year because I was scared of change, I was petrified! I mean me? Living in Rio? In Brazil? I struggle to make a decent cup of tea in the morning, living in Rio seemed a bit too out of my league but from the support of my university, friends and most importantly my family I made it this far and I have not regretted one day since.

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Even the Parents loved Rio in the end!

Doing a placement abroad really opens your mind to new things and new experiences, I have felt and done things which I never thought of doing let alone even have a chance of doing it.  My advice for anyone who is going abroad is don’t give in to that fear, you are a lot stronger than you think and you will be ready for every challenge that comes your way, and I mean personal challenges too, by going abroad not only are you developing yourself professionally for a career in the future but you will go through many personal changes, you will experience all sorts of things, from going out of your comfort zone, making friends from all across the world and even falling in love with people who eventually in a few months will no longer be your next door neighbour but all these experiences the happy ones and the sad ones will each be one of the best things to ever happen to you and that’s what you have to look forward to! Embrace the change in your life that’s going to happen, be prepared for the adventure, it will be a story you will never want to forget, if I could go back in time this is exactly what I would tell myself, that there is nothing to be scared of, you have all the support from your friends (old and new), your family and even your professors (abroad and at home), everyone is pushing you to succeed, you have nothing to worry about! Now go buy that camera, you have a lot of memories to make…

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Family all over the world #Argentina

7 Transferable skills that you can learn as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist

Hello again! How is everyone getting on? it’s been a while since my last post, truth be told I have been slacking slightly on keeping up with the regular posts… but that is no excuse to keep my readers waiting in anticipation! Gosh what month are we in now… APRIL! That means that I am already two-thirds into my placement, by July I’ll be finished.. where has the time gone!

Now I can understand that some of you will be at a point where you are still trying to secure a placement. Now rest assured if that is the case then you do not have to be worried about a thing! It is often the case that you might not be finding the luck in getting the placement of your choice, but with persistent determination you’ll be bound to find one! In all honestly I think Aston students fail to acknowledge just how many placement opportunities are available, enough to go around for everyone (though of course some placements differ in quality than others)

The thought of trying to focus on your academic studies whilst applying for your placement simultaneously can be such a stressful task at times, hence why I highly recommend that you guys book yourself into a spa of some sort.

Cheezburger cat animals dog cute

Regardless, don’t get discouraged if you keep failing to secure a placement, chin up and keep hitting that apply button! 

However if you are one of those students who have already secured your placement, then I can certainly imagine you will be doing something like this…

office chill relaxing chilling

Upon securing your placement, you will have the desire to know what your new placement year will bring you, the challenges that you will encounter but most importantly the transferable skills that you will be able to take back with you into your final year studies.

Below I have nicely (tried to!) summarised the transferable skills that I have picked up on so far  whilst on my placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist. For those interested in the field of clinical psychology, these might be of relevance to you!

1)  In this placement, you will get many opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of psychology. You need to make sure you take as much back as you can from this placement. Make notes and learn the different therapy models (the three most relevant: Biological ,Social and Psychological) Use this time to gather ideas for your final year dissertation!

2)  This placement will guarantee you a strong insight into the field of clinical psychology. Throughout my own placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the Community Mental Health Team, I have learnt to appreciate clinical psychologists and their commitment to the field of mental health.

3)  In your placement, you will start to build up a good rapport of psychosis. There are different diagnosis levels which vary from least severe to extremely incapacitated. This diagnosis assessment helps clinical psychologists assess who requires therapy and which type in particular, whereas less severe patients are recommended to other services of which could be NHS owned or third-party.

4)  Your placement supervisors will offer you many opportunities to shadow in clinical settings and even allow you to sit in large groups where you can administer questionnaires and build up an understanding with service users. Through experience you will start to gain confidence in speaking with service users and listening to their past history whilst adjusting your behaviour and appropriateness.

5)  You will be making a good use of your IT skills throughout the year. You will be expected to have basic admin knowledge and have worked on databases using MS Excel as well as MS Word. Expect to be a pro at taking minutes in a meeting by the end of the year! 🙂

6)  As an Honorary Assistant Psychologist, you will be sitting in on Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings. This is where service user referrals are discussed and different professionals ranging from Psychiatrists, Junior Doctors, Support workers, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Clinical Psychologists all give their input on how to deal with this service user best. You will get to understand how team work and sharing perspectives helps make decisions especially in the Community Mental Health Team setting.

7)  Overall this placement is very relevant to clinical psychology and will benefit you and your personal growth. You will strive to be proactive, show self-initiative in your work and demonstrate confidence in your own ability.

Hope that helps!

What would you want to take back from your placement year? Let me know what you guys think in the comments section below!

Until next time!

Friends, Amigos, copains, amici…Call it what you want Friendship is the same in every Language.

