Molly Scott, an Assistant Psychologist in the NHS has kindly agreed to blog about her experience and journey in becoming an Assistant Psychologist. If you’re looking for further experience or would like to know more about where psychology can take you after you’ve graduated, read on for Mollys story!
Forensic psychology is hugely misrepresented in the media, specifically via TV dramas and movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved watching crime dramas, prison documentaries and reading thrillers, but these portray the working world of forensic psychology very differently to what it’s like in reality. My short amount of experience in this field has taught me so much, but most importantly it’s taught me about privilege. And I don’t mean privilege in the sense of money and assets; I mean it in the sense of the ‘postcode lottery’ – being born into a community that doesn’t fail you. I say this because the majority of the people I have worked with have seen and experienced more than most of us would in 100 lifetimes and often these experiences are what cause them to end up in the environment I met them.
Hi, I’m Molly! I completed my Undergraduate degree in Psychology as I knew I loved learning about the mind, behaviour and how mental illness was affecting us all, either ourselves or our loved ones. I always knew I wanted to work in an environment where I would be able to help people; I just didn’t know what environment, so I kept my options open by studying straight Psychology for my undergraduate, rather than specialise early.
Once graduated I still didn’t really know what I specifically wanted to do, but knew I was leaning towards more a more Clinical or Forensic Psychology role, so I started working as a Health Care Assistant at Broadmoor Hospital, much to my friends fascination and my parents horror! This was a crucial role in developing my career as it counted as clinical experience which is essential when it comes to applying for any Psychology related job. However, I was doing a role which didn’t need any formal qualifications. This was a very difficult concept to get my head around having just spent three years at University studying a degree and I wanted to use what I had learnt as soon as possible! However, this is so often a struggle faced by Psychology graduates, either not using their degree for several years or working in an unpaid role.
Broadmoor, a high secure hospital not a prison, was nothing like I expected. I spent a month on the local induction before I even set eyes on a patient. I loved working at Broadmoor, I loved the daily patient interaction and I loved the sense of team spirit. My role as a HCA was to support the nurses who would run the ward, this included serving meals, escorting patients to work, playing board games (hours of board games!) and being a listening ear to the patients. My supervisor was amazing and knew I wanted to achieve in a career in Psychology, so included me in the care of all his named patients.
After one year at Broadmoor, I started studying an MSc in Forensic Psychology part-time alongside continuing to work full-time there for another year. My shifts allowed me to work three 14.5 hour days, giving me four days a week to dedicate to studying. I loved being able to learn theory and put it into practice the next day, but studying and working full-time was no easy task. I was often completely emotionally drained, physically exhausted and regularly questioned why I decided to do both at the same time. This task was made even trickier when I gained my first Assistant Psychologist (AP) post a year into my degree, with one year still to go.
AP roles are very few and far between them, with lots of candidates applying for one position so there was no question that I would accept the role and I would have to continue studying around a 9-5 Monday to Friday job now. This meant completing my placement hours over the weekends, spending countless hours in local coffee shops writing essays and taking all my annual leave for exam revision and essay deadlines.
My AP role is in a Youth Liaison and Diversion (L&D) Service, which are an NHS service currently being rolled out across the country. L&D schemes see adults and young people at the point of entry into the criminal justice system and aim to support them with any unmet health or social needs. My AP role includes assessments of young people who have been arrested or might be at risk of entering the criminal justice system. We’re a short-term service that assesses the difficulties the young person faces and then links them up with longer ongoing support, however often waiting lists are long and we support them during these waiting periods.
I have loved both of my ‘career’ jobs in the world of forensic psychology, and despite the long days, working through lunch breaks, worrying at home – I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am learning how to leave my work at the office, which is a very difficult task when you a serial worrier! I am hoping that my next steps will either involve a Clinical Psychology doctorate or a trainee Forensic Psychologist place. But right now I am enjoying gathering more experience and using twitter to share some of my knowledge – you can catch me at @MollyScott93
Thank you Molly for sharing your experience in the world of forensic psychology! Do let us know if this is of any interest to you and if you have any questions, simply comment below or contact us. With you in Mind is happy to help.