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Dr Marianne Trent answers questions from an Aspiring Psychologist

This article has been amended from Episode 63 of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast. If you'd prefer to listen to it then you can here. You can also watch it on YouTube here.

Dr. Marianne Trent 00:00

Hi, welcome along to the Aspiring Psychologists Podcast. I am Dr. Marianne Trent and I am a qualified Clinical Psychologist. So, what I love about doing the role that I do in supporting aspiring psychologists is the truly random and wide breadth of different expertise and experiences that you guys have as listeners and today's podcast is a guest podcast episode with someone I connected with on LinkedIn and they are at a much earlier stage of their psychology career and had wanted to ask me some questions and I said, You know what, this would make a really good podcast episode because other people will likely want to know the answer to your questions, too. So, would you be up for coming on and asking me on the session? So, the answer was yes, thankfully and yeah, we had a lot of slight glitch with the Wi Fi for our guests today and so I'm on camera, But the lovely Ben we've just got a photo, but yeah, if you're wanting to watch on YouTube, please do and whilst you there, click a few likes, make a few comments and yeah, get chatty in the comments, because that's always really nice to see. You can also-- If you're not a fan of listening to podcasts, you can also access the back catalogue of these podcast episodes, as blog articles too: go to I hope you find this episode really useful and I will look forward to catching up with you on the other side.

Dr. Marianne Trent 02:18

Hi, welcome along to Ben Munro, who's joining us for today's podcast episode.

Dr. Marianne Trent 02:23

Hi, hello!

Dr. Marianne Trent 02:24

Thank you so much and this episode is going to be a little bit different to usual. So, for those of you who have listened to episodes before, you might well have heard me say that I'm a big fan of LinkedIn and I think Ben was like, well, I'm taking her for her word, and I'm gonna connect with her and yeah, we got chatting in the DMs on LinkedIn and I was like, Ben, do you fancy coming on and being a guest on the podcast? and you were like, ah, okay. To give a bit of context Ben is a little earlier in his career than most people-- will all people we've had on the podcast so far, which I think is really, really exciting and shows us what a diverse group of people we are reaching with this podcast.

Dr. Marianne Trent 03:18

Ben told me that he is in his first year of A-levels at college. Is that right, Ben?

Ben Munro 03:25


Dr. Marianne Trent 03:26

Brilliant. It's exciting. It's bringing back all sorts of memories when I was doing my a level psychology. Yeah. Exciting times-- How are you finding it?

Ben Munro 03:40

It's good. Yeah, it's definitely much better than secondary, sort of a new independence stuff. It's great and obviously, just studying psychology, biology and maths.

Dr. Marianne Trent 03:55

Oh, good. So, we had a little bit of crossover there. So, I did biology and psychology. I thought about maths, but my favourite maths teacher wasn't doing the a level syllabus and I was like, well, no, I think I only got my B because of my favourite maths teacher, so I'm gonna give that aside swerve! So, you did psychology GCSE. You said as well.

Ben Munro 04:17

Yes. It's still quite nobody who I know who I didn't go to my school does it- So it's quite rare from where I'm from.

Dr. Marianne Trent 04:33

So what's the dream? Where do you hope to get to what do you want to do when you're- I was gonna say when you're growing up-- when you're proper grown up but frankly I still don't feel like a proper grown up so what do you hope will be in your future career?

Ben Munro 04:51

A DClinPsy qualification I guess at the end of the day, but I want to be- and also help people, no matter what- It ends up being just helping people I don't know.

Dr. Marianne Trent 05:03

Brilliant. Well, I think that it's really exciting that you know that this stage of your career because it really helps you to like supercharge the direction that you want to go in, really. Whereas I only discovered or thought that, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, pretty much during the last weeks of my undergraduate degree when I was already studying psychology. So, you know, you got this golden opportunity to really use this time as bonus time and I guess, yeah, like, I know that our purpose of our podcast today is for you to ask me lots of questions, but in your position, what I'd be doing is thinking about whether there's any work I could do even now, a level years, that is about developing my ability to work with some of the core and key groups that that that clinical psychologists work with. When I was your age, which sounds so patronizing, and I'm sorry, I just said it. I was working in boots at my weekends, but had I known that I wanted to be a psychologist, then I might well have looked to work with adults or, you know, children, young people, older adults, I don't know, like some sort of care roll or something that allowed me to, to get a really good head start on that. So, that I was, you know, hitting the ground running when I got to university, I guess.

