After a fantastic holiday in Los Angeles and Vegas, it was back to studying. I was so excited and ready to go back but also very nervous. It was a different university which meant a whole new environment, new lecturers, new friends and most importantly new goals. I was so happy when I got accepted into King’s. Apart from UCL and Queen Marys, I considered King’s to be one of the best who specialises in Early interventions in Psychosis. I forgot to mention, I applied for both the MSc in Mental health and MSc Early Intervention in Psychosis, and got into both, but decided to go with the second option as I was very interested in early intervention.
The layout of the course was simple and made it VERY easy for me to meet deadlines and soak in what I was learning. The MSc course consisted of four modules, and each module lasted four weeks before a new module started (so once a module had finished, a new module began). Once all modules were completed, I was given two weeks to revise for my exams, which lasted a month (one exam per week). Once this was over (bearing in mind at this point I was shattered), I had the Easter break to chill and then started my clinical placement and research project. By September, my thesis was submitted, and my clinical placement had finished. So, near enough an excellent timetable, compared to my undergraduate degree which had me studying 3-4 modules at once, and doing six exams within the space of 2 weeks -__-
My life sounded so easy and straightforward in the previous paragraph. MATE! Just when I thought my Psychology degree was a nightmare, the MSc was a MYTH! Coursework, exams, lectures, taking notes, reading articles, trips to the library, food in the canteen lol MYTHHH! When I look back, it went by SO quick! I seriously cannot believe it’s over. It was a very stressful and hectic academic year for me. I was trying to juggle a full-time course, as well as working part-time as a TA, doing a range of volunteer work, and trying to complete my thesis and clinical placement. I was what you would say “doing the most”, but positively. My MSc course only lasted for a year, and I felt as though I HAD to get the most out of it, which meant I had to do everything and anything to boost my profile.I worked within the Southwark Team for Early Intervention in Psychosis (STEP) in Lambeth as my clinical placement. The service works with young people between 14-35 years of age who are experiencing their first psychotic episode. It is such a fantastic service which focuses on working intensively with individuals and carers to promote engagement with the team and with treatment and to facilitate social inclusion and recovery. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work as an honorary research assistant on a clinical research study at King’s. The REACH study stands for Resilience Ethnicity and Adolescent Mental Health. The study aims to investigate the impact of social, psychological, biological risk and protective factors on the occurrence and persistence of mental health problems over time in a large ethnically diverse cohort of adolescents. Both roles were perfect for gaining clinical and research experience and ultimately influenced my eagerness and interest to undertake the role as a clinical psychologist. Such opportunities would not have been possible if I didn’t study at a Masters level.
As I’ve mentioned before, everyone’s journey to become a clinical psychologist is different. No need to compare yourself to others or doubt yourself. I have met so many psychologists along the way, who has a master degree and some who don’t. This is not to say that if you have or don’t have a Masters degree, you can qualify. If you don’t have valuable clinical experience, chances of getting accepted on the doctorate are very slim. Even if you’ve done your degree and did a placement year, unless you have the right connects for more paid/unpaid opportunities after your degree, a placement year worth of experience is not good enough (I know, proper shambolic). Experience is HIGHLY favoured over academia. And so, whether you have a Master’s degree or not, if you don’t have the practical experience, you will STRUGGLE big time. Look at me for example, now that I have finished my Masters, I still haven’t ‘made it’. With all the experience I have obtained, I still would need more to get an assistant psychologist/research assistant posts let alone be accepted to do the doctorate. I know money can be an issue, and so my honest advice is that if you can take student finance/bank loan to pay your tuition fee, please go ahead! It is a decision you will not regret. I had to pay half of my tuition fee, and luckily my parents paid the rest. Alternatively, if you know doing a Master’s degree is out of your means, try to get clinical experience. I will do a blog post about what type of jobs to consider after graduating.
I cannot begin to describe how many doors opened for me. From my MSc, I gained valuable knowledge and experience within mental health, specifically relating to early intervention. I met terrific lecturers/psychologists who helped shaped me into a much more confident woman. I made so many connections and still have their contact details if I need any advice/extra volunteer work, and attended so many workshops and events relating to mental health for free, which usually costs an arm and a leg lol.
I spoke about why I chose to study MSc Early Intervention in Psychosis for King’s College London – “I made it” lol check it out: