Real-life story: Nicola and Ailsa


When they qualified as clinical psychologists,Nicola and Ailsa were both seeking jobs in roles that offered variety, work with different professionals, and opportunities for working systemically. They found what they were looking for in their roles as band 7 clinical psychologists within East London Foundation Trust. The below is a combination of their stories.

How I got into the role

After completing an undergraduate psychology degree, we worked in a range of different roles including as a support worker and assistant psychologist before gaining a place on clinical training. During training as a clinical psychologist, our interests were varied and we didn’t have a particular plan to work in a service for people with learning disabilities. However, when placed in a learning disabilities community team on a six-month training placements, it ended up being our favourite one! Everyone working within the team seemed passionate about improving outcomes, and the quality of lives of people with learning disabilities and their careers, and it was a very rewarding and motivating environment to be in. After qualification we kept our eyes out for jobs within community learning disabilities teams and applied as soon as they came up!

What I do

Working in a community learning disability service is a really varied role. As well as working directly with service users for individual therapy, we also do a lot of indirect work with the systems around people, such as families or care staff in residential or supported living settings. We often work with people who have experienced significant adversity and an important part of the role is maintaining the balance of safeguarding while simultaneously promoting people’s independence and protecting their rights. We love that the job provides such a variety of opportunities for skill development in varied areas – adapting individual therapy and assessment skills, cognitive assessment, systemic work, training and consultation, multidisciplinary team working, leadership skills, and service development to name but a few!​

Best bits 

Having the privilege of working alongside service users, family members, and carers, staff teams, and colleagues to bring about positive changes in people’s lives is incredibly rewarding, particularly seeing shifts in the systems around people that can lead to significant improvements in quality of life for the stakeholders. The work within a learning disability service is incredibly varied, and no day is the same. We strongly value the multidisciplinary input and opportunities for joined-up working, and we never stop learning from colleagues.