Tori enjoys helping a range of people with different mental health conditions. Find out about the rewards and challenges of working in such a varied role
How did you become a PWP?
Following my BSc in psychology, I did an MSc in abnormal and clinical psychology and then undertook a few voluntary assistant psychologist posts and a paid post as a support worker in a secure unit.
I then got a job as an assistant PWP with my current trust and was subsequently offered the chance to train as a PWP.
What's a typical day like?
The main part of my job is assessing and treating people with common mental health conditions. I manage my own caseload of people (low-intensity but high-volume working) so I may see up to eight people a day for treatment.
I also run groups on a variety of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions and topics from anxiety and stress management to depression.
I also do triage work where we carry out 'screening' appointments to ensure our service users are in the right service (if not we signpost them to the right place). There are also admin tasks to complete too.
What do you enjoy about being a PWP?
I enjoy the sense of satisfaction and reward when people get better. As CBT is usually a short-term intervention (six weeks typically), you get to see progress over a short period of time. You get to see your work making a difference and that's truly amazing.
I also love presenting courses. When I started I hated standing up in front of a group of people, but now a group of 30 people talking about how to apply CBT to their lives gives me a great feeling.
The job has a huge amount of rewards and if helping people is what you want to do then this job is for you.
What are the challenges?
Engagement and admin. CBT isn't for everyone and lots of people just can't get on with it. That's ok, but unfortunately it's all I can offer as a PWP. It's challenging to engage people in something they're unsure about, especially if their motivation is low.
The PWP role is fast paced and not having time to write up notes and write letters is quite common. It's the patients that matter and they get all the time we can spare, but unfortunately it means administration and patient notes build up. Oganisational skills are a must for any PWP.
How relevant is your degree?
Without it I wouldn't have been able to get the job that led me to the PWP role. It was included in the essential criteria for the trainee role and my Masters was classed as desirable.
How has your PWP role developed?
Since becoming qualified, I've been given the opportunity to become a PWP supervisor and work with more complex cases and master classes in different mental health disorders.
I'm still uncertain about my future career ambitions; I feel clinical psychology may be a good route but I do love CBT, so perhaps a high-intensity therapist may be next or maybe both.
What advice can you give to others?
Assistant PWP roles are becoming more common and I would definitely recommend doing this first. Not only did it help me to understand what PWPs do, it also prepared me for my course. I sat with PWPs everyday as an assistant and learnt CBT through them. I understood the pace and the demands of the job before I decided to train.
Volunteering and support work is another great way to get the experience you need.