Ben Munro 06:40

Yeah, so I worked with the vaccination program for COVID doing like, sort of the behind the computer stuff and that sort of helped me sort of get a feel of working with patients and other healthcare professionals, like nurses and all sorts.

Dr. Marianne Trent 07:00

Yeah, very good. Lovely. Yeah, you have some questions for me, do you want? Do you want to fire away?

Ben Munro 07:08

Yeah. So, first off, I guess what sort of your day to day like day in and day out an average day for you?

Dr. Marianne Trent 07:15

Okay, do you want the answer now that I'm in self-employment or do you want the answer as when I was an NHS psychologist or do you want to answers?

Ben Munro 07:26


Dr. Marianne Trent 07:27

Okay, so let's give me I'll give you an idea of what my NHS role was like. So, my most recent NHS role, was with working age adults in sort of community mental health team. Let me give you an idea. Let me try and pick an average day. So, I had what's called a job plan, which I had brought with me to the kind of idea of a job plan from a previous service that I worked with. So, my weeks always looked pretty identical in terms of context. So, it meant that I knew where my client bookings were going to be because I had to book the rooms in advance. So, if I, for example, pick a Tuesday. So, I was peripatetic, which means that I worked out of number of different bases. So, I have one key base, but I found myself. Yeah, when I was four days a week, I was actually in, I think, five different bases. So, it was really frenetic, but I was really keen to be able to deliver the 50% face to face that a service wanted of that grade of staff, and people even told me, it's not possible. It's not possible, you can't do it and I thought, well, that's what I've been recruited to do. I'm going to I'm going to blame him, well go out there and do it. So, my average Tuesday when I was working most recently, I was using the outpatients department of, of a psychiatric hospital and I would break my days down into clinics. So, on a Tuesday morning, for example, I would see three clients, I would see a client at nine, a client at 10, and a client at 11, which meant that come at 10 to 12. I just then had to write the notes and then I was done and I could go and have some lunch, and then head off to a different base. So, those clients that I was seeing, initially, we were doing, just you know, waiting list clients, so people that I was doing interventions for that come to the top of the waiting list for trauma predominantly, but after a while, I began to think we need a group in this service to try and teach Some of the stuff that we usually do one to one, so that it speeds up people's access to the service and so, you know, often when you're in NHS or employed services, groups take up a whole morning and I was like, well, that's not going to help the waiting list, that's gonna make it worse in effect and so I said, I want to use one of my existing client sessions, But make that like a one to many module, make it a group. So, do a whole group within an hour and so that's what I did before I left the service. I've done that twice. So, we've done a pilot, and then we've done the whole group. So, it's slightly shorter as a 15 minute session, but actually, in terms of the amount of information we were able to impart, and the amount of people we were able to serve within that it was really useful and so you know, I pride myself thinking outside the box a little bit and then in the afternoon, on a Tuesday, I think it was largely admin time, and supervision, so supervision for myself, which is obviously very important, But also supervision for any aspiring psychologists. So, either trainees, or assistants or honorary assistants, and what was there a bit of time to connect with the team as well in the shared office? So hope was that useful? Whistle-stop tour of an NHS day, Ben?

Ben Munro 11:30

Yeah, definitely. Much more than I thought, it would go on--

Dr. Marianne Trent 11:35

Yeah, I am quite productive. Do you have any questions or things that have been triggered for you when hearing that?

Ben Munro 11:47

I guess, sort of what are the different challenges of working with, as you said, working adults, but all different sorts of patients, I guess.

Dr. Marianne Trent 11:54

Yeah. I mean, for me, one of the main challenges was that I was doing the bulk of the assessments, I love doing assessments, I find it a real privilege, I was doing the bulk of the assessments, because they were predictable and their routine, people knew when to put those into my diary. So, I would do an assessment on a Friday morning and I think I'd also do an assessment on a Monday afternoon is a couple of years ago, now, a Monday afternoon and so there was those two slots where people could book in for assessments, but for me, one of the main challenges was that I could really connect with people, and could really see that they were in need of the service and more than that, that they were going to be a good fit for what we had, and we're going to respond well to our treatments. So, I was used the assessment sessions, to kind of give a flavor of the work and to check that they were able to engage with it and so for me, knowing that these people were there, they weren't just names on the list to me, they were people, there were people with stories and lives and loves and things that mattered, and things that were hurting them.

Dr. Marianne Trent 13:02

Therefore, for me, the biggest challenge was that people were having a wait for that service and that sometimes by the time people got to the top of the waiting list, they would disengage, or there would be what we call DNA. So, did not attend sessions and it's just, yeah, it's tricky, but you know, when you get when you pick up a client that just starts flying and does really well and does come regularly. You know, it's just golden stuff is a real privilege.