 “Sometimes you meet a person and you just click-you’re comfortable with them, like you’ve known them your whole life”- Alexandra Ardonetto

Vamos Começar (lets start)…

Class in Session

Class in Session

Firstly and foremost I have finally made my return to PUC, I finally stopped travelling (for now) and carnival feels like a lifetime ago and I have now returned to a desk with a book and pen, oh the joys.  Anyway returning to PUC means I have started my Portuguese classes which aren’t as scary as I thought they were going to be, of course my initial thought was ill be in a class where I don’t know anyone, in a university I don’t really know and (to top it all off) I’m in a country which isn’t my own, these are pretty intense negative thoughts right? Well soon as I quivered my way in to class, I assure you I was ready to run out that door (I had a scene playing in my head as if I was a cartoon and would leave a Rita shape hole though the door because I wanted to run away that fast) but instead I decided to sit in the corner of the class…okay I know that wasn’t the bravest thing to do but hey at least I’m being honest.  Okay so I’m quivering in my chair and ready to play the part of being the uncool person you see in those teenage American films but when it came to the crunch making friends with the people in my class was still awkward but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, so long story cut slightly short, you’re going to be nervous for your class but I promise everything will be okay, want to know why?  Because everyone that is sitting in that classroom with you is literally feeling the same thing as you because they are in the same situation with you, so these awkward and scared feelings actually help you make friends (weird right?).  Making friends will be easier than you think, and you will be surprised with the people that you meet and the best thing is that you are going to meet people from all over the world and eventually some of those people will feel like your family and that’s one of my favourite things about doing this placement abroad, I met people who I never knew existed but now I have a little foreign family and the support you get through these people is indescribable, but here is the bigger bonus boys and girls, you can drag them along you with when you want to travel and that’s exactly what I’m doing, me and three friends are travelling to Sao Paulo to the Lollapooloza Festival.

Oi Sao Paulo!

Oi Sao Paulo!

One of the best things about doing a placement abroad is that you are able to widen your contacts as well as your friends list on Facebook, so one thing I do suggest for everyone to do before they go on their placement is to make a LinkedIn account, if you haven’t heard of this it’s basically a more professional version of Facebook, you can keep in contact with new contacts (mainly potential employers) and people can view your recent work/career related activities.  Overall I think it’s a good idea to make an account which allows you keep in contact with the professional people you meet without them viewing what you were up to last Saturday night.

8 Tips For Being A Successful Applicant And Securing A Psychology Placement Interview

Welcome back. Hope everyone has survived the bleak January blues. Trust me I know… the feeling of starting your day in pitch darkness and ending it in pitch darkness alongside the pleasantries of the English weather. This is by far the most depressing feeling that one should never endure.. but alas spring is nearly here. So, enough faffing about and lets crack on shall we?

Hope you are all doing well, especially with the exam season coming to an end, I bet some of you are making the most of these weeks to have a breather and prepare for the second term! Literally I can still recall sitting in one of my exams during second year half way through an essay feeling like my arm was going to fall off because I was writing too fast! Thought I’d take short break and…

reaction celebs jimmy fallon fallontonight tonight show

Now I know that the super duper highly organised students (and that doesn’t include me)  have most likely accepted and secured their placement offer by now.. however for those who haven’t… do not worry, for atlas help has arrived! In the form of a…. blog post! 🙂

Lol okok I’m just going to cut to the chase, I thought I’d dish out some simple yet helpful tips that can often be overlooked. I’m sure you lot will benefit from this in the long run especially when it comes down to your very own applications and interviews!

1)  You should aim to start early and keep yourself organised. Make it a weekly routine to check the Aston placements website for newly added placements.

2)  Make sure your CV is up-to-date and has been thoroughly checked over for any grammatical errors. This also applies for your cover letter. If you need support with this, it is highly recommended that you try the Aston Royal Literary Fellow service.

3)  Show your passion through interests and your dedication through experiences. An employer loves to see candidates who have a variety of experiences in different work settings.

4)  As a candidate during the interview process, you need to demonstrate a professional and confident outlook. Take pride in your achievements and don’t be afraid to talk about them even if they aren’t relevant to the placement.

5)  Be yourself! The placement employers won’t expect you to know it all. Remain calm at all times and don’t let your nerves get the better of you. When giving responses do not rush to answer, take time if you need to think of a well thought answer.

6)  Throughout the interview, remain positive, that is the key! If you ever feel at any point during the interview that you’ve given a poor response or ruined your chances, then simply “Keep Calm And Carry On”. Most interviewees experience this feeling but later it turns out that the interview went better than expected!

