Hello, my name is Afiyah and for my placement year I became an honorary assistant psychologist. If that’s not a fancy upgraded self-introduction I don’t know what is. But all jokes aside, my placement year was and still is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had the opportunity to undertake. I made so much progress within the field of clinical psychology and along the way developed my own sense of self and personal skills.
Now if we rewind back to start of my placement in September 2018, I would said something along the lines of, I’m too afraid, this was a bad idea, maybe I shouldn’t have attended that interview in the first place. Its true, at the beginning I was very, very afraid.
Once I actually started the placement and had the appropriate training, I became more settled, and found my comfort zone sitting at a desk typing away,
except this wasn’t what I had signed up for. So I pushed my worries to one side and spoke to my supervisor, she was incredibly helpful and we had a conversation about what my goals were and what I had wanted out of the next year.
On the very same day I met a patient who had suffered from a first episode of psychosis, yes, I was very much freaking out on the inside. Then it hit me, those who suffer from mental health issues are just ordinary human beings who need a little bit of extra support in the community (don’t believe all the media stereotypes).
As the months went on I saw more and more patients in the community, on hospital wards and even in recovery hubs, meeting new people and introducing myself became second nature. I had established personal boundaries, adopted an appropriate conversational style and even became a much more confident individual. Of course, it wasn’t all practical, I too had my fair share of paperwork, and developing formulations of patients that we discussed at our team meetings.
Despite the fact that this placement was a clinical placement, the team I worked with consisted of doctors, psychiatric nurses, and social inclusion workers, so I understood how different healthcare professionals operated, how they worked together and developed my own knowledge whenever I accompanied them on visits.
Aside from the very obvious benefits of taking a placement year, like increased chance of employability, polishing professional skills and having practical experience of working in a particular field; there’s much to be said about the way you develop as a person. From my own experience and talking to others on placement, we found that we had become confident, independent, and much more communicative than if we hadn’t this opportunity. Not only did we enjoy what we did, we changed and grew whilst we did it.
Looking back on my thoughts I realised how much anxiety controlled my life and decisions, how much fear I had of doing things I wasn’t comfortable with. If I hadn’t taken this opportunity, I would’ve made the biggest mistake of my life and would have regretted it years to come. So if you’re still ambivalent or perhaps stressed about what your placement might bring, just know this, it’s okay to be afraid just don’t let it control you.