Ben Munro 13:35

Yeah. That sounds like something that I would be interested in working with, like, one to one sort of patients and their- every week, or so often and sort of seeing that progression was something that I wanted to do, I think, was the work life balance, like, sort of, in the NHS,

Dr. Marianne Trent 13:56

In the NHS-- For me, it was much better when I was part time. So, I've got two children, which you might well know if you listen to the podcast, you know, when I was first qualified, I was driving 25 miles each way through sort of heavy traffic. So, before I had children, you know, I decided to what I worked nine till five, and so I was out of the house, you know, from 10 to eight until 10 past six, and that's a lot five days a week, as well as obviously the exhaustion of if there's traffic and stuff, but I've always been a real fan of lunch breaks, I've always taken a break and always taken time to have that away from my desk and to encourage my team to do that with me and so that's something that's been really lovely actually, and really, for me helps with the work life balance. So, either and strolling out to like the local shop or the local deli or eating together and then having a quick stroll or just sitting in sort of communal staff areas and just chatting and connecting And, you know, forming norming and storming in terms of what we do with teamwork. So, yeah, I think very fondly at my time in the NHS services that I've worked in. However, it is tricky. Yeah, there's a big job. And, you know, I think we need to make sure that we've got stuff going on outside of work that this isn't all we do. It's tricky, because, you know, I absolutely think of myself as being Maryanne, But part of my identity is that I'm a psychologist and so when I first met my husband, he was like, why don't you do more? What? I'm, you got more hobbies? and I was like, did I just kind of fulfilled like, you know, I spend time with my friends and that's enough for me, because I'm already fulfilled by my work. So, you know, I might sound a bit weird, But that's how it is for me.

Ben Munro 16:08

Yeah, I suppose if you enjoy what you do, it's not worth it.

Dr. Marianne Trent 16:10

In terms of what I do in private practice, so I very much kept the clinic model. Therefore, I do. on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, I see three clients and I wanted to keep it, just keep it at that. So, that tends to be as many clients as I see, in a whole week. So, yeah, I'm done by lunchtime, But I use the afternoons to write for the media, or to edit podcasts, or to, to work on books and courses and projects. So, I'm definitely not sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and on a Monday, and Friday, so I've definitely got better work life balance now that I'm self employed. So, on a Monday tends to be a bit of a quieter day for me where I can get through some of the admin and the bits and pieces. On a Friday morning, I tend to do podcasts on a Friday morning, I also got to personal training as well. However, yeah, I do media coaching and I just I love my life actually. So yeah, there's always articles I'm being asked to write or that I pitch for, say, I keep myself very busy and try and diversify my portfolio so that I'm not getting burned out or kind of strung out in any particular area.

Ben Munro 17:30

Yeah. What would you say is the key skills to do sort of a job like in a clinical psychologist, what sort of skills should I be developing now-- Before I get to--

Dr. Marianne Trent 17:42

Good question. Probably, they're ones that are pretty tricky to measure, really, but I think it's the ability to have empathy, to be moved by the distress of others, But not in such a way that you're panicking or you're kind of brought into the chaos as well. But, you know, sounds really silly. Why is this the first thing that comes to me, but long before I was a psychologist, I was reading magazines like that life you which you might not have even heard of. However, I really liked those kinds of weekly magazines that have got human interest case studies in and like I said, it does sound pretty silly. Now I think about it, but it gave me a really useful, first hand insight first hand, as much as magazine articles can But a first hand insight into the kind of inner thoughts and feelings of real people and to a variety of presentations and things that had happened. So, the first time I'd read or been aware of people who'd been sexually abused as children was via that sorts of magazine and so I felt like that gave me a really useful head start in terms of empathy, and in terms of the wide array of things that we need to have some knowledge or experience of in clinical psychology, so absolutely doesn't matter. I often some, you know, I will say to clients, I'm really sorry, I have not heard of that before. Could you tell me a bit about that and what that's like for you, but you know, it does help if you've either worked with people in a specific presentation, or if you've got some knowledge of that because I think people do feel a bit more at ease, you know, like you understand their position and so they feel seen and heard and validated and I guess empowered, they're hopeful as well. So, that's probably a rubbish answer, you know, go to the supermarket. See If I just try to get on board with some of the ideas that your future clients might be struggling with, I don't that might be a really rubbish answer, Ben..

Ben Munro 20:11

It sort of falls into this question quite nicely. What books would you recommend a sort of be reading and sort of types of classic books and stuff?

