Having had a successful career in Personnel and Training management in my twenties, I suddenly realised that there was something missing in my life and as a result took a leap of faith in my thirties to move into clinical psychology. Working in the business world and then voluntarily giving this up to go back to the beginning of a career has, I believe, given me valuable insights and adds an extra dimension to my therapeutic and psychological work.
In terms of clinical psychology my qualifications are as follows:
- University of Exeter – BA Hons in Psychology (first class)
- University of East Anglia – Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
- University of Oxford – Diploma in Cognitive Therapy
A key part of being a clinical psychologist is the assurance to others of continuing ethical and professional practice. For me this includes three main aspects;
- Receiving regular supervision of my clinical practice
- Engaging in ongoing continuous professional development (subscribing to journals, attending training events and generally keeping up with what’s happening in the world of clinical psychology)
- Membership and accreditation with all the relevant professional bodies. As such I am chartered by the British Psychological Society (BPS), accredited by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) and registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC), (please refer to the links page to verify my status with these organisations)
Clinical training is delivered as part of ongoing employment within the NHS. Part of this training involves engagement in therapeutic practice with people across the lifespan and with various needs. Specifically this includes children, adolescents, adults, older adults and people with learning disabilities and autism. In the years since I have been formally qualified my focus has primarily been with adults of working age. This was initially at the Psychological Therapy Service (PTS) at Addenbrookes Hospital.
In my last position with the NHS I was responsible for setting up and running one of the new Cambridge Primary Care Psychology Services (often known as IAPT and part of the government initiative to improve access to psychological therapies). As the team leader I was responsible for the management and supervision of a team of therapists, as well as working with clients with more complex needs directly.
Over the years I have developed expertise in the treatment of a wide range of psychological problems (see the list opposite for the sort of difficulties I have experience in and can help with) and have conducted over 2000 hours of therapy. I am particularly interested in how our backgrounds and general upbringing can impact radically on our current lives. Whilst most people would agree how much physical or sexual abuse in childhood can affect adult functioning it is now acknowledged that emotional abuse, or even just ignoring or constantly criticising a child can have a huge impact on well-being in adulthood. In keeping with this my doctoral research looked at the psychological impact on adults of witnessing violence between parents as a child.
Currently my main therapeutic approach in clinical practice is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). However as a clinical psychologist I am trained in a range of different therapeutic approaches including cognitive-analytic therapy (CAT), systemic therapy, solution-focused therapy and behaviour therapy. This allows for a more eclectic approach when the need arises and enables me to draw on different theories and models to suit the needs of the client rather than trying to fit the individual into a one fits all model (see private CBT for more information on this approach).
Why a clinical psychologist?
Acknowledging that one needs help can be a very tough process, understanding who is best placed to assist can be extremely confusing and frustrating and many people become paralysed at this stage of the process. The idea of visiting a clinical psychologist often sounds rather grand but in reality many people are confused by the title and what it actually means.
A clinical psychologist is a doctor of psychology, who will on average have studied and worked for at least eight years before they can call themselves formally qualified. A clinical psychologist is not a psychiatrist, who is a medical doctor and is often focused more on issues of medication, diagnosis and risk.
A clinical psychologist should be trained in at least three different therapies and have experience of working with people of all ages. This is unlike most CBT therapists and counsellors who have usually trained in one therapeutic approach, with one group of people and do not have to have any formal background in psychology.
In truth most therapists registered with an accredited professional body will be good at their job, that said a clinical psychologist can offer a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience that can be extremely useful when faced with complex problems.