Case study

Forensic clinical psychologist — Adrian

Adrian works as part of a forensic child and adolescent team, providing support to some of society's most vulnerable young people. Find out what he enjoys about the work and the challenges he faces

How did you get your job as a forensic psychologist?

I originally did a BA and followed this with a range of postgraduate qualifications in psychology, culminating in the Doctorate in Forensic Clinical Psychology at the University of Birmingham.

I got my current job working for a community forensic child and adolescent team by completing an application form and successfully passing the interview.

What's a typical working day like?

It involves a mixture of direct caseload work and consultation sessions with other professionals, as well as visiting other child and adolescent services in the city to provide advice on their high-risk cases. Risk assessment also forms an important part of my role, and my day might also include completing a risk assessment and then sharing this assessment with other professionals or a young person.

Each day I also work with young people with complex mental health difficulties on a one-to-one basis, delivering psychological therapy. We work as a team at the service and often my day involves co-working with my colleagues.

Continuing professional development is also an important part of my role, and I try to reserve some time for reading journal articles relevant to my area of work.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I particularly enjoy having the opportunity to be part of a service that seeks to support some of the most vulnerable young people in society and to act as an advocate for these young people when working with other professionals.

What are the challenges?

Without doubt, the greatest challenge is trying to decide how best to use the limited time that you have available. I'm always seeking to achieve a balance between direct one-to-one work with young people and providing consultation to the other professionals who work with them.

How is your degree relevant?

My doctorate was a practitioner-based doctorate and therefore is highly relevant to my current practice.

What are your career ambitions?

My role is constantly developing and I've taken on greater responsibility and leadership roles.

In terms of career ambitions, I'm happy to consolidate my skills in my current job at the moment, but I would welcome more leadership opportunities in the future.

What are your tips for choosing a Masters?

Choose a subject that you are interested in, but also think about what added value the qualification is going to give you. I would also advise people to speak to others who have completed the course and seek their perspective.

Any advice for others wanting to become a forensic psychologist?

  • Seek out work experience (voluntary or paid) that will complement your academic qualifications. Try to have a balance between work experience and academic qualifications.
  • Be prepared for the long haul. Typically, you'll need a relevant undergraduate degree, a Masters qualification and a doctoral qualification, as well as two to three years of relevant work experience, before you'll be considered for a similar role.
  • Self-care and looking after yourself are key to sustainable and effective clinical practice. I would encourage those interested in working in the mental health sector to prioritise and develop these skills early in their careers.

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