Real-life story - Katie Bogart
Katie has always been interested in psychology and a university lecture from someone working in IAPT (Improved Access to Psychological Therapies) inspired her to do a job like theirs.
How I got into the role
The way psychologists look at the world has always made more sense to me than the medical model and, as soon as I heard that lecture, I knew I wanted to do this job.
It took a while to get a training place but I eventually trained with University College London UCL and worked initially for Wandsworth IAPT.
What I do
My work involves a combination of assessments and treatments. In any given week, I do about ten assessments over the phone and 15 therapy sessions face to face or in groups. It’s very varied, both in terms of the people you meet and the types of problems they come with.
One day a week I’m based in a GP surgery where I liaise with different health professionals, and I have weekly supervision with a more experienced therapist where we look at my cases and I can ask for advice on particular issues and scenarios. Supervision is a very important part of the role and it’s important that I use it to my advantage.
I have a special interest in perinatal mental health, which means I work with women during pregnancy and when they’ve just given birth. Pregnancy is viewed as such an exciting time – and it is – but it can be very stressful as your life literally changes overnight. At a time when mums-to-be are getting advice from all sides, it can become confusing as to who to listen to or what to do. I can work with women so that they do things in the way that best suits them and their baby.
I’m also currently a research assistant with a psychosis team at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It’s a great research project that’s looking at the ways the service can change to provide the most accurate and appropriate support for the people referred to the team.
The best bits and challenges
I often meet people when they are in a difficult place or experiencing difficult feelings, and it is great when you can see somebody make progress and reach recovery.
I feel very lucky to do a job I feel so excited about but it can also be very challenging. You hear about really difficult things and sometimes people aren’t able to get better at that time, so it’s important to be part of a supportive team.
There’s a very high workload and I see a lot of people in a short space of time. It’s important to be very organised. There are always organisational pressures and changes that might happen outside your control, and you have to be quite creative and flexible to make sure you’re still able to offer services and interventions that will best meet people’s needs.
Career plans and top tips for others
I’d like to train as a clinical psychologist and eventually have a leadership role in service management so I can understand better how service changes impact on patients and staff.
My tip for anyone thinking about this type of role is to get some experience. Contact your local psychology or mental health team to see if you can shadow someone and get a flavour of the work. I shadowed a chronic pain specialist as part of my degree and seeing how she worked was invaluable.
Life outside work
I’m currently training for a triathlon, the Moonwalk and a climb up BT Tower – partly to raise funds for cancer charities and partly to keep fit and active. It’s very important to look after yourself in this type of job.
I also love the theatre and travelling. I try to explore as much of the UK and the rest of the world as I can!