Show Notes for The Aspiring Psychologist Podcast Episode: Trauma informed yoga, other career paths and being an older applicant - with Fiona Jenkins
Thank you for listening to the Aspiring Psychologist Podcast.
Sometimes people decide that psychology isn’t for them, at least for then, and they go and do something different. This was certainly the case for Fiona Jenkins who took many years away finding and doing new things. She then picked up a copy of the clinical psychologist collective and began to wonder whether maybe, just maybe it wasn’t too late to come back to psychology. This episode is her story and covers all sorts of brilliant things including trauma informed yoga, parenting, boundaries and being an older applicant. I hope you find it so useful.
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On today's episode, I am joined by Fiona, an assistant psychologist. We talk about starting a career in psychology, taking a different path, and then coming back to psychology. We also talk about trauma-informed yoga practises, being a parent and many, many more things. Stay tuned right to the end to get Fiona's top tip for reducing burnout in aspiring psychologistsFiona Jenkins (:
If guideJingle Guy (:
WithDr Marianne Trent (:
Hi, welcome along to the Aspiring Psychologist podcast. I am Dr. Marianne Trent, and I'm a qualified clinical psychologist. Today's episode is so action packed and I'm so excited for you to meet our guest and for you to learn more about them and their journey. Fiona Jenkins is in her early forties and she reached out to me because she'd discovered the podcast and was finding it really useful. She's got so many interesting viewpoints and I hope you find today's episode really useful. I'll look forward to catching up with you on the other side. Hi, Fiona, welcome along to today's episode of podcast. Thanks for joining us.(:
Thanks for having me.Dr Marianne Trent (:
So, as as I did say in the intro you contacted me. So we first made contact via Facebook, which is a little bit different for me cos I'm usually hanging out on LinkedIn and laterally Twitter as well. But you got in contact cos you said you've been following the podcast for a while and you thought you had sort of interesting, interestingly, different narrative and I'm always so interested in anybody's experience of psychology. But can you tell me in your own words why, why you reached out Fiona?(:
Yes. So I became aware of your podcast, I think back when I was searching for more information about the CAP role, so the clinical associate in psychology role, because that's something that had come, come on my radar. So, you know how on the podcast app you can just search for anything, it'll bring up podcasts about it. So I did that and that's how I first became aware of your podcast. And then I went back, listened to some previous episodes, I've read the book, the, not the Aspiring Psychologist one, the Clinical Psychologist Collective, which was really interesting and useful and kind of gave me that sense of possibility. Oh, okay, maybe this isn't impossible actually. So thank you
Gosh, you're trying to make me cry
Because you are so consistent, you know, putting out content every week it's reliable. You know, sometimes it's short, but it doesn't matter because it's, it's co it's reliably coming through every week. So it's like this drip feed of compassionate stuff, which we all need.Dr Marianne Trent (:
Oh, thank you,
So I think I was looking around at the CAP role because I can't even remember if that was before or after I got this assistant role, but basically, well, I'll start right from the beginning, Marianne, it's quite a long story, but I'll start from the beginning. So I did a psychology degree over 20 years ago, and I was always interested in becoming a psychologist. So after graduating I had a support worker role, and then I had an assistant psychologist role. I had a couple, actually the first one was not a typical one. You, if you think we're going back to the early two thousands, so quite a, a long time ago. And myself and three others, we were employed by the N H S, but we were seconded to a youth offending service and we were doing family therapy, like systemic therapy. And that was a really big job for a sort of 22 year old.(:
And they've since given that role to social workers, which I think shows the kind of role that it is or was. So I did that for about a year. It involved driving around the county, visiting the families of young offenders. They were often single mums with, you know, a giant teenager who was bigger than them, stronger than them. And there was me, you know, not really with any life experience trying to tell these single moms how to parent. I mean, now I am a parent, but back then I really knew nothing. And I felt that, you know, I tried my best with what we were given the model and everything. But it was a very stressful time. I remember supervision you know, no disrespect to my supervisor, but she was very stressed. And so it was, you know, sometimes it felt like I was supporting her rather than the other way around.(:
