What’s changed for you?

A letter from our May issue.

Clinical psychology doctorate application season has come to a close for another year. This is the culmination of weeks of drafting and redrafting application forms, followed by months of anxiously checking emails at very regular intervals, hoping to receive an invitation to interview – a foot in the apparently heavily guarded door to clinical psychology training. Completing the application form in itself feels like an achievement as we strive to communicate our individuality whilst simultaneously hoping to fit the perceived clinical psychologist mould.

All applicants will have recently been notified whether or not they have been selected for interview. Most will be in the same situation as me – disappointed with a full house of rejections.

I think the difficulty for many of us can be the concern that another year has passed, and we appear to be no closer to achieving the goal of qualifying as a clinical psychologist. This can be particularly disheartening, especially when any firm plans about other aspects of life are placed on hold until securing a place on training. This puts a huge amount of pressure on applicants, and our overall journey towards training, as gaining a place on a course starts to represent so much more than a professional goal. It becomes necessarily entangled with aspects of our personal lives, and there can be a feeling of being stuck at this waiting place until training starts and life can begin. The sense of halted progress might be intensified for many this year as a result of Covid-19 restrictions on our lives.

Although this is my third year of applying without an invitation to interview (and I must admit to feeling frustrated with my apparent lack of progress through the application process), I am not crushed by the rejections as I have been in previous years. This time round, when I think back on another year ‘lost’ to an unsuccessful application, I’m resolving to focus on what has changed for me; leaning into gratitude and reflecting on what has enriched my life instead of what might be lacking. I gave birth to my son and got through maternity leave in lockdown. I struggled and learned how to ask for help, and became a more compassionate, well rounded human being because of it. I got a new job, and continue to navigate the highs and lows of working parenthood.

I think I am galvanised against the rejections this year because I feel that my life has moved forwards in other ways. I would like to invite my fellow aspiring psychologists, who are sitting with the disappointment, frustration and anxiety to reflect on your last 12 months and think about what’s changed for you. How have you grown in even the smallest of ways? It feels like an act of self-care, and I think we all deserve that right now.

Maisie Stafford
Assistant Psychologist
[email protected]

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