A Trainee Psychologist reflects on her placement with us

In my final days at Dove House, we all gather together to feast on the home-cooked food brought in by the team – curry and rice, sandwiches and samosas, roast beef and gravy, and yummy cakes.

It is one of the many experiences I will remember fondly from my time working with the welcoming and generous team at Stockport and District Mind. During my time with the organisation, I have been very much impressed by the genuine concern, passion and above-and-beyond efforts staff make to support service users.

My name is Éilish and I was on placement at Stockport Mind two days per week, from January to September 2017. I chose to come here for a specialist placement in my final year of clinical psychology training. Clinical psychologists work with people across the lifespan who have mental, physical and intellectual disabilities, and with their families, friends and support staff.

It was the second time Stockport Mind took on Trainee Clinical Psychologists from The University of Manchester, so I learned about the placement from previous Trainees and the placement co-ordinator.

I was attracted to the placement as it seemed to me an excellent opportunity to learn about the third sector and what the role of a psychologist can be in such organisations. As a profession, psychologists are increasingly expected to take on roles in strategy, service development and leadership, however, the opportunities to experience these areas during training can be limited when on traditional placements in NHS services.

By contrast, a placement here gave lots of opportunities to gain skills in these areas. On a personal level, I was interested in the service ethos – that is, being grounded in the ‘social model’ of disability and being largely staffed by social workers.

The main purpose of my role in the organisation was to support Stockport Mind and SPARC staff in their work with clients, and to get involved in service development. The work I did can be split into three main areas.

First of all, I facilitated fortnightly reflective practice groups which were an opportunity for staff to receive group peer support and clinical supervision. Secondly, I provided training sessions on a range of topics relevant to mental health (interpersonal issues, brief solution therapy, trauma and attachment and autism), with the help of co-facilitators.

Thirdly, I was involved in two large service development projects: a CCG-commissioned scoping project for a voluntary-sector led young people’s mental health service in the borough; and an evaluation and needs assessment of Stockport Mind’s Carers’ Support Service. In addition, I was available to staff for one-to-one advice and input on their work when needed.

In carrying out this work I hope that I have contributed to the organisation. For my part, these experiences have been invaluable in terms of my professional development. I have developed skills in working with teams, I have improved my training skills and I have been able to learn from observing the challenges and opportunities faced by small organisations, such as commissioning processes and working in partnership with other organisations.

Throughout the placement I have had freedom to work autonomously, but have been well-supported in supervision by Jo Strickleton and Lara Bennett (of The University of Manchester). I have no doubt that I will be able to draw upon these experiences in my future career. I would definitely recommend this placement to other Trainees.

Lastly, I want to say a big Thank You to everyone at Stockport Mind and SPARC for being an inspiring, friendly and kind bunch of people to work with. I am grateful to have had the chance to learn from you all.

Éilish