December 2011

Happy Holidays!

Feeding back from the 2011 selections process

The admissions team has recently undertaken an extensive review of the programme's 2011 selections process. All applicants and selectors (N = 449) were invited to feed back, via survey monkey, their thoughts and suggestions about all aspects of the admission process. The team received a pretty enthusiastic 42% response rate and subjected the questionnaires to a thorough qualitative analysis. Below are the key feedback points and associated actions

1. It would be better to have just one written, pre-interview test at the university.

Response: There will be one on-site task on the 7th March 2012.

2. Provide more information for candidates about the clinical simulation task and the decision making task.

Response: This information has been added to the information for candidates.

3. Provide fictitious examples of good and poor interviews rather than role play.

Response: This will be incorporated into the training day.

4. Consider inviting fewer candidates per day.

Response: Interviews will be spread over four days with four parallel panels rather than three. This will result in a mode of four candidates per day per panel and a maximum of five.

5. Separate out empathic understanding and professional communication.

Response: This has been done. Appropriate behavioural indicators have been established and this will be reflected in the interview/presentation guidance.

6. The work simulation task and decision making tasks were very helpful additions to the process.

Response: Four new videos have been commissioned and we are currently in the process of writing more decision making scenarios (if anyone has any suggestions feel free to get in touch!)

Says Clinical Director and Admissions Tutor Anna Daiches: “We are grateful to everyone who took part in the survey and who was kind enough to share their wisdom and experience. The suggestions made will be incorporated into our processes for this coming year as part of our ongoing quest for improvements in quality. We thank everyone for their continued support and involvement in the programme. Our admissions processes are seen nationally within the DClinPsy training community as examples of good, innovative practice and we have only been able to achieve this through the commitment of so many stakeholders.”

The programme will be e-mailing round soon to ask for volunteers for the next interview week (w/c 28th May 2012) and circulating dates for selection training.

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New style handbooks

The new style programme handbooks are now online and available to view from the website:

Instead of the previous, rather unwieldy one large programme handbook, the programme now has five more user-friendly guides to all there is to know about programme policies and procedures. The five handbooks are: Admissions Handbook, Programme Management and Resources Handbook, Curriculum Handbook, Practice Placements Handbook and Assessment Handbook. All the appendices are linked within the handbooks for ease of reference and with the new online format, it means that the handbooks can be updated regularly as and when things change, so everyone always has the most up to date version.

Says Programme Administrator Katherine Thackeray: "The handbooks have been completely re-written and formatted this year and by making all the handbooks and appendices integrated, it is much easier for trainees, supervisors, staff and other stakeholders to find the document or policy they need. However, hard copies of the handbooks are still available and anyone interested in receiving one of these is welcome to contact me."

Katherine would also welcome any feedback on the new handbooks or any problems reported by NHS staff in accessing these.

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Employer satisfaction survey- results

The results of the programme's first Employer Satisfaction survey have been collated.

And the results indicate that the training programme is preparing its graduates well for the undoubtedly challenging roles which they are undertaking after they leave the programme and take up employment posts in the NHS.

Eighteen employers of graduates from the programme in 2010 responded to the online survey (a response rate of 88% - which most of our busily researching trainees would happily kill for) and the programme is very grateful to those employers who took the time to help with this. Employers gave a resounding 'thumbs up' to the training, both overall and in relation to how it prepares graduates for the skills outlined in the Health Professions Council's 'Standards of Proficiency for Practitioner Psychologists'. All respondents rated the programme as either 'good' or 'excellent' over the surveyed areas, highlighting areas of strength such as the coverage of a broad range of therapeutic models and the professionalism and reflectivity of graduates who are able to undertake complex and demanding roles.

In terms of areas for development, some comments have stimulated discussion amongst the programme team about how best to prepare trainees for the realities of work post-qualification (such as the increased case loads, time demands, and fulfilling a generic gatekeeper role within mental health teams).

