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Using psychology to help others

Read three case studies of professionals and Nottingham alumna using their psychology degrees in careers helping others.

Assistant psychologist

Leonie Royes

Assistant Psychologist

Leonie Royes

What is your current role and what does it involve?  How do you use your degree as part of your job?

I am currently an assistant psychologist working at an inpatient rehabilitation unit for women with complex mental health needs.

My role involves conducting risk assessments, developing person-centred care plans, facilitating group therapy sessions, attending multidisciplinary team meetings, assessing patients and developing clinical reports - to name a few.


How did you become an assistant psychologist?

During my undergraduate I soon realised that clinical psychology was the career path I wanted to take, however I was repeatedly told about the competitive nature and the small success rates of applicants for the clinical doctorate.

As a result, I decided to do everything I could to gain experience working with different populations. Throughout my undergraduate degree I volunteered with IntoUniversity as a mentor, I worked as a peer mentor for first year psychology students, worked as a summer school ambassador and helped run the PsychoSoc committee for two years.

During my third year of study, I was able to work as an intern for a research project which was eventually published with myself as a contributing author. I hoped that by doing so I would be able to develop a well-rounded CV while developing both my clinical and research skills.

Following my undergraduate degree in BSc Psychology, I decided to apply for a masters. I was not ready to go into the big world of work and felt that I needed to develop my research and clinical skills further before pursing an assistant psychologist post.

I studied my masters in MSc Mental Health: Research and Practice and although it was a challenging year, I was able to work as a healthcare assistant alongside my studies in a brain injury rehabilitation unit. This allowed me to develop the basic clinical skills which is required of an assistant psychologist. Following my masters, I was offered a support worker role at the inpatient unit I currently work at, and was then offered an assistant psychologist post after two months of working there.

What advice would you give to someone considering this career?

Although my journey so far may seem like a strike of ‘luck’, it does not mean that I have faced countless rejections. Pursuing a career in clinical psychology is difficult and you will face a lot of rejections and self-doubt. 

However, with perseverance and passion I believe that anything is possible! Studying at the University of Nottingham provided me with incredible opportunities and without them I would not be where I am today.

Paediatric occupational therapist and sensory integration practitioner

Francine Wheldon

Paediatric Occupational Therapist and Sensory Integration Practitioner working in a private practice

Francine Wheldon

What is your current role and what does it involve?  How do you use your degree as part of your job?

I am a specialist paediatric occupational therapist and sensory integration practitioner at Children's Sensory Therapy Ltd. I work with children and young people with sensory processing disorder, including praxis difficulties. 

Most of my work currently involves assessing and treating children and young people who have experienced trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and are fostered or adopted.

There is a huge amount of neuroscience and neurology behind my current role and having a background in psychology has enhanced my learning and understanding in this area.


How did you become a paediatric occupational therapist and sensory integration practitioner?

I completed a degree in psychology and biology. I worked in a school for several years as a classroom assistant as I wanted to complete my teaching training. I then began working as an occupational therapy assistant at the same school. The work was predominantly around sensory difficulties, following a year in this role I began my masters in occupational therapy at Sheffield. 

I have worked in mental health in high and low secure hospitals. During this time, I completed the sensory integration course up to module three. Following the training, I began working in a specialist school for children with Autism and I am currently working on a self-employed basis. I am now studying level one sensory attachment intervention. I attend many courses that enhance my understanding of helping and supporting the child, their families and the school they attend. 

What advice would you give to someone considering this career?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a huge and diverse area. You can work in many different areas (physical, mental health, neurology, brain injury, sensory, dementia, intermediate care to name just a few), as well as with a variety of different people. This is a role that I knew nothing about at school or during my degree. My advice would be to shadow OTs if you are interested in this area of work. 

Psychological wellbeing practitioner 

Jessica Fath, UoN alumna

Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, Rethink Mental Illness

Jessica Fath

About one hour after my graduation ceremony, I received a call from my future employer offering me the job I had applied for a few days earlier. I am now working for a charity called Rethink Mental Illness. 

They are training me to become a psychological wellbeing practitioner (PWP) which means that I am currently working three days a week in prison and two days a week I am at university learning the skill-sets necessary to become a fully qualified PWP. 


Read Jessica's blog post



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