Aspiring clinical psychologists have been working to remove barriers to accessing the profession providing free mentoring and support. We spoke to the founders of The Psychology Platform and members of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology Minorities Subcommittee about their work with those from minoritised and disadvantaged backgrounds.
First-year trainee clinical psychologists Hetashi Bawa (above, left) and Sharon-Lin Harwood (above, right) co-founded The Psychology Platform early this year. The platform provides free mentoring for aspiring psychologists and runs events on applying for the clinical psychology doctorate and preparing for interviews. Harwood said they had noticed organisations and others charging people for support with job and training applications. ‘We felt confused that the same people preaching about removing barriers to the profession were charging between £20 and £50 to read a single application. We appreciate and understand the time and skills needed to support people with applications, but no one is regulating how much people are charging for this service… our scheme was created in response to this. We wanted to give people who, like us, are from working class and minoritised backgrounds, an opportunity to access to free support.’
The Psychology Platform works with clinical psychologists and those wanting to follow a path within other areas of the field, particularly those who identify as having a minoritised background. Bawa said it had been rewarding to see people benefit from the mentoring and events they have been organising. ‘From only being active over the last nine months, it feels like we have been a little overwhelmed with events selling out and mentee capacity being filled fairly quickly but this personally gives me the motivation to continue to support people. I get to see people create professional relationships and do well in their career. We can’t take the credit because that isn’t The Psychology Platform making a difference, but those who help it run and provide their time, information and support and this really makes a difference to our mentees.’
Bawa and Harwood have also started liaising with undergraduate university courses to support people earlier in their psychology careers – they said there was a need to support people who wanted to work in areas outside clinical psychology. ‘Part of the challenge comes when choosing a career or pathway, this is often pushed at secondary school, and for psychology there’s very little help from this young age to direct you. The same can be said about many fields. We hope that mentoring and events can be made more widely available for all disciplines of psychology as a first step, especially for those from minoritised backgrounds.’
Co-Chair of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology’s Minorities Subcommittee, Runa Dawood, and the group’s Mental Health and Social Media Lead, Camilla Hogg, are reaching the end of their clinical psychology training and are set to start their first posts. This group has run free application and interview support events for aspiring psychologists from minority backgrounds since 2012, but when Covid-19 hit they had to shift their approach.
‘We asked for trainee and qualified psychologists to offer mock interviews by replying to a Twitter thread we created. We provided a list of interview questions and asked applicants from minoritised backgrounds to get in touch directly. ‘We were overwhelmed with the amount of support that people provided. As a result we have continued to use this model adapting it for our application initiative. For this we have created a thread on Twitter, again asking for interested trainee and qualified clinical psychologists to reply offering support in reading UK clinical psychology applications.’
Hogg encouraged other areas of psychology to use a similar approach for those who want to start a career in the field. ‘It’s really easy to set up and takes minimal effort, I think the mutual offer is in use in other professions but this takes the nepotism out of it.’
Bawa and Harwood have recently set up a not-for-profit fundraiser via GoFundMe to raise money for their events and to provide support for those who need help with application fees. If you would like to support their work see: tinyurl.com/fxxntxc4
To find out more about the work of the BPS Minorities Subcommittee, and to find out about future events and support, see twitter.com/minoritiesgroup
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