Says clinical tutor Jo Black, who conducted the survey: "These results offer an invaluable perspective in our wider attempts to evaluate the training which we provide. They will be fed back to commissioners in the Strategic Health Authority as evidence of the high quality training which we strive to deliver on the Lancaster DClinPsy, and the survey will be repeated regularly to ensure that we continue to keep abreast of the skills and developments which employers value. "

Any thoughts or ideas about this are welcome and anyone who wants a copy of the full report, please contact

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Inclusivity in teaching event

by Dr Jo Black, Clinical Tutor

In November the programme ran its first workshop for teachers.
The theme of the morning was 'Inclusivity in Teaching', and a powerful experiential exercise (used with the permission of Deb Anderson, attendee), some contextual information and workshop exercises stimulated much interesting discussion. LUPIN members presented about involving service users in teaching as a way to involve wider perspectives, and added to the debate in the small groups.

Attendees worked to produce ideas to make their own and others' teaching more inclusive of a diverse range of viewpoints, life experiences and cultures (in the widest sense) - not only because this allows all learners to access the teaching, but also because it is likely to foster genuine interest and ability to interact with diversity in trainees upon qualification. It is planned to write this up and circulate to all teachers on the programme as a hopefully useful and thought provoking resource.

Attendee Deb Anderson (also a former trainee) said of the event: "This session was a great opportunity to consider the many ways that we can address diversity within teaching... I certainly feel this was a positive step towards ensuring that all trainees see themselves represented in the teaching they receive, and provide them with opportunities to learn the skills required to carry this inclusive style of thinking into their work with clients. Finally, it was a wonderful way for all of us attendees to question our own assumptions and practice and ensure that we consider inclusivity in our everyday clinical work."

In the afternoon, a training event for examiners of the new Professional Issues Assignment (PIA) took place. The PIA is now two separate essays; the first (to be submitted early in the first year of training) is a more academically focused essay and the second (to be submitted in the second year) offers the space for more personal reflection on a professional issue.

The value the programme places on teachers and examiners was demonstrated on the day through culinary media-the home-baked biscuits, three course lunch and unfeasibly good lemon cheesecake at the venue (Barton Grange Hotel, Preston) only increased the passion of participants and the resolve to attend future events on the topic (watch this space!)

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Reflections on the programme so far

by Hannah Wilson, first-year trainee clinical psychologist

We're now approaching the end of the third month of our clinical training, which has seemed simultaneously to fly by and span at least a decade. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that the novelty hasn't yet worn off (though some fading may have occurred in places) and we can still be heard exclaiming "I can't believe I'm here!" I feel confident that this will continue to diminish, in light of looming deadlines and expectations, but I hope it won't disappear completely.

HannahThe last three months were certainly gruelling, and not without hiccups, but they've presented a welcome challenge (though my brain may disagree) and we've enjoyed the diversity of the sessions. All the staff have been incredibly friendly and supportive, even when presented with our blank and slightly panicked faces. What's the difference between epistemology and ontology again?

It would be remiss of me to reflect on the course without mentioning the unsung hero of our time so far; cake. We have bonded over buttercream, formed friendships over fuddles (apparently a legitimate word for a jacob's joint!) and brought smiles with sugary goodness. With a birthday cake rota firmly in place, our cohort can only grow stronger (and wider!).

Thanks from our year to everyone who has helped to guide us through so far and apologies in advance for the questions, panics and meltdowns still to come!

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Pocket Guide to Therapy

The programme is very proud to announce the publication of the first 'how-to-do therapy book largely edited and written by its former trainees.

Pocket Guide to TherapyThe book, The Pocket Guide to Therapy, is edited by former trainee and now programme member of staff Ste Weatherhead and (non-Lancaster graduate) Graeme Flaherty-Jones.  A further six former Lancaster trainees contributed chapters to the book.

The book, published by Sage and very reasonably priced at £22.99 in softback, has chapters on a wide range of therapies practised by clinical psychologists, such as systemic, narrative, mindfulness, dialectical behaviour and solution-focused. The ethos of the book is very much around demystifying these therapies and providing practical help to implementation such as worksheets, diagrams and sample questions.  Although the book is suitable for a wide range of professionals, including  nursing, social work and counselling, it is almost inconceivable that any practising clinical psychologist would wish to be without a copy.

Says Research Director Jane Simpson: "Ste and his colleagues have done  a marvellous job in putting this book together and as a programme we are delighted to see the names of so many former trainees in print in such an impressive piece of work."