So it was kind of this imperfect system. So I got out of that one and did another role, and then I started another one and I just, I, it was all just too much too soon I think. And I sort of had this feeling like, I'm in my early twenties, life should be about fun. It should be more fun than this. I'm not enjoying this. So I decided to get out. I'd heard from one of my colleagues at the youth offending service about the JET programme, which is a programme for graduates to go to Japan and teach in government schools. So I applied for that, but I had a, a kind of a year to Phil before I went there. So I went to Russia for a year, and then I went to Japan and I ended up spending five years there. Ended up meeting my husband, getting married, having a baby.(:
So it was totally life-changing experience. Then we decided to move back to the uk. So he's American, not from here, but we decided to try living here. And I, well, I tried various different things including using my Japanese including trying teacher training. But yeah, I don't know, none of it felt really right Then. I had a daughter, while I was on maternity leave, I started volunteering and training to be a men mom's mental health peer support worker for, you know, maternal mental health with N C T, the National Childbirth Trust. So I was a peer support worker and a breastfeeding peer support worker while I was on maternity leave and for a bit of time after, but I sort of realised that I couldn't really work for free, sadly. And my manager in that the N C T role had noticed some peer support worker roles in the N H S and she sent them to us and I applied for one of those.(:
So I started working as a peer support worker in my trust. And then I'd been doing that for about, I guess two years when this email came through saying, do you have a psychology degree and would you like experience as an assistant on a secondment? And I thought, Hmm, would I, maybe I would, maybe I should get back into this. Which you know, something that it felt like that door had closed for me. But this was an opening again, and it, you had to be working already in the trust. So the idea was sort of taking from the, the pool of talent who are, were already working in the trust and kind of giving them a helping hand in a way because as we know, these AP roles are so competitive. So yeah, I applied and we had quite an intense group interview and then we had a, a one-to-one interview, or three to one three of them, one of me. And I was placed in an older adults service and I've been there since December. So that is the very long story of how I got here.Dr Marianne Trent (:
Gosh, amazing. What a story. And I, I had heard of Jet because one of my friends actually was on the JET programme, probably a similar-ish time to you mm-hmm.
It is, yeah. It's, it's still going strong. And I've told my son who was born there, you know, you, you could apply to this when you are a bit older, you are a jet baby. And you can explain that, you know, this is where you originated.Dr Marianne Trent (:
I love that. So you actually did spend quite a period of time then if you had your baby your first child there then.(:
Yeah, yeah. And it is, it was really perspective changing in many ways. I mean it gave me this experience of being different. It was largely positive because I have the privilege of being white, blonde hair, blue eyes, you know, in Japanese eyes, seen as this sort of western ideal almost. So it was largely positive attention. But I mean, it did give me that experience of feeling like people are talking about me a lot behind my back, you know, I felt a bit of paranoia because it, it was true. We were being talked about the, our backs
Yeah. I think, you know, you described so powerfully the, the brilliance and the what we can learn, what we can value about going out and seeing in person different cultures for ourselves. So as you were speaking, it reminded me of being in Thailand and I was quite a lot younger and quite a lot blonder then. And people follow up chasing me down the street calling me Cameron Diaz, and I was like, Cameron Diaz, Cameron, I'm really not Cameron Diaz. And then when I was in India, just before I started my clinical training, we were quite a remote area and we were at the cinema and my friends and I were in the atrium waiting to go in and see a Bollywood movie and we were just surrounded with a ring of local people eating their popcorn, watching us
And I feel it served me well in ways, like you have to be really tolerant of uncertainty. You have to sit with being really uncomfortable quite regularly because maybe, you know, when I first got there and you know, Japanese, I really didn't know what was going on a lot of the time. It was very awkward a lot of the time. And I think that's really served me well. Actually going forwards in now, I'm much, I find it much easier to sit with uncertainty and just, you know, just deal with it and deal with those uncomfortable feelings.Dr Marianne Trent (:
I mean, I think to a certain extent for my own personal journey, I probably needed to get out of the UK and get out of those roles and kind of come back now full circle back to psychology, but okay. I mean, great supervision would, would've probably made a big difference because I know this because I'm now lucky enough to be getting that great supervision that I didn't have back then. And that has made a big difference. So I'd say it's two things. It's me personally developing and growing up, but also that support.Dr Marianne Trent (:
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think when we become parents, it, for me anyway, I can't speak for you, I can't speak for other parents, it just changes everything about everything. It changes how I relate to people. It changes how human I am. I feel like before becoming a parent, it definitely felt like there was a work persona and a, a sort of home persona, like a genuine personality. You think it's reminding me of some of the personality development theories around crystallised intelligence and crystallised personality. So some rum random rumbling that's going on in my brain about that. And I felt like before they were quite separate, whereas I think becoming a parent and then probably the pandemic has meant that it's all just for me, I am the intervention and it's, I'm more the same person across all of the settings. Now have you experienced anything like that in your parenting journey?(:
That's really interesting you say that because for me it's almost the opposite. I feel so boundaried
Yeah. There's nothing like knowing that you're gonna get charged a late fee pick up to make sure that you leave work on time. Yeah. and I find that's quite useful actually in terms of, cos sometimes we can, you know, I was listening to that song People Pleaser earlier, I dunno if you've heard that. She was singing it at Glastonbury yesterday and I was listening to it. It's a good song. And I think many of us as psychologists can be people pleasers. What I like about about children is they can give you a really nice way of saying no and being assertive and being boundaried without it making it like you're being difficult, you know? Yeah. No, I do actually wanna finish work at five
But I also think for people who aren't parents, we as a society should allow people to leave at five because their job finishes at five and we shouldn't have to use an excuse. And I feel quite strongly about, you know, caring for the carers. This is one of my real interests is like, who is looking after these people who are looking after some of the most traumatised or damaged members of society? This is gonna have a knock on effect if we are not looking after staff. And that's one thing I'm really, really interested in is bringing more care to the people doing the work. I think it's so needed.Dr Marianne Trent (:
Yeah. So I'm absolutely aware of the impact of the vicarious trauma and how we need to think about supporting our stuff. But this also reminds me of a conversation I was having on Twitter in May. The British Psychological Society had really been trying to build people's awareness of the fact that the NHS wellbeing hubs that were set up to support staff during the pandemic are actually no longer gonna be funded or that was the plan at that stage. Mm-Hmm.
So yeah, really, really interesting and really useful stuff. So thanks for bringing that to our awareness, Fiona. And it also made me think about when I was in services, I didn't have children when it came to sort of divvying up leave at Christmas. It was a definite kind of suggestion that probably I ought to, to do it. And so I probably just did do it because I definitely felt like, oh, it'd be nice for them to have time with their children. Mm-Hmm.
Yeah.Dr Marianne Trent (:
So it's, yeah, thinking about treating people as humans regardless of their parenting status, isn't it? Mm-Hmm.
I think I'm gonna give it a go. I think one of the benefits of being older is feeling like if it doesn't work out, there are many, many more options open to me. And I don't feel like it's the be all and end all, which I think is a really internally powerful position to be in. Because really I think, yeah, I can see so many different options. As I mentioned to you, I am a yoga teacher as well, so I'm lucky enough to be doing this role part-time, this assistant role part-time. And on my other days I teach yoga. I've got a class going or a group going for community mental health service users, which is paid for by the nhs. So I feel there's a, you know, another path I could take if the clinical route doesn't work out. But ideally I'd like to be sort of using both in my work, you know, using the body as well as the mind.(:
So yes, I'll, I'll give it a go, I'll make an application and see how I get on, but with quite low expectations as it's been, it's been a long time since I've done academic work. I'm, I'm possibly getting involved in some research on one of my days. I'm exploring that because that's my kind of weak point. Not weak but rusty point because it's been such a long time. So we'll see. I'll give myself a few tries, maybe two tries and then, but I can't, you know, keep on trying and trying for many years. I don't think that would be good for me. Although I admire people who can do that, who have the stamina.
