Work Experience in Psychology ?

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Rob_19
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#1
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#1
Hi everyone,

So I am a Psychology graduate and have been working in a charitable organisation (admin work). I have worked as a healthcare assistant for a while but it was for a very short time as the employer wasn't keen on accomodating the shifts according to my university timetable. So decided to have a retail job whilst focusing on my degree. My university had only 1 work placement at the end of the year which didn't interest me (it was about child development) so I ended by finishing my degree with a 2:1 but didn't have a lot of experience behind my back. I then found myself in a position where I needed a full-time job to be able to pay bills etc. and was unable to find a psychology related job that pays enough - very competitive.

So now I want to progress and get back to gaining some experience. I've tried OTA posts, mental health administrator roles and support line jobs. I had interviews for them but they all end in the same way - "great personality but need experience". I have luckily got a volunteer position with Childline which is a step forward.

I have contacted a few psychologists in my local area for some work experience but I have only received one response and it was a rejection due to confidentiality. So my question is, what are your experiences and how did you manage to get it? Is is possible to have a paid job related to clinical work and mental health (with any age group) without having as much experience ? My preferences are more towards clinical psychology and I'm interested in neurospychological illnesses/brain injury/therapies/learning difficulties/mental health difficulties/well-being etc. Sorry if it sounds broad!

Any tips on any roles to get you started within the Psychology field?

Thank you!!
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Lord Asriel
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Typically the pathway is that you get experience in support work across mental health settings and then start applying for Assistant Psych or IAPT roles, all of which are paid. It is very competitive and you need to build up experience in clinical areas, research and demonstrating academic competencies, so it does take some time. Unpaid work can be a shortcut to getting your foot in the door, but you will need paid experience to be seen as a credible candidate for training. On your way you will need to make contacts and links with practitioners who will help provide supervision, openings and alter you to opportunities.
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Rob_19
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(Original post by Lord Asriel)
Typically the pathway is that you get experience in support work across mental health settings and then start applying for Assistant Psych or IAPT roles, all of which are paid. It is very competitive and you need to build up experience in clinical areas, research and demonstrating academic competencies, so it does take some time. Unpaid work can be a shortcut to getting your foot in the door, but you will need paid experience to be seen as a credible candidate for training. On your way you will need to make contacts and links with practitioners who will help provide supervision, openings and alter you to opportunities.
I did look at IAPT roles and the Assistant Psych. They are very interesting but as you've said, they are highly competitive. I have looked at Support Worker roles but a lot of them either don't pay enough to pay bills, rent etc. or a lot of them require night shifts/sleep-ins shifts which I'm not keen on doing. I guess I have to keep searching!
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marinade
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(Original post by Rob_19)
I did look at IAPT roles and the Assistant Psych. They are very interesting but as you've said, they are highly competitive. I have looked at Support Worker roles but a lot of them either don't pay enough to pay bills, rent etc. or a lot of them require night shifts/sleep-ins shifts which I'm not keen on doing. I guess I have to keep searching!
I'm not a psychology person, but I volunteer in a mental health charity and I volunteer alongside nearly exclusively Psychology Graduates and postgraduates who want the same as you do. This is why I found your post interesting. I also meet quite a few people who are in the same boat who want to volunteer for the charity.

Lord Asriel is right, but for IAPT and PWP you need quite specific things. Minimum 2 years experience. This is usually a mixture of paid and unpaid (for IAPT you can get on with unpaid, for Assistant Psych you'll need paid).

Stick with childline, stick with doing admin for the mental health charity, but I have to ask if you have admin experience at a mental health charity why can you not get other experience at the charity or another one? I'm not saying it will be paid, but it would be a step forward.

There are plenty of opportunities to get clinical experience, you just have to look around for them. It might take you a while to find them.

