1st Edition

Surviving Clinical Psychology Navigating Personal, Professional and Political Selves on the Journey to Qualification

Edited By James Randall Copyright 2020
    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    This vital new book navigates the personal, professional and political selves on the journey to training in clinical psychology. Readers will be able to explore a range of ways to enrich their practice through a focus on identities and differences, relationships and power within organisations, supervisory contexts, therapeutic conventions and community approaches.

    This book includes a rich exploration of how we make sense of personal experiences as practitioners, including chapters on self-formulation, personal therapy, and using services. Through critical discussion, practice examples, shared accounts and exercises, individuals are invited to reflect on a range of topical issues in clinical psychology. Voices often marginalised within the profession write side-by-side with those more established in the field, offering a unique perspective on the issues faced in navigating clinical training and the profession more broadly. In coming together, the authors of this book explore what clinical psychology can become.

    Surviving Clinical Psychology invites those early on in their careers to link ‘the political’ to personal and professional development in a way that is creative, critical and values-based, and will be of interest to pre-qualified psychologists and researchers, and those mentoring early-career practitioners.


    Notes on contributors


    Foreword: The things that matter

    Peter Kinderman

    The context of clinical psychology

    1. What clinical psychology can become: An introduction
    2. James Randall

    3. What do clinical psychologists do anyway?
    4. Annabel Head, Amy Obradovic, Sasha Nagra and Neha Bharat Shah

    5. Making the most of your supervision: Reflecting on selves in context
    6. James Randall, Angie Cucchi and Vasiliki Stamatopoulou

    7. Restorying the journey: Enriching practice before training
    8. James Randall, Sarah Oliver, Jacqui Scott, Amy Lyons, Hannah Morgan, Jessica Saffer and Lizette Nolte

    9. Everyone reflects……but some reflections are more risky than others
    10. Romena Toki and Angela Byrne

      The Personal: The selves as human

    11. On being a practitioner and a client
    12. Molly Rhinehart, Emma Johnson and Kirsty Killick

    13. Values in practice: Bringing social justice to our lives and work
    14. Jacqui Scott, Laura Cole, Vasiliki Stamatopoulou and Romena Toki

    15. Reflections on the therapeutic journey: Opening up dialogues around personal therapy
    16. Amy Lyons and Elizabeth Malpass, with thanks to Silan Gyane

    17. On the reconciliation of selves: Reflections on navigating professional domains
    18. Danielle Chadderton and Marta Isibor

      The Professional: The use of self in clinical psychology

    19. ‘Taking the plunge’: How reflecting on your personal and social GgRRAAAACCEEESSSS can tame your restraints and refresh your resources
    20. John Burnham and Lizette Nolte

    21. Self-formulation: Making sense of your own experiences
    22. James Randall, Emma Johnson and Lucy Johnstone

    23. Pebbles in Palms: Sustaining practices through training
    24. Sarah Oliver, Hannah Morgan, James Randall, Amy Lyons, Jessica Saffer, Jacqui Scott and Lizette Nolte

    25. Sustaining selfhood and embracing ‘selves’ in psychology: risks, vulnerabilities and sustaining relationships
    26. Tanya Beetham and Kirstie Pope

      The Political: Selves and politics in practice

    27. Power in Practice: Questioning Psychiatric Diagnosis
    28. Sasha Priddy and Katie Sydney

    29. Power in context: Working within different organisational cultures and settings
    30. Annabel Head, Jacqui Scott and Danielle Chadderton

    31. It’s not just about therapy: Our ‘selves’ in our communities
    32. Stephen Weatherhead, Ben Campbell, Cormac Duffy, Anna Duxbury, Hannah Iveson and Mary O’Reilly

    33. The personal weight of political practice: A conversation between trainees

    Farahnaaz Dauhoo, Lauren Canvin, Rosemary Kingston, Stella Mo and Sophie Stark

    Epilogue: "Just stop talking and start to dance"

    James Randall


    James Randall is a tattooed, vegetarian clinical psychologist working with children and young people within the National Health Service (NHS). He previously represented aspiring psychologists for 4 years as the co-chair of the Pre-Qualification Group within the British Psychological Society.

    "I started my clinical psychology training in 1989 and this book wasn’t written. I qualified in 1992, and this book was still not written. It’s now 2019; this book is now written. Excellent. And what is this book? For me this book is an essential, comprehensive, enlightening, challenging and progressive look at the profession I have loved for thirty years. This isn’t just a book for budding/ in training/ practicing clinical psychologists about what we do but, more importantly, it’s about what we could do and together we can, must and will do. It’s about individual and community, inclusion and collaboration, politics and power, adversity and social justice, the personal and the professional. This book doesn’t tell, its asks. It is descriptive rather than prescriptive. It offers thinking spaces and reflective activities. I read this book and felt energised and invigorated because it challenged me to look at what I think I know and what I know I do, and ask myself what next, what more? Thirty years melted away and I now feel fresh and eager to rethink, revisit, revise and review. If this book does that for a 52 year old still loving the privilege of working within mental health services but somewhat jaded and frustrated by the ongoing lack of parity with physical health services, the cuts and the unacceptable waiting lists, the impact of adversity (I could go on) - then this book will also invigorate and inspire anyone who cares about mental health: our own and that of the public, communities and the society we serve."