7)  Keep your options open, apply for as many placements as possible. The more interviews the better. Not only will this be good for your experience and confidence, but it will also show you how competent you are. Once you feel that you have enough options in the bag, start to deduce your placement offers by making comparisons taking different factors into consideration such as travel distance, job specifications, perks etc.

8)  DISCLAMIER: Please make sure you thoroughly read the job specification for the placement you are applying for. Often students miss out on the crucial details which make a huge difference in what they actually do during their placement year. For example, in terms of responsibilities and experiences, this is a significant difference between Assertive Outreach and Community Mental Health. Try researching each role carefully and try finding past placement students who have worked in either role to see their perspective on it!

Hope that helps!

Let me know what you guys think makes an interview successful in the comments section below!

Until next time!

Want to know how to survive in a City that never sleeps? You don’t…you learn to balance!

Okay so my supervisor (Daniel) has returned from his trip in Italy and we all know what that means, of course back to work I go! Although I will admit, I would rather return to a placement in Rio rather then returning for a second term with new modules (probably still drunk and disorientated from New Year’s too), is this another reason to do a placement abroad? I think so.

Anyway as I mentioned in my previous post, February is also a really important festive month in Rio  and that’s because it’s time to celebrate the world renowned event and that is of course *Drum Roll* Carnival! But this also means its time I learn how to balance work and manage a social life at the same time, and I’ll tell you one thing, films make it look so much easier than it actually is, even if my snapchat story begs to differ.

Masquerade anyone?

Masquerade anyone?

Right back to Carnival, this was like a once in a lifetime event for me (although I make it my life mission to see it again because funnily enough I don’t think just seeing it once will rest well with me), I finally got to see the cultural side of Rio and coming together of different nationalities for this event, you really get to meet some interesting people ( and I don’t just mean the weird drunks on the street) from across the globe and actually get to experience what Rio is actually all about.  So what did I do? Here they have events called “Blocos” these are basically street parties, people selling drinks and food in the street, there is a lot of music and of course a lot of Brazilian dancing, and I promise you, these guys can really dance! So I attended some of the Blocos mainly in Copacabana and Ipanema, stayed quite close to home but wow, people know how to party here and it just didn’t stop and to be honest I didn’t want it to either! But of course Sophia and I purchased tickets to see the Carnival parade in the Sambadrome too, which a part of me didn’t actually believe would be as amazing as Sophia said it would be (I know guys, I was completely wrong), but the costumes, the music and especially the atmosphere was unforgettable, sitting in this stadium from 9:00pm to 3:30am watching all these performances, everyones hard work and seeing all this talent was truly amazing and to be honest it is something I will forever appreciate seeing, seriously if you guys are wanting to travel around February time and really have got no clue where to go, I am telling you book Rio, don’t even think about it just do it. Please.

Bloco

Bloco

its almost like Disney magic

its almost like Disney magic

So here’s the difficult part, with my supervisor making his return, so did my work and responsibilities, which meant I had to add a new word in my vocabulary, balance.  Yes balance really is key, you can be anywhere and do anything but remember your responsibilities, its hard but so worth it when it comes to the crunch.  I guess this is more of the hard thing of being abroad, you eventually feel like your time is so limited being in a world you just want to explore, that it can be easy to forget why you are actually there in the first place, so how did I do it? I organised myself, which if you guys saw the state of my bedroom you would realise that’s not my strongest quality (I’m sure I’m not alone with this confession), so I planned my week, I also contacted my supervisor to see what my tasks would be before I return to PUC.  My main task being at the moment conducting a literature review of psychological research for him, looking at different papers regarding virtual reality and mood induction, grouping records and finding themes within them to see what has been found in this field so far.  I was able to organise days I had to work and then plan the days I wanted to party with my friends, and it  actually worked! I can say at times it felt like I was sacrificing a good night out but it was worth it, so here’s one tip I have for you guys, when on placement you just have to pick and choose your parties, it is super beneficial in the end, you get a reward, for example when you realise you have completed a lot of your tasks, you can plan a weekend away to Florianopolis with some friends you met at Rio Carnival, sounds good right? I think that’s what I am going to do next anyway.

Its easy to make new friends everywhere

Its easy to make new friends everywhere

Its January so time for Exams? Oops I mean it’s time to travel (Benefits of Working Abroad)

January is when exam season is right? Time for that last minute cramming right? To remember that one little important thing, in that one lecture you were hungover in right?  Well luckily for me, January in Brazil (well in PUC anyway) is still another month of vacation! Normally for students they don’t have to come back until March (I know, come on England I think you need to reinforce this rule), anyway students come back in March due to February being the month of Carnaval, another big holiday, so the Portuguese classes for me don’t start until March.

Anyway luckily for me and Sophia (another Aston student who got accepted on the placement) our supervisor, Daniel, is away on a business trip in Italy until February, so we also don’t have to go back until then, so with all this spare time, what would be the best thing to do? That’s right, let’s go travelling! See what Brazil has got outside of Rio!

