Placement gave insight into mental health


Psychology student Jennifer McNicholas works part time as a student assistant psychologist at The Priory Hospital Ty Gwyn Hall in Gwent. Similar opportunities are available to students through the Psychology Plus scheme.



What do you do?

I work within a multidisciplinary team consisting of differently specialised psychologists, such as a Chartered Forensic Psychologist and two trainee Counselling Psychologists, as well as a consultant psychiatrist, mental health nurses and support workers.


The main aim of the psychological team here is to deliver effective therapy to mentally ill patients in order to make positive and lasting changes to patient’s lives. A variety of therapies are used with a heavy focus on DBT (dialect behavioural therapy) and Schema Therapy. 


What do you enjoy about it?

It has given me great insight into the world of mental health and allowed me to work with a variety of different patients with a range of different and complex illnesses. I have enjoyed being part of such a well oiled team and been grateful for the opportunity to help improve patient care. 


What do you do on a daily basis?

A typical day involves a morning meeting to discuss patient care plans, MDT meetings and incidents that may have occurred during the past week. Part of my job is to read patients' notes from a care note system and pull out any incidents or problematic behaviour that may have occurred during the week. Behavioural analysis reports are used by the Psychologists to shape their therapy sessions to suit the client’s needs. Another part of my job is to complete HCR20 forms with the patients in order to assess the risk the patient poses. 


Why did you want to become a Psychologist?

My father is a social worker specialising in mental health, so mental illness has always been an interest of mine. Studying Psychology at USW has allowed me to continue this interest and gain the essential knowledge need in order to pursue this career. Becoming a Psychologist will allow me to use the skills and knowledge I have learnt to help patients eventually move back out into the community and have a much better quality of life. 


What are the best things about studying at USW?

One of the most enjoyable things about studying Psychology at USW is the excellent supportive lecturers who are committed to seeing their students succeed. I have had the opportunity to work with lecturers who specialise in such areas as diverse as mental health, social psychology and neuropsychology. USW provides excellent support systems and resources that have helped greatly throughout my first two years of study.