Most of the people I have volunteered with who have gone onto IAPT/PWP have CVs along the lines of

Undergrad Psychology usually at a half decent uni
various charity volunteering whilst at uni
mentoring in schools during 2nd/3rd year uni
MSc Psychoglogy
some kind of paid job in addiction/care/social related work in the year after uni
some kind of beefier 'clinical' or more highly related volunteering

You're on the right track, if you've got childline and admin for a mental health charity you can get the experience you need, you just need to do it and get a couple of years more experience.
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hsrpsychology
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It can be quite tough to get experience working with psychologists. They are often very busy and having a student observe them requires a lot of planning and gaining consent from patients. When volunteering your time it is more useful to suggest ways that you might be able to help rather than simply asking to observe.

It is often useful to gain experience with the client group you would like experience with. it may be easier to get experience in these settings than directly with psychologists.

Best wishes with gaining your experience.
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Rob_19
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#6
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(Original post by marinade)
I'm not a psychology person, but I volunteer in a mental health charity and I volunteer alongside nearly exclusively Psychology Graduates and postgraduates who want the same as you do. This is why I found your post interesting. I also meet quite a few people who are in the same boat who want to volunteer for the charity.

Lord Asriel is right, but for IAPT and PWP you need quite specific things. Minimum 2 years experience. This is usually a mixture of paid and unpaid (for IAPT you can get on with unpaid, for Assistant Psych you'll need paid).

Stick with childline, stick with doing admin for the mental health charity, but I have to ask if you have admin experience at a mental health charity why can you not get other experience at the charity or another one? I'm not saying it will be paid, but it would be a step forward.

There are plenty of opportunities to get clinical experience, you just have to look around for them. It might take you a while to find them.

Most of the people I have volunteered with who have gone onto IAPT/PWP have CVs along the lines of

Undergrad Psychology usually at a half decent uni
various charity volunteering whilst at uni
mentoring in schools during 2nd/3rd year uni
MSc Psychoglogy
some kind of paid job in addiction/care/social related work in the year after uni
some kind of beefier 'clinical' or more highly related volunteering

You're on the right track, if you've got childline and admin for a mental health charity you can get the experience you need, you just need to do it and get a couple of years more experience.

Thanks for this post! I am quite interest in the PWP and know someone who is already working there and she did encourage me to go for this but again, it all comes down to experience as you've mentioned too!

At the moment, I am working with a cancer support charity and although that has some psychological aspect in it, it is not directly related to mental health/psychology related and my position doesn't involve in giving support to the people. So maybe a more mental health related charity might be better?
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Rob_19
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#7
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(Original post by hsrpsychology)
It can be quite tough to get experience working with psychologists. They are often very busy and having a student observe them requires a lot of planning and gaining consent from patients. When volunteering your time it is more useful to suggest ways that you might be able to help rather than simply asking to observe.

It is often useful to gain experience with the client group you would like experience with. it may be easier to get experience in these settings than directly with psychologists.

Best wishes with gaining your experience.
Thank you for this. Yes, after emailing psychologists for work experience I have thought that it might be quite hard to get a place due to confidentiality reasons. As you've mentioned that it's easier to get experience in other settings, in what settings would it be easier to find voluntary roles alongside psychologists? Thanks once again.
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marinade
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Rob_19)
Thanks for this post! I am quite interest in the PWP and know someone who is already working there and she did encourage me to go for this but again, it all comes down to experience as you've mentioned too!

At the moment, I am working with a cancer support charity and although that has some psychological aspect in it, it is not directly related to mental health/psychology related and my position doesn't involve in giving support to the people. So maybe a more mental health related charity might be better?
Absolutely.

The cancer support charity can get you experience at a mental health charity. If you were applying to volunteer where I do (I've been involved in selection before as I'm an old hand) you would probably be able to argue your way in vs someone that has graduated and not done that (a lot of psychology graduates). There is a demand for people. That doesn't mean you're going to get something straight away. Patience is required. You're going to get answers like we really liked your application, you have a great personality we're really sorry but there are no vacancies at the moment, how about trying xyz, or we can stick you on a list, or come back in six months. A lot of these people will talk to you for free and give you advice/contacts to develop, all it comes down to is patience.

