Case study

Clinical psychologist — Dr Rebecca Chan

As a clinical psychologist, Rebecca enjoys working with adults to help them take action to improve their mental health and wellbeing. Find out more about her role and her top tips for getting into the profession

What degree did you study?

I graduated with a BSc Psychology from UCL in 2010 and completed my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) at Bangor University in 2021.

How did you get your job?

After graduating, I worked in NHS learning disabilities services as a support worker and later developing accessible health resources. I then worked as an assistant psychologist in an NHS neuropsychology department. Finally, I completed the three-year clinical training course (DClinPsy) to qualify as a clinical psychologist, undertaking clinical placements and conducting original research.

What's a typical working day like?

I work for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in a community adult mental health service. My day might involve a multidisciplinary team meeting, collaborating with different professions and agencies (NHS, local authority and third sector) to facilitate holistic programmes of support for individuals and families.

I might work with clients on psychological assessment and formulation, to understand their situation and agree therapeutic goals. I mostly offer individual or group therapy, and also contribute to consultation, service evaluation and audit.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working closely with people to take meaningful actions to improve their mental health and wellbeing. I get to know the person really well, including their life's story, strengths and the things that are important to them. I enjoy connecting with another person and seeing them start to feel more hopeful and in control of their life.

What are the challenges?

I work with people who may be vulnerable or experiencing high levels of distress. They may be living in environments or circumstances which exacerbate their distress. They may have suicidal thoughts or urges. My role requires compassion, clear communication and an ability to hold conversations, which may be difficult or upsetting in the moment, to support people's long-term goals and values.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My psychology degree introduced mainstream ideas and approaches in Western psychology which formed the foundation of my clinical training.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I started by working with groups of people that clinical psychologists might work with, providing emotional and practical support. This led to an assistant psychologist role with clinical and research responsibilities. During training, I worked therapeutically with different clinical groups in varied settings.

My aim now is to develop specialist therapeutic skills and understanding to support people who are experiencing severe and enduring mental health difficulties. My long-term aim is to improve the way our profession works with diverse people and communities, particularly socially disadvantaged groups.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

I recommend choosing one that relates directly to the field of clinical psychology, or focuses on research methods.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Be prepared for rejection. Getting onto training is competitive. Consider areas you can improve (e.g. clinical/research skills and experience, reflective practice, applying psychological understanding, interview skills).
  • Be reflective and curious. Interviewers for clinical training are often looking for you to demonstrate critical thought and learning through experience. Self-awareness and an ability to reformulate in light of new information are important.
  • Don't underestimate your experience and skills. Your work experience may not be directly situated in clinical psychology settings, but try to demonstrate how you apply psychological theories and approaches to your practice.

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