One on one... with Dr Jane Iles

We dip into the Society member database and find Dr Jane Iles, Clinical Director (Clinical Psychologist), PsychD Clinical Psychology Programme, University of Surrey.

One aspect of my job that I love 

I feel fortunate to work on a Clinical Psychology training programme, focusing on how we train dynamic psychologists who continue to have a positive influence. I’m passionate about supporting others to achieve their career ambitions, helping trainees think about their own values and passions and how they can become the individual psychologists they want to be. 

One alternative career path

While growing up I dreamt of being a children’s book illustrator. I used to spend hours drawing and painting; art was my escapism. I left my artistic days behind me when I finished college, and only recently started painting again. But the creativity emerges every now and then, and certainly influenced my passion for starting my clinical career working in services with children and young people. 

One aspect of my career I’m proud of 

There are so many ways in which we can have a positive influence, whether on a direct level interacting with people, or more indirect ways, such as through development of policies and guidelines, research and evidence. I’m proud of the eclectic roles I’ve worked in since graduating. I was the first psychologist in the UK accredited as a trainer of an early-years parenting programme; I’ve been involved in numerous research studies looking at perinatal mental health and the wellbeing of children and families; I’ve worked clinically across services working with children and young people; I now work in a role training Clinical Psychologists; and recently co-authored a Good Practice Guide for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services, commissioned by NHS England. And there are many other roles I’ve collected and contributed to along the way. The variety of these roles helps maintain my motivation and sense of achievement – but can certainly add to a sense of juggling a few too many balls!

One challenge

We could all achieve so much if only we had more time and resources. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to carve out a career I love alongside having a family, but despite the increased efforts society appears to make towards supporting working parents, it does feel difficult to have it all and to really be there for everyone. I’ve had to make difficult choices and some hard sacrifices along the way.

One song 

‘Human’ by the Killers is one of my ‘happy songs’ – if it comes on I can’t help dancing.I haven’t got a musical bone to my name, I’m useless in a pop quiz, but I absolutely love music, dancing and singing (much to the embarrassment of my two young children). 

One thing I can’t live without 

My glowsticks! After having my youngest son, I needed to find something that was just for ‘me’; despite having never been remotely sporty (or coordinated), it turned out that my ‘thing’ was clubbercise. There’s something immensely satisfying about dancing wildly around in the dark; five years on and I’m still hooked.

One motto 

‘Feelings aren’t facts.’ That phrase – learnt early on in my clinical training – has definitely got me through a few challenging situations!

One thing psychologists could do better

As a profession we need to overcome our modesty and share the work we do on a much wider, more public level; not necessarily to improve our own careers or fulfil our ambitions, but to disseminate information that holds the potential to have a positive impact on others. 

One thing psychologists could do better

Our tendency towards humility. Psychologists across all contexts do fantastic work, tirelessly striving to improve people’s lives. We generate substantial evidence through cutting-edge research, develop innovative ways to support people and society across all sections of life, and lead in influencing policies and strategic decisions. And yet we don’t shout about it enough. As a profession we need to overcome our modesty and share the work we do on a much wider, more public level; not necessarily to improve our own careers or fulfil our ambitions, but to disseminate information that holds the potential to have a positive impact on others. Looking back at my career this is something I wish I had done differently, and yet I suspect I will need to continue to challenge myself to do it going forwards. 

One significant album 

Tracy Chapman’s albums got me through my first (research) PhD; hearing the songs now immediately transports me back to my student desk, wrapped in a blanket, attempting to get the words in my head into a thesis. This was a time I’ll always look back on as a struggle, but I’m proud I did it – with Tracy’s help! Despite the battles I faced trying to complete my PhD it didn’t put me off; a few years later I went on to complete my clinical doctorate, and I’ve pursued a research career alongside my clinical one, so it was definitely worth persisting. 

One regret and one piece of advice

My regret links to the above – I didn’t go to see Tracy Chapman in concert when I had the chance! I was revising for my first year DClinPsy exams when the opportunity arose to see her in concert. Instead, I chose to revise, and this is a decision I still regret to this day. So, genuinely work hard to achieve the work-life balance that works for you, and think carefully about opportunities that come your way – whether work or personal, we need to take chances and follow our hearts as well as our heads. 

One proud moment

A few years ago I co-authored a chapter for a book which was launched in the House of Commons. I can still clearly conjure up the image that lay in front of me and the emotions I felt as I was walking across Westminster Bridge to the Houses of Parliament. Listening to the talks given at the launch and thinking about the potential impact of the bigger piece of work this contributed towards was a moving experience, a highlight I always look back on.

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