Close to 200 students attended the first dedicated careers week hosted by the Psychology, Sociology and Politics department which included seven separate events with a variety of engaging guest speakers. In the first of two blog posts, Psychology placement student Olivia Royston, shares an overview of the events, student feedback and key learning points.
Forensic Psychology in a Prison Setting
Anna and Andy kicked off our ‘Working with People’ week with an exciting start and also the most popular event of the week, with near 70 students in attendance! These two Psychology graduates work as Programme Managers and Facilitators at HMP Moorland and HMP Lindholme and shared with students about their fascinating careers and what it is like working in the prison services. They found every day was different, entertaining and challenging. They get to see offenders make positive changes and see them challenge their own thoughts and perceptions. As well as rewards there are also many challenges, their expertise is frequently scrutinized by offenders, the difficulty of balancing individual needs with organisational outcomes and the struggle to tackle the individual motivation of some of the prisoners. Andy outlined the key skills that are required to work within the prison services, which students reported finding useful in their feedback. These skills included leading and communicating, open mindedness and resilience or ‘thick skin’ as they put it. Students were challenged to think of evidence from all aspects of their life which could show they meet these competencies.
Anna outlined in detail about the drug and alcohol six week therapeutic programme which she runs and it was interesting to also find out about the longer programmes available to prisoners which Psychology departments and Forensic Psychologists work on, such as anger management, thinking skills and victim awareness. Many students commented on how useful the information was about the qualifications and experience needed to pursue a career in Forensic Psychology. You can find out more here http://careers.bps.org.uk/area/forensic. Further study and professional training is required to become a chartered forensic psychologist but programme facilitator roles with a psychological focus can be entered by Psychology or join honours graduates with relevant experience and skills. Furthermore, knowing the relevant job sites to look at (NARCO, G4S, Civil Service Jobs) to gain experience was particularly useful.
Routes into Health Psychology
Chartered Health Psychologist Kate Greenwell (left), with Psychology lecturer Katie prior to her guest lecture
One of the biggest pieces of feedback from Kate’s talk about Health Psychology was how much students learnt about what Health Psychology is! With Health Psychology being a relatively new and developing area of Psychology it was very insightful learning about its focus on the links between the mental health of the mind and the physical health of the body. Key areas include the promotion and maintenance of good health, use of psychology to prevent illness, analysis and improvement of the healthcare system and supporting those with long term health conditions. I also learnt who a health psychologist was likely to be employed by and the many different research projects Kate had been involved with. Through her PhD work on the coping mechanisms of individuals with Tinnitus, she had discovered that the more stressed about their Tinnitus a patient was, the worse their physical symptoms became.
Personally, it was very interesting to learn about the differences between Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology. It was particularly useful learning about the different routes into becoming a Health Psychologist, you can find out more here: http://careers.bps.org.uk/area/health . I think it was reassuring to those listening to Kate to know that, in some situations, there is funding available and that there are several possible routes into health psychology.
Routes into Counselling
This popular event was really enjoyable for undergraduates as well as students on master’s courses. It began with advice on relevant volunteering using counselling skills and was really helpful to hear about all the opportunities especially from a past student of Sheffield Hallam who now works with Hallam Volunteering (https://www.hallamstudentsunion.com/volunteering/). Gerry, from the Samaritans talked about his involvement in the helpline service and how rewarding and yet difficult it can be at times. The service offers training and support for volunteers and is currently recruiting in the Sheffield area (http://www.samaritans.org/volunteer-us )
The second part of the session Gail Evans, a professional counsellor and counselling trainer from www.counsellingacademy.org/ spoke about how to become accredited in this area. Graduates with relevant experience can work in a related role using and developing their counselling skills straight from their degree, but to qualify and receive accreditation as a counsellor, an introductory course is required before progressing onto a Diploma course which is completed part time over a number of years. Gail also gave useful information, including financial details, useful websites to help gain experience and information on the different bodies of accreditation. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a counsellor some useful starting points can be found here: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/counsellor.aspx
by Olivia Royston and Caroline Hanson with additional contribution from Georgia Robinson
Students from Psychology, Sociology, Politics and Criminology courses can view all slides and resources from the sessions on their course Blackboard sites