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Psychological Professions Week 2023 is taking place this week (13-17 November). The week is led by the Psychological Professions Network and aims to celebrate the impact and highlight the potential of the psychological professions.

The theme for this year's week is ‘Unite, Inspire, and Transform: integrating psychologically informed practice into physical health and care.'

To mark the occasion we spoke to some of the many psychological professionals here at SCFT. They include roles working in community neuro rehab, diabetes, reflective practice and talking therapies. See below for Raj's story, as well from other professionals on what they love about their roles.

I qualified with an BSc (Hons) in Law & Psychology in 2005. Following this I studied for a MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey. In 2009 I started the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Low intensity Psychological Interventions course. I undertook a pilot project as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner for Time to Talk (Now NHS West Sussex Talking Therapies) in 2015 working with adults living with a long-term health condition. This supported the development of the service’s long-term conditions team. Then in 2016 I started my training to become a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and completed this in 2017. I have completed the formal long-term conditions training which has led me to work with the psychological aspects of health conditions such as Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue.

I always had an interest in psychology and the mind and was curious about people’s behaviours. Following on from my undergraduate degree I decided to work with adults with severe learning difficulties and volunteered locally with victims of crime. I then expanded my skill set to work in older adults’ mental health services. I developed these skills further by working as a Support Time Recovery worker in a crisis team. This was a very interesting role; I had the opportunity to work within a multi-disciplinary team. I joint worked with secondary care mental health services such as the Community Mental Health Team and supported patients that were due to be discharged from an in-patient ward.

I am now a Senior Psychological Therapist (CBT) and have been doing this over the past year. My previous experience of working with secondary care mental health services has helped me throughout my career. I have worked with people experiencing acute mental health distress and supported them through quite a difficult time, this included managing their safety. By working as a PWP with West Susex Talking Therapies, this has equipped me with many necessary skills that are required for my current role. I also feel my academic knowledge and understanding continues to support my clinical work. The learning from my undergraduate psychology degree (such as memory, attachment, personality) is also very applicable. I often relate back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs and how this applies to clients I may work with. The law side of my degree also helps me understand safeguarding and clinical decisions. My health psychology MSc helps to understand more about health-related behaviours.

I am fortunate to be part of a supportive and caring team, I feel well supported by my colleagues in all areas of my work including clinical and day to day running of the service. I have been with the service for over 14 years, and this has been great to see the service evolve over the years. In addition to this I enjoy the client work, I am passionate about making a difference to people's lives and helping them to manage their levels of distress.

My advice for someone thinking about becoming a psychological professional would be to really think and reflect on what you can bring to the profession. Perhaps explore the profession by linking in with health professionals that already work in this area. Consider breaking down what steps you would need to take such as further training or study and then go for it!

"Lastly, I am a strong believer of self-compassion for clients we work with but also for us as therapists working in this area. This is a crucial aspect of our profession that we all must make time for.

Raj Saraw, Senior Psychological Therapist (CBT), NHS West Sussex Talking Therapies