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Some thoughts on qualified life

by Dr Charlotte Morris, clinical psychologist

Completing the thesis, the viva, job hunting and all those endings meant that the final few months of training were hectic and stressful. The desire for certainty and permanent employment seemed to intensify the pressure and my longing for 'normality'. It is almost three months since I left the course and started my first role as a qualified clinical psychologist. Finally, after the long and arduous slog I have arrived at my destination! So what's it like on the other side? I hate to admit it but I was caught somewhat unawares of how tiring qualified life is. Despite the luxury of free evenings and weekends, working five days a week was a shock to the system and left me pining for that precious study day where I had time to stop and think.Charlotte

Nonetheless, I am enjoying my new role immensely and I particularly value being fully integrated into the MDT. This provides a stimulating environment and certainly makes the consultation task an integral part of my work. However, the first few weeks were daunting and it took some time for me to realise that my team didn't expect me to be "the expert" but rather to be interested and thoughtful. Despite the support from the nearby psychology department I am still adjusting to the independence that comes with being qualified and with being a lone psychologist in the team. Indeed, my new role has come accompanied with lots of responsibilities yet these seem to have aided my transition into qualified life and have given me greater confidence in my ability to rise to new challenges.

Another excellent year for teaching feedback

Trainees have again rated the quality of the teaching they receive on the programme as excellent.

Feedback indicated that trainees felt that training across the curriculum met their learning outcomes, was appropriate for their level of training and was delivered in a style that was helpful. Trainees also provided strong ratings for the references and additional materials provided by teachers on the programme. A review of the qualitative responses indicated that teaching that received the strongest feedback tended to be skills-based, experiential teaching rather than theoretical-based teaching.

Trainees are actively encouraged to provide feedback on the teaching they receive to ensure that the programme provides a high standard of training in line with the ethos of the programme and professional guidelines (i.e. Health Professions Council [HPC], 2009). Teaching proformas are one way in which the programme aims to monitor and evaluate teaching on the programme, including the appropriateness of learning outcomes, and the suitability of teaching methods used. This is particularly useful for overseeing the delivery of the curriculum when it is delivered by specialist NHS colleagues to ensure continuity and high standards across the programme.

Trainees provide feedback on all teaching sessions they attend, which in the last academic year alone totalled 3228 individual feedback questionnaires!

Trainees' feedback on the teaching they received in the last academic year (2010-11) was collated and analysed by clinical tutors Ben Harper and Clare Dixon. Their findings form the basis of the Annual Teaching Feedback Report, and this is being used to inform developments for next year. The report indicated that further work may be required by the programme to encourage all teachers to complete teaching proformas and make learning outcomes more explicit.

Trainees are continually engaged in contributing to the evaluation of teaching and will be included, along with local stakeholders and staff, in the new curriculum working party to ensure that their experiences of training are considered in programme developments.

Copies of the full report are available from Ben ( or Clare (


Brockhouse, R., Msetfi, R. M., Cohen, K., & Joseph. S. (in press). Vicarious exposure to trauma and growth in therapists: The moderating effects of sense of coherence, organisational support and empathy. The Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Dixon, C., Murray, C., & Daiches, A. (in press). A qualitative exploration into young children's perspectives and understandings of emotional difficulties in other children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

McMahon, L., Murray, C., Anderson, J., & Daiches, A. (in press). "Governed by the pain": Narratives of Fibromyalgia. Disability & Rehabilitation.

Mozo Dutton, L., Simpson, J., & Boot, J. (in  press). MS and me: Exploring the impact of multiple sclerosis on perceptions of the self. Disability and Rehabilitation.

Nowell, Z., Thornton, A., & Simpson, J. (in press). The subjective experience of personhood in dementia care settings. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice.

Coming Up...


Service-related project (SRP) Examiner Workshop - Barton Grange Hotel, Preston
Date: Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Time: 9:30am-2:00pm

Selections Training - Lancaster House Hotel
Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012
Time: Full day (exact timings tbc)

If you would like further details, please contact Jen Whitfield at or on 01524 592972.

LUPIN (Public Involvement Group) Meetings

Meeting: Steering Group and Research Subgroup
Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Time: 11am- 3pm

Meeting: Steering Group
Date: Wednesday, March 28th 2012
Time: 11am- 3pm

All meetings will take place at the Gujarat Centre in Preston.

For further details, contact Jen Whitfield at or on 01524 592972.

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