Updated: Nov 16, 2020
"From my experience, it is important to feel that your difference is what makes you unique and should be used as you USP (unique selling point)... all the skills learned previously are transferable which can be helpful during placement and we bring a new lens into the work."
In this article, we speak to Nivruti Advani, a second-year international trainee at the University of Exeter about her experiences of DClinPsy after living in the U.K for more than a year.
On Her Journey to be a Clinical Psychologist Trainee
Have you always known you wanted to be a clinical psychologist?
Working with and for people is a part of my personality and I have always enjoyed looking at the various sides to a coin, which is why the human mind has always been fascinating to me. Being able to work and contribute to the mental health sector is what motivates me to be in this profession.
The journey to becoming a clinical psychologist began during my postgraduate degree whilst I was completing my internship in an inpatient centre. This interest grew stronger after I began working in the Learning Disability sector in India, where I realised the impact of family and relationships in our life more than I did previously, and this motivated me to embark on the journey to becoming a clinical psychologist.
That is very interesting, could you tell us more about the work you did in India?
I worked for two years before joining the course and garnered some very good experiences while working in the learning disability sector at a private clinic and two hospitals; one in Delhi and the other in Gurgaon.
My scope of work included doing assessments for children, adolescents, parent handling, child history with Parents, continuous management of Child and Parent and Counsellor issues and providing necessary support. I conducted IQ (Intelligence Quotient), DQ (Development Quotient) and Psychodynamic assessments and wrote reports for these psychodynamic assessments.
Apart from this I also had the opportunity to observe the clinical psychologist and the senior psychologist conduct therapy for clients, which motivated me to attend workshops to hone my skills and grow in the field and I completed the second level of training for transactional analysis (TA). I believe we all have and wear different hats as per our roles, and my previous experience has been helpful for me when I have had to problem-solve, be creative at placement or share different ways of completing a task.
Why did you choose to study in the U.K?
This was my first time in a foreign country and living away from home - I am originally from Gurgaon, India. The push to study in the U.K. came after listening to my friends' experiences of training in the U.K. so learning through their experience was a key factor in choosing this country. I then began reading about the course structure to understand where my career trajectory would go if I pursued my study in the U.K..
The education and core values of the University of Exeter attracted me into applying for this course. At the beginning of my journey, I did face a few challenges. For instance, my placement was further away from my house, which meant I had to commute using irregular transit schedules. This proved to be difficult as I was living in a foreign country, unfamiliar with the neighbourhood and had no one to reach out to. It also put pressure on my wellbeing and my ability to focus on my placement. Hence, I reached my breaking point. I shared my concerns with the University and they were quick to take action and supported me. As an international student, that was a great source of comfort, therefore, it was all worthwhile in the end.
This journey has helped me grow not just professionally but personally as well. The course is made to make you reflect on your experiences. While it can be emotional, it also makes you stronger as an individual and more empathetic as a therapist.
On Her Journey to Transitioning to the Training
What prepared you to transition to the training?
Whilst I was unaware of the policies, terminologies and culture, I always had fantastic support from friends and the university. My buddy has been a huge support during my transition phase.
Also, the work and education experience I had in India did somewhat prepare me for the future but here, the bar was even higher. I had to adjust to new experiences and expectations while matching the competition here. This also gave me the opportunity and made it easier to ask questions at placements.
I have had the opportunity to work with different groups of people and my ethnicity has proven to be a boon at times for my clients. This journey has helped me grow not just professionally but personally as well. The course is made to make you reflect on your experiences and while it can be emotional, it also makes you stronger as an individual and more empathetic as a therapist.
What do you think are the unique experiences encountered by international trainees?
Initial transitions can be very daunting if you have not lived in the country before. From my experience, it is important to feel that your difference is what makes you unique and should be used as you USP (unique selling point). As international trainees, we are entering into a new world and may have to adjust our working styles but all the skills learned previously are transferable which can be helpful during placement and we bring a new lens into the work. We are able to offer a combination of our previous and new styles of working.
For international students, financial situations are a challenge and the COVID -19 pandemic has only increased the burden. There is no supplemental income since the training is unpaid, and the rigour and time commitment of the course makes it difficult to find another part-time job.
The training, as is to be expected at these high standards, is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, making it imperative for trainees to find a way to relax but not having ample finances can reduce the possibilities and options due to which we need to become resilient and push through our training.
My method of dealing with stress has been taking walks, exercising and talking to friends who are able to hear me rant (very important to have people who can listen to you and acknowledge your challenges on this journey).
I also learned that sleeping, watching shows or simply doing nothing works like magic. It is important to enjoy this journey even through the hardships it throws at you.
Looking back at your first year, what are the things you’ve learned?
My resilience is my biggest strength so during every challenge, I don't give up until I successfully consider and exhaust all the avenues to complete my commitments. Looking back on the challenges and commitments I had during my first year, a few things I have learned are:
1. Nothing is more important than self-care
2. Cooking is now a part of my skillset (I am still surprised about this one)
3. I learned more about myself and had tremendous personal growth.
4. I've become aware that I am more self-reliant than I thought I was
It is okay to accept when I have too much on my plate and say no instead of feeling that I am losing out on an opportunity.
If you would like to know more about Nivruti's experience of Dclinpsy application, living in Exeter, and working, you can contact her on her LinkedIn.
The Dclinpsy International seeks out passionate international trainees from different backgrounds and experiences to offer their two cents worth to the curious. If you would like to contribute to an article or be featured, please reach out to contact us.