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Why We Need To Support Psychologists With Lived Experiences? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

Why We Need To Support Psychologists With Lived Experiences? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

As psychology students and professionals, we know that a lot of topics, debate and more aren’t discussed in the lecture theatre or in many textbooks. Therefore, to celebrate the release of my brand-new Clinical Psychology Reflections book containing tons of fascinating and brilliant topics to really help you deepen your knowledge of psychology beyond the lecture theatre. I wanted to share one of my favourite reflections with you from the book. It is why we need to support psychologists with lived experiences of mental health conditions. This is critical area to understand and you’ll learn a lot from this episode. Enjoy.

Today’s episode has been sponsored by Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 3. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Extract From Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 3 By Connor Whiteley. COPYRIGHT 2023


Our next reflection is inspired by an article in an issue of The Psychologist by the British Psychological Society from October 2021. In this article it was written by a female psychologist that was depressed if memory serves and she mentioned a lack of support within the psychology community for her. Citing that people were even moaning at her for going to see her General Practitioner (local doctor for our international audience) first.

Now I feel that this is a critical topic to reflect on because here we have a clinical psychologist that is being moaned at for doing the exact same thing that our clients have to go through.

Therefore, there are three aspects I want to reflect on here.

Firstly, there is immense value of having therapists and psychologists with lived experience. Since the “problem” in clinical psychology is that we can read all the books we want, go on all the courses and listen to all the different experts on the different mental health conditions. But at the end of the day, unless we have had personally experience with the condition then our knowledge is limited.

It's why I have already firmly believed in something by clinical psychology lecturer once said:

“You are the expert in the psychological knowledge and theory. The client is the expert in themselves,”

And absolutely nothing is truer in clinical psychology for this simple reason alone.

We will never fully understand our clients, their struggles and their mental health conditions unless we have had them ourselves.

Of course, the vast majority of us will never have any of these conditions thankfully, but it does slightly limit our insight into these conditions.

Therefore, when a psychologist or therapist comes along with lived experience then they should be supported like everyone else is in our profession. They shouldn’t be condemned or discouraged from the profession because they are the subset of therapists we definitely need.

They will make some clients feel so much more relaxed not only because they will show that you can live with the mental health condition and thrive. But also you can thrive so much that you can get a brilliant highly paid and respected job.

Completely helping the client combat any myths about how messed up and doomed to fail they are.

Therefore, these therapists and psychologists must be appreciated for what only they can bring to the table and the profession. Just like how you are the only person who can bring your unique characteristics and talents to the profession.

Moaning At Following The System

To be honest, this is my true problem with this article and what this psychologist experienced.

Because I cannot understand for the life of me why we are moaning at the person who is suffering and experience struggles just because they did what our other clients have to do.

As well as for our international audience, in the UK because we thankfully have free healthcare, we don’t have to pay for our psychotherapy unless we go private. Therefore, if we’re experiencing a mental health difficulty, we have to go to our local medical doctor (GP), talk to them and then they refer us to mental health services.

I’m not going to go into the details and the length of time this referral takes, but I cannot believe that fellow psychologists were criticising this woman because she went to speak to a medical doctor first.

Let me say this, there is no other way in the UK to access psychological services.

If you want public healthcare, you have to follow this procedure and route. I have not come across anything else.

So why are we criticising someone for doing what anyone else has to do?

It simply makes no sense.

What I think is actually happening is these criticising people are taking out their frustration on a peer who is struggling with a condition.

Now I fully admit I understand and support the frustration. I think it is ridiculous that clients who are not suffering from medical and biological conditions have to see a medical doctor first. I fully support the idea of clients being able to reach out to psychological services first because we understand psychological difficulties at a deep level, medical doctors do not. Just like how psychology doctors do not have a deep understanding of medical problems.

However, what I will never understand is how psychologists can take out their frustration on one of their peers. That is flat out outrageous and as a profession that is something we cannot tolerate and stand for.

Finally, instead we should run that frustration towards the decision-makers and policy-makers that prevent people from reaching out to mental health services themselves.

Therefore, to end this reflection, we must remember that as frustrating as the current system is, it is our job to always support out colleagues if they are struggling and they follow the current system. Because they most probably are not the person running the current system, they are a person struggling who needs psychological help, and if you really want to look at it from the system perspective.

Our colleague is a victim of the current system, and we should never ever blame the victim.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Today’s episode has been sponsored by Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 3. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Have a great day.

Clinical Psychology Reference

Whiteley, C. (2023) Clinical Psychology Reflections Volume 3. CGD Publishing

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