What is a trainee clinical psychologist?
Clinical psychology is a profession within the NHS. All qualified psychologists have studied psychology for several years. We are not GP’s or psychiatrists & do not prescribe any drugs. We support people to help themselves improve their quality of life. A trainee clinical psychologist has already completed a BSc degree in Psychology, worked in the NHS and is in the final part of a Doctoral level qualification in clinical psychology. This usually amounts to 6-8 years of training.
What do psychologists do?
We try to look at all areas of a person’s life so that we build up a picture of the life so that we build up a picture of the person & not just their symptoms. Occasionally we like to see partners or other family members as well. We try & help you to look at different ways of understanding things around you. Most importantly, we can provide a space to talk about things that are confusing & worrying. Our aim is for people to become self-aware in order for them to get more confidence & develop different ways of coping well with problems. We use a wide range of helping approaches together with our personal experience of helping people.
What will happen in the first appointment?
There is currently limited availability for psychology, so most people will be offered an assessment to begin with. This meeting is an opportunity for you to get to know the trainee psychologist, to discuss the problems you would like help with, and to see if you would like to meet again.
During sessions, you will be given the chance to talk about you difficulties so as to get a clearer picture of them. You will not be asked to talk about anything you are uncomfortable with. The assessment will help you decide whether you could make use of the help psychology has to offer.
You may agree with the trainee psychologist that psychological therapy may not be helpful at the current time. You may be signposted to other services which may be helpful, e.g. Relate for relationship problems, or mental health services for complex mental health needs.
If you and the trainee psychologist decide you would like to work together regularly you will arrange more regular appointments. If there is no availability at the time of your assessment, other forms of help will be discussed. This might include recommendations made to you and your referrer and discussion about other services which might be able to help.
What happens in therapy?
Clinical psychologists usually see people for 40-60 minutes per meeting. This could be on a weekly or fortnightly basis, but this may vary. The sessions usually extend over weeks or months, rather than years.
At the beginning of your therapy sessions, you would agree with the trainee psychologist a “contract”. You will be offered a number of sessions depending on your individual needs. There are several types of therapy; all depend on creating a working relationship between you & your therapist, helping you to understand, think about & work on problems that are making life difficult for you as an individual or family. The therapy approach will be chosen according to your specific needs.
Whatever is spoken about in therapy is confidential unless the trainee psychologist has concerns about your safety, or the safety of other people. Generally, after the assessment, & at the end of therapy, a letter is sent to the person who looks after your healthcare. Before beginning therapy you will be asked to complete a consent form. We will also ask you where you wish your letters to be posted to and how they should be delivered. You have the right to a copy of your letter & to discuss the content with the trainee psychologist.