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How to cope with the next psychology application season if you are feeling disappointed

by Dr Marianne Trent, Clinical Psychologist

This has been taken from episode 27 of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast. You can listen here.

Thank you for those of you who had been part of my world within the last application season. I am well aware that this week on the 17th of June is going to be the final date for letting courses know whether you are going to be accepting or declining your offer of a place. So that you know, come 2:00 PM on that date, if you haven't informed your course that you are accepting a place then they automatically decide that you don't want that place. So you need to make sure that you have let them know via the clearinghouse website.

This date will lead to complicated feelings for those who were on waiting lists. It might be that imminently after that date that you do manage to get a place because people have maybe been trying to, to make up their mind, which course, to pick. But of course, there are only so many places to go around and so it might be that you are learning that you have not been successful in gaining a place this year. But of course, what we know is that

“If you received a reserve list place, if you were offered that opportunity, then they are saying that you were of doctorate standard and they think you would've been a good fit for them and for their course.”

There is much to celebrate there. Although, I know that this will feel very difficult. You'll be very disappointed. Some of you weren't successful in getting interviews. Perhaps you did have interviews, but you weren't successful in being offered either an outright place or a reserve list place. It can feel a lot like rejection, but I think it can be helpful to reframe that.

“It may be helpful to think that they're just saying it's a “not yet from us, but keep trying””.

In some cases it can be possible to get feedback about why you weren't successful. So if your application form was not successful then there is often reasons why your application may have not have been successful which have previously been sent out automatically but I know these days might be a bit rarer. I know from when I was applying that some of the courses didn't have the capacity to offer feedback. I think it can be useful to know why, because otherwise it can feel deeply personal and not very fair. Birmingham turned me down on both of the times that I applied to them, because they thought that my academic experience needed strengthening.

That made me think,

“Well okay, that gives me a clear direction to be able to focus myself towards and to strive for”.

Whereas if you're not getting that constructive feedback then that can be difficult. So let's think about what we can do to help you optimally prepare for the time between now and September when the course is open for business again. For those of you who have listened to my compassionate Q and As both during the application season and during the interview season, you'd be pleased to know that they're coming back. I've got some dates here for you. I believe that the courses will be opening on the 1st of September again. The first one is currently scheduled for 7:30 PM on Thursday, the 1st of September, 2022. Usually, I do them on Monday, but I thought I'd be there with you on that Thursday to open the doors enthusiastically for you. We've then got Monday the 10th of October at 7:30 PM. And 31/10/2022 at 7:30pm. So you can pop those dates in your diary and know that I will be there for you to answer any questions that you might have about the application cycle. So I know it can feel a bit Groundhog day with this relentless cycle, but I would really hope that by the time you submit your form in November you feel more ready than before. If you folllow me on my socials, then you can follow when my free events are and when the Aspiring Psycholgist membership is open for new members.

For me, I wanted every second I could have to work on it. When I applied in 2007, I spent as long as I could really intently focusing on giving my all to that form and making sure that every word counted, every word mattered. That's the approach that I took the year that I was successful.

All 3 of my forms were very different. I applied three times and was successful the third time, but my third form could not have been more different than my first. My second wasn't a successful form, so I started again entirely and I didn't look at it at all until I was almost finished in case I'd forgotten some golden nugget. I hadn't, I was just appalled with what I'd written the year before. This demonstrated for me how much change I had undergone. I had changed personally, professionally, in my levels of confidence being myself, the way that I think, the way that I talk about things, and just my level of comprehension was vastly different. And so, I would hope that your next form also looks different, even if you got interview or were offered a place on reserve. We want you to get across the line fully this time and we don't want you to be having to wait till the bitter end where you might or might not get a reserve place. We want you across the line in the first set of interviews. That's not saying that reserve places are less favourable, but they certainly feel a little bit easier to swallow and a little bit scary. There is a lot less waiting around and you know your outcome quicker. So in term of having the kindest journey, I'd rather you had an outright place because it helps you make choices, plan and prepare. That would be my preference for you. If you do get offered a reserve place that is still obviously absolutely wonderful.

So between now and September, I think it can be useful to look at your CV and see what gaps emerge. It may help to read The Clinical Psychologist Collective to get an idea of how other trainees developed their experiences over time. In clinical psychology it is helpful to show that you've got some experience across the lifespan and across the different areas that you will be working in as a trainee clinical psychologist. That would include children and young people, working age adults and learning disabilities. Those are the four areas, it might include physical health, brain injury or neuropsychology as well.

“It might help to look at how many of those competencies you are able to tick off, and if you are missing some, then it might be that you can just give your mindful attention to trying to plug one of those gaps between now and mid-November.”

If you can recognise those gaps in your CV now, then by November you might have started to chip away at those gaps or blocks to help you move towards a position where you are likely to be able to perform optimally on your form and to perform optimally at interview. This could give you the best chance of being able to achieve what you want, which is a place on this professional training scheme as a trainee clinical psychologist.

What can be useful is to make sure that you are getting quality supervision and guidance. If you don't have that, or if you feel like you'd welcome some additional support, direction, guidance and compassion on your journey to becoming a successful aspiring psychologist then do consider joining The Aspiring Psychologist Membership. We get lovely reviews and people have said just that it's really, really useful for them.

Certainly people who've gained places on training this year that said they felt that The Aspiring Psychologist Membership gave them everything they needed to perform optimally at their interviews. So if you feel that you want to supercharge your chances and supercharge your confidence, then do consider checking out The Aspiring Psychologist Membership. If you can’t right now, I will always do my best to provide free content for you like this blog, the podcast and the Compassionate Q and A's.

If you are feeling disappointed, come the 17th of June, then you can lean into that. You don't necessarily need to be cheering yourself up. This mattered, you had your hopes set on it and you are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to lean into that.

You don't need people to cheer you up, but it's helpful if you have people that get it that understand just how difficult this is, because even when you do get training places it's not always an easy thing that you are saying you're gonna do.

If you live in Edinburgh and were offered a place in London, are you prepared to pack up your bags and move your life for at least three years? That's not something that we do without thinking it through thoroughly. People are moving all over the country. Sometimes people are moving without their children or without their partners. They are gonna try and make it work by commuting. Some trainees might live part of the week in Airbnbs or rent accommodation for the work week. This isn't something that people enter into lightly or for cheery kicks. This is because they are passionate about pursuing this career in psychology.

So when your time does come, you might get offered a place which causes less disruption to your life or it might cause a disruption to your life. You might purposefully be choosing courses that are further away from where you are living now. You might want a fresh start. You might want to go and do something new and different, or you might recognize that your best chance of being recruited by a course that is aligned to you is really far from where you live currently. It might be that a particular course direction really appeals to you, and so you are going to be moving countries, within the UK or maybe from further afield. That is a big consideration. It's a big change and it's difficult because you are having to put your life on hold. So if you are in that position, then I'm just sending you so much warmth and compassion. Please do stay part of my world so that we can help further put that compassion into your situation.

So, please bear in mind the dates for the upcoming Q and A sessions between September and November. The dates are:

- Thursday 1st of September 2022 at 7:30 PM

- Monday 10th of October at 7:30 PM

- Monday 31st of October at 7:30pm

If you would like to leave a comment below that would be great! You can also listen to this content on my weekly podcast if you prefer to listen! Thank you very much for reading, and I look forward to catching up with you very soon.

To listen to this episode of The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast Click Here. To listen to other episodes of the podcast click here.
To grab your copy of the Clinical Psychologist Collective Book click here.


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