I’m interested in many aspects of my field – contributing to research, the chance to work one-to-one with patients, and trying to influence at a policy level. During my PhD I’ve been fortunate enough to bring in all these elements.
I initially chose to do a PhD because I knew I enjoyed conducting research. The chance to contribute to developing and testing new psychological therapies appealed to me in particular. During my PhD I’ve also been fortunate to work as a co-therapist, where I help deliver CBT to patients with psychosis under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. This wasn’t something I was expecting to be able to do but has now definitely shaped my research and career plans. I’m applying for clinical training straight after my PhD, partly because the knowledge and experience gained through being a qualified clinical psychologist is of course important for being able to develop new therapies, but also just because I’ve absolutely loved working with patients so closely.
The policy side is something I became interested in after working for the Higher Education Policy Institute in 2016, on behalf of whom I wrote a policy paper on student mental health. During my PhD I’ve tried to stay involved with policy, by writing papers and speaking at conferences on student mental health. I’ve also just begun an internship with the mental health policy team of the Department of Health and Social Care, where I’m working on COVID-19 response and recovery, and the digitisation of the Mental Health Act.
Being surrounded by such knowledgeable and experienced colleagues makes it easy for you to doubt your ability and to feel like an imposter when you’re new to a field. I sometimes have to remind myself that learning takes time and that I’m still just at the start of my career, so can’t be expected to be getting everything right. But my supervisors and wider team are always hugely supportive and have ensured that my PhD has been a great experience, full of exciting opportunities.