Yeah, you get to decide, don't you? And I really love the book. I'm not sure if you've read it. The body holds a score and that talks about trauma-informed yoga which is really, really powerful. I think they give an example of childbirth. If somebody's had a traumatic birth, then sometimes getting themselves back in that birth position can suddenly make them feel really scared and really vulnerable and really out of control. And it's because the body has held the score, it's remembered that that's a stress position and that's something, you know, no good's gonna come from that. So it's really, really interesting work.(:
Yes, it is. So I've done a bit of trauma informed yoga teacher training in order to lead this class in the community. And yeah, the sort of things we learned, it's so fascinating. Another really great book is trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, which I recommend to all of your listeners. As a psychologist as well as a yoga teacher. And what was I gonna say? Oh, yes. So a a lot of this thinking about trauma is that it's kind of pre-verbal, so actually working with the body can be more helpful to someone than working with words. So I believe in both. I, I really believe in the power of talking therapies, but for some people maybe that won't work and for them doing some work in the body will be more, more healing or they'll make more of a breakthrough. Yeah, so I'm very keen to explore all this more. I, there's so many things I'm interested in Marianne. It's like difficult to find the time to pursue all these interests, but I have got the rest of my life, you know, the second half of my life. So I will just crack on with it all.Dr Marianne Trent (:
So this is, I think about the third or fourth. I think it's the fourth round that we've run. So it's me and an occupational therapist take the group. And yeah, we've had some really positive feedback in the previous rounds. I think the people vote with their feet, don't they? So the, the people who stay and come to the, the whole 10 sessions, that is the best kind of compliment because we know that they must be finding it helpful. And for some people we, we are keen to emphasise that for some people it might be really, actually they won't feel better after, they might feel worse, they might feel terrible after this one hour session. But that is normal and to know that, you know, it might not be for them or they might want to try it for the 10 weeks and see if anything changes for them or they might want to carry on for 10 years and see if anything changes for them. But yeah, we are having people coming back and staying. So that is a compliment. So we think it's, it's useful to at least some of our group members.Dr Marianne Trent (:
Good. And again, I've got so many questions for you, I'm so interested in everything you're saying. So one part of me thinks, are you outcome measuring it? Are you measuring your change? Are you demonstrating it?(:
So very good question and very pertinent because I have just started this introduction to evaluation course, which is also offered for free which I found about through work and asks us to choose a project to evaluate or to start, start to think about evaluator. I've only just started the, the course and this is the one I'm thinking of. So I'm lucky because my occupational therapist colleague suggested we do a measure at the start of this, this one we've just well we are nearly at the end of it, we are kind of doing it termly. So at the end of this term, before the summer holidays, it will end and then we'll do the, the assessment again. So it was the core 10, dunno if you know that one
Amazing. Yeah, always for anyone listening and for you in future, if you're doing any sort of group or any sort of intervention or even just an assessment, do outcome measures, just get them done. And then do them in the middle. Do them at the end and just, just see if there's any change. And you know, if you, even if you think, I don't know that we've necessarily got time to do anything with those, having the data is really important. And then if you ever get like a master student or a summer placement student sometimes looking at that data can be a really nice short term project for people as well. So yes, outcome measures are so important. I don't use the core 10, but I do regularly use the full version mm-hmm
And people actually really like that cos you can say, well actually you're doing really well here, but we can see that, for example you are working really hard so that your functioning is, is actually intact. But you know, with that amount of problems pressing on you, that must be really exhausting. They're like, yes, so tired. So yeah, I love outcome measures. And in terms of you being a yoga teacher, did you pitch to the organisation or, or did you see an advert and think, oh, I could be good for that. I'll, I'll apply for that. Which way around did it work?(:
So it was me, it was me suggesting it. It was when I was still working as a peer support worker in the community and I just thought, oh, this is something extra I can offer. So I suggested it to my team and they took me up on it. Yeah. And it's been a bit of a headache. Tell you what the most headachey part of it is, the organising the venue, paying the invoice, all that sort of behind the scenes stuff that you don't appreciate. Takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Well I'm sure you appreciate, but you know, people in general don't see that behind the scenes side. And also kind of con taking referrals, contacting the participants, reminding them, sending letters, all of that. It's a lot of admin. So actually now this programme, it's part of a bigger group programme. It has an administrator now, so that makes things a lot easier. But yeah,Dr Marianne Trent (:
