4 Lessons from an Assistant Psychologist

I feel so privileged to be able to offer advice and guidance to people that are going through the same things I went through years ago. Lately, however,  I seem to start every advice reply with “If I were in your position” or “If I could go back”. This eventually gave me the inspiration for this post. I thought I would let my fellow Psych Grads know if I could go back 6 years with the knowledge I have NOW! What would I do differently?


Is there anything you would do differently? Comment below so other people can benefit from your wisdom. Also, follow me on Twitter @Psych_Assist


Still looking for a job? Check out the 6 Jobs for A Psychology Graduate straight out of university? or think you’re ready for an Assistant Psychologist job? Check out the 5 Tips on Getting that Assistant Psychologist Job


  • Volunteer

This has to be the number 1 thing I would do if I could go back to my undergraduate. I had so many opportunities to volunteer but like most turned my nose up to giving up my TIME for FREE! I can whole heartedly say that I REGRET NOT VOLUNTEERING! during my undergraduate as it would have saved me so much heartache after university in trying to land a “clinical!” role. I’ll give you an example of amazing voluntary experience that I passed on. My friend at undergrad was volunteering as a support worker in a residential home for young people. Even though it was voluntary, they still paid for your travel and expenses whilst on the job (which included food!). This would have been absolutely amazing experience as she learnt so many clinical skills that have helped her in her career (needless to say she’s on her doctorate now!).

Top Tip: I didn’t realise until I became an assistant, how much people are screaming out for voluntary people (especially graduates). It literally is as simple as getting a clinicians email or ringing up a service to speak with the service manager and seeing if they would be able to facilitate you shadowing for a short period of time. If at first you don’t succeed, TRY TRY AGAIN!


  • Apply for PWP roles

Now I mentioned in previous posts such as 6 Jobs for A Psychology Graduate straight out of university?, that if I could go back in time to 2014 I would dedicate a large portion of time in applying to Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner roles. This to me, is exactly what every Psych Grad expects when completing a psychology degree; to get paid to deliver therapeutic interventions. Now politics aside (and also the never ending criticism of the IAPT system), this is the reality of why students get into psychology. If you are fortunate enough to have been accepted into this training course then you will expect to train for 1 year and then become a qualified PWP.

Top Tip: These types of roles only appear at certain times of the year (April/May and then again around September/October) so make sure to keep your eyes peeled. Also these roles aren’t exclusively advertised on NHS Jobs either so make sure you have a look on all job websites.


  • Develop a sense of urgency

This was by far my biggest weakness a few years ago. I had absolutely NO URGENCY! in getting any clinical experience. I would always tell myself “don’t worry I have plenty of time” or “I’ll look for jobs later” (which never happened!). Actually it took until I practically had £20 to my name and 3 consecutive customers screaming in my face because their pizzas were late to realise I NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.

Top Tip: Now I don’t want you to think “right I need to quit my job and apply for more clinical roles now!” I want you to understand that this about changing your mind-set. Don’t underestimate the power of mind-set as if you think and visualise something enough, with the right action you will get there.  

  • Enjoy the Journey

Ok I know what you’re thinking “it’s easy for you to say, you’ve had so much experience and made some amazing connection” but I can whole heartedly say that I have enjoyed every minute of this crazy journey! Even reflecting on the bad times, I am still thankful for all the twists and turns this journey has taken me. Believe me when I say that in 5 years’ time you WILL look back at this time of your life with fond memories (and probably think how easy you had it back then!)

Top Tip: Live Laugh Love! Your career is only a small part of who YOU are! Don’t get too bogged down by how much someone you knew from secondary school is making or how so and so have bought their first home! It’s all background noise in the grand scheme of things!


This post could easily have had over 100 lessons so keep your eyes peeled for a part 2!


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Disclaimer: All content on this site is of my own opinion (acquired by the many psychologists and graduates I have come across in my career) and in no way connected to the trust I work for.  




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