Where do you work?
I am an independent practitioner. I run my own psychology practice in Ashford - alisonhamley.com. I also consult for a wellbeing centre in Canterbury and I work with a number of other third-party organisations.
How would you describe your role?
I work as a therapist for teenagers and adults experiencing mental health difficulties, such as depression or anxiety. I see people for 1-hour appointments and use a number of therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
How long have you performed the role?
I have been running my practice in Kent for two years. Before then I lived and worked as a psychologist in Germany.
Why did you want to work for yourself?
I returned to live in England with my family and decided to set-up my own private practice. Prior to our move to Germany, I worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS. Being independent allows me to be in control of the hours I work, which is important to me as a working mother.
What educational qualifications do people need to perform your role?
Clinical psychologists first obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Training places are limited, and so competition is very high for the doctorate courses.
What practical experience do people need to help them to obtain your role?
All applicants for the doctorate must have experience of working alongside clinical psychologists as a psychology assistant.
Are there any particular personal skills which people need to have to perform your role?
There are many skills required, but an ability to listen and empathise with other people is crucial.
What do you enjoy about your work?
My job is incredibly varied, as people are all very different. One day at work is never the same as another! I get satisfaction from helping others.
What can be challenging about your work?
Working with people can also be challenging, and on occasion you may hear things which are difficult, for example listening to a person’s traumatic experiences.
What is your fondest memory?
I have many, but I am especially happy when I work with young people as the changes achieved in therapy can have a profound impact upon their future happiness and success.
Do you have any personal advice for children/teenagers/young adults?
If you are considering working as a clinical psychologist get as much experience as possible in a variety of settings. Volunteering is a great way to show you enjoy helping others and you can start this while you are still at school.
Make sure you read about clinical psychology to make sure it is for you. A good introductory book is: What is Clinical Psychology? (2014 )by Susan Llewelyn and David J. Murphy You should also consider other ways of working as a psychologist (e.g. occupational psychology, educational psychology) as competition is fierce and you need to be flexible.