Absolutely. I remember when I was working in the NHS and the first time someone asked me for a purchase order number, I was like, I don't even know what that is,
Yeah, that's such a great question because thinking back to my early experiences, I think probably what I was experiencing was burnout actually. And I always felt like I had to be doing more, reading, more, you know, using my spare time to study more and I just got really sick of it. So now I do not do that at all. I, I try to keep my work to, to the most part into my work hours. And the rest of the time I pursue the things that I'm really interested in and, and that just makes me a more well-rounded, happier person for sure. And the, with the yoga, I, when I was doing my yoga teacher training as part of our course, we were basically to pass the course, we were told, well, you should be practising six days a week. That doesn't mean you have to do an hours class six days a week, but you should be doing a little bit of something yoga related every day.(:
Maybe it's five minutes of breathing, maybe it's reading a chapter of a yoga book, but something just keep doing something six days a week. So since, since doing this, I really notice a difference on the days when I haven't done any yoga, I notice that the gap in between something happening and me reacting what you, I think would refer to as our window of tolerance. I notice that gap is much smaller. I, I will snap much faster if I haven't done that kind of self-awareness. You know, coming back to just noticing what's going on for me in my body, in my life. So I'd say just like I said about you and you just consistently putting out something every week, it's little and often rather than one long class, once a week, whatever it is you decide is for you just doing it little and often you don't have, it doesn't take a massive commitment, but a little bit every day.Dr Marianne Trent (:
It's interesting you say about my consistency because I like a streak. I find it easier to go for streaks. So if I was to miss a week, I may miss a month, you know, so I'm just, I just keep going, keep going consistently. Yeah. But I realised on Friday I've been trying to work sort of quite hard to get an article finished that I was writing and I realised that I hadn't actually edited the podcast episode for this week and I suddenly thought, right, I'll just record a really quick one just so that I've done it and I, so it's consistent and so it's done and it's out there. And then I realised that I had already recorded one that I needed to edit, so I just edited that quite quickly and got it done. But I almost just a, you know, do you remember that episode You might not have, you might not be around in those days. There was an episode called I Can't Be Bothered, something, something like(:
That. Yeah, I do remember that. Yeah. So honest, I think that's really important to be honest as well. Yeah,Dr Marianne Trent (:
Yeah. But it crops up you, so I thought I'm gonna make this into a topic because some days you'll be like, yes, I'm really lucky to have this assistant job or to be a trainee. Well, I can't be bothered. I'd rather be in bed reading. You know? And yes, there's just some, something about that is about being authentic and you know, whilst we do love our career, we also love time in a hammock, you know,
Yes, we should. So we can bring our energy back to the role, right? Yeah. You can't give from an empty cup. Is that the same? Yeah,Dr Marianne Trent (:
It is and it's absolutely true. I could speak to you for hours and hours, Fiona, but yeah, the audience might like quite, quite like our episodes punchy and pithy. So thank, thank you. Thank you so much for reaching out. It's been an incredibly useful episode and yeah, do stay in my world. Let me know of any other future topic or episodes that you think you might find helpful. And yeah, it's just been a real privilege. Thank you so much.(:
Thank you Marianne. Thanks a lot.Dr Marianne Trent (:
Oh, what an incredible guest. What an incredible episode. I hope you found so much value in it. We realised in our post recording chat that we didn't get round to talking about the dynamics of being supervised by people who ordinarily you might well be younger than, but you might well be older than them. There might be different dynamics. And so if that's something you'd like to explore please do reach out and we can get you on an episode. That said, if you've got ideas for future podcast episodes that you might find helpful, or if, if you think you might make a good guess for the podcast, then do get in contact with me. The easiest place to do that is probably on LinkedIn. I'm Dr. Marianne Tr, I'm also Dr. Marianne Trent, everywhere else too. Do come along to the free Facebook group, which is the Aspiring Psychologist community with Dr. Marianne Trent. And do please rate and review this podcast if you are listening to it on either Spotify or Apple. And if you're watching on YouTube, go on, do your thing, subscribe, like, comment. It would make my day do. Please be kind to yourselves, be kind to others too. I will look forward to catching up with you for the next episode of the Aspiring Psychologist podcast, which will be along like clockwork from 6:00 AM on Monday. Take care.Jingle Guy (:
A psychologist with.