Hello and welcome to PsychAssist. Over the past year, we have received a lot of messages from Psych Grads and Students asking for advice on what to do after graduation. Over time, we have noticed a pattern emerging from aspiring psychologists as half of the hopefuls don’t actually know what a Support Worker role is. There are literally hundreds of opportunities that come with being a Support Worker and it baffles us that Psych Grads/Students still actively avoid these roles. Within this post we will explore the 3 main benefits of being a support worker and hopefully we can change a few perceptions of this role. Are you ready to have your mind blown?
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Developing Intervention skills
Now it goes without saying that most Support Worker roles play a pivotal role in interventions. However, do you know what’s funny? Many Psych Grads/Students think that all they’re doing is watching the client and making sure that nothing goes wrong. We even heard from one PsychGrad say that she feels like a glorified “Babysitter”. Well, we’re here to tell you that you’re wrong. The simple interactions that you have with clients and the relationships you develop just by working with someone over time, all accumulate to skills needed later on in your career. I remember having these exact thoughts when I was a Support Worker; however, this all changed when I supported one of my clients to the gym. Now you might be thinking “well that’s not anything special”, however this particular client struggled with social anxiety and was housebound as a result. After we had gradually got closer to the Gym, I remember he told me that he would never have been able to do this if it wasn’t for my support.
PsychAssist Tip: Never take anything for granted at this point of your career. There are hundreds of opportunities every day when you’re a support worker even if you don’t see them. We’ve spoken with lots of Support Workers who complain about difficult clients and not feeling like they’re doing anything “psychological”, however it’s those moments with the difficult client that is the experience interview panels for ASSISTANT PSYCHOLOGIST ROLES want to hear about. It’s not about the problem; it’s how you come back from it that matters.
Huge Learning Curve
This has to be the BIGGEST BENEFIT to life as a support worker. The biggest lesson I learnt during my time as a support worker was to stop looking at the job titles of others and actually try to learn from the person. I remember I used to only sit with the clinical psychologist and try to learn as much from her as possible. Now this is an amazing thing to do, however don’t limit yourself to learning from one clinician or profession. The day I stopped looking at job titles, I learnt so many skills from clinicians I previously didn’t think I could learn from.
PsychAssist Tip: Try to observe as many clinicians as possible during this time. Support Workers are in a fortunate position as you are exposed to so many different professions from Psychologists to specialist teachers. Utilise this opportunity to learn as many skills as possible as the opportunities to do this are endless.
Now remember, even if you absolutely hate your role and you wake up every day wishing you were someone else; just remember that if nothing else, you’re still a front-line clinician. This is absolutely essential when applying for career enhancing roles down the line. There’s no chance of you getting an Assistant Psychologist role or a PWP training contract if you’ve never been a front-line clinician that has to interact with service users. I guarantee, if you can’t handle it at this level, then becoming a qualified psychologist is nothing but a fantasy. We know exactly how you feel as we’ve been there. The long shifts for penny’s, the uncertainty of your role can be daunting. Nevertheless, the skills that you learn at this point of your career are ones that you’ll still be using as a qualified psychologist. I guarantee, you’ll look back on these days with fond memories as you’ll soon realise how much being a support worker has benefited your career.
PsychAssist Tip: CHERRISH THESE DAYS as you never know what opportunities lie within this role. We’ve spoken with so many ex support workers that have gone onto amazing opportunities because of their experience of being a support worker. They were able to use both the negative and positive experiences to showcase their abilities. Moral of the story is, even though you may not think that this experience is helpful, you’ll soon know how beneficial it’s been once you gain those career enhancing roles.
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