Dr. Marianne Trent 20:21

Yeah. So, I'd be remiss of me not to say, the aspiring psychologists collective and the clinical collective, of course, there's a must read for any aspiring psychologist. However, I would read a wide array of books, including autobiographies. So, I recently really enjoyed Michelle Obama's autobiography, where she talks about kind of, she really reflects on her intersectionality, and how she was able to achieve the things that she achieved even before she met her husband and you know, what greatness they achieved, But how it was really important for her to, you know, to connect to unique things that she wanted to achieve and she wanted, you know, youth specifically to be in a better position when they left office than when they entered it and so yeah, just reading, reading widely, really and yeah, asking questions, reading things that the evoke conversations for you. So, I really, really like the works of your Irvin Yalom, So, his book, my favourite book of his is loves executioner and within that he's very honest, as he talks about his different some of these different clients that he's worked with, and the journeys they've made, but also his own kind of personal reflections on what it's like to be their therapist, another really nice book by him, which is called staring at the sun and that's all about people with death, anxiety and working with not even necessarily all older adults, But people that are considering for whatever reason, their own mortality and I just really liked his style of writing. So, yeah, for anyone who's probably at any stage of their psychology career, but certainly at the stage that you're at, I think, is the sort of book that you can read now with the understanding that you've got now, but as you progress through your career, pick it up again. And, you know, read it again, because you will, you'll get more in a different way from it once you've got different thoughts, experiences and reflections to draw upon.

Ben Munro 23:01

Yeah. Sounds good. Sort of my next question will be, what sort of opportunities are there for progression through the NHS? You might not know as well as being like private nowadays, but going like through up the NHS I guess?

Dr. Marianne Trent 23:19

Yeah, good question. So, I, before I started training, I was a band for assistant psychologist and then I got on to training, which was a band six trainee, clinical psychologist role and then you qualify at band seven, I actually left my band seven post, even though I adored it and even though I'm still in contact with some of the people, I worked with the, on an almost daily basis, we're on we've got a WhatsApp group. And, you know, they were just lovely, you know, just my tribe, but they didn't have any at that time. They didn't have any progression roles available. When I qualified we were quite fresh out of-- Actually when I qualified, there were no qualified jobs around because I don't know how much about mid naughtiest, financial culture, but in 2008, there was a big crash due to mortgages and things and Northern Rock and all of that jazz and it meant that there was a recession when I graduated 2011 and the literally, you know, when by the time we graduated, there was only two out of 60 universe on my cohort who had jobs and so the just the wasn't much funding. I think there would been cuts made to funding places for training for the doctorate as well. By the time I finished, I think my cohort had been reduced to 10 Nik for new people coming on my course. Whereas during training, I was 15-- one of 15 and then I think the following year, they increased it to 17 and then I think it might have gone up slightly again, But by the time I finished it, it crept down for the new uptake to 10, which is a lot smaller. So, there just wasn't that level of focus on the importance of mental health and funding it, which is really unfortunate, actually and I don't think the same thing will happen again, you know, with any future recession, some people are saying, well, there's been a bit of growth in the economy in the last quarter. So, that means technically, we can't be in recession. But I think we're still thinking that some element of recession is likely, especially with the cost of living crisis and so I would hope that there won't be cuts in mental health funding and actually, the opposite will be true this time. Yeah, I forgot your question. Did I answer it?

Ben Munro 26:03

Yeah. What sort of what do you think the progression of maybe not progression either?

Dr. Marianne Trent 26:10

Oh, yeah, let me come back to that bit of question. So, I left the band seven position I was in, because as much as they love me, and my work, and I love them, and the work that-- there wasn't that progression opportunity at that time and so I moved on to an 8A, which was actually closer to home. It wasn't all bad at all and I learned many, many things and made lovely connection there too, but when it came to thinking about 8 B, there were opportunities, and I had been interviewed for 8B opportunities, but at the time, I think they've changed it since at the time, if you, even if you're part time, when you did a band above, you had to pay full pension contributions, even though I was only part time and so I actually would have been worse off for more responsibility. So, for me, that was that wasn't really what I wanted to be doing. I didn't want to work harder for less money and whilst it isn't all about the money, you know, it's It sure does help make things a bit easier to organize in your life. So, there are progression opportunities and you know, I've got friends working in 8B roles. I don't know if I've yet got anyone working, I think I did have a friend working in 8C, But she moved roles and I think went back down to 8B at some point. So, there is progression, but it's not really something that I was that passionate about to be honest. Yeah, that's fair enough. I love client work, you see and the further and further up you go, the less and less client work you tend to do and I love it.