Ideas what about samaritans, Mind? Things like that. Locally there will be some small charities or groups.

There are a lot of psychology graduates who say it's impossible to get clinical experience, getting a clinical job is like winning the lottery etc. You just need to see that you need to keep on doing what you are and what you've done so far isn't wasted. Don't give up on your dreams.
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Rob_19
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#9
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(Original post by marinade)
Absolutely.

The cancer support charity can get you experience at a mental health charity. If you were applying to volunteer where I do (I've been involved in selection before as I'm an old hand) you would probably be able to argue your way in vs someone that has graduated and not done that (a lot of psychology graduates). There is a demand for people. That doesn't mean you're going to get something straight away. Patience is required. You're going to get answers like we really liked your application, you have a great personality we're really sorry but there are no vacancies at the moment, how about trying xyz, or we can stick you on a list, or come back in six months. A lot of these people will talk to you for free and give you advice/contacts to develop, all it comes down to is patience.

Ideas what about samaritans, Mind? Things like that. Locally there will be some small charities or groups.

There are a lot of psychology graduates who say it's impossible to get clinical experience, getting a clinical job is like winning the lottery etc. You just need to see that you need to keep on doing what you are and what you've done so far isn't wasted. Don't give up on your dreams.
I guess I was looking at a role that I can work directly with people and not just being behind a computer! I am that kind of person that I enjoy working/helping people and enjoy the job being diverse.

I have looked at Mind and Samaritans. Samaritans don't have paid jobs available yet that I could do although I did see one that again was administration and all I could think of is "I'm going to end up in the same situation as I am at the moment but in a different charity". And I did see a few jobs on Mind but some of them that were psychology related needed experience and I got disheartened as I know that I don't have the experience and that if I would get an interview, I wouldn't have the knowledge to answer questions related to dealing with people suffering from mental illnesses. So again, I would get "scared" to end up in another admin job and feeling like I'm not getting anywhere.

Thank you so much for your encouragement. It really helps
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marinade
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#10
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(Original post by Rob_19)
I guess I was looking at a role that I can work directly with people and not just being behind a computer! I am that kind of person that I enjoy working/helping people and enjoy the job being diverse.

I have looked at Mind and Samaritans. Samaritans don't have paid jobs available yet that I could do although I did see one that again was administration and all I could think of is "I'm going to end up in the same situation as I am at the moment but in a different charity". And I did see a few jobs on Mind but some of them that were psychology related needed experience and I got disheartened as I know that I don't have the experience and that if I would get an interview, I wouldn't have the knowledge to answer questions related to dealing with people suffering from mental illnesses. So again, I would get "scared" to end up in another admin job and feeling like I'm not getting anywhere.

Thank you so much for your encouragement. It really helps
I'm not saying admin is fantastic, I'm just saying you do admin for one charity, then someone else thinks hmmm yeah he'd be all right at doing admin for us and he said he wants to work in mental health to maybe then getting a non-admin job/volunteer role in mental health. It's a path to victory. If you're less than a couple of years out of uni, or had a break from pursuing it then I wouldn't worry, you're doing fine.

They were ideas. Mind is a national charity that is essentially a franchise, it is different in every area. Around here 2/3rds of stuff is unpaid volunteering and a third paid roles. Samaritans requires a lot of training, they are very choosy who they have but I would say it's worth it.

The problem is that some of the places you could volunteer are very local and small charities and that's why it is hard for someone non-local to give advice. If you lived anywhere around Yorkshire I might be able to help with ideas. Beyond that it's hard.

