Real-life story: Luke

How I got into the role

Since secondary school I have had a fascination with psychology. Reading up on the subject I knew my passion resided in clinical psychology and I decided to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of York. This was to start my journey into becoming a clinical psychologist. During my degree, I undertook different volunteering roles and found I was particularly fond of working with people who have learning disabilities and autism. 

Once graduating, getting an assistant psychologist position was not practically easy. I applied for several positions but, despite having a good degree and years of volunteering experience, I was rather unsuccessful. I decided to expand my experience of clinical work and became a mental healthcare assistant. After nine months in that role, I was successful in securing a place as an assistant psychologist in a community learning disability service. It took a lot of resilience and self-reflection but now I am working in an area that I love and I am one step further to my goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.

What I do

An assistant psychologist has quite a diverse role. My clinical duties comprise of carrying out assessments to discover whether referred service users can be diagnosed as having a learning disability. I am also tasked with gathering information about service users when they are referred to the psychology team. This information is then relayed to the rest of team, who use it to decide on what service and treatment plan would be best for the person. Furthermore, under the supervision of a qualified psychologist, I spend my time writing up service user reports and delivering manualised psychological interventions for different mental health issues. 

My more administrative duties involve managing the psychology team’s waiting lists and writing up the details of team meetings. I have the responsibility of ensuring stockpiles of tests are sufficient and I occasionally create resources to help team members and other teams and professions within the centre. 

All my duties are aimed to support the psychology team while building up my own competencies in order to be better placed to apply for a place on a clinical psychology doctorate programme in the future.  

The best bits

Although I only became an assistant psychologist a short time ago, I have really enjoyed every part of the position. My favourite aspects of the role are meeting clients and learning their stories. I have met some wonderful people while working in the team and I find it heart-warming when clients receive or do not receive a diagnosis of learning disability, as it brings a lot of clarity to people’s lives and helps them access the support they require. I also enjoy learning from my colleagues and furthering my skills.