Ben Munro 28:02

What do you think so obviously now going private, is how much different is your experience, like working with clients?

Dr. Marianne Trent 28:12

So, if different, I'd say the most similarities are health insurance funded work. So, that's when it most feels like the NHS work and by that I mean, people that work for organizations that fund health care for their employees. So, there's a number of large employees in the UK that you might not even realize, fund health cover for their employees and I'd say that's the work that most feels similar to the NHS. You get people that are really motivated, especially if they're self-funding. Yeah, it's different, but still humans, you know, and we still all been raised in ways that give us experiences that are not ideal and give us ideas about ourselves and it's still about spreading then the value and importance of compassion and self compassion to compassion to others compassion self and yeah, seeing what I can do to help people work through grief, depression and trauma. So, my work hasn't changed massively. It's just that I've cut out all the levels of bureaucracy and all the meetings about meetings about meetings and so I'm able to get my feet on the ground and help people at the point that they need it, which feels like a real luxury compared to a couple of years. Wait on a waiting list.

Ben Munro 29:45

Yeah. That was my question perfectly. So, in between the sort of point where I am now and getting qualified, do you think the system will have changed with mental health obviously, so growing fields more attention to the media and there's--- So do you think it will be a different sort of profession?

Dr. Marianne Trent 30:08

Good question. So, there is a move towards, you know, psychologists, especially clinical ones are often regarded as an expensive resource by HR and other departments, but well, I think once people have worked with clinical psychologists and other professionally qualified psychologists, as well, they see the value of that they see the value of that for teens, and they see the value of that for the clients that we serve, but that's not always necessarily seen in the same way, as commissioners who were like, well, we could get these bands, six members of staff, we could get three of those for the price of, you know, probably at four for those for price of an 8 B psychologist, you know, if the 8B is at the top of their tree. But, you know, I think that the was certainly at one stage and move towards. Yeah, less trained and less experienced staff, but I hope there will always be a role for professionally qualified psychologists. Because I see there's a real value. So, I guess you're probably 16 or 17, that currently I was a young baby. I was in June, baby. So, in your position, I was 16 and I didn't start my qualification. It's not my training until I was 27 and I graduated age 30. So, you've got perhaps 14-ish years, you probably get there quicker than me, I went off traveling around the world as well. So, I do encourage you to do that, too, but you'll probably get there quicker than me. What will mental health services be like in 14 years? I don't know, I really, really hope and pray that there will still be an NHS. So, even though I don't work in the NHS. I'm a passionate supporter of it and I really believe in people having access to free health care at the point of delivery. So, I would really hope there's still an NHS for you to work in and clients to serve Ben.

Ben Munro 32:26

Yeah, I agree. I think that's all the questions I've got. Unless you've got anything else you'd like to say. I think you've answered everything recently.

Dr. Marianne Trent 32:39

Oh, thanks, Ben. No, I think, yeah, I think we've covered a lot of ground, but how has it been interviewing me? It's been like for you.

Ben Munro 32:54

Yeah, it's been good. Yeah. Definitely different [unintelligible 32:59] before so yeah, I think good experience.

Dr. Marianne Trent 33:02

I was meaning to drum up some other questions as well and I will level with you all dear listeners that I had a diary malfunction this morning and then very set very politely sent me a message saying, Ready when you are. Oh, man--- I had not even sent you a link to access recording and I'd followed you on socials. Like I said, I would and then I was supposed to drum up some other questions and I am so sorry. Busy week busy minds, but yeah, you did really well with the questions that you brought to me. So, thank you, again, for your time, we had a little bit of a Wi Fi hiccup, which is why Ben's not on camera, But we're gonna get a lovely picture so you'll be able to see his face. Yes, But thank you so much for your enthusiasm, your intrigue, wishing you the very best with your A levels. Do let me know how you get on. If you need any support or guidance in future.

Ben Munro 34:05

Thank you. Yeah.

Dr. Marianne Trent 34:08

Honestly, what a privilege to chat with Ben at this stage of his career, and I'm looking forward to seeing how his career develops and unfolds. If you've got any ideas for podcast episodes that you think would be useful. Do please get in contact with me. You can fill in my contact form at, but I hope you found this session useful and if you would welcome any additional support do consider the Aspiring Psychologist membership, the aspiring psychologists collective book and the clinical psychologist collective book to write I will look forward to catching up with you for our next episode of the podcast, which will be coming to you from 6am on Monday otherwise thank you so much for being part of my world and I'll catch up with you very soon. Take care.

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