Sophia and I went to a state called Salvador which is located in the north of Brazil, and what an experience that was. It was wonderful to experience another culture which Brazil had to offer, here the culture was more African influenced and it was amazing! We got to see many beautiful things such as “Igreja Senhor Do Bonfim”, a local church where people come and tie colourful bands and make three wishes (loved the positivity in this place) and a town called Pelourinho, where Michael Jackson had shot some of his music video for “They don’t care about us”, a monument was made in his honour.  But one thing that truly made my trip, everyone was preparing for carnival! This mean’t that everywhere on almost every street people where practicing their dancing, playing the drums for their set, so almost everyday we got a free show! What more can a girl want aye!

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One of my favourite things about doing a placement abroad is that I feel you learn more then what you’re supposed to learn on your placement or what you learn for your degree, you gain a higher insight of the world which I truly believe can help you develop as a person, there are a lot of personal benefits.  For example I believe that once I return to England and update my CV, I will be able to add more than just “Did a research placement in Rio”, I developed other skills such as learning Portuguese, pushing me to enhance my Spanish skills, developed my communication and problem solving skills, which are a lot of positive things you want to develop.

Welcome to the working world of psychology in the NHS

Hi everyone, welcome to my first post of the month! My name is Ali and as an Aston placement year student I haven’t really had the opportunity to introduce myself, I think now is the chance! I’m originally from Worcester (home to the famous Worcestershire sauce!).

For those who don’t know me, I study BSc Psychology at Aston and will be going into my fourth and final year studies come October 2016. So.. what am I doing in my placement year? Since the start of early September 2015, I officially became an honorary assistant psychologist! Now for those who don’t know, an Honorary is the unpaid equivalent of an Assistant psychologist who on the other hand, may bear extra responsibilities and most of all…gets paid! However when one looks at the benefits and experiences that an honorary assistant post has to offer, the dilemma of working for free doesn’t sound that bad after all! Now you might be asking yourself.. what are exactly these responsibilities?  

  1. As an honorary assistant, you will have plenty of opportunities to observe assessments and/or therapeutic work with service users reporting psychological difficulties.
  2. To be able to develop and practice skills in psychological assessments and interpretation, making good use of formulations and honing your listening ability.
  3. To support clinicians in everyday tasks such as analysing service user notes to find specific information or divulging into past histories searching for life events that could have been potential triggers contributing to mental health disorder.
  4. To be able to observe multidisciplinary discussions about a service users diagnosis, treatment, risk assessment and care plan issues whilst having opportunities to interact with other professionals.

Now what I mentioned above is just the tip of the ice berg, as there is always something new to encounter and things to pick up as an honorary assistant. The service users that you come across each portray their own unique diagnoses alongside the relevant therapies given. As I progress through my placement year, every month my post will cover certain aspects of my honorary assistant post and the key highlights of my experiences.  Mind you, it’s quite interesting to listen to our experiences as the leap from University life (theoretical) to a fixed routine working life (practical hands on) can be quite difficult at first to adjust to.

I’m guessing you are eager to ask me right now, what is the work placement world like? It’s actually what you would expect, working your socks off 9am till 5pm 4 days a week. It’s really not that bad when compared to working a full 5 days a week! I guess that’s the benefits of being a psychology placement student.  Up till now the most I’ve really struggled with is commuting. As I live in Worcester, a standard train journey to Birmingham can take up to an hour and this is not including the walking distance between the station and the placement location. Therefore in order to be punctual and on time, I’ve often found myself waking up much earlier (6am wakies) than friends in similar psychology placements, only because I’m geographically situated further away from Birmingham than they are. However for me that’s no excuse for being late! Unfortunately the down side for me is that because of other commitments i.e. part time work and extra curricular activities, I often find myself either jogging or running around most of the time!

Overall, I’ve found myself  having a very compact and structured day in which I would find myself waking up early and sleeping late. Even till now I’m still trying to find ways to balance my activities and sleep routine, as I feel I don’t have enough time to get most of my tasks done. To address this issue, I’ve came up with a time management plan in which I prioritise my workload effectively. This allows me to get the most important tasks completed for the week, leaving the weekend free to have a break in the evenings after my part time job in the mornings! I think the only thing that I’m constantly worried about is falling asleep in the train especially in the mornings! The feeling of waking up in the train realising that you’ve completely missed your station and have to spend hours getting back isn’t a pleasant one!

cat train whatever lazy idgaf

I hope you’ve found my introduction post useful,  I’m certain it will provide an insight that will be useful for anyone with an interest in a clinical psych placement like this or something similar. Please stay tuned for my second post, see you all!