    Professor Tanya Byron, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, journalist, author, broadcaster, policy advisor

    "This is the best book I have read about this thing we call clinical psychology. I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoyed reading it! The book wrestles with the dilemmas of pursuing a clinical psychology career. Because of its questioning and aspiring approach its relevant for anyone on this career path but its particularly relevant to budding psychologists and those that supervise them. I love the way the book shares many examples of psychologies in action that seek to be creative and liberating. The reflecting points and exercises in the book got me to think more deeply about issues and I intend to use them with my colleagues too. Clinical psychology comes out of a tradition of looking at people as individuals modelled on white middle-class male values and ignoring people's social, political and cultural contexts. The book acknowledges this and looks at how we can keep coming back to the importance of social contexts, to power issues and to the personal wisdoms that can easily get overlooked. The result is a fresh take on clinical psychology largely from those who are navigating entering the profession. When I was applying to training courses there was no guide on how to navigate becoming a clinical psychologist without losing touch with what motivated me to train in the first place. This book fills that gap. For example, with reflections on how can we try to make space for vulnerability in training and supervision and our different selves that make us up; how to create more safety and meet the people we seek to help with humility, and integrity. And how to do psychology creatively in a more community-oriented way. I appreciate how the theme of social justice is looked at from many angles and how we might support others and be supported to speak up and find ways to make a difference. If you know anyone pursuing a career in psychology and you like them and you can afford it, buy them this book!"

    Rufus May, Clinical Psychologist

    "This book offers a refreshingly nuanced discussion of the process of 'becoming', whilst training as a clinical psychologist - considering the reflexive awareness encouraged through training and how this can shape thinking, doing, and being. More than simply rejecting tired binary narratives, complex intersectional processes are explored and discussed through an engaging and accessible narrative, contemplating what it means to be human, however inconveniently, when also developing as a clinical psychologist in a world loaded with inequalities, biases, assumptions, stereotypes and unrealistic expectations.

    With an optimistic perspective and hopeful lens, the book embarks upon a critically open-minded contemplation of issues not so easily contained within "pseudo-certainties". Cleverly, the book explores how and why it is so crucial for psychologists to consider wider issues and contexts in relation to preventing distress and promoting wellbeing, as well as actively advocating for equality and inclusion as part of the job. Finally, the book is beautifully written, with a poetic tone to guide you gently but purposefully through the "turbulent times and testing terrains" associated with living in today's world as a developing clinical psychologist."

    Dr Sarah Parry, Clinical Psychologist, Senior Clinical Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University. Editor of Effective Self-Care and Resilience in Clinical Practice Dealing with Stress, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout (2017) and The Handbook of Brief Therapies: A practical guide (2019)

    "Surviving Clinical Psychology is very much more than a text book or a ‘how to’ book. It is an impressive handbook which invites the reader to explore the profession of clinical psychology through many different lenses and asks thought-provoking, challenging and timely questions. The breadth of contributors and the many other voices included in the book, through stories and reflective accounts, deliver an engaging, moving and detailed narrative using a novel and effective format. The reader is quickly drawn into a dialogue enabled by an invitation to actively engage with the book’s contents. This allows a space for self-exploration whilst also providing many helpful resources and references.

    The book’s inspiring contributors include people from minoritised groups, those traditionally marginalised from the profession and people who identify as service users including those in a range of psychology roles holding dual identities. There are contributions from trainee clinical psychologists, clinical psychologists at different career stages, aspiring clinical psychologists, those working in other health and social care roles and undergraduate students.

    Divided into four sections the book explores ‘the context of clinical psychology’, ‘the personal: the selves as human’, ‘the professional: the use of self in clinical psychology’ and ‘the political: selves and politics in practice’. The chapters cover an array of pertinent and stimulating topics including the core practices of the profession, questioning what it means to become a clinical psychologist and navigating how to do this. Chapters consider what it means to be a supervisee, reflections on personal experiences of distress and on experiences of using personal therapy. The significance of personal identities and difference within professional development are explored as are matters relating to psychiatric diagnoses, power in organisations, and critiques of psychological therapy. Key recurrent themes woven throughout the book include power, psychological formulation, reflection, a call to activism, community psychology and the political, social, global and financial context. In its totality the book asks what can clinical psychology become?

    Surviving Clinical Psychology is a key resource for clinical psychologists, those aspiring to become clinical psychologists and those who have survived, are currently using and working within the mental health system and social care."

    • Dr Laura Golding, Programme Director, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool and co-author of How to become a Clinical Psychologist (2019)