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Refection, Growth & Personal Development as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist

This article has been adapted from episode 113 of The Aspiring psychologist Podcast. If you prefer you can listen here or watch here. 

A picture of Phil Pampoulov with the words Reflective growth across a psychology career
Episode 113 Thumbnail

Welcome to another insightful episode of the Aspiring Psychologist Podcast! In this edition, Dr. Marianne Trent engages in a captivating conversation with Phil Pampoulov, a third-year trainee clinical psychologist, as they delve into the thrilling journey of personal and professional development. Buckle up, as we uncover the ups and downs, challenges, and triumphs that shape the evolution of a psychologist's life.

Introduction to the Rollercoaster Ride

Dr. Marianne Trent kicks off the podcast, setting the stage for a profound exploration of the transformative journey ahead. She promises listeners an engaging conversation on self-discovery, navigating career chaos, and the messy yet beautiful evolution in the life of a psychologist.

Welcoming Phil Pampoulov

Phil Pampoulov, the guest of the day, is introduced. As a trainee clinical psychologist currently immersed in research, Phil shares his experiences, challenges, and insights on the ongoing recruitment drive. Dr. Trent expresses her gratitude for Phil's presence, emphasising the privilege of engaging in this conversation.

The Origin Story: Discovering Psychology

Phil opens up about his journey, beginning in his teenage years in Bulgaria, where he explored various career paths. His fascination with psychology led him to pursue an undergraduate degree in the UK, where he eventually found his calling in clinical psychology. Phil narrates his shift towards this field during his second year, recognising the alignment between his passions and the multifaceted nature of clinical psychology.

Mastering Foundations and Early Experiences

Phil takes the audience through his master's program in Foundations of Clinical Psychology. During this time, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery through a mix of voluntary and honorary positions, providing him with valuable insights into both clinical work and research. His experiences as an assistant psychologist in different services shaped his understanding of the diverse aspects of psychology.

Navigating the Bumpy Road to Doctorates

The conversation shifts towards Phil's pursuit of a doctorate, highlighting the challenges and setbacks he faced. Phil reflects on moments of doubt and the resilience that fueled his determination to pursue his dream. The narrative touches on the pivotal role of re-evaluation and learning experiences in his journey.

The Triumph of Landing the Desired Interview

Phil shares the joy and significance of securing an interview at the university of his choice in 2021. The anticipation and excitement surrounding that moment mark a turning point in his career path. Dr. Trent commends Phil's perseverance and acknowledges the support he received from family and friends.

Choosing the UK and Reflections on Dual Nationality

The discussion explores Phil's decision to pursue his professional qualification in the UK rather than his home country, Bulgaria. Phil delves into the cultural differences and his appreciation for the British mentality. He reflects on the privilege of having dual nationality and the complexities of navigating cultural expectations and values.

Diversity in the Cohort

Dr. Trent and Phil discuss the diversity within Phil's cohort. They touch upon gender balance, cultural backgrounds, and the dynamics of working together as a diverse group of trainee clinical psychologists. Phil emphasises the importance of cohesion and shared experiences in fostering a supportive learning environment.

Discovering Individuality in a Collective Profession

The conversation takes a reflective turn as Dr. Trent shares her experience of grappling with her identity during the early days of training. The podcast explores the existential aspect of discovering oneself beyond the professional role and the uniqueness each trainee brings to the collective identity of psychologists.

Values and Self-Reflection in Training

Phil delves into the values that guide his professional journey, emphasising the importance of teamwork and establishing long-term connections with clients. The discussion touches on the self-reflective moments throughout training, where trainees explore their preferences, strengths, and areas of growth. Phil Pampoulov's Insights: Navigating Placements and Personal Growth

The crucial role of placements

In this segment, Phil Pampoulov shares his reflections on the transformative journey of psychology training, particularly focusing on the crucial role of placements.

Summary: Phil expresses gratitude for Marianne's story about her first job and acknowledges the anxiety many third-year students might feel about entering the job market. He emphasises the significance of placements in his own learning experience, revealing how they shaped his professional identity.

The Impact of Placements

Phil delves into the structure of his course, highlighting the importance of placements. He outlines the multi-phase placement process, spanning from the first to the final year. Phil narrates his excitement at securing his first choice for the third-year placement, emphasising the immense learning opportunities and personal growth derived from these experiences.

Summary: Placements, according to Phil, play a pivotal role in the learning journey. He shares personal experiences and the joy of aligning one's passion with the chosen path, signifying a transition from a trainee to a future qualified psychologist.

Personal and Professional Growth

Dr. Marianne Trent resonates with Phil's sentiments, expressing how rewarding it is to witness personal and professional growth while getting paid for it. Phil expands on the emotional aspect of his journey, discussing the privilege of undergoing significant development and the fulfillment of working in a field he loves.

Summary: The conversation evolves into a celebration of growth and the unique privilege of being paid for such profound personal and professional development.

Chameleon Analogy

Phil introduces a thought-provoking exercise where students were asked to choose an animal representing their clinical psychology aspirations. He reflects on choosing a chameleon, symbolising adaptability to different environments while maintaining a core identity. This analogy becomes a powerful reminder of personal values and flexibility in professional settings.

Summary: The chameleon analogy is explored as a symbol of adaptability and flexibility, resonating with the core values that remain unchanged despite external transformations.

Pride and Personal Evolution

Dr. Marianne Trent shares her contrasting experiences of undergraduate and doctoral graduations, emphasising the profound sense of pride during the latter. Phil expresses anticipation for his upcoming graduation and underscores the importance of being proud at every stage of the journey.

Summary: The discussion touches on the evolving sense of pride throughout one's academic and professional journey, culminating in the anticipation of Phil's future graduation.

Nuggets of Wisdom and Avoiding Burnout

Phil wraps up the conversation with valuable advice on avoiding burnout. He advocates for knowing oneself and taking one step at a time to prevent feeling overwhelmed. The importance of kindness to oneself is emphasised, encouraging aspiring psychologists to persist in their journey.

Summary: Phil imparts simple yet profound advice on self-awareness and resilience, echoing the sentiment that personal growth is a continual process.

Closing Remarks

Dr. Marianne Trent expresses her genuine appreciation for the conversation with Phil, hinting at a future episode. Phil reciprocates the sentiment, and both look forward to continuing the insightful discussions.

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