What about things like this https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/wp-cont...ups-Jan-18.pdf this is a national list, one of them has to be near you and give you ideas.
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Euci
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Google it
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Rob_19
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(Original post by marinade)
I'm not saying admin is fantastic, I'm just saying you do admin for one charity, then someone else thinks hmmm yeah he'd be all right at doing admin for us and he said he wants to work in mental health to maybe then getting a non-admin job/volunteer role in mental health. It's a path to victory. If you're less than a couple of years out of uni, or had a break from pursuing it then I wouldn't worry, you're doing fine.

They were ideas. Mind is a national charity that is essentially a franchise, it is different in every area. Around here 2/3rds of stuff is unpaid volunteering and a third paid roles. Samaritans requires a lot of training, they are very choosy who they have but I would say it's worth it.

The problem is that some of the places you could volunteer are very local and small charities and that's why it is hard for someone non-local to give advice. If you lived anywhere around Yorkshire I might be able to help with ideas. Beyond that it's hard.

What about things like this https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/wp-cont...ups-Jan-18.pdf this is a national list, one of them has to be near you and give you ideas.

Yes, I guess working within a mental health charity already gives you a better chance to move to other jobs more related to mental health much easier!

I am based in London, and there's so much competition that sometimes you won't have enough time to tailor your CV/application form to the job that you want to apply for. It's difficult. Thank you so much for that link it does look really good! There was a job position for MIND but it involved in helping those who have recovered/are recovering or have mental health issues with employability skills (CV writing, interviews etc). For me that sounds more like experience towards Social Work roles and it doesn't quite interest me. So I am trying to look for clinical experience in a charity/clinical setting. So roles that involve rehabilitation, participating in the therapeutic process - more towards supporting the individual's mental illness and assist them with their wellbeing and recovery.
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username2391309
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#13
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#13
(Original post by Rob_19)
Hi everyone,

So I am a Psychology graduate and have been working in a charitable organisation (admin work). I have worked as a healthcare assistant for a while but it was for a very short time as the employer wasn't keen on accomodating the shifts according to my university timetable. So decided to have a retail job whilst focusing on my degree. My university had only 1 work placement at the end of the year which didn't interest me (it was about child development) so I ended by finishing my degree with a 2:1 but didn't have a lot of experience behind my back. I then found myself in a position where I needed a full-time job to be able to pay bills etc. and was unable to find a psychology related job that pays enough - very competitive.

So now I want to progress and get back to gaining some experience. I've tried OTA posts, mental health administrator roles and support line jobs. I had interviews for them but they all end in the same way - "great personality but need experience". I have luckily got a volunteer position with Childline which is a step forward.

I have contacted a few psychologists in my local area for some work experience but I have only received one response and it was a rejection due to confidentiality. So my question is, what are your experiences and how did you manage to get it? Is is possible to have a paid job related to clinical work and mental health (with any age group) without having as much experience ? My preferences are more towards clinical psychology and I'm interested in neurospychological illnesses/brain injury/therapies/learning difficulties/mental health difficulties/well-being etc. Sorry if it sounds broad!

Any tips on any roles to get you started within the Psychology field?

Thank you!!
Try Prisons to study the mind of criminals.
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Rob_19
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(Original post by AB710344)
Try Prisons to study the mind of criminals.
Not interested to get experience in prisons or forensic psychology. But thanks
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marinade
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(Original post by Rob_19)
Yes, I guess working within a mental health charity already gives you a better chance to move to other jobs more related to mental health much easier!

I am based in London, and there's so much competition that sometimes you won't have enough time to tailor your CV/application form to the job that you want to apply for. It's difficult. Thank you so much for that link it does look really good! There was a job position for MIND but it involved in helping those who have recovered/are recovering or have mental health issues with employability skills (CV writing, interviews etc). For me that sounds more like experience towards Social Work roles and it doesn't quite interest me. So I am trying to look for clinical experience in a charity/clinical setting. So roles that involve rehabilitation, participating in the therapeutic process - more towards supporting the individual's mental illness and assist them with their wellbeing and recovery.
I am glad that you can see that doing a role you don't want for a mental health charity might open up a role you do want later on. What I volunteer in is 'clinical experience'. We have other 'admin' people in the organisation and in future some of them are going to get 'clinical experience' doing what they want. Maybe other charities aren't like that but I can tell you it is where I am.

