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Hi Marie, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Marie Boardman, I am an accredited practitioner with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). I am employed as a Step 2 Development Co-ordinator and as a Clinical Educator on the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) Apprenticeship Programme. I hope my journey into Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and in particular the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner role will inspire and encourage others to take this career path. I have had a varied career journey and this is now what I consider to be my 2nd career and proof that you can change your path and learn new skills.
Tell us about your career journey, how have you got to where you are now?
When I started to reflect on my career journey I became aware of how I have come full circle, and that psychology has always been an interest. I first became aware of psychology and explored career options after undertaking a social care course at college which I attended after leaving school. After completing college I began working with adults with learning difficulties who had been re-located into community environments as part of the Care in the Community initiative, which saw the closure of long stay institutions. Although, I was interested in a career in psychology and intended to study ‘A’ Level and onto a degree whilst working, circumstances meant that I did not follow this career pathway, as I married and focused on my family, for a period of time.
Marie, what was your first role?
My first role when I returned to work was based in a small private residential accommodation for adults experiencing mental health difficulties. This is where I first directly supported and experienced the impact low mood and anxiety disorders have on individuals, including, sadly, self-harm and suicide, but also how individuals can be supported to improve their mental health.
What was your next move?
After around 4 years, the time was right to move onto something else. I began employment with a Housing Association within Care and Support services, and I remained with the organisation for 20 years, in various roles. During this time, I worked with a variety of vulnerable adults groups: adults with learning disabilities, mental health difficulties and later with adults experiencing homelessness and presenting with addictions and offending histories. I was a support worker, senior tenancy support worker and manager for The Homeless Services Centre, project manager for both a female 12 bed hostel and a 36 bed male hostel. The majority of my time with the organisation was working in mental health support. I was a member of a team who provided housing related support to adults who were accessing treatment either in hospital or via outpatients to enable them to obtain and maintain accommodation in the community. During this time I became interested in impact of co-morbid mental health and addictions, which led to supporting adults who were experiencing difficulties relating addictions, homelessness and offending. My final role, before changes in funding led to being made redundant, was the manager of the male hostel.
How did you become aware of the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner role Marie?
Being made redundant was the catalyst to my change in direction and moving from social care into NHS services. I joined a Primary Care service in Sandwell to set up a pilot programme to support individuals and reduce barriers to enable access to primary care mental health services, including talking therapies.
This is when I first became aware of Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and High Intensity Therapists, and led to me following a career in IAPT. I began training in November 2013 with Wolverhampton Healthy Minds, before moving to Birmingham Healthy Minds as a Qualified PWP. In 2017, I was successful in obtaining the Senior PWP (SPWP) role with Mental Health Matters, who are contracted to provide Step 2 practitioners for Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Wellbeing Service. Since taking up the SPWP role I have been instrumental in developing community engagement initiatives, supporting champion roles and the long term conditions pathway for the service. I was instrumental in establishing the West Midlands Senior PWP Forum, which I now facilitate, which I regularly link with the Midlands Clinical Network to represent the PWP workforce. I have also made links with a Lead PWP Network which is a national group.
Where are you now within your career journey Marie?
I have been able to grow in my role and develop opportunities to promote the PWP role. I have represented PWP’s and the service at BABCP events, PPN Professionals Week, and delivered a Continued Professional Development (CPD) event for SBK Healthcare.
I am now the Step 2 Development Coordinator, I was the only SPWP 4 years ago across 3 teams, now there are 5 SPWPs across 5 teams and myself. This role enables me to support the step 2 workforce to deliver a quality service, review and monitor activity and targets and develop CPD events for the teams.
Finally, I now divide my time with the service and with Staffordshire University as a Clinical Educator with the Apprenticeship Programme.
I hope this shows how rewarding the PWP roles can be and the potential development opportunities and encourages others to consider PWP as a career.
PPN Midlands would like to thank Marie for sharing this fascinating insight into her career journey.
You can contact/ follow Marie via Twitter: @marieboardman17