What’s it like getting into a PWP traineeship? We talked to a PWP Trainee about their career journey and how they kept building employability (and resilience!) during unsuccessful applications to get where they are today. Also, we got tips for students on worry management!
Hello! I’m George, a trainee PWP (Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner) training and working in London. After my undergraduate degree, I’ve worked in and studied various areas of psychology. Outside of work, I enjoy playing video games and the occasional hiking trip!
An unexpected journey: My route to a PWP
After my undergrad in Psychology, I spent a year working part-time as an administrator in a private company whilst completing a Masters in Applied Psychology and volunteering at a helpline. I then undertook a PGDIP in London which allowed me to begin working placements in the NHS in community mental health settings. After this, I worked in acute emergency mental health teams for a while. I worked in these services through the first wave of the UK’s Covid-19 pandemic, which was a challenging experience, before receiving an offer for the position as a trainee PWP.
To get to the traineeship role where I am today, I actually had countless unsuccessful interviews and applications all across the country over the few years between graduating and being offered the role. While it was sometimes difficult, I always asked for feedback following an interview and found ways to take this on board to be more eligible and qualified for the next application. I also sought work that may not have been my dream career but provided me with valuable insight and experience into mental health treatment and care pathways in between re-applying for the PWP traineeship opportunities.
Why I decided to pursue this career path
I decided to pursue the career path towards a PWP as I’ve always wanted to do a job where I can help people in some way. Talking therapy always felt like a route where I could provide a lot of people with meaningful support, as I feel passionate about helping people with their mental health. I’m also very interested in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy theory, which has many applications within the treatments provided as a PWP – so in many ways, it felt like a natural destination.
Reflecting on career anxiety and building your resilience
The future (especially regarding career) can be really intimidating when we feel uncertain about what’s going to happen. Many of us will worry about worst-case scenarios; that we’ll be unsuccessful, or let down the people around us. We have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the right choices to avoid these feared outcomes. It’s really important to talk to the people around you if you’re feeling anxious about the future and your career; you are not alone, everyone experiences these kinds of thoughts. Sharing the way you feel can help you hear another’s perspective, get some reassurance, and proportionate the worries.
So how do we manage anxious feelings generally? My advice would be to try and figure out which aspects of your anxiety you can influence and which you cannot. Ask yourself, “is there anything that I personally can do to control the outcome of this worry?” If the answer is yes, find a way to do what you can, and then try to let the worry go.
If the answer is no, try to find some acceptance in the fact that you cannot control or influence the outcome, so there is no point in allowing anxiety to dominate the way you feel. Often, anxious thoughts of the (hypothetical) future are out of our control; no amount of worry or anxiety can influence it, so this is essentially wasted energy. A good way to handle these anxieties for now, is to speak to your careers service for guidance and advice to help you prepare as best you can.
If you’re worried about careers, one way to help manage anxious feelings is tapping into simple, small self-improvement. This includes things like reading and learning. You’re already reading this career blog – and that counts! For more small actions, explore our KEATS pages with career resources, online courses and more. For managing your overall mental health and finding help, read more about the support options you have available at King’s.
Advice for students interested in psychology and mental health careers
Talk to your tutors about what kind of psychology career you are interested in, try to have conversations with people who do that job to get an understanding of what it would be like and if you would enjoy the role. Experience is invaluable in psychology services and will really make you stand out in an interview; start looking at volunteering opportunities to begin developing the skills that psychology services will value. Certain services will facilitate shadowing shifts for people who want to gain an insight into the team and an understanding of the job (as well as what kind of experience and skills are sought after), which can be really helpful in advance of an interview.
The author’s name is switched in this blog to protect their professional anonymity.