You've graduated, you worked in retail at the same time (yeah I know it sucks sometimes). Afterwards there has been some work that you don't really want to do. You don't say when you finished uni but it seems to me it wasn't that long ago and you're waiting for a big break after done a lot of work the last few years. You've got the resilience to do this. It is getting yourself out there and patience.

Volunteering I have found to my surprise that patience is a virtue. Stuff crops up, things need doing and a lot of people can't be arsed to do things/don't want to do things/don't have the time to do things (most likely of the three). So who does them? It's all very different from the hyped up career treadmill that is around these days that says if you aren't getting on immediately you're a failure.

I went through a similar phase trying to get into bigger charities who seemed quite corporate to me, all very serious, millions of applications, a bit patronising and dismissive of people just from sheer volume of applications they got. It's not all like that as I found. Nor are all small charities great.

I wouldn't rule out Mind, I don't think, the job that has already gone, those things are unrelated to mental health at all. It's far too similar an area to dismiss things as more like social work.

I'm sure you're right about London, but I do know that some of the best fundedn CCGs for mental health are in London (still not enough). So there is the demand so I'd expect a vast array of small charities too picking up the slack as well. It may require a lot of searching, but I'm sure there are opportunities out there that you can get. You're going to disagree with this, but it's a lot better than living out than somewhere like rural lincolnshire trying to find clinical experience.
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Rob_19
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(Original post by marinade)
I am glad that you can see that doing a role you don't want for a mental health charity might open up a role you do want later on. What I volunteer in is 'clinical experience'. We have other 'admin' people in the organisation and in future some of them are going to get 'clinical experience' doing what they want. Maybe other charities aren't like that but I can tell you it is where I am.

You've graduated, you worked in retail at the same time (yeah I know it sucks sometimes). Afterwards there has been some work that you don't really want to do. You don't say when you finished uni but it seems to me it wasn't that long ago and you're waiting for a big break after done a lot of work the last few years. You've got the resilience to do this. It is getting yourself out there and patience.

Volunteering I have found to my surprise that patience is a virtue. Stuff crops up, things need doing and a lot of people can't be arsed to do things/don't want to do things/don't have the time to do things (most likely of the three). So who does them? It's all very different from the hyped up career treadmill that is around these days that says if you aren't getting on immediately you're a failure.

I went through a similar phase trying to get into bigger charities who seemed quite corporate to me, all very serious, millions of applications, a bit patronising and dismissive of people just from sheer volume of applications they got. It's not all like that as I found. Nor are all small charities great.

I wouldn't rule out Mind, I don't think, the job that has already gone, those things are unrelated to mental health at all. It's far too similar an area to dismiss things as more like social work.

I'm sure you're right about London, but I do know that some of the best fundedn CCGs for mental health are in London (still not enough). So there is the demand so I'd expect a vast array of small charities too picking up the slack as well. It may require a lot of searching, but I'm sure there are opportunities out there that you can get. You're going to disagree with this, but it's a lot better than living out than somewhere like rural lincolnshire trying to find clinical experience.
Oh wow! That sounds like a good place where you're volunteering in! I guess in where I work, they don't put as much effort and it's more corporate related. It doesn't focus too much on mental health. I've finished my degree 5 years ago. As I needed to financially support myself I needed any job I could find and that's why I have mostly retail experience. I have now more free time and more financially flexible to focus on where I want to progress!

I agree, there is the demand it's just there are so many people that are in the same boat. I guess it's a different reason why it's difficult in Lincolnshire than in London! I just need to keep searching and hoping that I'll find something in the end at some point. It's very hard to keep patience where your workplace isn't very enjoyable
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